Skip to content


The Mountain Goats – The Life Of The World To Come



With its title culled from the Nicene Creed and its song titles Bible verses, The Mountain Goats’ 17th studio full-length effort, The Life Of The World To Come, may strike the listener as single-minded in both title and scope. This is no foreign territory for John Darnielle, the man behind the band: his dense, extensive and self-referencing song cycles have become his calling card. These song cycles have been as documented as the records themselves, and include, among others, the “Going to…” series — 46 songs — and the “Alpha” series, equally expansive in scope, culminating in 2002′s Tallahassee LP.1 For our purposes, what matters is that the cycles allow Darnielle to not only keep loose the narrative but let him animate interrelated, emotionally-bound sensations through both connected and disparate character arcs.

While I know and celebrate Darnielle’s history of grand aspirations and wide interests, rumors that he and his Goats were releasing a Christian-themed album came to me as a bit of a shock. Upon first listen, however, it became clear that, like the others, this record, the follow up to 2008′s momentous Heretic Pride,2 was more art than gospel. In fact, Darnielle intimated that he took a more dispassionate, literary approach in these diaconal studies, though it’s worth noting he became entranced by some of the Bible’s lessons, for lack of a better word, which, from my vantage point, likely made a tricky endeavor. Actually, let’s let John explain it himself:

I guess the obvious question is going to be: “John, have you had some sort of religious awakening?” and while I guess lots of people might want to be coy about answering that, that’s never really been my style, so: no. It’s not like that. It’s not some heavy-narrative-distance deal either, though, and it’s not a screed. It’s twelve new songs: twelve hard lessons the Bible taught me, kind of.3

TMG devotees can correctly assume that TLOTW2C, the sort of loose concept record Darnielle has been making since 2002’s All Hail West Texas LP,4 is characterized most by a sort of tonal, thematic and atmospheric unity. Last year’s Heretic Pride, maybe his grandest endeavor, boasted new, loftier production values and more complex compositions, not to mention outright traditional orchestration of his dissonant string section.5 Following this course, Darnielle hired the classically-trained Owen Pallet, he with the violin, known to some through Fucked Up’s Hidden World and others through his solo project Final Fantasy, to work on and contribute to the record’s string arrangements.

The result is a sparser, more solemn album with tracks like “Samuel 15:23”6 and “Hebrews 11:40”7 hearkening back to material off 2006’s Get Lonely.8 His references reach even further back: “Romans 10:9”9 and “Isaiah 45:23”10 take the smooth flowing 4/4 backbeat from 2002’s “New Chevrolet In Flames,” with the former also bringing to mind a fleshed-out “The Day The Aliens Came” from Come Come To The Sunset Tree.11 “Genesis 3:23”12 sounds more in tune with “Letter From Belgium,” “Quito,” and “Against Pollution,” all off We Shall All Be Healed,13 and the phrasing shares a chromosome or two with “Autoclave” from Heretic Pride. The piano-led, jaunty “Genesis 30:3”14 and “Deuteronomy 2:10”15 invoke two other songs from Darnielle’s catalog: “Memories,” from his side project The Extra Glenns, and The Mountain Goats’ “Michael Myers Resplendent,” a cut from 2008′s Heretic Pride.

Darnielle’s vocal inflections are forceful, even at whisper-level: you can hear his subdued dejection, the low sweet melodies contrasting with the at-the-end-of-my-rope vocal intensity and the crashing, albeit gradual,16 orchestral crescendos.

The Life Of The World To Come is by no means The Mountain Goats’ magnum opus, and so may fall into obscurity among those just beginning to delve into the canon, but it more than holds its own against releases from other groups this year. It earns a respectable 2 T’s, and a place near the front of the Goats’ extensive back catalogue. Criticisms aside, we should credit Darnielle for making a series of albums and songs with few enough dips and bends that even its newest addition reasonably elicits a blind listen.


  1. A record devoted entirely to the story of the “Alpha” cycle's protagonists.
  2. Since that record, TMG have given us the Satanic Messiah EP, a split with Kaki King called Black Pear Tree, and the Moon Colony Bloodbath split 12” with John Vanderslice, released to accompany their “Gone Primitive” tour.
  3. From a July 2009 announcement of The Life Of The World To Come.
  4. LP No. 10 if you’re scoring at home. Note that on his first nine albums, the songs were unrelated and bundled together in a foggily-evident manner, like disparately-patterned Mexican blankets, woven from the same loom, or, say, the clashing throws on Roseanne’s couch.
  5. The author said the strings now sound still taut and moving, but fuller sounding, and littered with steep-crescendoed-swells.
  6. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”
  7. “God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
  8. No. 15.
  9. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
  10. “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”
  11. Album No. 14, 2005.
  12. “Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.”
  13. 2004, No. 13.
  14. “And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.”
  15. “The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims;”
  16. More gradual, rather, than those on Heretic Pride.

Cam’ron – Crime Pays¹



Would all those designated kindly stand at attention? Thank you much.
Let us get down to business then, fellows.
The reputation I’ve garnered for throwing around doubloons precedes me. Also, I’ve installed a virgin set of wheels on my Stutz Bearcat.
Keep in the front of your mind, George Moore, I turn quickly on my radius and release — no doubt owing to my infantry training at the hands of Brig. Gen. Pellham-Wick. And it is not in my interest to come down to the level of the vicar’s son, and mislead his peers with youthful jokes and insouciance about my good for-tune.


  1. Earlier, we heard a shriek in the study. Wally, supposedly reviewing Cam'ron's latest, was in there drinking wine. ("An '82 Montepulciano, you nincompoop.") He began cursing…that he had ruined the CD and a copy of the King James Bible as well. Half a roll of Bounty and seventy or so minutes later, he sent us his "review." For reference, please find Cam'ron's original words to Crime Pays' title track here.

Fever Ray – S/T



This record is the first solo effort from the chick in The Knife, the Swedish electronic duo. And as I understand it, the album was written in a network of catacombs and underground canals, through use of steampunk gadgetry and the presence of chanting spirits during a cipher of synthesized seances. You have to expect cool things from a Swedish woman into wearing masks, pitchshifting, and “Trailer Park Boys.”1 I recommend supplementing this listening experience with your iTunes Visualizer (⌘T). Into weird films? Check out the videos produced for four of the songs on the album. “If I Had a Heart,” the first one, is about things I hope never to witness first-hand. An empty pool full of dead people behind a mansion prowled by feral canines? This is the type of scenario I would avoid in real life, but one I find rather enticing when portrayed successfully in an artistic medium. Scarily vacant face-painted pagans seem as right as rain in this video, yet I’d be quick to turn and walk in the other direction if they popped up on my way to the bus stop.


Fever Ray’s first American show

Karin Dreijer Andersson from The Knife graced New York City with her rare and sublime presence as Fever Ray for a two-night engagement beginning on September 28 at Webster Hall. Those who saw her Monday witnessed the first of only eight North American performances in support of the incredible self-titled album (Rabid, 2009).

I thought one thing as I sold off the last of my extra tickets (yeah, it’s like that) and made my way into the grand ballroom: “Karin, please point your most powerful laser straight into my pupils and blow my brains out of the back of my skull onto these hipsters behind me.” Luckily, she not only had lasers, but mirrors to reflect and intensify them. The LP was played entirely, and she treated the audience to two covers, recorded versions of which are available on a limited tour 7″ (Rough Trade).1

There was no encore, but Karin gave us everything she had and everything we needed. We even saw her face. Does anyone know what was up with that dude in the hat on stage left? If he has his own band, I’d like to get into them.

Brooklyn Vegan has a nice set of photos, but we got the best video.

Witness: If I Had a Heart + Stranger Than Kindness (Nick Cave)


  1. Tracks: 1. "Stranger Than Kindness" by Nick Cave and Anita Lane 2. "Here Before" by Vashti Bunyan. Also available through