06 January 2010

tldr; I owe the NYC taper a muffin basket or something...

So, and this is going to shock you guy seriously, but when it comes to writing about music I'm a gusher. If I love an album I am incapable of writing calmly or with any kind of reserve, it's all 'best album EVA!!!!' and 'oh my god I may as well stab my ears out right now because this it it guys this is the pinnacle of all music!!!! On the other hand, if something doesn't seem that great to me I don't say anything. It's not that I'm too nice, it's just that days have finite hours so why waste time writing about something I don't love more than anything ever right at that second. (Seriously, you know girls who meet a guy one day and start planning the wedding the next? I'm like that with music. I remember fellow VKer Jess made me a mix cd with a Herman Dune song on it and by the end of the weekend I had tracked down their entire discography...) And anyway, there are more than enough indie blogs out there willing to rip strips outta stuff, so I'll leave it up to them.

Anyway, this is why, despite making no secret of my crazy fan girl love, I never did a post about the latest Mountain Goats album, 'The Life of the World to Come.' I didn't actually like it. This was very hard for me guys, seriously. I've devoted quite a few years of my life now to loving the Mountain Goats, I seriously was unsure of how to proceed.

First, there was denial. I told myself I did like it. Sure, I'd listened to it barely twice, but I loved it, honest! I couldn't bring myself to put it on my best of 09 list, which is why the demo takes made it on instead.

Then there was fear. Maybe I just didn't get it? Maybe the problem was me? I remember when people would bag older tMG release Get Lonely and I would chuckle a self satisfied chuckle because clearly these noobs just didn't understand the album. Was I now a noob?

My response to this fear was to soldier myself in an armour made of indie snobbery. I only liked Darnielle's older stuff, that was all. He'd, like, totally sold out. I listened to '97s Full Force Galesburg (oh, guys, seriously this album is so perfect it makes my heart hurt a little every time I listen....) on repeat for days. I convinced myself that everything Darnielle had done post All Hail West Texas (the last of the boom box albums, Tallahassee was the next release and it was recorded in a real live studio as was every album following) wasn't actually that great.

But you know what? Mostly I was just sad. My life has taken some hugely unexpected twists over the last few years and my unconditional love for the mountain goats was one of the few constants. I loved every god damned song JD had ever written. Every. God. Damned. One. It was hard admitted to myself that this newest album just didn't work for me. It reminds me of something my friend said when her all time favourite band, the Smashing Pumpkins, was about to release a new alum. She said she was scared, because what if she didn't like it? It seems that it should be the other way around, the artist should be the one scared over whether or not we'll like it, but I knew exactly how she felt.

I could end this blog post here and it would be a bittersweet little essay of sorts dealing with the emotional ties we forge with music. But first I'd like to tell you about what happened this morning. I was working on some writing and had a tMG bootleg playing in the background. I reached a chapter break and paused while I considered what to write next when the song that was playing caught my attention. The quiet beauty of the song struck me, I mean really struck me. I'm not exaggerating when I say I was nearly moved to tears. It was 'Genesis 30:3,' track six on The Life Of The World To Come, and I don't know if the strong emotion I was feeling was on account of the song, or because maybe there was room in my heart for this new album yet.

Will I grow to love The Life of the World to come as much as I love Full Force Galesburg and The Sunset Tree? Right now I can't say, but I think there's a good chance I will, and it will be all the more sweeter for hard road I had to take to get there.

The bootleg that inspired this epiphany? The ever awesome NYC taper's recording of the January 09 Webster Hall show. Amazing sound quality, and JD's performance is full of passion, even for him. It can be downloaded here.


Jess said...

i totally agree that TLOTWTC is a proverbial "grower" of an album. The first few times I heard it went through me like water and left me totally indifferent. But slowly without warning it started to click.

Also it works MUCH better live. Having been at the show you linked to want to give NYC Taper a hug for preserving the set!

aftm said...

Hey Megan. I felt/feel the same way about the album. I was terrified when he released Genesis 3:23 early and I hated it, and if it wasn't for the beauty of the first and last tracks on TLOTWTC I would have given up altogether. But I think it is growing on me, slowly.

Julie said...

i didn't think it was too long. i did read.