The Mountain Goats - The Hound Chronicles / Hot Garden Stomp [reissue] (Cover Artwork)

The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats: The Hound Chronicles / Hot Garden Stomp [reissue]The Hound Chronicles / Hot Garden Stomp [reissue] (2012)

Reviewer Rating: 2.5

Contributed by: JeloneJelone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Given how far he's gotten with hi-fi, full band arrangements since releasing Tallahassee in 2002, it's curious that John Darnielle would pause to re-release his rare second and third albums, The Hound Chronicles and Hot Garden Stomp, as a double CD set. He's always been too prolific to consider his .
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Given how far he's gotten with hi-fi, full band arrangements since releasing Tallahassee in 2002, it's curious that John Darnielle would pause to re-release his rare second and third albums, The Hound Chronicles and Hot Garden Stomp, as a double CD set. He's always been too prolific to consider his past. Plus, he once told me that, thanks to the Internet, the idea of re-releasing rarities didn't matter much. Yet, here we are in 2012, and diehard Mountain Goats fans can finally purchase some of Darnielle's (formerly) cassette-only early work without resorting to exorbitant eBay prices.

As prolific has he's been in the last decade, one could argue Darnielle was even more so pre-Tallahassee. He recorded his albums without a studio, instead relying on a series of boom boxes. You want lo-fi? Howsabout songs so murky you can only hear guitars and whirring cassettes? TMG pre-Tallahassee has many similarities to post-, as Darnielle was and is one of the finest lyricists in indie/folk. But given his low tech roots, it's hard to discern what constitutes "albums" versus "demos."

For me, I've always drawn the line with 1994's Zopilote Machine, the first TMG release to gain wider exposure and the oldest full-length in print, at least until now. That's when Darnielle really came into his own as a songwriter and performer. Non-album tracks from before and during this period, collected on three compilations released in 2002, further confirm that Darnielle was growing at a rapid clip.

Up until now, I've always understood why Hound Chronicles and Hot Garden Stomp were out of print. They're not terrible, and they bear all the hallmarks of the great, still available TMG albums. The songs consist mostly of Darnielle and his acoustic guitar, although he throws in the occasional keyboard track, like on the goofy/awesome "The Cow Song," and samples, such as on "The Garden Song." By "sample," I mean "taped from a TV set," because we're talking the lowest of low tech here.

Darnielle clearly had found his "sound" by this point, but he was still growing as a lyricist, and nothing here hits with the same lyrical punch as, say, "Going to Georgia" or "The Mess Inside." It is because of this that I consider these albums to really be demo collections. I suspect Darnielle would agree that these were not his best works, per the liner notes: "No-one anticipated their coming into the world, and very few noticed or cared. Among those who did, reaction was fairly evenly split. Some people those these tapes were kind of cool. Other people thought they sucked. One can make, without much effort, a good case for either side of the proposition."

But for the Mountain Goats loyalist, this double disc collection packs a lot of history. Here are some of Darnielle's earliest recordings with ex-member Rachel Ware. Here are some early entries in the "Going to‚?¶" series. Here are more songs about life in Chino, Calif. As a big, big fan, I'm stoked to finally have a physical copy. As a guy trying to downsize his music collection, and who wasn't really interested in buying these albums until a few weeks ago, however, I feel quite differently.

Maybe Darnielle just wanted to do Shrimper a solid, or combat the insane collector's market, but this collection doesn't really seem to have much of an audience. People just getting into the Goats should not start here. But if you're the kind of obsessive who needs to hear Darnielle's every note, well, then you're probably like me, and thus you probably already downloaded and deleted these albums years ago.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
greg0rb (July 2, 2012)

Wow, didn't know that we had Pollard Game-of-Prick-suckers of this magnitude around here. I was comparing them in output, not genres, lyrics, legendary status or whatever else you guys pulled out of yer asses.

http://www.themountaingoats.net/cgi-bin/songs.cgi?ACTIO N=show_all_songs

This reveals that Darnielle has written 525 songs, which is no small feat. And while I love Guided By Voices, I'd contest that Darnielle has the higher batting average of great songs. Are you counting Tobin Sprout's songs in there for quality or quantity? Cuz you shouldn't be. ALSO, All Hail West Texas IS an indie modern classic, as well as Zopilote Machine, and The Sunset Tree got critical accolades from all over.

They're still both prolific motherfuckers, as stated previously. Love them both.

And yet, I say "check and mate, son!"

slowstupidhungry (July 2, 2012)

"Darnielle is like Bob Pollard but with a better ratio of "fantastic" to "meh". Prolific motherfuckers."

'Things that would make anyone with a decent taste in music laugh in your face' for 500. I mean... You serious?

EchosMyron (July 1, 2012)

Nope. Darnielle is an above-average indie folk songwriter who writes very compelling lyrics which supplement the songs and help them stand out. He doesn`t have a vast musical range, and if not for his lyrical gifts, there is no doubt his albums would not be as critically lauded. Even though he started before him, I would liken Darnielle to the American John K. Samson, though he *is* a much better songsmith than Samson.

On the other hand, Pollard`s lyrics don`t really add up to much (though he is good at turning a neat phrase, even if it`s just Dadaist gibberish), but the man is an (uneven) pop genius who has dabbled in so many genres that it`s futile to attempt to list them here (the primary ones, though, are rock, psych, and post-punk). But melody takes precedence over lyrics in his case.

Moreover, you can`t really compare the size of their outputs. A quick glance at www.gbvdb.com will alert you to the fact that Pollard has recorded well over 1700 songs (with GBV, as a solo artist, or with one of his 20 collaborative side-projects). Meanwhile, Darnielle has put out maybe 20-25 albums, which is a lot, but not even close to Pollard`s total output. As of July 1, 2012, Pollard has already released 3 albums this year, with a fourth due in November - and this is a slow year for him thus far, what with the Boston Spaceships and Mars Classroom being inactive!

And try as you might to prop up his accomplishments, Darnielle does not have a Bee Thousand or an Alien Lanes to his name. He has not been part of an iconic indie classic, primarily because his core sound just isn`t all that unique, or because even at his best, his songwriting cannot reach the transcendence of "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory" or "Motor Away."

Nice try, though.

greg0rb (June 30, 2012)

Darnielle is like Bob Pollard but with a better ratio of "fantastic" to "meh". Prolific motherfuckers.

EchosMyron (June 29, 2012)

Yes, I remember deleting these two albums from my PC a few years ago, along with Full Force Galesberg and Get Lonely. This band has put out some good albums, but is far from flawless.

greg0rb (June 29, 2012)

Blasphemy! ;)

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