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The Mountain Goats: TallahasseeTallahassee (2002)
Reviewer Rating: 4
Contributed by: AnchorsAnchors
(others by this writer | submit your own)
Solo songwriters, more than anyone else in the music world, really put themselves out there. If Bob Dylan makes a bad album, who’s to blame besides Bob Dylan? There’s no, “oh, the drummer screwed this one up for us.” It’s all on one person. Under that style, there’s songwriters who run with it, and there’s songwriters who don’t make it through the front door's threshold without tripping. John Darnielle, known to most as the sole voice and guitar of the Mountain Goats, is a modern day master of his medium.
Turn the volume up real high, all of that money, look at it fly / And you smoking like a chimney / Shadows crawled across the living room's length / I held onto you with a desperate strength, with everything. with everything in me / I handed you a drink of the lovely little thing on which our survival depends / People say friends don’t destroy one another, what do they know about friends? / Thunder clouds forming, cream white moon, everything's gonna be okay soon / Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day.The emotions of Darnielle’s characters run the gamut on this record, as do the ideas he was willing to add. For the first time, there’s small bits and pieces of musical accompaniment. Harmonica, bass, and drums all find themselves on the album by way of “Oceanographer’s Choice,” the Mountain Goats' first foray into a full band sound, and while it’s decent, Darnielle is certainly much more effective in a solo setting, letting his characters firmly embed themselves into your head.
While this is not the Mountain Goats' best effort, the characters and the stories that Darnielle present are still leaps and bounds ahead of most music today. He has the ability to say in 50 words what would take others 500, and that’s not something that can be tought or learned. Tallahassee has its rough patches, yes, but you’d be crazy to think you could find better stories or a more seasoned voice to tell them.
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