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The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride (Cover Artwork)

The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats: Heretic PrideHeretic Pride (2008)
4AD Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


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

Something that I think is becoming increasingly lost in music is something that should be regarded as its most important aspect: the art of storytelling. Sure, some bands' songs may tell of how the singer felt when his father passed away, or a rapper may tell of how he broke from poverty to a life o.
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Something that I think is becoming increasingly lost in music is something that should be regarded as its most important aspect: the art of storytelling. Sure, some bands' songs may tell of how the singer felt when his father passed away, or a rapper may tell of how he broke from poverty to a life of privilege, and that's all well and good, but in both instances there's no real, tangible story. It's usually a sporadic recalling of events.

The Mountain Goats have always been a cut above, though, and John Darnielle has always exemplified the power that comes from a well-told story. It's not just in the details or the recreation, but in the way Darnielle is able to masterfully craft every aspect of the story, to make for a gorgeous and engaging narrative. He's one of the last true storytellers left.

Heretic Pride continues this fine tradition, and while some may still complain that his transition to playing with a full band was for the worse, I'll contest without hesitation that it was for the better. When the violin cries while Darnielle laments "I checked us into our hotel and filled the bathtub, and you got in the warm warm water / I pulled the pedals from my pockets, I loved you so much right then" on "San Bernadino" it's impossible to not be enraptured by the beauty -- the beauty of Darnielle's voice and the beauty of the story that it helped to tell. Also on full display in the song is Darnielle's penchant for delivering a line, pausing to peak the drama, and starting to sing again. It's a simple technique, but a noticeable one that has a huge impact on how these songs actually come across. "In the Craters on the Moon" employs this technique as well, giving every single word in the song that much more weight.

The punchy acoustic strumming and subtle but powerful drumming give the three-and-a-half minute song an epic feel, and Darnielle's trembling vocals draw every line of lyrics out, almost making each line seem like it's a song of its own. Each line has its own identity, giving anyone listening ample time to take it all in. It's rare that each individual line on a song has as much impact as the song on its whole, but Darnielle's always been able to eloquently state in a line what it would take others an entire dissertation to do.

Amazing as every track on the album is, it's the title track where the Mountain Goats shine the brightest. A triumphant beacon as profound as it is intelligent, "Heretic Pride" incites an energy and conviction that few, if any bands can match. The story of a heretic on his way to be killed in the town square, the song is actually an exercise in the appreciation of life and the defiance of a man who knows that his is ending.

Well they come and pull me from my house, and they drag my body through the streets / And the sun's so hot I think I'll catch fire and burn up, in the summer air so moist and sweet / And the people all come out to cheer, rocks in the pathway break my skin / And there's honeysuckle on the faint breeze today, with every breath I'm drawing in / Crowds grow denser by the second, as we near the center of the town / And they dig a trench right in the main square right there, they pick me up and throw me down / And I start laughing like a child, I mark their faces one by one / Transfigurations gonna come for me at last, and I will burn hotter than the sun.
In the face of indomitable odds, the man in this story stays true to himself until his very last breath, and Darnielle makes damn sure that his admirable defiance is not lost on anyone listening. The song might be about a heretic, a type of person not many can relate to in 2008, but the beauty of it, as with most Mountain Goats songs, is that the crux of the story is applicable to so many things. The song is just as profound when taken literally as figuratively, and the defiance of that man is equally reflected in the last words that Darnielle shouts:
I waited so long and now I taste jasmine on my tongue, and I feel so proud to be alive, and I feel so proud when the reckoning arrives.
True to his last breath, Darnielle has once again, through such simple means, given a much larger picture for us all to think about. And you know what?

When I listen to this record, I feel so proud to be alive.

 

 
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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.
keithybobeefy (July 26, 2010)

I listened to this album while walking through New York City today. Really is an incredible album that is so life affirming.

dannyoleson (February 27, 2008)

I have a few friends who can't get past his voice - they say it irritates them. I don't understand them. This guy's music hits me in a way little does these days...

allison_le_gnome (February 26, 2008)

Isn't Jon Wurster in this band now? He's half of Scharpling and Wurster, which by some sort of transitive property makes this awesome too.

More seriously, I've always meant to start listening to this band and never have.

Archangel (February 25, 2008)

Haha sorry, RKL. Only a few months (two and a half) until I'm in the legal drinkers' club. Surely you can't be THAT old.

rkl (February 25, 2008)

Posted by Archangel on 2008-02-22 20:19:25

I fucking love Anchors vs. Anyone Punknews drama. Nothing will touch the classic Chinatown throwdowns, but danperrone is doing all right for now.

Oh, and I've decided I'm not going to pay money for any Mountain Goats albums until I'm 21, because they can't seem to play all-ages shows in Seattle. I'll support you guys financially in a few months... until then, I will most definitely be accepting a burned copy of this record.

christ... i cant believe youre under 21. youve been posting here about as long as i have. thanks for making me feel old.

nocigar (February 24, 2008)

unbearable? wow, so that's why so many people like this band.

his voice is great, fits the music perfect.

HonestAbe (February 24, 2008)

This guy's voice is unbearable to listen to and he's boring live = fact

greg0rb (February 24, 2008)

JamesThomas - you have EVERY Mountain Goats cassette, 7" and CD? I am so fuckin jealous. I was going to bid on the Taking the Dative cassette on eBay and was willing to pay maybe $15-20, but it ended up going for $36!! Dammit. I considered myself a Mountain Goats superfan but I only have 10 (i think) CDs and one 7"... and I don't have a couple of what you consider the best (Coroner's Gambit or Full Force Galesburg). Damn, Darnielle, why you gotta be so prolific? I believe the new album puts him over the 500 mark for songs recorded... themountaingoats.net doesnt appear to have the new album's songs in the database.

And Scott, get with it and get some Goats!! All good baby.
-Greg

JamesThomas (February 23, 2008)

Scott -

Choosing where to start in Mr. Darnielle's daunting catalog is a tough task. My deep recommendation would have you start with what I believe is his best low-fi album: Full Force Galesburg or his best EP: New Asian Cinema. I don't know if people just don't have these albums or what, I hold every cassette, cd, and 7" he has ever prodcued and these two stand tall among others (like Nine Black Poppies, Coroners Gambit, and All Hail West Texas) best are the best.

Lo-fi start with Full Force Galesburg and for his 4AD material just go in chronological order.

sumwon (February 23, 2008)

I'm not a Mountain Goats fan, however:

Nice review funny bickering below = 10 stars every time

DarrenMcLeod (February 23, 2008)

i don't know why i just typed "topic of point". what a weird typo.

DarrenMcLeod (February 23, 2008)

back to the topic of point, i think it's a solid review. i think the score is a bit generous, but that's mere opinion.

san bernadino, autoclave, and so desperate are my favourites after giving the disc 4 spins.

Anchors (February 23, 2008)

If you didn't give a shit, you wouldn't continuously respond.

And you were 17 five years ago? So when do you plan to stop acting like you still are?

mechpope13 (February 23, 2008)

good review

danperrone (February 23, 2008)

bahahahah dude...you are missing the most basic point. i don't give a shit. you can keep yapping about this point, but you're wasting your breath. but hey, if that's all you've got, then i guess you've got no choice but to keep it up! REAL TALK: i don't think there was ever a review posted under theundergroundscene with a winner like "when i listen to this record, i feel proud to be alive"! and those reviews are five years old too, when i was SEVENTEEN!

Anchors (February 23, 2008)

"I never claimed it under my own, I just posted it under that name."

Does this make sense to you? You didn't credit the original writer whatsoever, and posted the review under your name as if you wrote it yourself. The only way anyone would know you didn't write it, is if they saw it where it originally appeared.

You can dress it up any way you like, but the fact of the matter is you plagiarized. That right there invalidates any possible criticism you could possibly have of my reviews, or anyone elses.

How you don't realize that you sound like a petty, immature high school kid any time you post some inflammatory bullshit is beyond me. But please, don't let my comments or the comments of the numerous people that agree with me get in the way of your hilarious and intelligent posts on here.

You're a true winner.

billnye (February 23, 2008)

hahahaha
wait, so submitting some guys review under your name is all cool and shit even if you don't mention that you didn't write it?
perrone man you are a fuckin joke.

danperrone (February 23, 2008)

"Real Talk: You straight up took somebody else's review and submitted it as your own. I know you read it when I typed it the first time, and you blatantly ignored it, but that doesn't make it any less of a fact. You are in no place to be critiquing the writing of anyone else when you can't come up with original thoughts and ideas in the first place."

real talk? who the fuck are you, jeffrey lyons? as for why i didn't respond to your original post, it's because i don't give a shit. FYI, back five years ago (man, you've really gotta dig far back for dirt on me...weak!), i never claimed it as my own. i just posted it under that name. why do you always bring this up every time i point out something lame that you do? i know it seems like i put everyone down here, but that's really not true at all. you just get (and deserve) 95% of it, so of course it's gonna seem like that! REAL TALK: you're a chump.

Vincent_M (February 23, 2008)

I checked us into our hotel and filled the bathtub, and you got in the warm warm water / I pulled petals from my pockets, I loved you so much just then..."

That line brought a tear to my eye. Fantastic album, if not dragging for a sing or two in the middle.

KurtTGS (February 23, 2008)

We Shall All Be Healed is a GREAT record to start with. Then Sweden, and then Tallahasse, just to be diverse.

Anchors (February 23, 2008)

Posted by danperrone on 2008-02-22 18:11:55

"You're right, you're right. I apologize for not being able to meet your extremely high journalistic standards."

journalistic standards? this is the best you've got in response to your hysterically lame ending line? don't get mad at me, i didn't write it!

do you use clutch lines like those with the ladies at oneonta?

Not only did I write it, but I stand by it as being a great way to end the review.

Real Talk: You straight up took somebody else's review and submitted it as your own. I know you read it when I typed it the first time, and you blatantly ignored it, but that doesn't make it any less of a fact. You are in no place to be critiquing the writing of anyone else when you can't come up with original thoughts and ideas in the first place.

Even when you were a staff member here, you used to leave insulting comments on other people's reviews; you did this with staff members and registered users here. It was pathetic than, and it's pathetic now. There's a pretty egregious difference between having your opinions and using those opinions for no purpose other than to put other people down.

Grow the fuck up, kid.

P.S. Scott, in all honesty, The Mountain Goats have yet to release a bad album. If you like the full band feel of this record, check out Get Lonely and The Sunset Tree, and if you like a more lo-fi kind of feel, check out All Hail West Texas, The Coroner's Gambit, and Nothing For Juice.

briennis (February 22, 2008)

scott, hit "tallahassee" next would be my reccomendation

maverick (February 22, 2008)

This is the first Mountain Goats album I've ever heard, and I really like it -- where should I go from here?

-Scott

Archangel (February 22, 2008)

I fucking love Anchors vs. Anyone Punknews drama. Nothing will touch the classic Chinatown throwdowns, but danperrone is doing all right for now.

Oh, and I've decided I'm not going to pay money for any Mountain Goats albums until I'm 21, because they can't seem to play all-ages shows in Seattle. I'll support you guys financially in a few months... until then, I will most definitely be accepting a burned copy of this record.

billnye (February 22, 2008)

spankin > fuckin

danperrone (February 22, 2008)

"You're right, you're right. I apologize for not being able to meet your extremely high journalistic standards."

journalistic standards? this is the best you've got in response to your hysterically lame ending line? don't get mad at me, i didn't write it!

do you use clutch lines like those with the ladies at oneonta?

feeeding5000 (February 22, 2008)

The big question about Dan Perrone: "fuckin'" or "spankin'"?

Big_Guy (February 22, 2008)

danperrone = theundergroundscene, right?

or am I making shit up?

nocigar (February 22, 2008)

perrone is a fuckin clown. Awesome album, nice review.

Anchors (February 22, 2008)

You're right, you're right. I apologize for not being able to meet your extremely high journalistic standards.

Maybe next time I'll just take a page out of your book and plagiarize an entire review.

danperrone (February 22, 2008)

i'm just going to quote this again

"When I listen to this record, I feel so proud to be alive."

there is no constructive criticism. this line makes me want to hurl. and it only seems like i do nothing but bash you, because...well, your shit is pretty weak. your cheesy one-liners read like a damn movie trailer, not a music review.

billnye (February 22, 2008)

wait anchors and perrone aren't the same guy?

greg0rb (February 22, 2008)

Holy shit this album is great. Nice review Anchors. I'm glad you took it cuz you can speak of the lyrics much more eloquently than I ever could... I would have talked mostly of the music, which has some of the loudest songs since "See America Right" on Tallahassee. "Lovecraft in Brooklyn" is the shit. It also has the most drums since We Shall All Be Healed which I love.

As for the guy below me, this would be a good album to start because it shows a good range of their songwriting. Their whole discography is solid, but the best full-band albums are probably Sunset Tree and Tallahassee, while if you're goin for old school lo-fi, All Hail West Texas or the really old Zopilote Machine are awesome.

dietcokeofpunk (February 22, 2008)

I honestly haven't given these guys a chance yet. would this be a good album to start? or where should i start?

F_Ward (February 22, 2008)

I agree with Anchors.

Anchors (February 22, 2008)

Posted by danperrone on 2008-02-22 00:17:47

"When I listen to this record, I feel so proud to be alive."

FUCKIN GAG ME DUDE

Straight talk: The only reason you even have a registered user name on this website is to make negative comments about the people that still review here. I can take plenty of constructive criticism, but the fact of the matter is that all you do is make inflammatory comments on reviews on this site.

You look nothing more than petty. Go make some friends, take up a hobby, do whatever it is that you have to do that will keep you from your immature interjections on this site; it's tired.

AnotherBoringStory (February 22, 2008)

Amazing album. Not as good as The Sunset Tree, but that's a perfect 10 record for me, so I didn't expect anything to top it.

briennis (February 22, 2008)

this is easily my favorite 4AD-era Goats album.

skaboom (February 22, 2008)

Ok, I fail at reading comprehension. You said exactly what I was trying to say, only much more coherantly. Still, this record is great.

skaboom (February 22, 2008)

Gotta disagree with your first two paragraphs. Sunset Tree and Get Lonely strayed from his formula of storytelling and focused more on autobiographical accounts. They're still storytelling in a way, but it lost that unique charm that early MG records had. I'm really glad he went back to his "fictional" style of songwriting, for lack of a better word. Not that his own life tales are uninteresting, but I view this as the best of both Mountain Goats worlds: the classic tales of people on the down and out, with the (relative) studio polish of recent records that make his records easily accessible.

danperrone (February 22, 2008)

and yes i know that's a line from the title track, the first four songs and "tianchi lake" are all great and the rest of the album is boring. dude uses the same riff in half the songs.

danperrone (February 22, 2008)

"When I listen to this record, I feel so proud to be alive."

FUCKIN GAG ME DUDE

GlassPipeMurder (February 22, 2008)

this guy used to live about a block from my dad's apartment. never listened though. and now he's gone.

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