Part of Jan 2012 by

The Mountain Goats at Antone’s (January 19)

It all began during the summer of 1994. I was Sebadoh’s biggest fan — at least in my own mind — and I had heard about an obscure collection of lo-fi audio cassettes self-recorded by Lou Barlow of Sebadoh under the moniker of Sentridoh and released by Shrimper Records. Luckily, my good friend had a Shrimper Records mail-order catalogue and I quickly mailed off a handmade order form to Upland, CA. In return, I received Losers, Most of the Worst, Some of the Best of Sentridoh and Wasted my mailbox, as well as a handwritten note by Shrimper owner Dennis Callaci. Dennis suggested that I check out a few other artists on his label. He started me off with John Davis’ Stars and Songs, Franklin Bruno’s Etudes for Voice and Snackmaster and The Mountain GoatsTaboo VI: The Homecoming, The Hound Chronicles and Hot Garden Stomp. Soon the floodgates had opened and packages from Shrimper were piling up inside my mailbox.

I can admit it now, it was an addiction; but at the time it just felt like I was collecting something that very few people knew anything about. The Internet was still in its infancy and this was several years before Google and YouTube came into existence. Shrimper Records had absolutely no marketing budget so their album sales were based solely upon word of mouth. I remember Dennis mentioning to me in one of his letters that most of his business from the early 1990s was thanks to Sebadoh fans such as myself who actively sought out other recordings by Barlow. Since that fateful summer of 1994, I have purchased almost everything that The Mountain Goats have released and I have seen The Mountain Goats perform over 50 times (yet I know that I pale in comparison to their most ardent fans). Like most of the other Shrimper artists, I guess The Mountain Goats have Barlow to thank for that.

I consider John Darnielle — who essentially uses The Mountain Goats as a solo moniker — to be the most gifted lyricist of all time. No exaggeration. This guy has a way with words. Prior to the release of Tallahassee (The Mountain Goats’ first release on 4AD) in 2002, Darnielle’s recording and vocal style was deemed “inaccessible” by most of my friends; nonetheless, I saw pure, unfiltered genius in The Mountain Goats’ entire oeuvre. (Personally, I believe that The Mountain Goats’ 4AD releases have become significantly more accessible.) Every song of Darnielle’s, especially his output from the 1990s, triggers unique emotions and a kaleidoscope of memories for me. (I haven’t got a clue how to explain that statement in any more detail.)

To be perfectly honest, it has been a few years since I have attended a show by The Mountain Goats; so I am really looking forward to their [sold out!] show at Antones on Thursday, January 19th. I am really curious to hear how much of his set list will delve into his 1990s repertoire; regardless, I can already guarantee that his Austin setlist will be pure brilliance.

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