The Mountain Goats’ Satanic Messiah EP, limited to 666 copies—technically, 665, since Darnielle is already claiming the coveted final copy for himself—finds its way to the internet, as a donation-optional download. Four songs: “Sarcofago Live,” with its “New Star Song”-dekeing opening; “Wizard Buys A Hat,” which debuted in New York when Darnielle played it at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple in May; the potential Obama economium “Satanic Messiah”; and the lounge-y, cinema verite “Gojam Province 1968.” All, although in particular the latter two, fall into the realm of quiet, restrained, minimal TMG material. As Darnielle wrote one time, “Everybody else assumes the louder I sing, the more deeply I’m feeling the emotions, and I do try to oblige, but it’s the quiet moments where the shadows sort of start to flesh themselves out.”
Those inspired to spend the rest of the day listening to the Mountain Goats will find there is plenty of material, for free, online. Some rankings:
1) Mountain Goats Live at Farm Sanctuary on 2007-06-17
Archive.org hosts many bootlegs of various Mountain Goats shows; this one is unequivocally the best. Recorded on the second day of a two day benefit Darnielle did for Farm Sanctuary, on their property in Watkins Glen, New York, this was the all request set: People emailed song requests in advance and, in exchange for donations to Farm Sanctuary, Darnielle relearned a ton of old songs—often never heard live, before or since. Highlights: “Attention All Pickpockets,” “Standard Bitter Love Song #1.”
2) Mountain Goats Live at Old American Can Factory on 2005-07-02
Recorded two days before 4th of July, on a Brooklyn rooftop, you can hear the fireworks going off during a devastating string of quiet songs: “Twin Human Highway Flares,” “Going to Port Washington,” and “Waving at You,” potentially the most unfuckwithable Mountain Goats song that exists. Both this and the above are solo sets—no coincidence.
3) The Mountain Goats: “Sign of the Crow”
As yet unreleased, shot back in March by the Boston Phoenix. “I wrote this in a motel room in Alaska about three weeks ago. I hope I can remember how to play it.” Hasn’t surfaced since, which is distressing. “Of the several things you’re going to have to do today, you’re gonna regret one/This generation asks for a sign; it’s never gonna get one.” Old-school jam.
4) The Mountain Goats: “Raja Vocative”/ “There Will Be No Divorce”
Another solo performance, this one a Daytrotter session. Two of the two more brutally visceral love songs in a catalogue full of them. “There Will Be No Divorce” is the second best Mountain Goats divorce song, after “Waving at You.” Both I believe were written before Darnielle was married.
5) John Darnielle: “My Five Favorite Mountain Goats Characters”
OK, totally cheating—this is basically an essay on five of Darnielle’s favorite Mountain Goats songs. Fanboy stuff doesn’t get any better than that, right?