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The Mountain Goats

About The Mountain Goats

My insides are pink and raw
And it hurts me when I move my jaw
But I am taking tiny steps forward

And I feel sure that my wounds will heal
And I will bloom here in my room

With a little water,
And a little bit of sunlight,
And a little bit of tender mercy, tender mercy.

The Mountain Goats are an indie folk rock band from Claremont, California who have been based in Durham, North Carolina since the early 2000s. Founded and headed by singer-songwriter John Darnielle, the Mountain Goats are simultaneously a core genre staple and in a class of their own.

While Darnielle is the only consistent member of the Mountain Goats, he’s worked with many collaborators over the course of the life of the band, including indie rock luminaries Franklin Bruno and John Vanderslice. Most recently, on their 2017 album Goths, the Mountain Goats were Peter Hughes, bass and vocals; Jon Wurster, drums and percussion; Matt Douglas, woodwinds, vocals, and keys; and John Darnielle, vocals, piano, and Fender Rhodes.

The music of the Mountain Goats has changed a lot through the course of their career. In the early years, they were known for their distinctive home-recorded sound, with Darnielle making many of the band’s releases on an old Panasonic boom-box. This era was also notable for the band’s prolificacy; Darnielle joked in 2000 that this was a time “where you had to decide whether it was groceries or the new Mountain Goats record, because they were coming out at the rate of about one every thirty-six hours.”

Over the years they’ve explored a lot of different sounds and styles—most obviously in 2002, when they released two albums, All Hail West Texas and Tallahassee, with wildly contrasting recording and production styles. While few Mountain Goats songs are directly autobiographical (with the notable exception of the 2005 album The Sunset Tree), their lyrics often derive heavily from Darnielle’s experiences growing up in a troubled home in the Los Angeles suburb Claremont; his time as an addict to heroin and then methamphetamine; his youthful Catholic faith, subsequent rejection thereof, and continuing fascination with Abrahamic religion (manifested most significantly on 2009’s The Life of the World to Come and 2013’s Transcendental Youth); and the lives of the young patients with whom he worked as a psychiatric nurse at Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, California.

Their most recent album, Goths, is a collection of stories about goth subculture and the eventual acceptance of moving on from who you once were. It is heavily informed by Darnielle’s and Hughes' experiences with Southern California’s particularly vibrant 1980s goth scene.