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The Mountain Goats 

The Sunset Tree

Wednesday, Jun 22 2005
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The Mountain Goats is the name used by this singer/songwriter John Darnielle, who initially emerged during the golden age of cassette-released, lo-fi indie-folk circa '92. So, yeah, the dude is definitely one of them weathered indie-survivors. Now, my problem with Darnielle's latest release, The Sunset Tree, is not his gratuitously verbose, grad-student poetics, which are considered his fundamental artistic strength. Nor do I mind his harshly nasal vocals. I love Scott Walker and Randy Newman, and they both possess cringe-inducing voices, and they both write some pretentiously dense lyrics. The problem I have with this disc is the fact that it's filled with nothing but super-bland, one-dimensional pop music. Fuckin'a -- every track sounds like some quaint little theme song written for one of these television shows like Scrubs or the now-defunct Ed or whatever hip new program features a mildly handsome Caucasian dude who's really a bit goofy-looking but is terribly charming, silly, and well-versed in pop-culture allusions and ironic humor. How can I be expected to appreciate Darnielle's lyrical artistry when his cookie-cutter music makes me feel like I'm hunkering down for a painful night of prime-time network television?

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Justin F. Farrar

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