Racking Up Plays: “Damn These Vampires” by The Mountain Goats

These are the posts where I gush about some song that I’ve got a huge crush on at the moment, and you put up with it and listen because you’re a good friend.

The Mountain Goats - John Darnielle, Peter Hughes, Jon Wurster, December 2010.
Ain't no party like a Mountain Goats party. (by DL Anderson via www.mountain-goats.com)

“Damn These Vampires,” The Mountain Goats

Whether they’re brooding and sparkly or being hunted down by Abraham Lincoln, surely everyone has had their fill of vampires by this point, right? Well, not John Darnielle, because the singer-songwriter is leading off the 15th (by some counts) album released under The Mountian Goats moniker with his own stab at vampiric mythology. Of course it’s not really about the undead, any more than “How to Embrace a Swamp Creature” was literally about a sentient mass of boggy muck. No, Darnielle instead seems to be describing the allure of staying out until dawn and the toll it takes. Per usual, he does so via some fantastic poetic imagery: “God damn these bite marks deep in my arteries.”

Darnielle says the album, All Eternals Deck, is built on themes of the occult—not necessarily “The Occult” as in witches and fortune telling, but the original meaning of the word in reference to anything hidden from normal view. It’s about how unfamiliar things can inspire fascination and dread.

Combine that subject matter with the well-publicized fact (well, well-publicized on sites that follow The Mountain Goats, anyway) that death-metal legend Erik Rutan of Morbid Angel fame was producing a quarter of the album, not to mention cover art featuring vaguely Scandinavian lettering on a pitch-black background, and a lot of people were expecting All Eternals Deck to be full of blast-beat drums and heavy shredding. The very idea of The Mountain Goats putting out a metal album was as laughable as the band putting out a Christian rock album, but since they kind of almost did that last time, it seemed at least plausible. “Damn These Vampires” immediately quashes that speculation with its gentle acoustic riffs, shuffling drumbeat and affable melody. In other words: classic Mountain Goats.

[free download via Stereogum]

All Eternals Deck isn’t out until March 29, but you can currently stream the album in its entirely at NPR. (The site also currently is streaming Civilian by Merge Records labelmate Wye Oak, the title track of which was Racking Up Plays a few weeks ago.)

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