I couldn't possibly figure out how to do a Mountain Goats post. It just didn't feel right - how would I choose just 2 songs?! I mean, even if I picked 5 or 10 or 20 I would still be slighting too many good songs! So I thought I would do something a bit different with this post.
I assume that if you're reading this you probably know the Mountain Goats story. It's been widely written about over the years so I will spare the details. However, maybe an important one is that for quite awhile John was only interested in recording stuff that was pretty lo-fi. The early releases are of varying sound quality but the actual songwriting quality was always there. As time went on the recordings did move to an actual recording studio and of course the sound quality became consistently good. The songwriting quality got even better. So a real studio, adding more instrumentation, we have a guy not afraid to switch things up, apparently. (In some ways, the band becoming just that, a band, on the last couple of tours strikes me as Dylan going electric. It's a fun ride to be on.)
Some of the people involved with the Mountain Goats have been friends for a very long time. It strikes me as a wonderful thing to bring your friends with you on the way up. Peter Hughes was an early supporter of the recordings John was doing. Now he plays bass with him. Before all of that he was in a band called DiskothiQ which John cites pretty often and occasionally covers. My favorite song by them (and a great song for a road trip) from the hilariously titled Waterworld album. (Hilarious because it was apparently named after the movie of the same name... A very expensive movie to make that tanked badly.)
Witness Protection Program
Here is my favorite Mountain Goats song with Peter's restrained bass.
Another old friend of John's is Franklin Bruno. I first heard of Franklin because of his band Nothing Painted Blue.
Missed The Point
(For some reason I think of NPB and J Church playing together a lot in San Francisco in the early/mid 90s but maybe they just always played around the same time.) Franklin is a witty and intelligent songwriter and NPB were a fun poppy punky band. His songs are sometimes a bit warped but that's part of the appeal for me. John sometimes covers him live, sometimes Franklin pops up to play with the band, he's recorded stuff for them... he's a very handy guy to know. (Recently saw him play under the name The Human Hearts with Matt Houser formerly of Palomar on drums.) Him and John had (have?) a project called The Extra Glenns as well.
The Mountain Goats are hitting the road yet again in September. If you haven't seen them live I cannot possibly recommend it enough. It's an experience.