It’s been a little over a year since our Mount Eerie episode, but more importantly, it’s been a little over a year since the release of A Crow Looked at Me, Phil Elverum’s bleak, uncomfortably direct meditation on the death of his wife, Geneviève Castrée. And in a way the period of time since that work is the subject of today’s episode, as Mount Eerie’s latest album, Now Only, reckons with the grieving process, memory, what time does to death, and life after Crow.
So as you can imagine, this was a pretty intense episode to make. But the thing is, Now Only isn’t intimidating in the way that A Crow Looked at Me was. In fact, it’s almost welcoming, sharing memories, bits of gallows humor, and legitimately catchy (if very bleak) “choruses” among its darkest moments. It’s a warmer, more musical album, where the emotional moments hit hard not because of their stark alienation, but because you can feel them too. So this isn’t another “O Superman” B-Side—instead, it’s a reflection on generosity, shared emotional response, and the incredible talent at the heart of Mount Eerie.
Now Only is a beautiful album that you shouldn’t be afraid of, and I hope this episode is able to convey some of that. If nothing else, it was at least one last shining beacon of good music before the month gets infinitely worse.
The latest episode of our ongoing “Catching Up!” series is here, and this time I think we can be forgiven for dropping the ball. When we first covered The Breeders with cover artist Haley Thompson way back in Episode 16, it had been over 9 years since their latest album. Of course, we should’ve known that that’s just a typical album interval for the Deal sisters, as proven by the release of their fifth album, All Nerve, earlier this month.
For a certain kind of Breeders fan, this is a momentous occasion, as its the first album recorded by the original Last Splash lineup (not the Pod lineup, presumably because Tanya has a Belly reunion to plan) since, well, Last Splash. And while that was nearly 25 years ago, you’d never know it to hear this latest blast of warm, salty Breeders charm. All Nerve is an album that reminds you of everything you love about The Breeders—their casual élan, complex-yet-catchy chord structures, and goofily surreal lyricism—while still avoiding the trap of just re-treading old ground. In short, it’s fantastic, which is why we had such a great time recording this day-time episode—and why our original picks have changed by the end.
Also: Max starts becoming Andrew, Andrew learns how vinyl works, and we discover the shocking connection between Solid Snake and The Shangri-Las
At this Desert Island Discourse, we always strive to make our episodes as thorough and complete an examination of an artist’s discography as possible (broader surveys notwithstanding). However, so many of our favorite artists are rebellious sorts who care not for our mission, and continue to release excellent albums after we’ve recorded. So in an effort to keep up with their output, every so often we’ll be releasing B-Sides to talk new albums released by artists we’ve already covered. We’re calling it “Catching Up With…” because we are unimaginative hacks. First up: Catching Up With the Mountain Goats
This is really all our fault—Goths, the most recent album from John Darnielle and company, came out only a month after we recorded those episodes, and we knew it was coming. But we were younger, more impatient castaways back then, and simply could not wait. And it’s a shame, because Goths isn’t just a great album, but an album that adds new context to the Mountain Goats discography as a whole, solidifying what seems to be a great, golden, experimental era. Which, really, is only appropriate for a record of jazzy pop songs about Gene Loves Jezebel. Also: we discuss our long, ambling paths to grave, offer a peek behind the kimono, and come up with a really great idea for the next Mountain Goats album, seriously John, call us, it’s gold.