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.
CW: R*pe, Sexual Abuse
Need a big loan from the girl zone? Well this desert island has you covered, thanks to longtime castaway enthusiast (first-time castaway) Caroline Pendleton! With her anime-fueled determination, Max’s lifetime devotion, and Andrew’s generally pleasant demeanor, we have everything we need to cover the first half of the discography of songwriter/piano-bench humper Tori Amos. That’s right, we’re all Toriphiles now.
Tori Amos is sort of an anomaly in the music scene. She’s a classically-trained pianist who made her name writing lyrically and melodically dense albums, but she’s also a die-hard pop fan who was kicked out of music school for refusing to read sheet music. She’s boasts a dry wit and a fanciful streak a mile wide whose biggest hit was a dance remix of a harpsichord song that heavily features the line “starfucker/just like my daddy”. But for her diehard fanbase (of whom Caroline and Max count themselves a part), Tori Amos is quite simply one of the greatest songwriters of her era, and her discography is filled with wild experimentation, impeccable songcraft, and a bizarre penchant for soft-rock excess.
This week, we’re covering the first half of her extensive oeuvre, from her stark, piano-focused debut to the post-9/11 adult contemporary concept album Scarlet’s Walk. The albums she released in this period were some of her most creatively vibrant, establishing her as a force to be reckoned with even as she dipped in and out of the charts. And, of course, we tackle it with all the grace and aplomb you’ve come to expect from us—which is to say, none. Also: the place of Goth in our schools, the debut of the CureBerries, and a song for the Greg inside us all.