Power Hour: Bright music and dark words define The Mountain Goats

Power Hour distills musicians’ discographies down to one tight 60-minute set, picking the big hits and deeper cuts from across a career, looking both to define who the artists are and to serve as a killer compilation.

Though singer-songwriter John Darnielle has performed and recorded under the name The Mountain Goats since 1991, for some fans the project really began in earnest in 2002, when the band released two albums. The first, All Hail West Texas, was the culmination of the decade that Darnielle had spent spewing songs into a cheap boombox, with only his acoustic guitar and the occasional guest musician for accompaniment. It’s a masterful proof-of-concept: a collection of lyrically sophisticated and melodically fluid character sketches, performed with an unusually raw passion that matches the desperation of the subjects. Nine months later, The Mountain Goats released Tallahassee, a polished studio recording featuring full folk-rock arrangements, backing a …

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