The Mountain Goats, Opinions on Sleater-Kinney & The Regrettes


Over the course of 17 albums, The Mountain Goats have gone from a super lo-fi solo project to a polished four piece combo. This week, Jim and Greg are joined by the whole band for an exclusive performance and interview with songwriter John Darnielle and drummer Jon Wurster. They also review the new albums from Sleater-Kinney and The Regrettes.

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The Center Won't Hold Sleater-Kinney


After a four year hiatus, Sleater-Kinney is back with a new sound and a shake-up to their lineup. The Center Won’t Hold, produced by St. Vincent, delves into "industrial noise" and even "cheesy '80s  synth-pop" sounds according to Jim. A number of the tracks, like "Can I Go On," are set to a drum machine, leaving "not much" for drummer Janet Weiss to do, according to Jim. He and Greg wonder if that's what she meant when she cited the band's "new direction" as a reason for her recent departure. Either way, Greg "is scratching his head at what is going on here," and agrees that Weiss is underutilized on this album. He also misses the "triangle" or collaborative tension between the bandmates that caused a "push and pull between" the voices of Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein. He notes that these songs are simply either "Carrie" songs or "Corin" songs. Overall, they both think that The Center Won’t Hold is disappointing.

How Do You Love? The Regrettes


The Los Angeles band The Regrettes are back with their second album, How Do You Love?  Greg and especially Jim are fans of the group and its front woman, 18-year-old Lydia Night. Jim describes their sound as a blend of '90s  Riot grrrl and '60s girl groups. Greg notes that this record is about love, a broad topic but one that the band manages to tackle through Night's nuanced and sharp lyrics. Jim loved this record and believe the band replicated the magic of their debut, even with some lineup changes, as they mature as musicians and individuals.

The Mountain Goats

John Darnielle and Jon Wurster of The Mountain Goats John Darnielle and Matt Douglas of The Mountain Goats The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats released their 17th album, In League With Dragons, earlier this year. Their song "This Year" was recently featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary Minding The Gap and was prescribed on a "Rock Doctors" segment of Sound Opinions.

John Darnielle, the only consistent member over the band's 28 year history, writes and sings all the songs. Over the years he's assembled a top-notch band: longtime bassist Peter Hughes (also an automotive journalist), Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster (also a comedian) and multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas (also a teacher). A restless creator, Darnielle has also received acclaim in recent years for his novels Wolf In White Van and Universal Harvester.

When the band performed a session for us at Thalia Hall in Chicago, Darnielle explained how he approaches songwriting differently than novel-writing (but similarly to poem-writing). He also explains why he's so interested in heavy metal and role-playing games and how he and drummer Jon Wurster started working together.

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