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Mountain Goats mania

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Two Madison, Wis., software developers love The Mountain Goats, and--at last weekend's Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago's Union Park--they were ready to shell out to show it.

Andrew Bazan and Aaron Hook, both 25, won mix CDs tracked, burned and designed by John Darnielle and Peter Hughes of The Mountain Goats. Bazan found himself in the midst of a three-way bidding war for the double-disc set from Darnielle, who now lives in Durham, ultimately dishing $430 for the one-of-a-kind compilation. Hook sailed away with a relative bargain, paying only $100 for Hughes' single disc. Hughes even packaged the CD case with four $1 bills, so Hook walked away with an instant rebate.

Discs from Darnielle and Hughes, along with those from acts like Silver Jews and Tapes 'n' Tapes, helped raise $1,400 for Youth Jam, which provides music education for underprivileged and homeless children. The program is a part of Rock for Kids, a Chicago-based charity.

"They were the only artists that came to check on their CDs, and they came about three times each day," said Rock for Kids Executive Director Michael Nameche, adding that John and Lalitree Darnielle bid on the mixtape from Mission of Burma's Clint Conley. "They've been great."

Both Bazan and Hook got a chance to spin the discs on their car ride back to Madison. Hook says Hughes' disc sports Tom Petty, Pet Shop Boys, The Baptist Generals and several Franklin Bruno tracks. Bazan classifies Darnielle's first disc as Europop and the second as a heavy slab of metal (he names Ozzy as an artist he recognizes).

"It was an amazing chance to get a piece of Mountain Goats history, to buy something that Darnielle worked on with his hands," says Bazan.

Bazan and Hook have another connection to The Mountain Goats: Both attended college in Galesburg, Ill. The town of 35,000 was mentioned by name four times in the Goats' song "Weekend in Western Illinois," a cut from 1997's Full Force Galesburg. Neither, though, says it's necessarily his favorite Mountain Goats album. Hook is prone to reach for Tallahassee, the first Mountain Goats he heard while in college. At $100 for one disc, though, he'll probably be reaching for his new album for a while.

The Mountain Goats' Get Lonely appears Aug. 22 on 4AD. To hear The Mountain Goats, see the mix CD or read about Ashley Stove's upcoming reunion, see www.indyweekblogs.com/scan.

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