John Darnielle is the man behind The Mountain Goats, which he began 15 years ago as a quirky cult artist distributing tapes recorded on a Panasonic boombox, and which has now established him as one of the best singer/songwriters in the game. His 2002 story-album, Tallahassee, was possibly the best release that year, and he is preparing to release a new album in a month, entitled The Sunset Tree.
1. Essential Logic--Fanfare in the Garden: "Are double albums cheating? If so, I'll just grab the first of this double-disc wonder, which is first-wave-of-punk English fake-funk of the more playful, dreamy variety, but I'd hate to lose 'Wonderful Offer,' 'Hiss and Shake' and the unheard later stuff that's cool in a quieter way, like 'Love Eternal.'"
2. Sarah Dougher--Day One: "The follow-up, The Walls Ablaze, is actually a better album, but I know it like the back of my hand, while I haven't yet worn Day One down to the aluminum. Sarah Dougher's songs drive great big hot iron spikes through my heart."
3. (smog)--Rain on Lens: "An unorthodox (smog) choice; the canonical ones are Dongs of Sevotion and Knock Knock, which are both excellent, but this one's a tougher nut to crack: more menacing and aloof, the spiritual father to 2003's Supper. Tough nuts are key to enjoying your lifelong exile on a barren desert island. Also, the drums are smokin'."
4. Aeternus--Beyond the Wandering Moon: "It was between this and Eyehategod's immortal Dopesick, but the epic scope of the Norwegian death/black metal hybrid won me over, as I figured frosty guitar shred would get me through times of no food better than doom-dirge Louisiana beer-grind, and would also make a good soundtrack for the day I began actually feeding on my own limbs."
5. Gustav Mahler--4 Ruckert-Lieder ... Fischer-Dieskau & Bernstein: "The cruel choice remaining: dance music, drone music or classical? Or the Notorious B.I.G.'s Born Again, just 'cause it's got 'Dead Wrong'? I gotta go with Mahler, to whom I will easily be able to dance when the heat and the loneliness have stripped me of my sanity and all I wanna do is wail all day. I know Biggie would understand."