Just a quick post but I thought I should share the ridiculous infatuation I have nurtured into bloom for ‘Sax Rohmer #1’ by Mountain Goats from their Heretic Pride record. Darnielle basically sings about some sort of war/peace gathering taking place at a harbour somewhere but, as with many Mountain Goats songs, the thing I’ve latched on to is the chorus. I honestly think John Darnielle must be among the best chorus writers in the business. There are three songs on their masterpiece, The Sunset Tree, which, despite the tone of the record being resolutely depressing, are rousing and beautiful and brilliant in ways only truly great songwriters can achieve. The best of the lot, ‘This Year’, is ostensibly about Darnielle stealing his father’s car and joyriding for a day, knowing it will mean hell to pay when he returns. Despite that underlying sadness, Darnielle has a gift for inspiring adrenaline-rush moments of romanticism meaning you are taken on the car ride, experiencing all the free abandon Darnielle feels in his moment of freedom.
‘Sax Rohmer #1’ is a prime example of chorus-writing skill, a surging, beating-heart chant that I find completely thrilling. It’s going to be among my favourite tracks of the year.
Here’s the video. Enjoy and let the obsession take over.
Music: I’ve been taking in a few new records this week, notably the glammed-up wonders of Supergrass on Diamond Hoo Ha. Nick Cave’s Dig Lazurus Dig is pretty groovy, more Doors-y than I’d normally expect but still head-and-shoulders above most of the competition. The Breeders’ Mountain Battles is more of a mood piece but equally great in its own way. My favourite of the week was Mountain Goats’ Heretic Pride which follows the trajectory of Get Lonely in becoming less frenetic on the acoustic guitar and fuller in the songcraft.
Film/TV: I haven’t really seen anything this week barring a review screening of Horton Hears a Who which I actually liked quite a bit. It was defiantly silly and very odd in places. The main take-in for me this week was The Wire’s final two episodes which lived up to the tone of the whole run. It is officially the Greatest Television Show of All Time. The fifth was the weakest season so far but it’s still so far ahead of anything else that it really doesn’t matter. More on that soon.
Books/Comics: The Yiddish Policeman’s Union was magnificent. Michael Chabon’s entire body of work is now winging its way to me because the guy’s writing is just incredible. I cannot wait for the Coens’ adaptation.
Other: It’s been a podcast bonanza this week after I purchased a reconditioned iPod from Apple. My favourite thus far is KCRW’s Left, Right and Center on which Ariana Huffington proves you can talk like Audrey Hepburn and still be a storming authority on modern politics. Real Time with Bill Maher is no less of a left-wing polemic in audio form and I really loved the two Silence in C Minor podcasts. You can download those here. Also recommended is the Slate Political Gabfest and New Yorker: Out Loud.