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Album Premiere: The Mountain Goats, 'Transcendental Youth'

John Darnielle contemplates anxiety, longing on new LP

September 24, 2012 8:00 AM ET
Full Album Premiere: The Mountain Goats, 'Transcendental Youth'
The Mountain Goats, 'Transcendental Youth'
Courtesy of Merge Records

John Darnielle keeps busy. After delivering All Eternals Deck just last year, Darnielle and the Mountain Goats return with Transcendental Youth, a contemplative record with themes of anxiety and longing. Opener "Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1" marches on ambling drums, forceful strums and Darnielle's distinct, high-pitched vocals, while "White Cedar" burns bright and slow with tense horn arrangements and soft piano caresses. But Darnielle keeps things varied on Youth, rocking unabashedly with piano chord jabs and pure power-pop flair on "The Diaz Brothers." "There's always a lot of pleasure in my life," Darnielle told Rolling Stone last month. "But what I do is find dark things to sing about and try and infuse them with some sort of triumphant power."

Transcendental Youth is due October 2nd.

Listen to 'Transcendental Youth' here:

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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