For the past few months, the podcast I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats has provided a fascinating glimpse into the mind of John Darnielle, who is both one of our greatest songwriters and, I would argue, one of our greatest writers. Every week on the podcast, Darnielle has been sitting down with Night Vale host and Mountain Goats superfan Joseph Fink. The podcast’s first season has centered on the classic 2002 album All Hail West Texas, the last and greatest document of Darnielle’s acoustic-guitar-and-boom-box lo-fi period. And now we get a tribute album out of it.
On every episode of the podcast, Fink and Darnielle have been discussing a different individual track from All Hail West Texas. That’s the idea, anyway. If you’ve ever talked to Darnielle, or even read an interview with him, you know that he’s a great thinker and talker with a tendency to push conversations pretty far afield of their starting points. So it’s really just been a series of John Darnielle conversations, and that’s been a great thing.
With every episode, Fink has also recruited a different artist to cover whatever song they’ve been talking about. Since those old Mountain Goats songs are mostly wordy acoustic-guitar brays, the artists covering those songs have had to dig deep into their bags of tricks to adapt these songs. We’ve posted a few of those covers — from artists like Laura Jane Grace, Craig Finn, Amanda Palmer, and Mothers. And right now, you can stream the whole tribute album below.
I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats: All Hail West Texas is out 4/6 on Merge.