The Mountain Goats – “Clean Slate”

The Mountain Goats – “Clean Slate”

The Mountain Goats have made a whole lot of great albums in a career that stretches back decades, and they aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Last year, the band released Bleed Out, an LP inspired by action movies, and it was fucking awesome. Today, they’ve announced plans to follow that one with something that might be even more exciting: A sequel to their beloved 2002 classic All Hail West Texas.

All Hail West Texas was the last album that the Mountain Goats released when the band was really just John Darnielle and his boombox. It’s full of vivid, powerful stories that Darnielle sketches out in a few words, and it remains one of the best records in a huge catalog. The new LP Jenny From Thebes is dedicated to Jenny, the character introduced in the All Hail West Texas song of the same name. (She’s made a few appearances on Mountain Goats songs since then.) Sonically, Jenny From Thebes stands in stark opposition to All Hail West Texas. In a press release, Darnielle says, “If we’re going to do a sequel to a record that was recorded almost entirely on a boombox, why not do the opposite and make it as big as possible?”

The Mountain Goats recorded Jenny From Thebes with Sheryl Crow collaborator Trina Shoemaker. Bully’s Alicia Bognanno, who produced Bleed Out, plays guitar on the album, while Matt Douglas adds horn and string arrangement. Matt Nathanson and the Go-Go’s’ Kathy Valentine sing backup. Lead single “Clean Slate” is a lush, expansive chug that has a gorgeous Motown-style sheen working for it, and Darnielle sounds smoother than I’ve ever heard him. The lyrics paint a picture of a house full of vagrants. This shit rules!

Here’s what Darnielle has to say for himself:

We’re proud to reveal “Clean Slate,” the first song from our new album Jenny From Thebes. People like to hedge bets by using terms like “concept album” but let’s be clear, this is a rock opera about a woman named Jenny, who buys a Kawasaki to ride as far away as she can from a town she’s been carrying on her shoulders too long. “Clean Slate” sets the scene: This is the house Jenny rents; these are the people who crash there when they need a place to stay; this is where she’s at in the process of becoming someone other than the keyholder she’s been. Produced by Trina Shoemaker! Played by the Mountain Goats at the Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma! Respect to the real pirates of west Texas, still out there on the roads: may you remain one step ahead forever!

Below, check out “Clean Slate,” the Jenny From Thebes tracklist, and the Mountain Goats’ up coming tour dates.

01 “Clean Slate”
02 “Ground Level”
03 “Only One Way”
04 “Fresh Tattoo”
05 “Cleaning Crew”
06 “Murder At The 18th St. Garage”
07 “From The Nebraska Plant”
08 “Same As Cash”
09 “Water Tower”
10 “Jenny III”
11 “Going To Dallas”
12 “Great Pirates”

8/04 – New York, NY @ The Rooftop at Pier 17
8/05 – Boston, MA @ Citizens House of Blues
8/08 – Seattle, WA @ Woodland Park Zoo
8/09 – Portland, OR – Pioneer Courthouse Square
10/02 – Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up Tavern
10/03 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Belasco
10/05-06 – San Francisco, CA @ August Hall
10/07 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
10/09 – Spokane, WA @ Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox
10/10 – Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
10/11 – Bozeman, MT @ The ELM
10/13 – Boulder, CO @ Fox Theatre
10/14 – Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre
10/27 – Lubbock, TX @ Cactus Theater
10/28 – Dallas, TX @ Longhorn Ballroom
10/29 – Houston, TX @ Heights Theater

Jenny From Thebes is out 10/27 on Merge Records. Read our We’ve Got A File On You interview with John Darnielle here.

Jackie Lee Young

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