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The Sunset Tree

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Album-of-the-year contender from Lo-Fi indie rockers The Mountain Goats, The Sunset Tree is the best collection of tunes lead singer and guitarist John Darnielle has never recorded on his boom box.

Thirteen short songs (the longest being sightly more than four minutes), all done in a sparse, slightly rough manner, with imaginative lyrics and neatly varied music, make up the album. A loose animal theme keeps things together. The sudden realization that the album’s crammed with great moments raises it. And Darnielle’s personal imprint (songwriting, voice, instrument, emotion and storytelling) elevates it to the level of a must-listen. Heck, it’s a pretty affecting album, too. Not in an overly sentimental manner, either, but in an unexpected and disarming way.

And at a time when it seems that every new fab band is being compared to some other, older, better band, it’s nice to be able to answer the ever-so-horrible “who do they sound like?” question with:

“They sound like the fucking Mountain Goats. And I like it that way.”

Rating: 3.5 / 4.0

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