The Mountain Goats new album, In League With Dragons, surges with wild tales of revenge and redemption, heroes at a crossroads, and great figures in decline. Twelve new songs penned by John Darnielle that luxuriate in a wide swath of sounds, from shades of the 80s Athens scene to swathes of outlaw country and a few motorik meditations.
Says John Darnielle: “This album began life as a rock opera about a besieged seaside community called Riversend ruled by a benevolent wizard, for which some five to seven songs were written. When I’m focusing on a project, I always distract myself from the through-line with multiple byways, which are kind of like mini-games within the broader architecture of a long video game. As I worked on the Riversend stuff, weird noir visions started creeping in, probably under the influence of Leonardo Sciascia (a Sicilian author, he wrote mysteries) and Ross MacDonald’s The Zebra-Striped Hearse, which a friend from Port Washington gave me while I was in the thick of the writing. I thought these moods helped complicate the wizards and dragons a little, and, as I thought about my wizard, his health failing, the invasion by sea almost certain to wipe out half his people, I thought about what such a person might look like in the real world: watching a country show at a midwestern casino, or tryout pitching for an American League team years after having lit up the marquees. Finally, I wrote the title track, which felt like a drawing-together of the themes in play: rebellion against irresistible tides, the lush vistas of decay, necessary alliances. I am earnestly hoping that a new genre called “dragon noir” will spring from the forehead of nearly two years’ work on these songs, but, if not, I am content for this to be the sole example of the style.”
In League With Dragons was engineered by Matt Ross-Spang (Margo Price, Jason Isbell, John Prine) and recorded by The Mountain Goats – songwriter and guitarist John Darnielle, drummer Jon Wurster, bassist Peter Hughes, and multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas – at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, TN. Robert Bailey contributed additional vocal arrangements and strings performed by the Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra.
The Mountain Goats recently announced a nearly 40-date US tour that launches on album release day and extends into September, playing some of their biggest venues to date and multiple nights in select cities.
This incredible amount of activity for the year ahead follows a very busy 2018. The Mountain Goats toured extensively, co-produced several episodes (and a live event) of the acclaimed podcast I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats and surprise-released the ‘Hex of Infinite Binding’ EP. 2017’s Goths LP was met with universal acclaim. John Darnielle has written more than 600 songs, and his novel Wolf in White Van spent several weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.