The Mountain Goats no longer do that thing where they cover Ace of Bass's "The Sign" while frontman John Darnielle explains the cultural and artistic importance of the Swedish anthem, but they still have enough great (if often deeply, deeply depressing) songs to make it worth showing up for.
New Yorkers will get two chances to see The Mountain Goats play unusual sets this spring. On March 13, the trio will drop by Carnegie Hall for "The Music of the Rolling Stones: Hot Rocks 1964-1971," one of those "a bunch of artists cover a legend" affairs that the Carnegie does every so often for people like R.E.M. and The Who. Steve Earle, Roseanne Cash, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Glen Hansard of The Swell Season and Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes will also be there, performing songs from the early-era Stones compilation Hot Rocks. Has anyone called "Paint It, Black" yet?
On March 24, The Mountain Goats will also play the experimental, post-classical Ecstatic Music Festival, which pairs together outre downtown music sorts, alt-types and adventurous new composers. The Mountain Goats will play a set, and then the medieval music-oriented New York a capella group Anonymous 4 will perform Transcendental Youth, a set of new, as-of-yet unheard Darnielle material that has been arranged by composer, solo artist and Arcade Fire associate Owen Pallett just for the occasion.
"Anonymous 4 are among my favorite musicians anywhere, ever. Every A4 album is a journey into geographies of mood and tone that you simply can't find elsewhere; whether they're singing a 14th-century Mass or John Tavener, their artistry is peerless," writes Darnielle on The Mountain Goats website. "For me tell you that they're going to be singing the newest as-yet-only-heard-by-people-mentioned-in-this-paragraph Mountain Goats songs, the secluded trapped wet desperate yearning ones I've been working on since late spring, heard here in special arrangements for guitar, piano and voice by Owen Pallett in a gorgeous 400-seat hall is...well, it beggars description.
"So instead let me tell you this about myself. I am person who likes to eat candy. Every time somebody says 'kid in a candy shop,' I think to myself: 'I wanna be that kid in the candy shop, after hours, with the go-ahead to have all the candy I like.' Anonymous 4 singing my new songs in arrangements by Owen: this is all candy ever all at once for me. I simply cannot wait for this show."