Kelly’s Album of the Week: All Hail West Texas

All Hail West Texas by The Mountain Goats shows the power that one man, a tape recorder and an acoustic guitar can have. John Darnielle single-handedly created this album in his house on a boombox recorder, and he wrote his lyrics on the margins of his hand outs from a job orientation class.

As a listener, you’ll notice that the sound quality differs from a typical studio, but the feedback gives the album a feeling that you’re listening to an underground masterpiece. All Hail West Texas is proof that great songs can outshine great recording. Each song tells a story from Darnielle’s youth, and his powerful lyrics are paired with fairly simple chord progressions that creates an excellent blank canvass for his lyrics to stand out.

Every aspect of youth is explored: love, dreams, failure, and partying. The song “The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton” is the story of two boys try to follow their dreams and are punished for doing so. Darnielle’s powerful last verse of this song is shocking, but makes listeners feel anger for the characters in the song. There’s a chilling familiarity in the sentiment of songs like “Jenny” and “Fall of the Star High School Running Back.” I feel like I know the people in his lyrics.

The recording of this album might take some getting used to, but it is definitely worth the listen. Also, be sure to check out more of The Mountain Goats’ work like The Sunset Tree and Beat the Champ.

About the author: As an avid listener of music, guitar player, singer, and band member, I thought it might be fun to give my two cents about music I enjoy. I’m a fan of most genres, but really I just want to hear music with some artistic merit. I hope to get people to listen to music they haven’t heard and see if they like it. Also, feel free to suggest any music for me to listen to.

Kelly’s Album of the Week Archive