The Mountain Goats
John Darnielle has managed to endear himself to the Indie Rock-buying public , despite -- or because of? -- the fact that his recordings are Homemade with a capital "H." Actually, with Darnielle's songs the format works quite well, as it accentuates the earthy folksiness of his songs. At times, he bears a striking resemblance to the ill-fated, politically oriented Phil Ochs: this similarity is only accentuated when he sings with violent passion (and more than a hint of nose), "You can arm me to the teeth / You can't make me go to war." 1960s, anyone? Darnielle does occasionally drop his acoustic guitar to employ the dated keyboards, cheesy drum machines and ironic lyrics that have become associated with Lo-Fi -- a line such as "Bill Gates will spearhead the Heaven 17 revival," will cause many a postmodernist to crack up. But it's not irony that makes the Mountain Goats appealing. Rather, it's the fact that Darnielle is so believable and honest without being overly earnest, so smart without being pretentious, and so willing to communicate without worrying about perfection.