The Mountain Goats announced on Tuesday that they will release a limited-edition 7-inch vinyl single, Welcome to Passaic, on Aug. 23 via Merge Records.
The indie-folk group, fronted by John Darnielle (vocals, guitar, keyboard) and composed of Peter Hughes (bass, backing vocals), Jon Wurster (drums) and Matt Douglas (flute, saxophone, clarinet, guitar, keyboard, backing vocals), previously released their 17th full-length studio album, In League with Dragons, via Merge in April.
The new 7-inch single will include “Passaic 1975” from In League with Dragons and the unreleased, fan-favorite track, “Get High and Listen to the Cure.”
Regarding Welcome to Passaic, Darnielle elaborated on the origins of its tracks in a statement, mentioning his Ozzy Osbourne inspirations and how Hughes believed the Goth-inspired “Get High and Listen to the Cure” is the “Mountain Goats song the whole world has been waiting to hear”:
As is generally known, whenever I get some time to myself I tend to start thinking about Ozzy Osbourne. A few years ago I wrote about 3/4 of an album’s worth of songs about Black Sabbath and/or Ozzy’s solo career, some of which were on the Marsh Witch Visions EP. When I sent Owen Pallett a link to the songs I was working on for In League with Dragons, he noticed a bunch of other songs in the folder—stuff I’d meant to say “these were for something else” about, but didn’t. Those songs were probably going to hang out in that folder for a good long while or maybe never see daylight at all. I am a shark, I seek the blood-cloud a little further ahead.
But Owen announced, in our second conversation about Dragons, that “Passaic” was the single. I was pretty surprised by this—to me it felt like a 2/3 Robert Forster + 1/3 Syd Barrett’s Opel sessions cocktail, music dear to my heart but not renowned for its chartbusting ways. Owen, however, heard the song more in the vein of “Talk About the Passion”-era R.E.M., stuff I only know in passing. Still, I was committed to having him call the shots on the arrangements, and curious about what he meant.
One pre-production session, one full studio session, some very intense mixing back-and-forths with the genius Shani Gandhi, and two tours later, the arena-with-lighters heart of the song has revealed itself even to me, who can barely find an arena on a map. Shani’s final mix takes at least 50% of the credit for the way that final chorus and outro now sound like the morning sun rising above a nameless rock festival’s trashed field somewhere east of Ohio in the mid-seventies, everybody drowsy and loving their situation, all vibes positive except the ones you haven’t accounted for yet.
Speaking of singles, Peter Hughes, on hearing “Get High and Listen to the Cure”—written for Goths, attempted in the studio sessions in versions that lacked the snap of this demo—felt certain this was the song that would make us a household name. I’m fond of the song, though I don’t share his conviction that it’s the Mountain Goats song the whole world has been waiting to hear. Should this release prove Peter right, I will be quite content to concede the point.
The Mountain Goats appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. in July, performing “Sicilian Crest” and “This Year,” off their 2005 album The Sunset Tree, with Colbert himself.
“Get High and Listen to the Cure” is the fourth new single from the band in 2019, as they previously shared “Sicilian Crest” in April, “Cadaver Sniffing Dog” in March and “Younger” in January.
Welcome to Passaic is now available for preorder via the Merge store. Copies of the new release can also be obtained by visiting The Mountain Goats’ merch table on their upcoming international tour dates, or at independent record stores.
Check out the Welcome to Passaic 7-inch below, beneath the band’s 2008 performance from the Paste archives.
Welcome to Passaic Album Art: