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mine's either all hail west texas or the sunset tree.
It's Tallahassee. Although i do have a growing soft spot for Heretic Pride, it just seems to get better every time i listen to it.
I'm pretty sure both these opinions will change with time though. Tallahassee was the first Mountain Goats album i heard and has lots of good memories attached to it. I've also listened to it the most obsessively out of all of them. I've still to give some proper time to the two you've listed, i think an afternoon with nothing to do and a pair of headphones is in order for both of them!
Tallahassee or All Hail West Texas
The Sunset Tree
from the earlier ones, really outstanding album. Get Lonely from the 4AD bunch.
they're both growers but i think are better for it.
With All Hail West Texas and Sunset Tree much as I like them, there's not a lot you don't get on first listen.
I think it's some of the best writing of his career, even if the music is somewhat more mellow than what anyone's used to expecting from John Darnielle. It suits him well, and since I didn't care for Get Lonely and hated Heretic Pride so much that I had to take it off within the first five songs, so I'm glad the Mountain Goats have an album out that I can get behind. As for all time fave it's between Tallahassee and The Sunset Tree.
some of those songs are devastating
I have a probably stupid love for Ghana.
Full Force Galesburg
They're all great though, except Get Lonely, which is merely alright. I haven't heard the new one either, I'm a bit worried about it since I didn't particularly take to many of the new songs when I saw him live last weekend.
I think it's better than all of the albums he's done since.
The only earlier one I've heard is The Coroner's Gambit, which would probably outstrip We Shall All Be Healed if I had heard it first.
Really likin the new one, Full Force Galesberg is up there as well. I really need to listen to his older stuff more but I fear i may have to just devote a few months to listening to just Mountain Goats and nothing else!
The Sunset Tree, being the first album to make me truly weep.
As for just really fond of, Tallahassee, All Hail West Texas, and We Shall All Be Healed are pretty warm for me, mainly because of tracks like "The Best Death Metal Band out of Denton" and "Cotton" and such. But it ALLLLL comes back to songs like "Love Love Love" and "Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod?"
tallahassee and Sweden. The new one seems superb after a couple of listens.