This 1994 full-length album from the Mountain Goats, essentially songwriter John Darnielle and whomever he invites along, represents a great introduction to his “early” work. His recording techniques have evolved from the primitive acoustic-guitar to boombox simplicity of this early work to the professional recording studios and backing bands that he has since settled on, but his songwriting has remained quirky, conceptual and unpredictable. Zopilote Machine contains quite a few oddly titled tunes that are lyrically more straightforward than their titles imply. “Sinaloan Milk Snake Song” includes some nice harmonizing, but mostly it’s Darnielle ranting and raving with excess energy that comes out as furious guitar strumming and wordy expositions. “Alpha Incipiens” boils down to the pure sentiment of “The only thing I know is that I love you and I’m holding on.” Quetzalcoatl is Born” begins, “I meant to leave the house this morning.” Darnielle beautifully mixes the humorous, tragic, and mundane into an unpredictable world that’s every bit as poignant as it is strange.