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Texas eccentric Daniel Johnston is the ultimate tape-hiss troubadour. Substitute zany tales of loserdom for his Beatles devotion and you have John Darnielle, frontgoat for the hyperprolific Mountain Goats. Through all of the band’s offerings, Darnielle’s warbly, passionate wails entreat the listener to sympathize with a rotating cast of nonexistent characters: the star high-school running back who blows out his knee and sells acid to a cop; Cyrus and Jeff and their failed death-metal dreams; the couple from Tallahassee, “hand in unlovable hand,” whose only common interest is drink. “I’m just making up stories, inventing characters, and sort of living inside them and seeing how emotional I can pretend to be,” Darnielle told Amazon.com this week. What? He was just faking it all along? For those of us who feel betrayed, Darnielle submits his first foray into lyrical nonfiction, The Sunset Tree. It’s a confessional work from a previously nonconfessional songwriter, in which Darnielle tragically depicts the grief of growing up with an abusive stepfather, who was unrelenting in his glass throwing. In a surprise good-guy move, Darnielle dedicates the record to the subject at hand. Perhaps he’s taken a page from the late Philip Larkin: “They fuck you up, your mum and dad./They may not mean to, but they do./They fill you with the faults they had/And add some extra, just for you.” The Mountain Goats play with Shearwater and Erik Friedlander Tuesday, May 3, at 8:30 p.m. on the Black Cat’s Mainstage, 1811 14th St. NW. $10. (202) 667-7960. (Constantine Caloudas)