Singer-songwriter John Darnielle weaves together the beautiful story revolving around professional wrestling. There's lots of great music that transcends the lines between traditional folk, accessible pop, and raw punk rock. It's a dramatic thrill ride with highs and lows, just like wrestling... and life.
Highlights include the upbeat "The Legend of Chavo Guerrero," the humorous "Foreign Object," the intense "Choked Out," the soft and emotional "Heel Turn 2," and the haunting "Stabbed to Death Outside San Juan" and "Werewolf Gimmick" climax.
When he announced the album at mountain-goats.com in January, he shared (among many other things):
The songs about the animals and dinosaurs you can only wrangle out of me if 1) you're one of my sons or 2) I'm feeling sentimental, and the Ozzy songs must ripen in the darkness until the fullness of the last days. But the wrestling songs, several of which, surprise surprise, are really more about death and difficult-to-navigate interior spaces than wrestling -- those will all be let out of their cages on April 7th in North America. (Europe and the UK prefer to let the album cellar for a week to develop its bouquet, so it comes out there on April 13th. Australia and NZ are always first in everything as we know so y'all get it on April 3rd.) The album's called Beat the Champ, and features cover art by Leela Corman; the vinyl will be two LPs at 45 rpm with lyrics printed on the gatefold. Why lyrics now, after a whole career of refusing to print lyrics? I don't know. Instinct. I am especially proud of these ones. They are rather more emotional than you might guess at first blush.
Personnel on the album includes:
John Darnielle – acoustic guitar, vocals, piano, keyboards, lyrics, composition
Peter Hughes – bass, electric guitar
Jon Wurster – drums, percussion
Brad Cook – vocals (background)
Phil Cook – organ, vocals (background)
Matt Douglas – woodwind, woodwind arrangement
Erik Friedlander – strings, string arrangement
Nathan Golub – steel guitar
Austin Nevins – guitar
Rob Carmichael – graphic design, typography
Leela Corman – cover illustration, additional illustrations
Brandon Eggleston – producer
Brent Lambert – mastering
Scott Solter – additional production, mixing
For more of The Mountain Goats' music, news, and tour dates, check out their Zumic artist page.