|Mountain Goats, The / Beat The Champs|
|Add Date:||2015-06-05|| ||Pull Date:||2015-08-07|| |
|Week Ending:||9 Aug||2 Aug||26 Jul||19 Jul||12 Jul||28 Jun||21 Jun||14 Jun|
Themed indie folk rock from master storyteller John Darnielle. |
This is an album about professional wrestling, which JD describes as an “avenue of escape” for him when he was a child. And you know it’s a great album if he turned someone like yours truly that ranges from dispassionate about to repulsed by the subject into someone hanging onto each turn of this rather operatic work. As a narrator, JD plays multiple roles. At times he is young JD, a boy brimming with imagination and fervor for his favorite characters as in “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero.” At others, he sings as various wrestlers, painting thoughtful lyrical portraits and giving meaning to cartoonish façades. The overall result is an arclike tale of performers from their flashy peaks to the pits of injury and the long look back upon lost glory.
Musically, expect the Mountain Goats’ full string/piano/horns band at its best, anchored by upbeat acoustic strumming. Moments of humor, tenderness, beauty that transcends the subject matter, or perhaps elevates it.
Try 2, 3, 6, 10, 11, 13. RIYL previous MG, NMH, Sufjan Stevens, Defiance, OH
FCC clean with possible exception of 8, see below
1. (4:14) med-slow. plucky piano ballad of a wrestler’s nightly struggle, gorgeous horns and flute. showtuney in a good way. “burn like the hillsides on fire/in the squall of the ringside choir.”
2. *(3:00) med-fast. classic MG beat w/ acoustic layers + drums. bright, upbeat, catchy, honest and sweet song about the wrestler that JD looked up to. “I need justice in my life/here it comes.”
3. *(2:52) mid. horns, big and brash, the catchiest tongue-in-cheek humor. or should I say stick-in-cheek? this song cracks me up.
4. (2:55) mid. cheery nostalgia, rolling beat, chugging along. “some things you will remember/some things stay sweet forever.”
5. (1:43) fast. frantic spoken-type lyrics, high energy classic MG
6. *(5:58) mid. starts acoustic, chin-up stuff, becomes rich and emotional “heel turn” (story of hero becoming villain). ends with beauutiful, sadness-lined, somehow lush and stark at once, 2-minute piano coda.
7. (3:23) med-slow. another one that feels like it could be from a musical. dramatic piano, restrained percussion, more theatrical imagery about gratuitous violence. awesome melody. love the ending.
8. (3:49) slow. FCC? (goddamn). dramatic shift from #7. foreboding drawl of acoustic twang with low, flat singing, gradually joined by other instruments and then bam, drama! (see title.) intense - this one feels like a whole play within itself.
9. (2:35) fast. aw yeah. pounding 16th note toms, dark but driving strumming, and charged emotional vocals like in #5. reminds me of Lion’s Teeth from Sunset Tree.
10. *(3:28) med-slow. piano, softest gentlest chugging beat, lush bass notes w/ strings and tender vocals. a wrestler watching the ashes of their career smolder around them. beautiful.
11. *(3:29) slow. acoustic, hushed yet urgent. in wrestling, apparently losing your mask is the end of your character and thus a career. JD uses this metaphor to describe the struggle of having to face his own identity.
12. (2:53) mid. bluesy acoustic anchor, uplifting despite title, becomes anthemic. “let the good times dance across my mind.”
13. *(5:41) slow. a curious acoustic picking underlined with finality softens into tender melancholy layers of flutes and horns. the album arc comes to a close as the wrestler gets ready to have his head shaved and his pride broken on the floor. one of the most cryptic and beautiful lines: “I loved you before I even ever knew what love was like.”