Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Beat the Champ

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Beat the Champ

Article excerpt


The Mountain Goats (Merge Records, 2015)


You're either down with wrestling as entertainment or you're not. The recent death of Rowdy Roddy Piper either means something to you or you're in the "Rowdy roddy what?" camp. You'll either like The Mountain Goats' latest album about wrestling or--no, wait, you're just going to love it. Such is the greatness of John Darnielle's love letter to the world of wrestling. Beat the Champ is a layered, fanatical, lush album that celebrates the glory of wrestling and explores the darker corners of Darnielle's relationship with his stepfather.

In "The Legend of Chavo Guerrero," Darnielle pays homage to Guerrero as a father figure in one breath while slamming his awful stepfather in the next: "You called him names to try to get beneath my skin ... He was my hero back when I was a kid/You let me down but Chavo never once did."

The orchestration and energy of the songs mimic wrestling as they tumble from low whispered narratives in "Stabbed to Death Outside San Juan" to explosive tracks like "Choked Out. …

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