13 Songs, 45 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Nominated for the National Book Award for his novel Wolf In White Van, John Darnielle is clearly in a literary state of mind for 2015’s Mountain Goats’ album Beat the Champ, where he writes of the ‘70s world of wrestling. The musically aggressive “Choked Out” is stream-of-consciousness, lending poetry and reflection to a man being held in a choke-hold. Piano plays a larger part in his sound than usual, adding contemplative depth and dangerous vamping to “Southwestern Territory,” “Fire Editorial,” “Werewolf Gimmick” and “Luna.” Darnielle’s distinctive yawp holds everything together, finding even intimacy on the acoustic-based “Unmasked!”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Nominated for the National Book Award for his novel Wolf In White Van, John Darnielle is clearly in a literary state of mind for 2015’s Mountain Goats’ album Beat the Champ, where he writes of the ‘70s world of wrestling. The musically aggressive “Choked Out” is stream-of-consciousness, lending poetry and reflection to a man being held in a choke-hold. Piano plays a larger part in his sound than usual, adding contemplative depth and dangerous vamping to “Southwestern Territory,” “Fire Editorial,” “Werewolf Gimmick” and “Luna.” Darnielle’s distinctive yawp holds everything together, finding even intimacy on the acoustic-based “Unmasked!”

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Ratings and Reviews

4.4 out of 5
73 Ratings

73 Ratings

God of Thunder ,

Another good album from the Mounatin Goats

If you saw them on the Transcendental Youth tour, you may have learned that JD's stepfather took him to wrestling matches when he was a kid. So JD developed a love for wrestling, meaning it only makes sense that he would do a concept album about the subject. I'm no wrestling fan, but you don't have to be a wrestling fan to like this album. "Foreign Object" is a classic: if you don't believe me, see them live and hopefully they will play this song. It's amazing that the Mountain Goats are still writing crowd-pleasers 20+ years in their career. "Legend of Chavo Guerrero" would be right at home on the Sunset Tree: it even has a verse where JD sings to his stepfather. "Werewolf Gimmick" is an agry song: I LOVE the angry songs. Other highlights include "Stabbed to Death Outside San Juan," "The Ballad of Bull Ramos," "Heel Turn 2," and "Animal Mask."

A couple of problems I have with this album: two of the best songs written for this album, if not THE best 2 songs written for this album, didn't make the final cut. Those 2 songs are "Blood Capsules" and "Heel Turn 1." You can download the former separately here on iTunes. For the latter you have to go to youtube to find a live recording of it. Instead of those 2 songs, we get "Souhtwestern Terriotry," my least favorite opening song ever for a MG album, "Fire Editorial," my least favorite 7th song ever (normally the Mountain Goats 7th songs are among the best on the albums), "Unmasked," and "Hair Match." I would take any or even all of those songs off the album to make room for "Blood Capsules" "Heel Turn 1," and whatever other awesome songs are out there that also didn't make the cut.

Calico Unknown ,

Love

I'm prematurely in love with this album. It feels a little wrong to rate before the rest comes out, but I'm just so gosh darn excited! Love you John. :D

IAM22 ,

A Review From My Dad

I showed my dad the song Bull Ramos and all he said was "This is unnecessary." 5 stars.

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