Every now and again a tiny beautiful something happens. Two roads converge, two paths cross, and something amazing takes place. The above record is one of those things. There is no reason, practically speaking, for this record to exist. On paper, it makes no sense. It just shouldn’t work. But, much like its source material, it does, beautifully.
the Mountain Goats (I promise the t is supposed to be lowercase, they write it that way) are the lo-fi, indie rock brain child of John Darnielle. Originally forming in California in 1991, the band now makes its home in Durham, North Carolina (Flair country… WOOOOOOOO!) Beat the Champ is the fifteenth studio record by the group and one that features songs entirely about pro wrestling. If you have never heard a Mountain Goats song before, your reaction will be instantaneous. You will either love them or hate them. Me? Firmly in the love category. May I suggest starting with “This Year”, possibly their biggest hit to date.
As for Beat the Champ, according to songwriter Darnielle, “Some of the songs are really about death and difficult to navigate spaces than pro wrestling.” And there is a lot of that on this record, just told through the lens of pro wrestling; a sport with its fair share of death and difficult to navigate spaces. Personal highlights for me are “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero” and “Heel Turn 2”. Check those out below and then go out and grab this record. the Mountain Goats deserve all of the support and this sort of project, one so focused and direct, deserves that support as well.