The Bowery Ballroom
The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats

Matthew E. White

Mon, October 15, 2012

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

The Bowery Ballroom

New York, NY

$25

Sold Out

This event is 18 and over

The Mountain Goats
The Mountain Goats
In 2014, John Darnielle's novel Wolf in White Van spent several weeks on the New YorkTimes Bestseller List and was nominated for the National Book Award. On April 7, 2015 Darnielle and his band the Mountain Goats return with Beat the Champ collection of songs about professional wrestling.

The Mountain Goats (John Darnielle, Peter Hughes, and Jon Wurster) have also announced their first round of shows in support of Beat the Champ
Listen and share “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero” now. In addition, Joseph Fink of Welcome to Night Vale wrote few words about the album, which you can read below.

Beat the Champ is available for pre-order now on CD, standard double-LP, and deluxe double-LP in the Merge store. The deluxe version will be pressed on limited-edition colored vinyl (gold and green) and include bonus red vinyl 12-inch that features the non-album track “Blood Capsules” and dub version of the same song on the B-side. Both the standard and deluxe LPs include coupon for full album download.

Joseph Fink on Beat the Champ

have been asked to write bit about the upcoming album by the Mountain Goats called Beat the Champ There is little would love to do more.

Unfortunately am fiction writer, which is to say am liar. As result, there are number of lies below. Sorry about that. I’ve done my best to point out which parts are true.
Let’s start with this. The Mountain Goats are releasing new album. The name of this album is Beat the Champ It is, as any fan of the band will expect, heartbreaking and heartreviving album about imperfect people described perfectly, with melodies that will stay with you for days.

There are also things about it that even longtime fans will not expect.

That’s all true.

The Mountain Goats, if you are not longtime fan, is an itinerant, pseudomystical motorcycle cult that raises money through regional chain of discount furniture outlets and the occasional musical release in order to fund their mysterious rituals and sacrifices enacted upon the highways and backroads of America.
“I wrote these songs to re-immerse myself in the blood and fire of the visions that spoke to me as child, and to see what more there might be in them now that I’m grown,” Darnielle says of Beat the Champ' 12 songs.

That’s true as well.

The songs in Beat the Champ are about the simple and beautiful stories of professional wrestling as seen by fans who need something simple in their messy lives.

The songs are also about the complicated and beautiful lives of the people who work in professional wrestling, who do their best to entertain, to leave mark, and, when all else fails, to survive.

It is an album about, as the chorus of one of its tracks puts it, “nameless bodies in unremembered rooms.” think that the entire career of the Mountain Goats has been about giving names to nameless bodies, and remembering unremembered rooms. can’t think of more worthy cause.

The most famous wrestling match of all time was, of course, the Dunkirk Lion versus Hunk the Monk in their 1977 flaming cage match at Apocalypse Rumble: Pittsburgh. The match was to be held over an open spike pit and was to feature heavy mallets swinging wildly from wires. The match was so outrageously dangerous that both wrestlers refused to participate, and the resulting fan riot leveled the city, allowing for construction of the new Pittsburgh that stands today.

The least famous wrestling match of all time was between Shannon Kim and Maggie Lucero, in Maggie’s backyard in Moorpark, CA, their faces pushed into the wet grass, neither quite sure how wrestling worked, but both feeling the joy of seeing what bodies are capable of, neither able to do much but shove the other and slip on the damp ground, just few minutes of half-hearted wrestling and then they biked down to the weed-filled canyon out behind their housing development and dared each other to climb to the top of cinderblock retaining wall.

Beat the Champ is gorgeous album that sees the Mountain Goats expand themselves musically, in startling and exciting ways. Here is jazz chord progression over brushed cymbals. Here is track that spirals out from verse and chorus into slow, hazy piano solo. Here are pounding drums straight from metal record. And here, as always, are songs like no one else can write them. Like no one else does write them.

Everything I’ve said so far is true. So is this:

When my father was dying, literally was on his deathbed, although we did not know it, he and sang songs by the Mountain Goats together.

After finishing singing one of the songs, my father leaned his head back, looked over to beam of sun coming in from window with gorgeous view of the Hollywood Hills that he could not see from his bed, and said: “What an optimistic man.” He died two days later.

Nameless bodies in unremembered rooms. What an optimistic man. What an album. What
goddamn album.
Matthew E. White
Matthew E. White
On Dec. 24, 2013, Matthew E. White could not fall asleep in his childhood bedroom. The Richmond singer, bandleader and modern soul visionary had returned to his parents' home in Virginia Beach for the holidays. During the previous 18 months, he'd toured Europe and America extensively, played Primavera and Glastonbury, performed at The Hollywood Bowl and the Sydney Opera House, and even staged a live rendition of his surprise-hit debut, Big Inner, with a band of 30 members. Big Inner earned five stars in The Guardian and a spot on its year-end list, plus those of Pitchfork, eMusic and Consequence of Sound. But White hadn't rested or seen his family very much. At last, he was excited to do both.
The insomnia, though, didn't stem from childlike anticipation of early-morning presents. Actually, White hurt too much to sleep. Not long after he arrived in Virginia Beach, he developed a sudden case of shingles, the stresses of the last year-and-a-half rendering themselves in painful physical form. So while his parents visited his grandmother and his sister celebrated with her own family just a few blocks away, White spent Christmas Eve alone in his childhood double bed.
But that was OK, as the break gave him the chance to consider the bizarre turns his life had taken—that is, how he went from making a solo record by accident to embracing a solo career so busy it had made him sick.
"For the first time, I remember thinking, 'What just happened?'" he says, laughing long after the shingles have passed. "I thought about all the places I went, the people I played to, the people who cared about my record and felt moved by it. That was the craziest year of my life by miles and miles—and the hardest and the most exciting, too."
To backtrack, briefly: In 2009, White and a cadre of friends developed the idea of Spacebomb Records, an old-fashioned label and production house meant to turn the tunes of songwriters they liked into grandiose, graceful statements. They had in-house strings and horns and a choir at their behest, too. Collectively, the musicians possessed a wide, working knowledge that could pivot from the gusto of New Orleans to the verve of Detroit, from tube-amp rock to hi-fi pop. Sure, people like to talk about White's past with jazz or his love of classic American songcraft. It's telling, however, that as a high school student, he interned at Master Sound, the hometown studio that Pharrell Williams eventually turned into the epicenter of his empire.
To demonstrate the Spacebomb ideal, White and his wide cast recorded a few songs he'd pieced together, hoping mostly to show other songwriters how the system would work. But those cuts became Big Inner, the record that Uncut termed "one of the great albums of modern Americana" and caused Paste to proclaim that White was one of music's "best new bands." Tours, interviews, photo shoots and, well, the shingles followed.
While White spent Christmas Eve considering what had happened, he already knew what was going to happen next: When the holidays ended, he would begin turning the bits and bobs of song ideas he'd collected on tour into his second album, bolstered by the validation of welcome he'd found in the wider world.
If the first album had been serendipity, every step of this one was to be deliberate, from his co-writing sessions with longtime friend and former bandmate Andy Jenkins to his steady arrangement brainstorms with the trusted Spacebomb house band—bassist Cameron Ralston, drummer Pinson Chanselle and guitarist Trey Pollard, who co-produced the subsequent recording sessions with White. There were timelines and deadlines, detailed discussions about who would mix the music (New York staple Patrick Dillett) and the many stories the songs would share. The result is the audacious, confident and masterful Fresh Blood, a record that feels like the brilliant bloom to Big Inner's striking bud.
Fresh Blood is a bracing, beguiling record and a bold advance for White. Opener "Take Care My Baby" is his step-into-the-light moment, a sophisticated but instantly winning soul number where love becomes a panacea for woe. That enthusiasm crosses over for "Fruit Trees," a smiling, seductive number where White—his voice traced and teased by horns, strings and harmonies—begs for a paramour to "let me sleep in your tent tonight."
Sometimes these situations don't go well, though, which White confesses during "Feeling Good is Good Enough." It's a breakup song in ecstatic pursuit of temporary carnal relief. And while it's got nothing to do with love, lust or leaving, the sassy "Rock & Roll is Cold" radiates the aplomb of an artist who has stumbled into success and taken charge of the circumstances. White's having fun, trading lines with backup singers and saxophones alike, teasing components of the gospel, soul and rock form that shape the very backbone of the music he makes. This is White's party, and he's a most welcoming host.
That same spirit presides during the set of more solemn and pointed songs that serve as Fresh Blood's core. For White, one lesson of Big Inner and the tours that followed was that he wanted to be able to believe in his songs every night, to know that the words he sang were more than vehicles for memorable melodies.
"I didn't like singing 'Steady Pace' every night. It was too light. It didn't age well for me," he says. "My peers and I sometimes have a lack of concern and awareness for the world around us—culturally, politically, socially. We are in danger of being lulled to sleep by our culture's excess. I'm not writing political songs yet, but I've tried to at least write songs that have to do with the variety and reality of our lives."
And so, at the record's center, White delivers a trilogy of beautiful reflections on the world as he sees it. An agitated but elegant excoriation of sexual abuse in the church, "Holy Moly" rages like a missing midpoint between Neil Young's Harvest and Tonight's the Night. "Tranquility" meditates on the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, a consummate artist whose dual force and frailty has long resonated with White.
And in "Circle 'Round The Sun," a look at the suicide of a dear friend's mother, White finds one of the most exquisite moments of balance in his entire career. It is a love song written from the perspective of the recently departed, calmly exploring a tumult of conflicting loyalties—to Jesus, to family, to life, to death.
"Wading in the water, Lord, keep my son and daughter," White sings, at once gentle and resolved over steady and soft piano and drums. "Put your arms around me, Jesus, tonight."
At the risk of heresy, Fresh Blood feels as comfortable and fraught as those lines and that song. Simultaneously recognizing the trouble and delight that life can bring, these 10 numbers are guides for times of joy, agony and the middle distance where we most often linger. After only two albums, Matthew E. White feels now like an old friend who has seen what we've seen, heard our stories and done his best to make a record that gives them necessary gravity. That way, when we lay awake at night considering our own pain or worry, we've got new anthems to keep us company.
Domino will release Fresh Blood worldwide on CD, LP and digitally March 15, 2015.
Venue Information:
The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St
New York, NY, 10002
http://www.boweryballroom.com/