There are at least three sets of noted Diaz brothers: Nick and Nathan of mixed martial arts fame; Lu and Hugo, known for producing hip-hop and Miami bass records in the 1980s and '90s; and the unseen siblings in Brian De Palma's brutal 1983 classic Scarface ("Fuck the fuckin' Diaz brothers! I'll bury those cockroaches," shouts protagonist Tony Montana). Fans of folk rockers The Mountain Goats probably wouldn't have a hard time imagining songwriter John Darnielle penning a missive about any of the aforementioned Diaz brothers. Of course, he's quick to explain. "It comes from the movie Scarface. They're these characters you never see, but they are mentioned a couple times. You hear about them, and next thing you hear, they're dead," he says, laughing, of "The Diaz Brothers," from his new LP, Transcendental Youth. "In the first draft of the song, there was a line about 'a whole life lived in a brief, passing reference' of screen time, without any actual face time, which I think is sort of tragic." Darnielle has a way with this sort of flawed character, and his 2012 record is devoted to them. Amy Winehouse, Judas, Satan, the jonesing junkies of "Lakeside View Apartment Suite" — these are the kind of people Darnielle has an uncanny way of speaking for. Doomed, but not necessarily damned. "It's about lives that don't seem to have any meaning to others," Darnielle says, "but they have meaning to themselves."
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