LAZY SUNDAYS – Modest Mouse
If you are reading this right now, I would like to thank you for your continued interest of these Lazy Sunday posts. They have received tremendous support and it’s people like you that keep the articles coming. So in short; Thanks for letting a little bit of me share with a whole lotta you.
This Sunday will focus on a band that I’m sure everyone knows by name (and if not, what rock have you been living under? Seriously). Modest Mouse is very interesting band with a very interesting story. Their rise to success was by no means immediate, but when they broke through they did so in a big way.
The band was originally a 4-piecer formed in Issaquah, Washington in 1994 and headed by vocalist Isaac Brock, Jeremiah Green, Eric Judy, and John Wickhart. The early years provided little commercial recognition and most of their gigs were openers at punk venues. The release of their 1996 album This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About was a big step towards developing the band’s identity, although commercial success would not reach the group for a while. Dramamine is a beautiful song that illustrates the lushly instrumental, sometimes hollow and ghostly sound that Modest Mouse put into their debut album,
Modest Mouse – Dramamine (Right click to download)
Their second release, Interstate 8, was pretty decent but also flew under the radars of the music world. The following release in 1997, The Lonesome Crowded West, is the album that proved to be the breakthrough album for Modest Mouse. It is widely considered to be one of the defining albums of mid-1990s indie rock and the group received tremendous cult following because of the release. This song Polar Opposites is my favorite from the album,
“Polar Opposites” doesn’t shuffle along, mumbling to itself in a sad-sack reverie. Instead, Brock and Modest Mouse turn frustration into energy, anthemizing listlessness in a way that only the best of rock n’ roll music can do.
The third full length album, The Moon & Antarctica, is highly instrumental in comparison to their previous releases, largely due to the fact that Isaac Brock broke his jaw druing the recording phase. Because Brock was unsure if he would be able to sing, the album is largely instrumental and experimental but also very successful. The track Gravity Rides Everything is a great mellow tune with emotional peaks and valleys. The title also makes one think that there are forces outside of your control and that in this world, it may be best to roll with the natural ebb-and-flow of everyday life,
FUN FACT: The album’s title is a reference to an opening scene in the movie Blade Runner, where the main character is reading a newspaper with the headline “Farming the Oceans, The Moon and Antarctica”.
The fourth full-length release from the Modest ones, Good News for People Who Like Bad News, is their biggest having received platinum certification. If there’s one song that outside listeners can attach to the group, it would most certainly be Float On. When asked about the song, Brock said that he consciously intended to write something that felt more positive than some of his previous work:
It was a completely conscious thing. I was just kind of fed up with how bad shit had been going, and how dark everything was, with bad news coming from everywhere. Our president is just a fucking daily dose of bad news! Then you’ve got the well-intentioned scientists telling us that everything is fucked. I just want to feel good for a day.
The fifth studio release from the band continued thier successful breach into the mainstream. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank features a new addition to the band with former guitarist of The Smiths Johnny Marr contributing to the writing and production of the LP. The album itself has a strong nautical theme and was originally envisioned as a concept album about a boat crew that dies in every song. My favorite is Missed The Boat, which features backup vocals from James Mercer of The Shins. In my personal opinion, this is Brock’s strongest vocal contribution to any MM track.
This brings us to the present. The last release from Modest Mouse was a short-release EP titled No One’s First and You’re Next. A good release that will have to tide us over before their next full length release. Guilty Cocker Spaniels is a particular standout from the EP,
I find music more interesting when you know the back story of a group. It gives you a special insight on where they came from and the factors that influence their sound. I hope this gives you a better understanding of Modest Mouse as a group and with some luck, perhaps you have a new found appreciation for the band. I certainly have