Flashback: Modest Mouse
By Zach Patterson Thursday, 13 Aug 2009

With the recent release and review of the new Modest Mouse EP, I took the liberty to bring back some more old reviews from our site.

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Andrew briefly reviewed two Modest Mouse albums back when the site was barely a year old, and I’ll also discuss their first two full length albums. Without further ado, FLASHBACK TIME!

This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About (1996)

Modest Mouse’s first release is relaxed, introspective record. It starts off with one of their finest songs with “Dramamine”, which exudes a sort of quiet intensity that defines the entire album. At times, the album has a midwestern indie folk charm, and other times you hear the bustling, lush instrumentation that came in many of their later albums. I admittedly have listened to this album the least of all their full length albums. It’s certainly a good album, but it’s also tremendously long, clocking in a just over 74 minutes. And to be honest, the album kinda blows its load with “Dramamine” and as it goes on, a lot of the later songs just begin to blur together for me.

The Lonesome Crowded West (1997)

However, just over a year later, they released what I consider one of the best albums ever released. The Lonesome Crowded West should have its own review someday, as summing it up in a short paragraph nearly does it an injustice. It’s probably one of the most influential indie rock records of all time, and it wastes no time making that claim. “Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine” blisters out of the gates with an angry punk-like energy backed with their ghostly twangy guitar riffs, that slowly relaxes into more of the quiet, introspective stuff that populated the first album, before jumping right back to where it started. The rest of the album is populated with a great variety of songs that manage to keep my interest much better than their first album, even though they nearly have the same running time. There’s some quiet acoustic songs, some long, extended jams, some quirky little rock tunes, and some intense shouty types. In all seriousness, this album is nearly flawless and I could write a paragraph for every song. “Heart Cooks Brain”, “Convenient Parking”, “Jesus Christ Was An Only Child”, “Cowboy Dan”, “Trailer Trash”…these are all great songs, and the list just goes on. If you’ve never heard it, you should.

“The Moon & Antarctica is a prime example of Modest Mouse’s uncanny ability to combine strange yet sensible lyrics, catchy melodies, and raw energy and emotion. The album deals with deep personal issues spawning from the basic “why are we here?” mystery. […] Without digging to deep into the meanings of each song I can tell you that this is just a damned good album. It is easily one of the best albums I own, and it is a pleasure to revisit it over and over.”

“Good News For People Who Love Bad News is just a perfect example of a band changing their sound enough to sound different from their previous albums, but staying true to their roots and still sounding recognizable. Longtime fans and newcomers alike should not be disappointed, just know that you aren’t getting a sequel to The Moon & Antarctica.”

“This album really is just another solid Modest Mouse album. It’s hard to find a lot to hate, and there’s definitely a lot to like. A good example is the song “Spitting Venom.” While I initially didn’t care for the opening of the song, there was this beautiful horn solo in the middle of the song that really changed my mind on it. It’s very minimal and emotional for such a simple section of the song, and I listened to it a few more times and began to like the song more and more. The interesting dynamics of the song raise it from one I didn’t care for to a song I now appreciate a lot more, even at its long running time (over 8 minutes). While most people will not like everything on the album, it is really hard to not like it at all. A great album.”

One Response to “Flashback: Modest Mouse”

  1. Zach Patterson Says:

    I suppose I should add that Modest Mouse has a million other releases, but for the sake of brevity, I just covered their major full length releases. If I wanted to add one more to recommend, I would put in Building Nothing Out of Something. It’s a collection of a/b-side singles and various small EP’s. However, it has some fantastic songs on it and meshes extremely well as an album on the whole. It makes a good intermediate release between The Lonesome Crowded West and The Moon & Antarctica.

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