Posted by: outroversion | June 2, 2014

Modest Mouse: A Retrospective

It’s been around 10 years since I first heard Modest Mouse… And Bright Eyes. And Death Cab for Cutie. And the Killers… Is it a coincidence that I was also dressing like Seth Cohen and watching The O.C. every morning back then?

Truth be told, no it’s not. I found a lot of great music through The O.C. but the platform that the show provided for so many great bands does mean I probably would’ve heard them anyway whether or not I was going through that skateboarding emo chic internet message board phase.

Enough of that ridiculous period of my life, if I may present to you…

Modest Mouse

Formed over 20 years ago and inspired by the alternative experimental punk rock stylings of Pixies and Pere Ubu, coming up with Built to Spill and Murder City Devils the early days and subsequent career of the Washington natives was spearheaded by the writing talents and passion of frontman Isaac Brock.

Due to their later successes the formative recordings and releases are mostly well documented and readily available, Blue Cadet-3, Do You Connect? is contained within Sad Sappy Sucker in what would have been their first album but latterly released in 2001. The hit and miss borderline avante garde nature of the recordings means it doesn’t sit perfectly within their catalogue but it had its moments though they more hint at what could and would eventually be.

Worms Vs. Birds


Every Penny Fed Car


Their actual first album This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About is symptomatic of their surroundings, focusing on the isolation of rural life and endless highways with nothing at the end, which is just as relatable for anyone regardless of their environment whether you choose to focus on the geographical or emotional nature of the subject.

It began something that the band would become well acclimatised to, critical if not commercial success. One reviewer in the early days labelling it “probably one of the most emotional, self reflecting debut albums of all time” a sentiment echoed across the board but sentiments don’t buy you flashy cars.





Building upon their early acclaim, Brock’s output became typically exhaustive, 2 albums and 2 album length EPs in 96 and 97 saw them make serious progress with their final LP of the last millenium, The Lonesome Crowded West now considered a defining album of the genre.

Heart Cooks Brain


Shit Luck


Beginning the century they released a compilation album, Building Nothing Out Of Something containing their singles and a few rarities which also included all but two tracks from the earlier Interstate 8 EP.

Edit the Sad Parts (From Interstate 8 EP)


Never Ending Math Equation


The unbelievable success that this band from out in the sticks achieved in the middle of the last decade, only those following the band could have seen coming. The truth is, in reality their progress was on a steady gradient; at the start of the century The Moon & Antartica received ridiculous ratings from the most high profile of musos. If you have seen them live, chances are the tracks they played from this album (and they will forever have to) will have got the biggest cheers of the night…

3rd Planet


Tiny Cities Made of Ashes


Following this album was another veritable splurge of recordings, a Japan only 6-track EP Night on the Sun and a collection of songs left off from the album, Everywhere and his Nasty Parlour Tricks which also included the aforementioned Japan only tracks.

Ever worked a job where you put everything into it, receive a lot of praise but ultimately still get paid the same pittance as everyone else around you regardless? I feel that’s how Mr. Brock was feeling after the critical but not so commercial success of their third album. He’s always been honest in saying their was never any plan B, there was this band or nothing and that’s why he can’t be criticised for seeking monetry gain for his work in the years that followed.

These ventures included advertisements, side projects and of course a trip to the bait shack in Orange County, California. Two gold selling singles from the platinum certified Good News for People Who Love Bad News probably justified these endeavours.

Float On


Ocean Breathes Salty


The World at Large


The international portion of their success had been, and I’ve tried to avoid using this adjective for obvious reasons but- modest. Right now however, they were killing it in America. Stick The Smiths’ Johnny Marr in your line-up, record another masterpiece and tour the world relentlessly and you’ll go a long way to rectifying this.

While having shot for the moon and carried on a little further, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank took them out of the stratosphere. A Billboard #1 album and now making waves in Europe and Oceania while continuing to focus a certain percentage of their energies on Asia probably took a little of the burden off them financially which unfortunately maybe why it’s been seven years now and no sign of another album.



Fire it Up


The last output from the studio was 2009’s No-One’s First And You’re Next which again featured unused tracks from previous album sessions but also a couple of new songs.

Guilty Cocker Spaniels


Perpetual Motion Machine


Word on the street is Nirvana (and I suppose Foo Fighters’) bassist Krist Novoselic is signed on for the next album. It will be released under Brock’s own label Glacial Pace, a name which suggests we shouldn’t hold our breath. They are working on it and have been playing new songs live but everything anyone’s hearing are nothing but rumours. Suggestions are it’s going to be sooner rather than later and it would make sense to have a record to accompany their summer schedule wouldn’t it?

Shit In Your Cut


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