I'm terrible with music classification so hopefully someone else will characterize their sound for me.
- Cow Of Doom.
Modest Mouse hail from Issaquah, Washington, and consist of Isaac Brock on vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin, etc., Eric Judy on bass, Jeremiah Green on drums, and the recently added Dann Gallucci on guitar. Their music is a stew of punk rock, jam ,noise, folk, post-rock, country, rap, and rock, however the overall sound leans closer to the stereotype of "indie rock", mainly because they rock without being particularly heavy, or maybe it's that Brock's vocal stylings resemble that of Doug Martsch from quintessential indie boys Built To Spill.
I'm the same as I was when I was six years old, but oh my God, I feel so damn old.
Brock's high, lispy singing voice, however, is about the only resemblance he bears to Martsch. Brock screams like Frank Black and talks in a rhythmic manner that approaches rap. His lyrics are frequently introspective, peppered with puns, literary references, and frequent usage of the word "Goddamn". He plays guitar like he's drunk, and probably is, using a thin, ragged, dirty guitar tone on his electric and a mellow, bassy acoustic sound. From what I can tell, his live performances are much better when drunk.
-And he said, "I am not allowed much danger, keep in line, you're an old friend, stranger, you'll burn me in effigy and I'll burn you in effigy."
Eric Judy and Jeremiah Green are a great rhythm section, Judy's basslines roll under Green's rambling drums in a way not many other bands can achieve, and indeed Green is one of the most talented drummers around today, but not a flashy one, though he does have his moments. Dann Gallucci is the newest member of the Mouse crew, though he's made appearances on some songs before.
Well you were the dull sound of sharp math when you were alive, no one's gonna play the harp when you die, and if I had a nickel, for every damn dime, I'd have half the time, do you mind?
The Mouse's first album was supposed to be Sad Sappy Sucker, but they couldn't get it released in 1994, so in 1996 they released This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About, which is an excellent record that established their well-practiced sound but falls short on some flaws. Highlights included Dramamine, Beach Side Property, Custom Concern, Breakthrough, and Tundra/Desert.
We're goin' union like they say, we'll buy the congregation, and then some day, you'll find us sittin' in our chairs, with big ideas 'bout stocks n' shares.
Their next record, 1997's The Lonesome Crowded West. This album is, at least to these ears, almost flawless. The best album of the 90's, in my opinion. Yes, even better than that one and that one too.. Highlights include the staggering Teeth Like God's Shoeshine, and others, including Trailer Trash, Cowboy Dan, the hick-inflected Jesus Christ Was An Only Child, Doin' The Cockroach, Bankrupt On Selling, and Styrofoam Boots/It's All Nice On Ice, Alright.
Woke up this morning, seemed to me, that every night turns out to be, a little bit more like Bukowski, and yeah, I know, he's a pretty good read, but who would wanna be? Who would wanna be such an asshole?
2000's The Moon And Antarctica is only slightly less than their last album, taking a much more understated, acoustic-based path than their previous efforts, but still injecting some rock into their mix. This album flows together like one long song, and damn, is it a dizzying song. Highlights include 3rd Planet, Dark Center Of The Universe, The dance-tune-from-hell Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes, Lives, and Life Like Weeds.
Well I'll go to college and I'll learn some big words, and I'll talk real loud, goddamn right I'll be heard. And you'll remember that guy who said all those big words he musta learned in college.
2004's Good News For People Who Love Bad News held somewhat true to its name, as Jeremiah left the band after a nervous breakdown. The band continued on with a new drummer, but the former chemistry was missing. The results were the band's most accessible to date, even containing two hit songs, Float On and Ocean Breathes Salty, which, in typical Modest Mouse form, hid depressing, introspective, overall intelligent lyrics well, and fans had no idea that they were singing along with songs about death or lack of faith. However the album still had some great songs, and Float On is a classic. Others included Bukowski, Devil's Workday, The View, and The World At Large. Luckily, Jeremiah eventually returned, bringing back Modest Mouse's ragged, rambling glory days. They still put on an awesome live show, don't be discouraged by them if you saw them on recent Saturday Night Live or Conan performances and found them lackluster. They were, but that's because Isaac was sober.