Wednesday, March 28, 2007

YOUR HEART FELT GOOD

I've never been one of the hardcore fanatics. I discovered The Moon & Antarctica (Modest Mouse) the same time I discovered Perfect From Now On (Built to Spill), Emergency & I (The Dismemberment Plan), Either/Or (Elliott Smith), Finally We Are No One (Múm), Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven (Godspeed You! Black Emperor!) and a couple of other gems. It was near Christmas and I'd just read a post on a message board listing a user's ten favourite albums. I respected his taste and so I went with it, straight onto Amazon, and about four weeks later straight into my CD player. The wonder of it all is that this was back (must be about six years ago now? I lived in a different house then!) in the time of Napster (which I rarely/never used) and dial-up. A time before blogs and the Hype Machine. A time when there were far fewer ways to sample an album. I bought all of those albums on good faith, and good faith alone - I knew nothing about, and had heard nothing by, any of the artists.

But wow. Yes, WOW. A word that succinctly indicates jaws-dropping; a short word suggestive of awe. Its use is just: a lot of those albums are gemstones, precious things I hold close to my heart. Albums I listen to either frequently or every now and then that still hold a magic sparkle. Albums that made me, very seriously, truly appreciate music for probably the first time ever.

However, as I said, I'm not a fanatic. I've always appreciated Modest Mouse, but at times they're too raw, or difficult, or inaccessible, and I don't have the patience. The Moon & Antarctica however, is a great album. But, in my opinion, so is their new one. As an avid fan of The Smiths, obviously I'm likely to be swayed by the inclusion of their guitarist, Johnny Marr. And he does lend a touch of accessibility.

Many bloggers/critics/etc either hate (yea, hate) or merely dislike We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, some find it mediocre, but few like it. I am one of the few. I guess I've never really been ecstatically delighted by the Modest Mouse sound, and thus I have no problem with their slight diversion from it. Perhaps surprisingly, the album is likely to end up one of my favourites of the year. Therefore, you should get the album (no, but actually: do it) and see for yourself what all the fuss (positive-and-negative) is about. There are too many aspects to discuss here (the fragility of "Little Motel", the clear-cut pop-single "Dashboard", the constantly brilliant vocal-deliveries, the guitar-work of Marr, etc, etc).



Modest Mouse

3rd Planet (album version)
3rd Planet (live at KVRX)
3rd Planet (live)

One of the first times I ever listened to The Moon & Antarctica was in an ex-girlfriend's (the term is for clarity - in reality it's too cold; too dismissive of everything that's been & gone, everything that still is) house. It was the first time I ever stayed the night there. The first track on the album, "3rd Planet", is, in retrospect (I don't know if it was actually during this song, but that's how I remember it) the song that sound-tracked the first kiss since we had separated, and consequently the sound-track to the entire rekindling of the relationship. Unfortunately, that line that everyone remembers, "I've got this thing that I consider my only art of fucking people over" is applicable. Nevertheless, the song is magical, personal, beautiful. [Buy]



Modest Mouse

We've Got Everything

"We've Got Everything" should be played in house-parties, in kitchens of University Residences, in bedrooms of young lovers. It's an exclamation of joy, of delight; a proclamation of a fierce and burning love for life. Maybe it's sarcasm, a piss-take of people who do think they know and have everything. Maybe not. I like to think of it as a semi-serious (the chuckle at 1:09) celebration - but of what? - of EVERYTHING. Of life, love, knowledge, science, literature, the world. Fuck it, it's all out there and it's ours for the taking. Coming from a mature* Isaac Brock it just sounds like a reminder to University kids, youngsters, hipsters : you have the potential to be anything / everything! ; so do it: aspire to it and achieve it. And it makes perfect sense coming from an underground indie band done good. [Buy]

Some other music for you to get your fanatical teeth into:

Modest Mouse Covers

Josh Ritter - Blame It On The Tetons
Goldspot - Float On
Sun Kil Moon - Tiny Cities Made of Ashes

*Incidentally, the message on "3rd Planet" was the exact same: "My boss just quit the job, says he's going out to find blind spots, and he'll do it" [i.e. Do whatever the fuck you want. You might as well. You can. And once you realise that, the possibilities are endless].

3 comments:

A Modest Anarchist said...

I completely agree with you that the moon and antarctica was one of modest mouse's greatest albums. Although i might add that on the bonus track of 3rd planet Isaac stated "My boss just quit the job, he says he's got himself some blinds to rob. And he'll do it" And i thought that was an accurate statement about finding blind spots, yet it might link to another song yet again how most of the albums speak of other albums or songs in other songs. ingenious.

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