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Alternative & Indie - Released November 18, 1997 | Glacial Pace

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 5, 2004 | Epic

In the late 90s Modest Mouse made angry-young-man music that was the spitting, alt-noise id of frontman Isaac Brock. By 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News the band found buoyancy — but refused to get too comfortable. Surprise hit "Float On" perfectly captures the new m.o., layering on haunted sound effects (cartoon boings, needling rhythm guitar) that are weirder and darker than the almost nursery-rhyme-like melodies suggest. Likewise, "Ocean Breathes Salty" pairs sun-dazed guitars with mournful organ. Throughout, Brock's lisping, serrated vocals veer wildly from a falsetto to a bark, often in the course of a single song. But even the off-kilter touches from the radio hits can’t prepare you for the campy and calamitous "Dance Hall," cowpoke cautionary tale "Bukowski" ("Who would want to be such a control freak?") or aggressively Tom Waits-y "The Devil's Workday." But when Modest Mouse borrows a bit of Pavement’s laconic vibe for “Blame It on the Tetons” and do a little sci-fi disco on “The View,” it’s pretty magical. © Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 13, 2000 | Epic

Modest Mouse's Epic debut, The Moon & Antarctica, finds them strangely subdued, focusing on mortality as well as the moody, acoustic side of their music and downplaying the edgy rock that helped make them indie stars. Not that their first major-label release sounds like a sellout -- actually, the slight sheen of Brian Deck's production enhances the album's introspective tone -- but occasionally The Moon & Antarctica's melancholy becomes ponderous. Unfortunately, the album's middle stretch contains three such songs, "The Cold Part," "Alone Down There," and "The Stars Are Projectors," which tend to blur together into one 17-minute-long piece that bogs down the album's momentum. Individually, each of these songs is sweeping and haunting in its own right, but grouping them together blunts their impact. However, this trilogy does provide a sharp contrast to, as well as a bridge across, The Moon & Antarctica's more vibrant beginning and end. Though it explores death and the afterlife, The Moon & Antarctica's liveliest moments are its most effective. "3rd Planet"'s simple, ramshackle melody and strange, moving lyrics ("Your heart felt good"), the elastic guitars on "Gravity Rides Everything," and the angular, jumpy "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes" and "A Different City" get the album off to a strong start, while the fresh, unaffected "Wild Packs of Family Dogs," "Paper Thin Walls," and "Lives" bring it to an atmospheric, affecting peak before "What People Are Made Of" closes the album with a climactic burst of noise. Their most cohesive collection of songs to date, The Moon & Antarctica is an impressive, if flawed, map of Modest Mouse's ambitions and fears. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released March 20, 2007 | Epic

Now that Modest Mouse have fully established themselves as a major-label indie rock band -- no longer an oxymoron! -- with the success of 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News (though they had actually been on Sony, through Epic, since 2000's The Moon & Antarctica), they face the difficult task of trying to follow up a mainstream hit while still retaining the adroit quirkiness that won them fans in the first place. Finding that space between "creativity" and "accessibility" is not easy, but the band (with help from Johnny Marr, among others) is probably as well, if not better, equipped as anyone to tackle the challenge. The first single, "Dashboard," is catchy and interesting, even a little off-kilter, but it's also completely radio-friendly, in that dancey Franz Ferdinand kind of way, and the album's opener, "March into the Sea," has great juxtaposition between Isaac Brock's maniacal Cookie Monster laugh and lighter accordion and string work. It's slightly unconventional, and has that raucous energy the band has thrived on, but it's also wholly understandable and approachable, and a lot of fun. Still, too often it seems as if Modest Mouse plays it safe on We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. James Mercer, the singer of the "life-changing" Garden State darlings the Shins, shows up three times on background vocals, and while on "Florida" this works well enough, "Missed the Boat" and "We've Got Everything" are among the weakest tracks on the record, too predictable, in that radio-indie-rock style, to do much more than just take up space. There's nothing overtly wrong with them (or the similarly boring "Education" or "People as Places as People") -- Brock's lyrics are as wackily introspective as ever -- but the band had never just gotten by on being nice-sounding and unmemorable. It's not that Modest Mouse has lost it, or sold out; tracks like "Parting of the Sensory" and "Fly Trapped in a Jar" combine digestible guitar lines and phrasing with a rawer intensity, and show that the group is indeed capable of moving innovate "indie" music to the mainstream ("someday you will die somehow and something's gonna steal your carbon," Brock sings ingeniously over pounding, swirling drums in a kind of post-modern chant in "Parting"), but overall, We Were Dead Before... has chosen the safer, more acceptable route over the more adventurous one. Modest Mouse is a talented bunch, and so the album still works, is still enjoyable. But because they've built themselves on pushing boundaries and traditional sounds, it's also a glaring representation of all they could do, but won't. © Marisa Brown /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 13, 2015 | Epic

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 16, 1996 | Glacial Pace

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 18, 2000 | Glacial Pace

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 15, 2019 | Epic

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Pop/Rock - Released September 25, 2001 | Epic

Their unlikely ascension to a major label didn't prevent Pacific Northwest trio Modest Mouse from pulling old-school indie rock moves. In 2000, the band quietly released Night on the Sun, a limited four-song vinyl-only collection, on their early label Up Records. Back on Epic, 2001's nattily named Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks brings the worthy songs on said collection to the light of the majority who have sadly said goodbye to the world of needles and RPM. Completing the EP are three new songs and a subtly beautiful (not to mention weird) instrumental collage of tunes from the full-length The Moon & Antarctica. Modest Mouse partially owes its success to a knack for balancing atonal, off-the-wall punk sensibilities with perfect pop hooks. Nowhere is this more evident than on "I Came as a Rat (Long Walk Off a Short Dock)," with its emphatic bop-along chants and melodic refrains over a hypnotic, swirling psychedelic soundscape. The threesome also thrives with lyrics both simple and sonorous, like the repeated "you're hopelessly hopeless, I hope so" on the winding "Night on the Sun." Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks stands as a hearty, if too short, release from these unfailing defenders of the lo-fi faith. © Jason Thurston /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released July 30, 2009 | Epic

Modest Mouse had their commercial breakthrough with Good News for People Who Love Bad News and kept that momentum going with We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, but this EP felt like a breather for the band before their next full-length. Which is only fitting, considering that these tracks are re-recorded versions of songs laid down during the Good News and We Were Dead sessions (most of which were originally released on three limited-edition 7" singles). Yet the overall sound of No One's First, And You're Next is rawer than either of those albums, especially on "Satellite Skin," a rowdy, oddly Stones-y grind with some of Isaac Brock's most impassioned vocals in quite some time. Indeed, most of these songs don't feel like they would have fit on either of those albums, yet they still capture many sides of the band, including "Guilty Cocker Spaniels"' sunny strum and "Autumn Beds"' rustic acoustics. Much of the EP falls somewhere in between Good News and We Were Dead's straight-ahead hits and quirkier detours in a way that actually feels more of a piece with Modest Mouse's earlier work; "The Whale Song"'s moody melody and anguished-sounding guitars echo the darkness of The Moon & Antarctica. Given that No One's First, And You're Next is essentially a re-recorded odds 'n' sods collection, it's not surprising that it tends to feel a little scattered. However, the EP's second half hooks into something of a groove, with "Perpetual Motion Machine"'s brassy bluster and "History Sticks to Your Feet"'s loopy rock providing highlights. The true standout, however, is "King Rat," which was originally a bonus track on We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Opening with an almost obscene brass wail from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, its righteous anger and backwater eccentricity make it quintessentially Modest Mouse. No One's First, And You're Next may not be as cohesive as the band's other compilations, but it's still a satisfying stop-gap release and a must for hardcore fans who missed these songs on vinyl. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 6, 1996 | Glacial Pace

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 3, 2014 | Glacial Pace

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 3, 2014 | Glacial Pace

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 29, 2016 | Glacial Pace

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Rock - Released April 6, 2004 | Epic

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 29, 2019 | Epic

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 19, 2019 | Epic

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 1, 2016 | Glacial Pace

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 27, 2014 | Glacial Pace

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 4, 2014 | Glacial Pace