Modest Mouse is an American rock band formed in 1992 in Issaquah, Washington and currently based in Portland, Oregon. The founding members are lead singer/guitarist Isaac Brock, drummer Jeremiah Green, and bassist Eric Judy. Strongly influenced by Pavement, Pixies, XTC, and Talking Heads, the band rehearsed, rearranged, and recorded demos for almost two years before finally signing with small-town indie label K Records and releasing numerous singles.
Since their 1996 debut This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, the band’s lineup has centered on Brock and Green. The band achieved mainstream success with their fourth album Good News for People Who Love Bad News (2004) and its singles “Float On” and “Ocean Breathes Salty”. Judy performed on every Modest Mouse album until his departure in 2012. Guitarist Johnny Marr (formerly of the Smiths) joined the band in 2006, shortly following percussionist Joe Plummer (formerly of the Black Heart Procession) and multi-instrumentalist Tom Peloso, to work on the album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007). Guitarist Jim Fairchild joined the band in 2009. The band’s sixth album Strangers to Ourselves was released on March 17, 2015. Here are all of Modest Mouse’s albums ranked.
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6. Strangers to Ourselves (2015)
“Wow! This album took me several times to adjust to compared to other MM albums I loved. I have found that most music I end up loving does take time to marinate in my mind first. This is that album. What strikes me from the outset is the richness of the actual instrumentation being played. Deep, full, enveloping are words that come to mind. It seems that MM has evolved to yet another level musically and if you don’t catch up on this album you’ll miss perhaps a masterpiece. I almost did!”
5. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007)
“It’s one great song after another. If you don’t feel like dancing to Fly Trapped in a Jar, Education and Steam Engenius check your pulse. Little Motel and Parting of the Sensory display Brock’s quieter singing abilities and he does have them. The louder harder songs are more demanding of those abilities and you gotta have it to do it. I think they managed to equal and surpass the previous issue Good News for People Who Love Bad News and this is a band that is peaking. I just hope the peak last at least 20 years as I rarely find music that satisfies me like this does. Another masterwork some have called a magnificent mess. Well, it is magnificent.”
4. This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing to Think About (1996)
“This is the second album released by Modest Mouse and boy is it hard to tell. The young Isaac Brock, Jeremiah Greene, and Eric Judy, as well as help with mixing and female vocals (I believe by a Nicole [someone]) really hit it out of the park with something that’s further from tracks and closer to musical poetry. Word to the wise, This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About lives up to it’s name. It’s food for the deepest thought I’ve ever entered. If you don’t focus, this is a long album. My favorite album in my collection.”
3. Good News for People Who Love Bad News (2004)
“A sixteen song fireworks display of brilliance. I buy about 50 albums a year, and this is the best IN A LONG TIME. Not many groups have the lyrical talent to toss in references to Bukowski (“Who would wanna be such an […] ), Prometheus, and God (“Who’d wanna be such a control freak?”)- all in the same song- and somehow still come off as sounding personal. After three listens you’ll have fantasies of sitting down and interviewing the fellows.
Problem with most bands with brains (and Modest Mouse clearly has some smarts) is that when the lyrics get too heady the band comes off sounding musically forced and impersonal (think of Rush, for example). Modest Mouse avoids all that and makes it all work without the feel of contrivance. What the album lacks in rock indulgence it makes up in pure nervous tension. At times the tension reaches levels not heard since The Residents.
For us freethinkers, the album serves up snippets of personal philosophy set to some stunning music (“We have one chance. One chance to get everything right…My friends, my habits, my family, they mean so much to me…”).
Get it then listen to it three or four times in a row until you GET IT.”
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2. The Moon & Antarctica (2000)
“Enough has been said about the majesty that is The Moon & Antarctica; I shouldn’t even have to go into it. This is an incredible piece of work; and this vinyl reissue is no exception. Though I would’ve preferred it to be a gatefold instead of 2 LPs crammed in one sleeve the inserts are beautiful and the thick 180g pressings are flawless; really nothing worth complaining about. Whether you enjoy this album already or you’ve never heard it but want to get into Modest Mouse, this wax (or CD and Digital if you’re more into those) is essential. Buy it! 10/10”
1. The Lonesome Crowded West (1997)
“A truly amazing piece of work that I wish I had discovered in 1997. “The Lonesome Crowded West” is some of Modest Mouse’s finest work, and perhaps one of the top albums of the 90’s.
From the very first line of “Teeth like God’s Shoeshine,” you know this is going to be an interesting record. And interesting is a major understatement. Singer Isaac Brock comes in spitting fire, teetering on the edge of sanity as he sing/yells his way through the despair and the search for meaning in life. Brock, along with bassist Eric Juby , drummer Jeremiah Green and a handful of guest musicians deliver a powerful, multi-layered, intricate collection of songs, each unique in their own right, and never boring. Especially check out the hypnotic “Heart Cooks Brain,” “Convenient Parking and “Doin’ the Cockroach.”
For new listeners, it may be a little tough to digest on the first listen. After a couple spins, this album will grab hold of you and be a staple in your musical diet for a long time to come.”