This feature was originally published in March 2015. We’re reposting today as Modest Mouse announces US tour dates.
Ever felt overwhelmed by an artist’s extensive back catalog? Been meaning to check out a band, but you just don’t know where to begin? In 10 Songs is here to help, offering a crash course and entry point into the daunting discographies of iconic artists of all genres. This is your first step toward fandom. Take it.
There will never be another Modest Mouse.
Yes, this is true of everybody. But it’s especially unanimous in ModMo’s case because no matter what side of the music industry you approach it from – art- or business-based – it’s a different type of true. Never has any band with quite the level of indie cred and quite the surefire path to being scene-lifers gotten to quite the level of mainstream acceptance quite as suddenly, all while relinquishing quite as few of their impulses. Not Arcade Fire (got huge early). Not the Flaming Lips (slowly chiseled their way up from the underground, never “exploded”). Not Wilco, nor Yo La Tengo, nor Bon Iver, nor The Shins, nor The National. This is a band that’s followed a trajectory both unprecedented and impossible to repeat, and it simply will never. Happen. Again.
Frontman Isaac Brock has called himself “lucky” to be in the right place at the right time – that is, when some kind of chemical reaction flipped the switch on the umbrella of indie rock’s definition around 2004, instantly spreading its collapsed canopy wide open. (The “fwoomp” sound of it happening? “Float On”.) At that moment, there stood Brock, Eric Judy, and Jeremiah Green holding this gigantic umbrella with everyone’s eyes fixated on them and hardly a clue as to what just happened.
Lucky, sure, but we at CoS also believe it could hardly have been a more deserving group. Few would have guessed that within 10 years, the three townie-lookin’ Pacific Northwest indie-rock prodigies shown here would still be in the same band, which would also include Johnny Marr, a secondary drummer, and a reputation for devious banjo licks and Waits-inspired horn overkill. Thank “God’s Shoeshine” they ended up the chosen ones, though, because it gave them the means to try on so many of the different looks that now spring to mind when we hear the name. Here are 10 of them.
Senior Staff Writer