February 2007


Question: What could possibly make Modest Mouse’s music even more tantalizing to the eardrums?

Answer: Add in the riffs and embellishments of Johnny Marr from the Smiths fame.

For me Modest Mouse has always been about the vocals and lyrics. Not saying that the music wasn’t good – it was/is fabulous – but the highlight has always been Isaac Brock’s quirky lyrics and absolutely unique vocal style. This strength shines once again on their latest album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, but the music, all those instruments, unusual percussion, noises, and backing vocals supporting Isaac’s lead vocal, has become a mind blowing aural (no, not oral) experience.

What I am trying to say is that the addition of Johnny Marr to the band may have seemed like a highly unusual choice, it did for me, but it really works. Everything Modest Mouse is still there, wholly intact, but there’s something extra that wasn’t there before.

Despite undeniable commercial success, Modest Mouse has always flown just under the radar of wide popular acceptance making them irrepressibly ‘indie cool.’ Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint on such matters, this album is set to change all that. It is so undeniably tasty from the opening accordion sounds on “March Into the Sea” to what sound like howling wolves of the closing track “Invisible” that this album is going to go big. As an aside, those wolf sounds made me think of Grandpa Simpson, “I’m cold and there are wolves after me.” For me, this broadening popularity of Modest Mouse makes me happy as more people should hear this band, know about this band. On the downside, the days of being able to see these guys in a smaller venue are likely coming to a close.

Modest Mouse’s musical mastery on We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is such that they can send you into a reflective happy trance, then jar you out of that complacent state with discordant vocals and guitars, then get you up and dancing to disco inspired bass and drums as you sing along to the melody…all of this often in the context of one song. That’s mastery. The opening track, “March Into The Sea”, is a prime example of this phenomenon.

The first single from the album, “Dashboard” (see the video above), showcases Johnny Marr’s influence on Modest Mouse, his embellishments and guitar tone absolutely shines. It is a highly danceable and singable song, destined for wide radio play. If it doesn’t end up there…well then the DJ’s are idiots. Hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ.

The only downside to this album was learning that I am nothing more than a carbon thief. On the plus side, it’ll all come full circle under some karmic rebalancing mechanism, for “Someday [I] will die somehow and someone’s gonna steal [my] carbon.”

One last time, and for greater clarity, this album is going to make existing Modest Mouse fans ecstatic. For those that haven’t had the pleasure of being introduced to their music, there’s never been a better time. Buy this album. It’s fucking awesome.

David Morley

Band
MySpace

Beth Gibbons, Geof Barrow and Adrian Utley, the trio that composes the core of Portishead, played a surprise show, consisting of 2 songs, at Bristol’s Grumpy Man on the eve of the 26th of Febuary.

Here are the details, via pitchfork:

Alert Pitchfork reader Hector Gutierez was on hand to witness the magic, billed under the guise of a Grumpy Man DJs event featuring a guest appearance by Barrow. “After a couple of hours [spinning] eclectic sadcore classics from the likes of Tom Waits and Joy Division,” wrote Gutierez, “Geoff and…Adrian Utley began to play ‘Wandering Star’– Geoff playing bass.

A few bars in Geoff picked up the mike and asked ‘Anyone here know how to sing?’ At this point Beth walked on stage and started singing.”

Apparently even venue staff were unaware of the live gig, and the person working the door actually charged Gibbons entry.”The second song was brand new,” Gutierez continued, “presumably from the forthcoming (if you believe the rumours, sometime this year) album. Rarely have I seen a room full of people all wear exactly the same facial expression, but when I looked at the crowd everyone had their mouths gaping and eyes wide open as if they were witnessing an alien landing.

It was wonderful. The new song was completely gorgeous, carried by Beth’s vocals and with very low-key instrumentation.”As the Grumpy Man website colorfully put it, “Adrian and Beth joined Geoff onstage and blew all our collective brains to shit.” Thankfully said website also includes a link to a bunch of photos from the event. Rumor has it YouTube footage is likely to surface soon, so keep your person situated in front of the internet at all times for the latest developments in the 10+ year saga of Portishead’s third album.

MySpace
Official Site

Good news, America!

Girl trio The Pipettes have scored a deal with Interscope Records/Cherrytree to release their debut album Stateside this year.

Originally released in the U.K. back in July, 2006, We Are The Pipettes will hit U.S. market this summer.

Americans will however be able to get a taste before then, as the band are set to open for Amy Winehouse at New York’s Bowery Ballroom on March 13. After that they are due to perform March 14-18 at Austin’s South by Southwest Festival, as well as with an upcoming gig in Los Angeles.

Rich from The Line Of Best Fit posted the new artwork from the forthcoming Wilco release Sky Blue Sky today. I couldn’t find any other sources (including Wilco’s website, their MySpace and their label) confirming this to be official though.

The Nonesuch effort hits store shelves May 15.

Tracklist:
01 Either Way
02 You Are My Face
03 Impossible Germany
04 Sky Blue Sky
05 Side With the Seeds
06 Shake It Off
07 Please Be Patient With Me
08 Hate It Here
09 Leave Me (Like You Found Me)
10 Walken
11 What Light
12 On and On and On

Brazilian sensations Cansei De Ser Sexy just recently concluded the NME Indie Rave Tour in the UK w/The Klaxons, New Young Pony Club and The Sunshine Underground. Abounding with seemingly endless energy they are now embarking on a European tour and subsequently have somehow found time to grace North America with 6 upcoming dates:
04-29 Indigo, CA – Coachella Valley Festival
06-01 New York, NY – Irving Plaza
06-02 Cambridge, MA – Middle East Downstairs
06-04 Toronto, Ontario – Horseshoe Tavern
06-08 Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
06-09 San Francisco, CA – Mezzanine

European dates can be found on the band’s website & Myspace below.

www.csshurts.com
www.myspace.com/canseidesersexy

If you were making a mix for our readers, what would be the first three songs you’d select?
1. John Cage – Imaginary Landscapes
2. Stockhausen – Kontakte for Electric Sounds
3. Bjork – 5 years

Name any musical influence(s)?
Steve Reich, but some people say Terry Riley


What new music are you currently listening to?
Lutoslawski

Name a band (current or defunct) that would be your dream act to open for on a major tour?
I think opening for John Cage would be pretty cool.

Who, if anyone, would you like to collaborate with?
If Ghostface asked us, we wouldn’t think twice. Unlike other bands that I’ve heard refusing to work with him.

Tell us something about you that we can’t find on Google.
Nick and Patrick cut their hair at this guy named Dan in downtown Montreal, Aaron goes to this guy named Sheldon. Alex is practising the Glazunov violin Concerto, Seb is doing the Glass. Patrice works for the circus.

Band
MySpace

The Setting Suns is a collaboration between Sam Fogarino, drummer from Interpol and Adam Franklin, guitarist and singer from Swervedriver and Toshack Highway. The duo met over dinner in NYC last winter, while being introduced by long time, mutual friend Jack Rabid of The Big Takeover.


A post from Sam in the project’s MySpace blog: the setting suns was something i never expected to happen. i’ve been a swervedriver fan from the start, still am. i would have killed just to bang a can for adam franklin. now, he makes sense of my melodies, and turns our ideas into a beautiful din. i feel lucky and alive…. and a bit sick from my own sap.

thanks again. we’ll keep you posted.

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