May 152014

modest-mouse-concert-preview-for-orlando-may-2014One of my favorite angry existentialist drunks will be in town tonight and tomorrow! Well, he’s probably not a drunk … anymore. Angst-y genius, Isaac Brock has a way with words. I’m drawn to his honest, raw, and mostly scathing insights about life, death and humanity. What makes them scathing is the unflinching honesty. Like someone with Asperger’s syndrome, Brock’s lyrics have no filter. He calls it like he sees it, “There’s one thing to know about this earth / We’re put here just to make more dirt; and that’s OK.” This could be interpreted as bleak to some while others, like me, find it refreshing. The words work perfectly with the songs but can read like the works of Bukowski or Henry Miller (If I was more well read I might have a better comparison) on their own. Take these lyrics laced with brutally honest perspectives and doubt, deliver it with a delicate lisp and some guttural fury then couple that with production techniques that sometimes layer Brock’s lines; whispering a phrase in one headphone, speaking it in the other, and screaming in both simultaneously and we have a pretty interesting approach.

The music of Modest Mouse has this sort of loose, jangly quality to it. It sounds warbly and sad, teetering on either side of the meter and tethered in place more by the bass than the drums. The music is dark and poetic, wounded and sincere. Even tunes like, “Float On” which sound incredibly pop and upbeat are tragically sad and humanistic upon closer inspection. Modest Mouse really creates some of the most unique rock ‘n roll ever to make it big. And just like St. Vincent and Smashing Pumpkins, behind the powerful music and lyrics lies a serious guitar player that sort of takes over at live shows.

When I saw dates for Modest Mouse at The Beacham in Orlando I was hoping a new album was on the way. They haven’t put out anything since We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007) and the EP, No One’s Fist, and You’re Next (2009). This spring tour is even more exciting than a new album in a way. It seems this tour was put together as a testing ground for new material, which will make shows more interesting. Most great rock ‘n roll bands will get out and field test new material in the live environment and as a fan it is fun to watch them take shape throughout the tour and ultimately on the album. It’s a peek into the creative process. Another benefit to these kinds of tours is bands like to reward super-fans by mixing new material with fan favorites and deep cuts. Although the new album would technically only be the band’s 6th album they have a vast catalog to pull from and Orlando crowds will be eating it up starting tonight.