May 28, 2010

Ben Lee covers Modest Mouse, charmingly


I’ve recently been somewhat obsessed with the Ben Lee song “Catch My Disease” (on my Stomp/Clap mix) — I listen to it every time I need a potent jolt of handclappy goodness in my day these last two weeks. I’ve been familiar with this quirky Australian musician over the years, both in his solo work (“Running with Scissors” from my That’s Dangerous! Mix is still a wholehearted favorite – a massive tune that completely could have been a radio hit) and the awesomeness of The Bens collaboration (with Kweller and Folds in 2003).

Recently my iPod shuffled forth this gift, and I had to smile. I love the unvarnished acoustic delight here, even when he flubs the bridge timing and has to start over. It sounds like the stars coming out, and you and me watching on our backs in the summer grass.

Float On (acoustic Modest Mouse cover) – Ben Lee

Ben’s current album The Rebirth of Venus is out now, and he was on delicious Daytrotter last month.


June 22, 2007

If we can’t have a great music festival on Alcatraz, this’ll do

The Noise Pop peeps have done it again. In conjunction with Another Planet Entertainment, they’ve just announced an outdoor fall music festival on Treasure Island, the other mysterious land mass in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. It’s been so long since I’ve been out there, it’s just this exit on the Bay Bridge that I always used to speed past. But come September 15 . . .

SEPT 15-16, 2007

Modest Mouse
M. Ward
Thievery Corporation
Gotan Project
DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist
Built To Spill
Ghostland Observatory
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

…and others to be announced. In addition to the above acts, there will also be a second stage featuring up and coming local bands. According to the press release, “It is the first music-based event of this scale and scope to take place on the man-made island that was originally built to house the 1939 World’s Fair.”

(I also just found out that parts of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were filmed on Treasure Island, which just ratchets up its rad factor in my book)

There’s some stiff competition that weekend on the festival scene: I’ll be at the Monolith Festival, and it’s also the weekend of Austin City Limits (and somehow Spoon is playing at all three). But how cool is that for all you fans of good music back in my old stomping grounds? Good job on this one, festival organizers.

The acts they’ve lined up are a refreshing blend of indie rock, international beats, and electronica/hip-hop.

Summer – Modest Mouse
Chinese Translation – M. Ward
Un Simple Historie – Thievery Corporation
Rhthm & Soul – Spoon
Mi Confesión – Gotan Project
Erase You (feat. Chris James) – DJ Shadow
What’s The Altitude (feat. Hymnal) – Cut Chemist
The Plan – Built To Spill
Amazon – M.I.A.
Stranger Lover – Ghostland Observatory
Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

April 7, 2007

We were dead before the ship even sank, but goshdarnit we were winners

Here are the five randomly selected victors of the recent Fuel contest to win the new dramatically-titled Modest Mouse album, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. I’ll never let go, Jack.


Mitch, who said…
Have to go with 3rd Planet – shaken foundations, false gods, all the great things that make us one messed up species of primate! The whole album is brilliant though (you know that already, I bet) with thrown away thoughts and phrases reappearing as themes in other songs…

Kevin Dean, who said…
‘Tis a difficult task to pick a favorite MM song. I almost had a brain aneurysm. After a long scientific test i have concluded that
The Devil’s Workday from Good News …. is my favorite. It’s almost an homage to Tom Waits with its weirdo rhythyms and vocal stylings. The lyrics border on psychotic. A few years ago I was working part-time in a kitchen. All of the weirdos in the kitchen loved said song. Most would probably find the track to be a throwaway from that album, but it really has stuck with me. After that i’d pick the lovely, simple “Gravity Rides Everything”.

MattC, who said…
I would have said 3rd Planet without even having to think before I heard the song Florida off of this latest album. Great song for the car, as the weather is warming up.

Dirt – LPBME, who said…
How about a cover…South of Heaven. Seems the boys are fans of Slayer and had to do a cover of their most “friendly song”. I certainly appreciate this cover as a look back at where we came from.

pen cap, who said…
Medication off of an old 7″ but later on Building Something Out of Nothing. Isaac is great at the quiet-to-loud and slow-to-fast thing, but on this song his style fits the narrative better than on most MM songs. It actually sounds and feels like hope breaking through the anti-depressants. The jangly hopeful ear-candy part of the song is wedged between the low-key and surprinsingly intimate (medicated) lines. They’ve got songs that kick more ass, but this one does more than just sound good.

If all the winners could please email me your mailing address, we’ll get those shipped. There were a total of thirty-something v.g. recommendations running the whole gamut. Here is what I am adding to my new “Readers’ Favorite Modest Mouse” playlist on my iPod, you may create the same and we can blissfully bob our heads in unison:

3rd Planet
Dark Center of the Universe
Float On
Trucker’s Atlas
Worms vs. Birds
So Much Beauty in Dirt
Shit Luck
The Devil’s Workday
The World At Large
Black Cadillacs
The View
Ocean Breathes Salty
Blame It On The Tetons
Never Ending Math Equation
South of Heaven
Doin’ The Cockroach
Talking Shit About A Pretty Sunset
Parting of the Sensory
Cowboy Dan
Whenever You See Fit
Missed The Boat
Stars Are Projectors
Out of Gas
Baby Blue Sedan
Workin’ On Leavin’ the Livin’

To read the impassioned commentary on why these favorites were selected, see the comments to the original post. Good work, kids.

Photo credit
March 29, 2007

Win the new Modest Mouse

New contest for you kids, this time to win one of five copies that I’ve got of the new Modest Mouse album We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. The big news for Isaac Brock and Co. this week is that his little band’s new album (their 5th full-length) debuted at #1 on the charts, selling 129K copies in the first week. It must have been propelled by that good review in Teen People.

THE CONTEST: One thing I find fascinating about Modest Mouse is how different each of their songs sounds. Sure, you’ve got that jangly, slightly off-kilter feel and the disorienting warble of Brock’s vocals, but beyond that there is huge and pleasing variety in the tunes.

To enter to win, leave me a comment with your favorite Modest Mouse song thus far (including new and/or unreleased songs is okay) and why. I want to take a listen. My wonderful student assistant Kathy once made me a Modest Mouse sampler with a great variety of tunes (rare/live/album) and I’ll admit I want to add any overlooked tunes to that. We’ll run it a week, ending next Thursday April 5th, and winners will be randomly selected.

I think my favorite MM tune is “Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes” — it has a narcotic-like effect on me in that I just can’t get enough of it. The first time I heard it, I just wanted to shake my moneymaker and I still feel that way every single time it comes on. Big fat delicious bassline, the trademark droning blend of two-octave vocals, and I love the lyrics, “I’m gonna get dressed up in plastic, gonna shake hands with the masses oh yeah . . .” Sounds a little OCD to me, but I love it.

Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes – Modest Mouse

NEW: Missed The Boat – Modest Mouse

Brock has been busy parlaying his past A&R experience at Sub Pop into a successful record label of his own with the development of the Epic subsidiary Glacial Pace Records. His first signing was singer-songwriter-cool dude Mason Jennings and the 2006 release Boneclouds was the premiere for the hatchling label. No word yet on other releases.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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