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“Dolby’s Top 25 Modest Mouse Songs of All Time”

Not to be outdone, seeing as my big brother Paste just put out a recent “Top 10 Modest Mouse Songs” post with certain idiosyncrasies I’d like to respectfully describe as flaws, I decided to “prattle on” with my own two cents on the subject. All the better custom for the resident “trailer trash” of the local dwellings.
Ah, music. I dunno why I even try, with this b.s. vinyl craze these days and human beings actually listening to the band Gorillaz (granted I have not WITNESSED this activity firsthand ever, thankfully), but I did run into this dude in the bar (he listened to CD’s and no vinyl by the way, I offered to pay him to write for this site) and when I asked him if he liked Modest Mouse his answer roughly approximated whether I might prefer grilled salmon to Spam with Velveeta.

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25 “Out of Gas” (The Lonesome Crowded West)

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What’s important to note here (other than, you know, nothing in particular) is that this song is a perfect companion piece to “Heart Cooks Brain” — it’s the same tempo and borrows a lot of the same rhythms, and has I believe close to the same chord change, if not the exact same. Also the lyrics are funny: “Out of gas / Out of road / Out of car / I don’t know how I’m gonna go”.

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24 “Invisible” (We Were Dead before the Ship Even Sank)

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Jeremiah Green is a blitzkrieg on this one. Whereas Janet Weiss is an “avalanche.” There, now I’ve got that dichotomy down.

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23 “Heart Cooks Brain” (The Lonesome Crowded West)

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Yeah yeah yeah, another cute Modest Mouse song. Like I said it’s the precursor to the wildly droll “Out of Gas,” and this is its primary function, its other function being of course making you feel relatively intelligent that you play with those little kids toise at the dentists office or somethin.

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22 “The Stars are Projectors” (The Moon & Antarctica)

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Only Modest Mouse (read: Brian Deck) could use strings and have them sound this integral and organic, and non-goopy. By this point in the album I’m usually completely spacing out, or just distraught with jealousy of Modest Mouse, or both.

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21 “Florida” (We Were Dead before the Ship Even Sank)

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I’ve never met ANYBODY on earth who liked this song except me. So yeah, like I was saying, it’s my 21st favorite song by the best band since Neil Young.

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20 “Lounge (Closing Time)” (The Lonesome Crowded West)

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Ope, here’s this one. Da** this album’s great. It makes me feel sane, by comparison.

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19 “Convenient Parking” (The Lonesome Crowded West)

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I had a friend put this on a mix CD at work one time in Colorado — he was this dude who constantly listened to like The Jesus Lizard and Bad Brains and stuff, but he liked Modest Mouse too, and this was the song he picked. A little less melodic than “Lounge (Closing Time),” which a PUNK thing, if not necessarily a nice thing.

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18 “I Came as a Rat” (The Moon & Antarctica)

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I remember I really liked the way Brent Dicrescenzo described this song: as “Nirvana playing folk with Massive Attack,” in his ORIGINAL, ORIGINAL, ORIGINAL review of the ORIGINAL release of The Moon & Antarctica. Also we got the classic line “Anybody still not convinced of Isaac Brock’s genius should make their way to the Target music section.”

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17 “Float on” (Good News for People Who Love Bad News)

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You might have heard of this little number… in all truth it’s probably better than 17th-best, but I’m trying to retain this website’s veneer of coolness, and all that good stuff.

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16 “Bury Me with it” (Good News for People Who Love Bad News)

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A feather in the cap of this song is definitely that in it he says the album title, despite it not being a titled track, something that was actually pretty rare for the band, although they kind of do it on “Fly Trapped in a Jar.”

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15 “Parting of the Sensory” (We Were Dead before the Ship Even Sank)

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Thoroughly mind-blowing album track on We Were Dead before the Ship Even Sank — credit the people who sequenced this album for sticking this volatile trek right in the middle, after the light-hearted singles “Dashboard” and “Fire it up.”

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14 “Little Motel” (We Were Dead before the Ship Even Sank)

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A slow song that builds slowly, and explodes in a climax you’ll never forget, here, not unlike the Kings of Leon favorite “Trani” off their first album.

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13 “The Cold Part” (The Moon & Antarctica)

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I put this song on as an individual track, but it’s impossible to overstate how bad it would be to try to divorce it from the album — it languidly spans the album’s torpid middle bowels with an awe-inspiring amount of sonic texture and purposefulness.

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12 “Wild Packs of Family Dogs” (The Moon & Antarctica)

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They don’t need no stinkin’ drums on this one! But I think I heard a little maraca, and a whole lot of a made up story about a gory eating of little children by a “wild pack of family dogs,” which of course is a semantically ironic juxtaposition of words, in and of itself. And do I detect a garish, errant string bend on the first beat of the third bar of the song? Eh, little imperfections go to make life what it is. Accordion. Doing what accordion do. Also a favorite line is “Right after I die / the dogs start floating up toward the glowing sky”. And god da** it don’t come at me with that remaster SH**! FU**! I keep seeing that sh** everywhere, on youtube. I’m gonna find the idiot who remastered The Moon & Antarctica and really lay into him.

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11 “Education” (We Were Dead before the Ship Even Sank)

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I dunno… you ever have a song just seep into your psyche ‘cause it’s SO da** funky? It’s almost like I’m not white, or something. But not quite.

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10 “Ocean Breathes Salty” (Good News for People Who Love Bad News)

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My affinity for this song is primarily lyrical… but still, a considerable affinity it is. It reads like a little Walt Whitman, or Virginia Woolf, poem, of the American west coast.

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9 “Doin’ the Cockroach” (The Lonesome Crowded West)

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Again, here was part of that epic live trifecta involving as well “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” and “The View” I heard in suburban De-trash in 2004, and I mean just LISTEN to this song. What kind of maimer of gerbils would leave this off their list!

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8 “Cowboy Dan” (The Lonesome Crowded West)

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I have explicitly heard people cite this as their favorite Modest Mouse song before. “Satin in a Coffin” was another weird favorite I heard one time. Eh, this sh** is intense.

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7 “Jesus Christ Was an Only Child” (The Lonesome Crowded West)

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Here now we have The Lonesome Crowded West and The Moon & Antarctica really trading punches for best Modest Mouse album (I’ll be da**ed if I’m gonna decide between the two in this particular context), but whereas I think each track on Antarctica tends to portray a certain affinity for the remainder of the project, here Brock just sounds amusingly regretful of it all, as if he’s not really sure of anything, except of course that “Jesus Christ was an only child / He went down to the river and he drank and smiled”.

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6 “Trucker’s Atlas” (The Lonesome Crowded West)

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And here’s another hilariously dramatic drum beat but it’s actually a LITTLE MORE complex, albeit a beat that could soundtrack like some cheesy Mark Wahlberg song or something. Modest Mouse’s best 10-minute-plus song here (and possibly their only one, looks like “The Stars Are Projectors” logs in at just under nine).

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5 “The Good Times are Killing Me” (Good News for People Who Love Bad News)

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Funny story, albeit one primarily regarding my cognition, I’d taken a trip to Philadelphia from my native Indiana for seeing The Roots’ mural unveiling… then a new job search and a crappy summer awaited me back home, but I got this song in my head as I was drifting off to sleep on the Greyhound, and he**, all you can do is “carry on,” right?

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4 “Trailer Trash” (The Lonesome Crowded West)

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Oh, the poor guy… I saw this dude try to cover this song at an open mic one time, and NOBODY clapped for him. And not that Modest Mouse isn’t especially coverable, at least I THINK they are, but still, at the same time, I’ve never heard anybody truly do justice to them (granted, the only band to do justice to Dylan is probably the Grateful Dead, with “When I Paint My Masterpiece”). And it’s funny, here again we have a simple pattern sounding hilariously dramatic, but in this case it’s the song’s three-chord outro, and Eric Judy’s riff on bass which cavaliers us into the night.

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3 “A Different City” (The Moon & Antarctica)

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I wasn’t going to cite Alan Goldsher’s biography A Pretty Good Read too excessively, but it is quite effectively done, and I remember the writer when covering this song as a topic devolving into a brand of effusive praise of his own fashion on Jeremiah Green’s ability to make such a simple drum beat sound so dramatic. It’s like you’re walking off the face of the earth or something. Great album followup here to “Tiny Cities.”

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2 “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” (The Moon & Antarctica)

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This song was made on… ANOTHER PLANET! HOW GHOULISH! Or maybe it just wasn’t made in the “cold part” of the world, or is WAS made in the cold part of the world. Aw shucks, nobody knows Modest Mouse’s secret except them… that’s why we love ‘em so much. This song composed one-thirds of a blistering live show trifecta I witnessed in 2004 in suburban Detroit along with “Doin’ the Cockroach” and Good News’ underdog stomper “The View” — all three songs were about the same rhythm and tempo, and now, finally, production, as well.

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1 “Gravity Rides Everything” (The Moon & Antarctica)

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It’s important to distinguish that here you need the ORIGINAL mix of this album, and not the sterile, overly poppy remix that admittedly Isaac Brock himself did in the months following the album’s release although that cleaned-up sound would indeed go on to presage the band’s ensuing days of radio play denizenship. It’s sad, but a lot of times I associate Modest Mouse with drinking (which many of their lyrics albeit would seem to justify), and this is just absolutely, positively the perfect music for pulling out of the liquor store on those gloomy days in like maybe February, when you really just need some added brightness, luster, feeling and meaning infused back in your life. The whole thing is a simple transaction, really.

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