“A Bit on ‘Trucker’s Atlas’ and How Modest Mouse is Necessarily, Obstinately, White People’s Music”

Modest Mouse has not put out what I consider a good album in nine years (some people would say longer, they have sticks up their a**es), but nonetheless, I think today they’re more relevant than ever. There is still no better band to put on when you’re at work, and you can glean from practically their entire discography: there’s “Medication” for when you get off work and are grabbing a drink (provided it’s still the middle of the day), there’s “Whenever You Breathe out, I Breathe in (Positive Negative)” for maybe your last day, an occasion of poignance, and of course there’s “Trucker’s Atlas,” with its goofy drum beat, for any old day, fantastical lyrics and all.
Dating back to their first album This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think about, as we know, Modest Mouse are basically the epitomes of auto fixee. Now this aspect isn’t necessarily a building block of their success: their best song might be “Trailer Trash” (a predicament perhaps of augmenting the VALUE of an ensuing car purchase, albeit). And as we know you can’t put “Trailer Trash” on at work — it’s a song so good it makes you narcissistic, and actually, for that matter, does make for fine driving tuneage.
So with “Trailer Trash” and its lyrics of stationary squalor providing the optimum driving feast, wouldn’t it make sense that the grass is always greener on the other side, and “Trucker’s Atlas” would best serve the located gatherings?
Now, in calling Modest Mouse “white people music,” it’s necessary that I define the opposite of such a thing, “black people music.” (Whereas the opposite of black music is actually Asian music. Just kidding.) The problem with this of course is that white people typically aren’t deemed worthy of commenting on black people. But if I know my darker brethren, I’d hardly grant to them the desire to CELEBRATE being “trailer trash” — they want out of the crap, they want better things. This, of course, does delineate the obvious conclusion — that Brock IS already celebrating getting out, and he is in fact pointing out a racial anomaly that was, white people in such poor circumstances. He knew he was destined for the depth and temporal breadth of hipster Portland… he chose to write “Trailer Trash,” and we can’t really fault him for why, because it’s so damn great, and what’s more with using just three chords, and the same progression, for the whole song. Credit the band for pumping up Eric Judy’s bass in the outro for that simple, unforgettable riff. But Brock wrote the song FOR inner city Portland hipsters (I’ve never been to the Northwest, but I’ve heard it dubbed a “white people city” by a girl who’d lived up there)… and this novelty appeal betokens, more than anything, a necessary FOREIGNNESS, just like maybe the world of lavish jewelry embodies the faraway, fantasy beacon for the impoverished.

279 thoughts on ““A Bit on ‘Trucker’s Atlas’ and How Modest Mouse is Necessarily, Obstinately, White People’s Music”

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