Monday, November 14, 2005


Most people who now know of Modest Mouse know them through the surprisingly ubiquitous (and I'm quite sick of) "Float On" (and really, if you'd made me a bet that a Modest Mouse song would be used as bumper into and out of Major League Baseball radio broadcasts between half innings you'ld have taken my money). The song is deceptive, cleverly: it is a much darker song than its perky, poppy sound suggests, but it's a song that is unlike most of Modest Mouse's music. Over the course of their 12 year career, they have created a wonderfully harrowing catalog of songs that are disjunctive and frantic and very unlike the ear-candy of "Float On," in a style and sound that makes those songs unmistakably identifiable as Modest Mouse songs.

Which makes "Tiny Cities," the new Sun Kil Moon album, utterly remarkable. Sun Kil Moon is the latest project of Mark Kozelek, the former front man of the terribly underappreciated Red House Painters, and one of the most forcefully quiet musicians I've ever heard. "Tiny Cities" covers eleven loud, typically agressive, confrontational Modest Mouse songs and thoroughly, convincingly, slowly and hauntingly, reinterprets them in ways that reveal the genius of Modest Mouse's Jason Brock, his songs, and of Mark Kozelek. The first time I heard "Ocean Breathes Salty," the sensation of knowing but not knowing the song was dizzily uncanny. Brilliant.

Minus the Bear, a Seattle band, has a sound that fans of Pinback and The Sea and Cake might like (you'll be hearing about The Sea and Cake from me, I guarantee). Their new one is worth a listen.

Sufjan Stevens has been getting a lot of press with his proclaimed project of creating one album for each state, and *Illinoise* has garnered fabulous reviews. It IS beautiful. Released earlier this year, if anyone has listened to it, I'd be interested in your take. There's something I'm not getting. My feeling is that it's hollow inside, but whether that's because it is, and/or because I don't subscribe to the religiosity of its intent, and/or because I'm temperamentally ill-equipped to like something with so much good hype, I'm not sure.


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