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for July 28, 2005

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Mouse Talks, Baron Walks
by Kaitlyn Robinson

Artist: Modest Mouse
Title: Baron Von Bullshit Rides Again
Label: Epic Records
If you've never seen Modest Mouse play live, here's two words for you: DO IT! The bandís recent live album release, titled Baron Von Bullshit Rides Again, proves the band can rock just as hard live as they do in the studio. While Modest Mouse has adopted a more polished and cleaner studio sound since signing with Epic Records, evident on their most recent album release Good News for People Who Like Bad News, Baron Von Bullshit sounds more like the bandís low-fi roots as heard on earlier releases like The Lonesome Crowded West. The sound is gritty, raw, and even dirty at times. It's comfortable in its abrasiveness; it feels like an old pair of beat-up jeans torn at the knees and frayed at the bottoms. You know you should trash the dingy jeans but you canít, just as you canít stop listening to singer Isaac Brockís infectious voice. Alternating between his trademark lisp and his bellowing screams, Brock sounds as full of indie angst as ever.
The album starts off strong, beginning with the mesmerizing opening riff of 3rd Planet, the song that put Modest Mouse on the map back in 2000 with their album The Moon and Antarctica. While overall the album has a coarse sound, Brock shows a different side of himself on the track "Wild Pack of Family Dogs". While performing the song, Brockís voice eerily echoes that of a little boy whoís innocently retelling a tragic family story without regrets. Think of the annoying little kid from Jerry McGuire and youíll understand what I mean; a grown man has never sounded more unaware of himself. The bandís rendition of "Broke", originally from the album Building Something Out of Nothing, is a stand out track. Dan Gallucciís guitar work sounds amazingly sad and Brockís delivery of the lyrics is so convincing I actually believe he thinks heís the asshole he claims to be in the song. The album has a diverse sound, ranging from melodic acoustics to heavy guitar ridden track's, such as "I Came as a Rat" and "Doiní the Cockroach". It is during these performances that the focus of the music really changes. Brockís painfully good voice takes a step back to allow for Gallucciís guitar, Eric Judyís bass, and Jeremiah Greenís drums to take center stage. Although Brock is out of the limelight on these two songs, the band doesnít miss a beat, and executes the songs perfectly.
The only problem with the album is that it may be too comfortable; the song arrangements lack a twist that might set them apart from their original versions. At times I couldnít tell if I was listening to Modest Mouse playing live, or whether someone had just run over a studio recording of the album with his car a few times to achieve the rough sound. With live versions of songs that virtually mirror the studio recordings, it would have been a pleasant relief from the norm to hear some sort of experimentation on the part of the band. Wouldnít it have been interesting to hear Modest Mouse play "Paper Thin" as, say, a slow love song? Now this is only a suggestion, but Iím curious to find out.


©2005 Kaitlyn Robinson

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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