The Full Picture: Modest Mouse

This is the first edition of a new series of posts here on Airwaves. In ‘The Full Picture’ we will look over a notable alternative artist’s entire discography and note how the sound evolved from album to album, as well as pointing out each album’s best tracks using the magical powers of hindsight. The perfect starting point for me with this is to cover my favorite artist out there: Modest Mouse. All the EPs and every album (just not the two cassette tapes from 1993), starting off with…

Modest Mouse- "Blue-Cadet 3 Do You Connect?" (1994)
Modest Mouse- “Blue-Cadet 3 Do You Connect?” (1994)

The first release for the band is an EP in 1994 named after the title track “Blue Cadet 3-Do You Connect?” and it packs five songs into 7 minutes and 34 seconds including a minute long intro for “It Always Rains on A Picnic“. On this first EP Modest Mouse is incredibly depressing in it’s song topics already, with the aforementioned title track existing as a question to a man lost in space being followed by 30 seconds of silence. The ending track “5-4-3-2-1 Lipsoff” is a thirty second track where we get Brock giving social commentary for the first time, as he makes jokes in the background and references his own lisp before ending the EP with the most profound statement on the album “Whatcha want, whadayou want from outer space?”. Overall some of the best qualities of Modest Mouse are present on this release, but the band wasn’t able to really write a full song at this point.

Track Picks: “Dukes Up

Modest Mouse- "This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About" (1996)
Modest Mouse- “This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About” (1996)

It’s hard to fathom what a gigantic step forward the band took with this release, and the progression is obvious the second that you hear the opening guitar on “Dramamine”. No wasted time, some anger, and a decisive message in the music. You get to hear Brock get pissed off on this album through tracks like “Breakthrough” and his f*** you message to the people fleeing Washington to¬†California, “Beach Side Property” (really one of two on the album along with “Head South“). Another really interesting thing which develops on “Beach Side Property” is how the rocking track where Brock opens with a loud, throaty scream, suddenly slows down and turns into Brock incorporating a religious metaphor into the song. This album is the first time that the band incorporated the religious theme into their music and it proved to be a topic where Brock was very good at displaying his viewpoints. Another huge difference between this was how Modest Mouse jammed, as they’re only one on Blue Cadet-3 was on “It Always Rains on a Picnic” which was noticeable more mellow. On This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About (TIALD from here on out) the more rock oriented jams show up to establish Modest Mouse as what they truly were, a 90s alternative rock group who was capable of morphing their sound into the other genres as well.¬†

Track Picks: Edit the Sad Parts, Dramamine, Beach Side Property

Modest Mouse- "Interstate Eight" (1996)
Modest Mouse- “Interstate 8” (1996)

Modest Mouse’s second EP released is what they’re demo tape was, and it contains some great Modest Mouse songs on it like “Edit the Sad Parts”, “Whenever You Breathe Out, I Breathe In (Positive/Negative)” and “Broke“. Still, I’m not going to go into this EP because all of the songs found their way into another album where they are better known and more easily identified, and this EP is viewed nowadays as more of a collector’s item than anything else.

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