This is where most people first heard Modest Mouse. With the release of Good News For People Who Love Bad News they had a little single called Float On which you may have heard every 10 minutes in the summer of 2004. The beginning of the album isn’t bad, and in most respects it still sounds like Modest Mouse, but it’s too polished and too refined for my taste.
Then a few songs in, sadly, Isaac Brock’s song style dips into Tom Waits territory and they’ve totally lost me. I’m not a fan of Tom Waits at all, so this was the last thing I ever wanted from the band. Thankfully though the album ends on a positive note with a cluster of good songs like Blame It On The Tetons, and the star of the album, The Good Times Are Killing Me.
For the wallpaper this month, Riley Cran has illustrated the first lines from Float On with perfect execution.
I backed my car into a cop car the other day
Well he just drove off sometimes life’s ok
I love how simple and straightforward this piece is. The illsutration of the type on the badge looks great and I love all the details in the cars. A huge thanks to Riley for nailing this one.
We’ve reached, in my opinion, the pinnacle of Modest Mouse, the last great album they ever released. I’m talking about Building Nothing Out Of Something, a collection of songs that were released between 1996 and 1998. The album was released in the beginning of 2000, 12 years ago, it seems like a life time ago. Listening to this album I think of how I had no idea that this wasn’t a cohesive thought, that I never paid attention to the fact that it was a menagerie of tunes.
This collection to me is the embodiment of what Modest Mouse sounds like. It encapsulates the uneasiness of Brock’s lyrics, the fascination with travel, math, the moon, ice. It also has some of the most sensitive lyrics he’s ever written. Songs like Broke and Baby Blue Sedan are what Modest Mouse sounds like, though I’m not sure others hear them that way. There was something about their sound back then that was honest. They sounded like a bunch of guys trying to make an album with the best tools they had. Brock’s voice is slightly out of tune, as are the guitars. The flaws and character were a part of the charm.
If you’ve never been a fan of Modest Mouse, I implore you to listen to this album. It defies all the expectations you may have, and could maybe show you a side to their music you didn’t know they had.
As for the wallpaper, super illustrator Deke Smith has created this awesome piece that sums up the album so well. The album is made up of pieces and parts and so is his wallpaper, but each work as a cohesive thought. He’s created some pretty rad symbols, and I love the color palette he chose as well. A huge thanks to Deke and be sure to check back next week as we hit up The Moon and Antarctica.
The album in my opinion is a raw expression of emotions. Modest Mouse had a lot of EPs prior to this album, but this is such a cohesive thought of being over the town you live in and wanting to travel and be somewhere else. I suppose 18 year old Bobby could certainly relate with these ideas. The songs on this album are spread out like the countryside, long and vast, never seeming to end. Isaac Brocks vocals are sing songy but harsh at times. This variance is gives such grit and life to each track, something that’s definitely been list over the years.
The lyrics of each track are also nearly perfect. Each song is filled with one gem of a line that you end up getting stuck in your head, even 10 years later. It’s also pretty extraordinary that almost half the songs on the album are over 6 minutes each, a feat in and of itself. I can’t say enough good things about this album. If you’re not a fan of Modest Mouse I implore you to put this album on while you’re heading off on a long drive or if it’s late and night and you’re deep in thought.
For the wallpaper, Rick Murphy has done a fantastic job of capturing the essence of this album. A gigantic moon, which comes into play in a lot of their work, a car looking out over the ocean, and a hi-fi and record player. The piece is both nostalgic and contemporary at the same time, perhaps even romantic.
Check back next week and we’ll talk about The Lonesome Crowded West and feature another beautiful wallpaper.
For the next five weeks The Desktop Wallpaper Project will be another collection of wallpapers I like to bundle under the name Sights & Sounds. The Sights & Sounds tasks creatives to create wallpapers based around the albums of some of my favorite musical artists. This time around I’ve asked Ellis Latham-Brown to help me visualize the albums of Modest Mouse, who like Ellis, are Washingtonians at heart.
I know some of you out there may not be huge Modest Mouse fans, but that’s ok. The wallpapers that have been created are for the most part neutral, meaning you can stil put them up on your monitor and no one will even think you’re a secret fan. It’s all great art (and free, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth), so be sure to check in later today, 10AM PST, and over the next few weeks to see what happens.
You can see previous installments of Sights & Sounds here:
Anniversaries are always good occasions to celebrate, so why not the 23rd and 20th anniversary of a pair of classic albums? Today’s wallpapers are technically Sights & Sounds installments, but done in one amazing post. The albums I’m speaking of are Isn’t Anything and Loveless from the Irish band, My Bloody Valentine.
With the release of these albums they helped to usher in the idea of shoegaze, which was defined by band members staring down at their feet as they used effects pedals to create a blaring cacophony of sound. With the release of Isn’t Anything back in 1988 My Bloody Valentine the band had managed to find the sweet spot of Jesus and Mary Chain, the wail of Sonic Youth and make something quite their own. With the follow up in 1991 of Loveless, they refined that sound to a new level and made one of the most revered album of the last 20 years. You can hear their sound in many bands today, M83 being a great example, and just how important they were to the generations that followed.
Figuring out who to get to make these wallpapers was a cinch, since our very own TFIB author Philip Kennedy is Irish. He, along with his buddy Alex Synge, tackled My Bloody Valentine’s only two albums, and they did a fantastic job. Alex’s design is stunning, it honestly makes me think of something Peter Saville might have come up with for a New Order album, minus the crazy color coding system. Philip’s wallpaper is a perfect representation of Loveless, simply put, it’s a beautiful mess.
The guys also put some of their thoughts down as to why they created their wallpapers, I’d suggest reading them both, especially Alex’s. He went into crazy detail and gives you so much insight into his production.