7.) Modest Mouse - The Moon & Antarctica (2000)
If you ever run into someone who has heard the lead track, "3rd Planet", on Modest Mouse's epic The Moon & Antarctica and doesn't like it, please run away. This person is not to be trusted.
For my money, Modest Mouse should be mentioned in the same breath as bands like Nirvana, Pavement... hell even REM. To me they're that good. One of the great indie rock bands that has ever existed and continues to exist. I also tend to think that The Moon and Antarctica is the band's finest moment. I'm as big a Lonesome Crowded West guy as the next person, but in my opinion TM&A bests it. Not by much, but gun to my head...
Isaac Brock is one of indie rock's ballsiest guys - or at least it seems that way. Few indie frontmen are aggressive as Brock. It's as if he's reaching through the speaker, grabbing you by the neck and shaking the shit out of you. It's a very punk rock delivery in a lot of ways and a far cry from the usual twee and shy man children that tend to front indie bands. He can be a bit scary, but it's the very visceral reaction Modest Mouse go for that makes them so appealing to me.
The Moon & Antarctica is not a pop record (and the irony that this is the same bands who would later pen one of the most "uplifting" pop songs of the aughts is not lost on me), not by a long shot. It's frayed rock ' n roll from the perspective of a man, seemingly, on the verge of madness. That his madness feels anything but staged makes Modest Mouse just feel real. Unlike someone like Marilyn Manson (such an old example, I've just dated myself) whose anger feels manufactured by focus groups and the slabbing on of tons of make-up. Brock announces, right off the bat, "[that] it took a lot of work to be the ass I am and I'm pretty damn sure that anyone can equally, easily fuck you over." Now, whether or not this is a persona is a moot point because of how committed Brock is to it through the whole record.
There are a lot of great songs on The Moon & Antarctica, but the one that I think sums the record up the best is "Wild Pack of Family Dogs" a one minute forty five second ditty which, on the surface, is the most pleasant track on the record - a sing along if you will about these titular dogs eating his little sister and his mother "crying bloodlust now", but ultimately ends with the dogs dying. So, full circle you know? It's the most compelling minute and forty five seconds in rock 'n roll this decade and the record as a whole is certainly one of the most compelling, not just of the decade, but in the history of indie rock.
Posted by Pat Driscoll