This plane is definitely crashing!!!!


Patrick Dóñez

Modest Mouse recorded some of the most important indie-rock of the 1990s.

A life in Southern California acquaints you with a certain kind of landscape. You become accustomed to the strange deja-vu of suburban sprawl, losing track of how many times you pass identical housing developments, franchise-restaurants, and brand-new shopping centers, painted varying shades of brown and tan, lazily attempting to represent regional character.” Pass enough construction sites, notice the vast expansion of the residential universe into what is left of our open space, think about what has been lost in the clumsy clamor for real estate profits, and you will recognize that something is wrong. No band articulates this sense of alienation and disgust like Modest Mouse. 

Formed in Issaquah, Washington in the early 1990s, Modest Mouse made some of the most unique, influential indie rock of all time. Characterized by singer and guitarist Isaac Brock’s emotional, often abrasive vocals, and esoteric, thought-provoking lyrics, the band’s songs stand out amongst those of their contemporaries. On their first two albums, This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About and Lonesome Crowded West, Brock describes vividly the West as he sees it, in the final stages of its corporate conquest. He writes about trailer park life (“Trailer Trash”), interstate drug smuggling (“Trucker’s Atlas”), the night sky blocked out by city lights (“Ohio”, and more. There are lonely, tragic songs about love shared by people out of place in the world of tech tycoons, and angry, frenzied, rejections of the parking lot paradigm.  

Early Modest Mouse projects, including the compilation record Building Nothing Out of Nothing and the “lost album” Sad Sappy Sucker, are the perfect soundtrack to a drive through the Inland Empire. Brock’s mournful reflections on life in a fast moving, fast changing, often unfeeling consumer society are made more impactful by the realization that if anything, it has only gotten worse. In the Pitchfork Classic documentary about Lonesome Crowded West, he explains that he wrote the album while watching the Seattle tech boom change his home before his eyes. He witnessed the “mallf*cking of America, and it disgusted him. 

Many of us have never known anything different. This state, at least this part of it, is the culmination of decades of relentless profit-seeking development – the end state of a parasitic growth-economy. If it scares you, if you are tired of gated communities named after the trees bulldozed to build them, if you have ever driven hours in search of open space, only to find construction crews circling like vultures at every step of the way, Modest Mouse is the band for you. At the very least, do not ignore their warning. This boat is obviously sinking.