Thursday, August 27, 2009

2004 : 04-05
Aught Music Roundtable: "Good News For People Who Love Bad News" by Modest Mouse

Roundtable Part One: "Bukowski"

Yes, yes, yes. The obvious choice would be "Float On," and while that is one of the great songs of this decade, I've always had a soft spot for "Bukowski." When I first listened to this song, I immediately assumed it was a fun homage/criticique of the notorious author, but in fact, it's much more. Charles Bukowski is merely an example in the lyrics, which are much more profound than they appear at first. The song is an open-ended question of problem of goodness combined with human nature. In essense, nobody is spared, not even God:

If God controls the land and disease,
keeps a watchful eye on me,
If he's really so damn mighty,
my problem is I can't see,
well who would wanna be?
Who would wanna be such a control freak?
Well who would wanna be?
Who would wanna be such a control freak?

Issac Brock's scratchy, guttural voice is pitch-perfect for the tough questions of this song. The music is somewhat jarring, at times sounding like a mash of notes that get jumbled, but right themselves just in time. It's not a particularly easy listen, since the lyrics are sometimes rushed and mumbled, and the instruments (especially the banjo sequences) almost sound angry in some way. However, despite appearing cynical, the song works as an almost metaphysical query. If this is true, then it works like a Bukowski short story: underneath the hard exterior, there are some intelligent ideas and sympathetic questions.

Jamie Yates

Roundtable Part Two: "Float On"

I was on my 2004 trip to Portland the week Good News for People Who Love Bad News came out. I could not turn a corner without seeing a poster for this album. I think they were coming to town that week also. Let's say there were everywhere in Portland when I was there. I took it as a sign and bought the CD. It became an album that I listened to in my car for the next three months. I could not get enough of this album.

Jeremy said to me he found Modest Mouse less interesting when he was not worried about Isaac Brock being close killing himself with drugs. I am on the other side of this. I think the team of "I'm still alive, now what?" is very interesting. I think it is what makes Good News for People Who Love Bad News an interesting album to listen to. I hear that idea all through the album.

Rich Thomas

Listen: Modest Mouse >> "Bukowski" | "Float On"

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