MODEST MOUSE, Building Nothing Out of Something (Up) After an improbable rise from a practice shed in Issaquah to a major label deal with Epic,


Modest Mouse, Goodie Mob, and more.

MODEST MOUSE, Building Nothing Out of Something (Up) After an improbable rise from a practice shed in Issaquah to a major label deal with Epic, Modest Mouse sends a parting gesture to the local label that nurtured the trio through its indie years. The 7-inch records that yielded the songs for this compilation have become hot commodities on Internet auction sites, and vinyl junkies will welcome the CD to spare their coveted collectibles. Building Nothing Out of Something sounds more subtle than the band's last proper release, 1997's The Lonesome Crowded West, but it captures the teenage angst, suburban blues, and existential ennui that defines this band. Isaac Brock's delivery ranges from mumbles to screams, and his repetitive refrains teeter between reassuring affirmations and numbing mantras of despondency. "Working on leaving the living," Brock sings morosely on one track, amid an echoing, aching five-minute guitar drone. "In heaven, everything's all right/In heaven, everything's just fine." The cascading notes and steady rhythms of "Broke" wash over pained, violent lyrics: "Broken hearts want broken necks." Brock's greatest strength is his ability to draw astute and vaguely humorous observations from his own apathy. Nowhere does this come across better than in "Sleepwalkin," a rework of Santo and Johnny's instrumental classic spruced up with Brock's evocative lines: "The white trash boys/listen to their headphones/blasting white noise/in the convenience store parking lot," he sings drowsily, and then delivers the sad punch line: "I hung around there/wasting my time/hoping you'll stop by. . . ." —Barbara Arnett

KINGSBURY MANX, Kingsbury Manx (Overcoat) This debut album will make a great soundtrack to your next nap—and I mean that in a good way. The disc's somnambulant tone might make the eyelids flicker and droop in the same way that Galaxie 500 once did. But enough's going on here that you won't want to sleep through the whole thing. Kingsbury Manx's carefully arranged songs are spun of guitar, bass, and drums, but achieve a depth of personality by the group's use of droning organ tones and impressionistic guitar work, which spills out over this album like caramel melted over a tart autumn apple. The lazy instrumental "Blue Eurasians" spotlights the North Carolina group's keen ear for layering, beginning with a muffled guitar line that's gradually joined by a second guitar, hushed organ notes, and, finally, a sluggish drum beat; a pace down the road, the instruments combine to spark a series of small explosions. As if to jolt the snoozing listener, the next track is the opposite: an a cappella song called "Hawaii in Ten Seconds," built like a tower of subdued harmonies. Still later, countrified guitar embellishments join the mix. Kingsbury Manx has made a cozy record that may not define your year, but may very well shape a month of daydreams.—Lydia Vanderloo

GOODIE MOB, World Party (LaFace) Atlanta's Goodie Mob has always played a dangerous game. On two previous albums, they developed a reputation for dropping incisive political commentary into thick, Southern-fried beats. It sounds easy enough, but the trick is to make sure the beats aren't too bouncy for the brains and the intellectualism isn't too intellectual for the butts. When it works—and it has for Goodie Mob—you get the best of both worlds, like a library with a dance floor. But how many times can you go to the same old library with the same old dance floor? Oddly enough, it's not the critics asking this question, but Goodie Mob themselves. On their third album, World Party, they've chosen to aim low. This doesn't necessarily mean that more thoughtful and emotional tracks, like the resigned "Rebuilding," are absent— they're just buried toward the end of the CD. More typical is the bouncy, capitalist anthem "Get Rich to This." Is it intended to be ironic? The double-time lyrics yield no clues. The title track is probably the best on the album, an unrelentingly rhythmic evocation of a multicultural utopia that makes tasteful use of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long." But when you find yourself praising the album as a cut above other commercial dance records, you've already lowered your standards. Sadly, that seems to be exactly what Goodie Mob wants you to do.—Joe Schloss

RICK RIZZO & TARA KEY, Dark Edson Tiger (Thrill Jockey) As indie rock and its veteran players stumbled toward the millennial sunset, it was hard not to notice how many of them were discarding the torn threads of postpunk songs and donning the avant-garde gowns of modern and postmodern composition. Channeling the spirit of six-string futurism and guided by a set of sonic voices they don't pay attention to on their day jobs, guitarists Rick Rizzo (Eleventh Dream Day) and Tara Key (Antietam) try their hand at creating panoramic instrumentals on Dark Edson Tiger. The two move easily between thorny acoustic pickings that strive for the rustic hand-me-down charm of the Fahey songbook and looping, effects-laden atmospherics that recall the solo work of new-school guitar heroes like Alan Licht or Roy Montgomery. Similar to the more studious and determined "pop" (as in, not classical) musicians of the day—but without completely falling off the pedantic cliff ࠬa Sonic Youth covering John Cage—Rizzo and Key lay out a loose map of sound dimensions. In fact, only "Low Post Movement in D" exhibits the kind of freewheeling, backbeat propulsion that would be associated with the holy rawk. Otherwise, they seem quite content just to ride out into various ambient spaces and leave their more rock-oriented day jobs far behind.—Peter Orlov

VARIOUS ARTISTS, The Beach Motion Picture Soundtrack (London)—I read Alex Garland's book about a nomadic Brit who teams with a hot French couple to weasel their way onto a secret utopian community on a Thai island. I enjoyed it: It's sort of like Lord of the Flies crossed with Gilligan's Island and Friends. And if asked to make a movie of Alex Garland's fine novel, I'd probably cast Leonardo DiCaprio to play Richard, the suave yet flawed protagonist (though I'd have made Leo do the English accent; the character becomes American in the film version). But the one thing I definitely, absolutely would not do is invite Sugar Ray to cover a Brian Eno/John Cale song on the soundtrack, especially not the majestic art-pop tune "Spinning Away." This unfathomable track disqualifies the whole damn disc from consideration. I don't care that director Danny Boyle blurred the lines between film and music in Trainspotting, and that he supposedly does so again here. I don't care that red-hot acts like Moby, Leftfield, and Underworld contributed spicy dance cuts. The disc has even got two of my favorite bands, Blur and Faithless. But I don't care. Because Mark McGrath and his "Fly"-boys have no business touching anything from Eno and Cale's brilliant 1990 album Wrong Way Up. And what they do to "Spinning Away," essentially mimicking the original but fucking up the tempo so it sounds like the pitch is off, is a crime. —Richard A. Martin

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow