In the first seven years of the new millennium, Modest Mouse released their most critically acclaimed album The Moon and Antarctica (2000), their most popular song “Float On” (2004), and an album that reached #1 on the Billboard 200, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007). In the seven years since that impressive run, the band has been relatively silent, with only sporadic festival appearances, a b-side EP, and promises of collaborations with Outkast’s Big Boi to remind us Modest Mouse was still a thing. After years of tantalizing rumors and false alarms, Modest Mouse is back for real with Strangers to Ourselves.
Early-career mixtapes are often exciting event releases with production quality indistinguishable from a studio album. Think Acid Rap, The Weeknd’s remarkable 2011 mixtape trilogy, or Drake’s own So Far Gone. Once the major label contract is signed, however, “mixtape” doesn’t really connote high-quality, important work. One can argue mixtapes are rawer versions of more calibrated studio releases, but it’s hard to shake the nagging thought that mixtape tracks weren’t good enough to hold over for the album. Often when it comes to mixtapes, only the most dedicated fans need apply. So what’s this mean for If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late?
Father John Misty. Probably a fitting moniker for a man who claims to have “discovered” himself while sitting naked, atop an oak tree. Josh Tillman is the real name of the shroomed-out, van-driving, gentleman we came to love in 2012 when he released his hilarious, honky-tonkish debut, Fear Fun.
With his first album as Father John Misty, Tillman came out unadulterated and charmingly honest, a man free of any obligation to take himself seriously. Before that, he was only known as the unenthusiastic drummer of Fleet Foxes, who opened his own shows as folk singer, J. Tillman playing morbidly depressing songs that, frankly, weren’t very good. But Fear Fun marked a transformation for the man. He cast himself as a comedian doing standup at a rock n’ roll concert, and somehow he fit the role. It seemed as if he had finally found what would make his music brilliant: his sense of humor. Something he could surely stick to.
Indie rock is a fickle playing field, rivaled only by rap perhaps, in terms of its endless hum of hyped artists rising up only to evaporate into the void. So in terms of indie longevity, The Dodos are doing pretty well it would seem. With six albums and almost 10 years of experience touring, recording, and writing music, Meric Long and Logan Kroeber have led a confident path of exploring the ranges of their own sound, while also releasing excellent music. 2013 saw the release of Carrier, a quiet stunner of a record, one that grappled with the death of Christopher Reimer, former guitarist of the terrific and now defunct Calgary band, Women. Reimer had joined the Dodos and his influence on the band can be heard in Carrier‘s precise electric guitar lines and its understated melancholy.