Modest Mouse
The Lonesome Crowded West



by looozer USER (6 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 1427 replies

Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Isaac Brock Ė Vocals, Guitar
Eric Judy Ė Bass
Jeremiah Green Ė Drums
*and probably some other session musicians, but I canít check that right now

This could be one of the landmark albums of the 1990s, so I was surprised to see that nobody has reviewed it. While Modest Mouse has expanded into a larger band on tour, they started as a trio. After a somewhat scattered debut, these Seattleites managed to put together a rather cohesive second album that somehow manages to tie together some strangely different songs into a cohesive and powerful unit. I am unfamiliar with the bandís ethos/intent, but it seems to me as though this could be a concept album about the difficulties of life in postmodern American society. Most bands have released at least one album about such an idea anyway. Some (Radiohead/Pink Floyd) have released numerous albums on the subject. However, I have yet to hear someone present it in the same way that Modest Mouse has.

Teeth Like Godís Shoeshine
The album opens with a punch, and the guitar in the opening track is somewhat catchy. The song goes through a strange progression, faltering in the middle before a dramatic crescendo at the end. 4/5

Heart Cooks Brain
Here is your first introduction to a theme that will recur later in the album. This song is basically a simple beat, punctuated by synonymous rhythm guitar, bass and keyboard lines. What makes it amazing is the mesmerizing guitar line that Isaac plays. It seems to loop through a few different variations of the same riff without any particular reason, and really attracts oneís attention. It is essentially a 4-minute loop of the same riff, but it doesnít seem to draw out or require an amazing exercise of patience. 4.5/5

Convenient Parking
Thereís nothing remarkable here. Itís just a midtempo indie rock song with some cool play between guitars. If you donít like Isaacís voice, you might as well hit the skip button a few times. Heís really umÖ singing on this one. 3.5/5

Lounge (Closing Time)
This starts out similar to Convenient Parking or Teeth Like Godís Shoeshine. It has a catchy, choppy riff that draws you in. But watch out, there is an interesting interlude and buildup. It goes nowhere however, and you end up listening through another two minute of desolate music with whispered vocals. That is the point, however. This is not for the short of attention span, but it isnít a bad song. 4/5

Jesus Christ Was an Only Child
This seems to be out of place. While the previous songs have been electric, this is acoustic and has a strange effect on either the vocals or the guitar that distracts the listener from the main riff. The fiddle (aka violin) also makes a cameo here. That is the main saving grace of an otherwise boring song, although the guitar has a nice tone to it, and ends up in a duet with the fiddle. Isaacís vocals tend to hog the spotlight though. 3.5/5

Doiní the Cockroach
This song builds relatively slowly, and starts off with a really catchy descending guitar riff. It then evolves into a jam of sorts, and the bass plays a sort of strange line that helps to drive along the drumbeat. Then the guitar breaks off and plays a choppy solo. The climax of the song, as in many others, is choppy instrumentation with Isaacís singing featured above it. It continues an accelerated march as the guitar plays pinch harmonics, and suddenly breaks. 4.5/5

Cowboy Dan
This tracks seems to be a misfit. It starts with a slow, reverb-laden intro that creates a stark contrast to the preceding track. I used to dislike this song, but itís grown on me with increased listening. It is rather dramatic and drawn out, but again, that is the purpose. Cowboy Dan is being destroyed by society. 4.5/5
He didn't move to the city:
"The city moved to me,
And I want out desperately."
Standing in the tall grass
Thinking nothing
You know
We need oxygen to breathe,
Oxygen to breathe.

Trailer Trash
This is one of my personal favorites, mostly because I like the vocals. The rhythm guitar plays a chunky riff, and the lead guitar plays a quasi-harmonic riff above it. The bass is used well here, and it plays a melody in the background that complements the guitars well. It builds to a gut-wrenching climax at the end. I am tempted to give it a 5, but Iím trying to avoid bias, so it instead receives a 4.5/5.

Out of Gas
Itís the recapitulation of the Heart Cooks Brain theme! Thereís nothing remarkable about this track really. Itís simple and catchy, but there are many other songs on this CD that are catchier as well as more interesting. 3/5

Long Distance Drunk
This is kind of a cross between Out of Gas and Jesus ChristÖ The acoustic guitar reappears to deliver another simple, well-textured riff, and Isaac croons (can he do that") above the riff. There is minimal percussion, and unless I missed something by not paying careful attention, the bass plays the same note throughout. This ainít your daddyís guitar driven song, and it has nice backing vocals. It rambles like Truckerís Atlas (weíll get to that in a minute), but for a comparatively short amount of time. 3.5/5

**** Luck
The guitar and bass play the same notes as the drummer thrashes away. The other guitar plays a crazy harmonic line above it. It is highly debatable if it could be called a riff, though it does follow a similar pattern throughout. I forgot how to escape the censors, but this song rocks. 4/5

Truckerís Atlas
How fitting that track 12 should be a 12-minute jam. This track isnít bad, but it isnít good either. Nothing remarkable happens through most of the song. If you want to feel like a Trucker, go ahead and listen to all 12 minutes of it. If you want to skip the monotony of music designed to convey the truckerís experience and save your ears time for savoring other tracks on this CD, go ahead. I like it conceptually, but not musically. 2.5/5

Polar Opposites
This is another song with choppy guitars and your basic drumbeat and bass, but itís more normal than most of the other songs. It seems to convey an aura of optimism, but the lyrics make references to alcoholism and death. How cheery. 4/5

Bankrupt on Selling
The acoustic guitar has disappeared for a few songs. Why not bring it back" This time it plays with a minimal bass riff, no percussion, and a lone electric guitar (with phaser I think) playing lead over it. Itís a really sentimental song, and, in my opinion at least, really powerful. 5/5

Stryofoam Boots/Itís All Nice on Ice All Right
This song isnít really spectacular, but it comes after the most depressing song on the CD, and that helps it. I was impressed with Jeremiahís snare rattling in the end, but then again Iím a guitarist so donít take my word for it. This is the sort of feel good song that you need at the end of a CD like this. 4/5

Overall: A- 91/100
This album stands out above most others, and is certainly good music. However, whether or not it is great is highly debatable. The lyrics could potentially be either amazingly profound, or par for the course, depending on who listens to them. Conceptually, this is a beautifully constructed album, and there isnít a bad song on here. Conversely, no single song stands out. The guitars are usually choppy and punchy, and Isaacís voice seldom varies. This may be boring, but it gives the cohesion that is needed to make divergent styles cohere with one another within an album. It is definitely best listened to as a whole album. The clichť that the whole is more than the sum of the parts holds true here. The album can be entertaining, but to perceive it on a level beyond simple entertainment, multiple listens are required. Only time will tell if this album is truly great.

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user ratings (1996)
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Trebor. STAFF (5)
    Of course, you think of everything...

    letsgofishing (4.5)
    "And I'll go to college, and I'll learn some big words, and I'll speak really loud, God da...

    SGGreenman (4.5)
    You'll remember, the guy who said all those big words he must of learned in college....

    mmfarva (4.5)
    Dark and full of cynicism, The Lonesome Crowded West is an excellent album by an outstandi...

  • DynamiteKyle (5)
    The Lonesome Crowded West is one of the greatest alternative rock records of all time, and...

    ELEPHANT512 (4)
    I think this is a really great album, although i think the first half is a lot better than...

    craigy2 (3)

Comments:Add a Comment 
November 30th 2004


Great review, I was hoping for some more Modest Mouse reviews. I only have Good News, but I plan on getting The Moon And Antartica soon.

November 30th 2004


Good review, good album.

November 30th 2004


Great review man, and it's nice to see you back around. I've only got The Moon & Antarctica as well, but this is on my list to get, and if it's as good as you say it is, then I'm in for a treat.

December 7th 2004


great review. One of my favorite albums of all time. hence the name heh heh

December 7th 2004


A friend from uni gave me a copy of this cd recently. I'd never heard them or anything like this before, and at first I didnt like the rawness about it, but after a while it's not so bad.

It probably could grow on me more.

December 7th 2004


[QUOTE=blueyxd]A friend from uni gave me a copy of this cd recently. I'd never heard them or anything like this before, and at first I didnt like the rawness about it, but after a while it's not so bad.

It probably could grow on me more.[/QUOTE]
I didn't like them the first time I heard them either. But now they're one of my favourite bands. :thumb:

December 7th 2004


Album Rating: 5.0

they are in my top 5 fav bands ever...

December 8th 2004


Hey, decent review. I've got to say that this album is my favorite Modest Mouse offering. It was the first LP of theirs that I heard and at first I wasn't sure about the strange harmonics and the gut-wrenching wailings of Mr. Isaac Brock, but over time it grew on me and Mouse has become one of my personal musical inspirations. I have procured the majority of the Modest Mouse collection and I greatly enjoy studying their musical theory and applying it to my own guitar playing. It's just great Pacific Northwest sound, and it reminds me of my own experiences growing up in the area. Excellent stuff.

February 11th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Lounge (Closing Time) and Polar Opposites are the best tracks

February 20th 2005


i've come to the conclusion that this is my favorite modest mouse cd.

April 3rd 2005


i don't think you were the right guy to do this review, you obviously are not a big modest mouse fan or appreciator, isaacs lyrics are so clever and i have never heard another singer -aside from Maynard- come up with melodies as great as isaac does

June 19th 2005


Album Rating: 3.0

hmm...for some reason I can't really get into this album. Lounge (Closing Time) and Trailer Trash strike me as the best songs on it, but the rest (with the possible exception of It's All Nice on Ice Alright and Teeth Like God's Shoeshine) don't really click with me. I love Modest Mouse (as my avatar plainly conveys), but this is probably my least favorite album. I think Good News has to be my favorite, followed by the Moon, then this. I haven't heard the others *shame*

June 19th 2005


Modest Mouse's Best.

June 19th 2005


I really enjoy this album this is my favoret Modest Mouse album there new one disapoints me its not bad but it gets old fast this album does a very good job at keeping you hooked

September 3rd 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

this album turned me on to modest mouse, i don't think you are giving it enough credit though. it is a really good album, maybe their greatest.

February 7th 2006


Awesome review, but I cant get into these guys. My friends rave about them, but I dont see it. They just sound annoying. Anyways...cheers on the review!

Modest Mouse
March 26th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

Favourite Band Ever. great cd, i agree tho i dont think you were the right guy to do this review either. ive never heard any lyrics like Modest Mouse ever. i think their first cd tho "this is a long drive for someone with nothing to think about " is a great cd and i think it deserves more than what you said. I think this review is an understatement to how good this cd really isThis Message Edited On 03.26.06

April 17th 2006


I don't think this was a good review in retrospect... it was one of my first ones, and I kind of did it too hastily. I can't defend it too well, and I don't feel like doing so.

That said, I would like to defend myself a little. Some people think that I wasn't the right person to write the review because I am not a rabid Modest Mouse fan. I may not be a RABID Modest Mouse fan, but they are one of my favorite bands, and this is my personal favorite album by them. I really enjoy this album, and I tried to set aside my personal enamorment with it for long enough to write a somewhat objective review instead of a doting fanboy rant. The album might merit a 5 because Modest Mouse played a fair role in shaping/defining the indie scene for the 21st century (I cite bands like Wolf Parade and Pinback as evidence of this). However, once extracted from the microchosm that it usually occupies, praising this album so loftily holds a little less water. There are some albums like "Velvet Underground and Nico" that have changed the face of music forever, and entirely altered segments of the musical universe, but I am not entirely sure that this is one of them.

I still love it though. It could be a little more listenable at some points, but it's amazing and more cohesive than "The Moon and Antarctica" in my opinion. I guess I'm giving it a 4, or a 4.5 if that's possible.

May 21st 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

bankrupt on selling makes this album a classic in itself. cowboy dan is also very good. my only bitch is that it meanders more than a little. i prefer the moon and antarctica.

May 29th 2006


Trucker's Atlas is cool if you're a drummer. Man, I had no idea this and Long Drive were their first CDs. That blows.

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