Modest Mouse
Baron von Bullshit Rides Again



January 26th, 2009 | 12 replies

Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Modest Mouse lets us remember how they were and not how they are.

Like many, thought few will actually admit it, I was introduced to Modest Mouse through their monumentally successful and thoroughly played out Good News For People That Like Bad News. In retrospect many of the songs on that album were blatant Tom Waits plagiarisms veiled as off-kilter indie pop, but without it I wouldn't have delved in to the rest of Modest Mouse's back catalog and for that I owe Good News For People That Like Bad News many thanks. Their first three full-lengths have gone on to dominate my musical palate ever since. Unfortunately for being the latecomer that I was, by the time I finally got around to seeing Modest Mouse in concert their set lists rarely even offered a glimpse of the breadth and grandeur of their earlier works. "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes" and "Trailer Trash", though amazing songs in their own right, weren't really enough to make up for the plateful of Good News... (that was later mixed with a bit of We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank to the same effect) that comprised of the rest of their sets. With Baron Von Bull*** Rides Again Modest Mouse lets us remember how they were and not how they are.

Baron Von Bull*** Rides Again was recorded a week after the release of Good News For People That Like Bad News at a stretch of concerts at the Social in Orlando, FL, and was released two months later. Given this time frame Modest Mouse could have used Baron Von Bull*** as just another part in what would become the "Float On" hype machine, but luckily only one song from Good News..., "The Good Times Are Killing Me", is found on the album. Instead most of the cuts are from 2000's The Moon & Antarctica and the B-Side and Rarity compilation Building Nothing Out of Something. For those looking for material from the earliest reaches of Modest Mouse's career, you're out of luck. "Bankrupt on Selling" and "Doin' the Cockroach" from their sophomore release Lonesome Crowded West are as far back in time as Modest Mouse go on Baron Von Bull***. In all fairness it would have been nice to get at least a song from their debut or another song like "Trailer Trash", "Cowboy Dan", "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes" or any of the numerous other fan favorites that are absent from what is Modest Mouse's only official live recording, but the performances that were culled for Baron Von Bull*** are more than enough for an outstanding release.

Just like any other live album its the little things that make or break it, because if their wasn't anything new or worthwhile captured in the live setting most people would prefer to listen to the album versions of the songs. The extended cuts of "I Came As A Rat" and "Doin' the Cockroach" are filled with the same loose energy and raw power that have come to personify Modest Mouse's signature jams. "I Came As A Rat" builds into a monumental crescendo that lets loose directly into the opening musings of "Doin' the Cockroach". At the end of "Paper Thin Walls" Isaac Brock's retort to a heckle of "FREEBIRD!!!" is almost worth the price of the CD alone. It turns into a rant where Isaac ends up imparting some of the greatest advice ever given at a concert: life is too short to play or hear "Freebird". Even with this rant in consideration, the most surprising part of Baron Von Bull*** is "Bankrupt On Selling". The original version of the song was given a lo-fi production which made it as sterile as it was somber. The live setting breathes new life into it with Isaac Brock's pleadingly earnest vocals and the addition of one of the most depressing yet uplifting guitar solos ever to be put to tape.

Just as "The Good Times Are Killing Me" acts as a bookend for Isaac Brock's substance abuse issues, Baron Von Bull*** acts as a bookend for the first half of Modest Mouse's career making "The Good Times Are Killing Me" the perfect song to close out Baron Von Bull***. With the release of Good News For People Who Like Bad News Modest Mouse moved in a more commercially pleasing direction but at least they were kind enough to give their past work the send off it deserved with Baron Von Bull*** Rides Again.

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user ratings (125)

Comments:Add a Comment 
January 26th 2009


First review in a month or so.

“I know I've said this before; the odds of us actually playing Free Bird are...there ARE no odds. It is not going to happen. I'll start with the first reason: we have NO idea how to play Free Bird. The second reason is: in the lovebug's natural habitat, hearing that would just fucking kill them, wouldn't it? You wouldn't want that, right? He's adorable. He is cute. Thirdly: Even if some, like, pick your deity, whoever, came down from the heavens or the hills or wherever your deity lives, and just blessed us with this vast knowledge of Free Bird and things, and we could play it backwards, sing backwards, we could do all that crazy shit, we still just wouldn't do it. If this were the Make-a-Wish Foundation and you were gonna die in 20 minutes, just long enough to play Free Bird, we still wouldn't play it. And here's the end reason, the end reason is that life is just too fucking short to play or hear Free Bird.”

This Message Edited On 01.26.09

January 26th 2009


cool review, pos

dub sean
January 26th 2009


sup with the Free Bird rant.
I only have one Modest Mouse album, We Were Dead...or whatever it's called and I can't say I'm the biggest fan, but this is a sweet album name.

January 26th 2009


We Were Dead... is one of their worse efforts. I agree with the review; good, but coulda used some more songs from earlier in their catalogue.

January 26th 2009


We Were Dead... has some great songs on it (Spitting Venom, Parting of the Sensory) but yeah, the rest of it is pretty disappointing.

January 26th 2009


This is a Long Drive... was their peak imo.

January 27th 2009


i need to get this...modest mouse are becoming one of my favorite bands

October 26th 2009


Album Rating: 3.0

only for people who like isaac brock and badass lisps

March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

who doesnt like badass lisps

March 18th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

the good times are killing me

March 18th 2015


This is a killer setlist, would've loved to see them back in the day despite loving the concert I went to last year.

March 20th 2020


I'd be interested in hearing your current opinion on the later albums( from good news they strangers). I, too, got into them thru 'good news...' but unlike yourself I always loved their catalogue in its entirety. Because while I think 'the fruit that ate itself' is a top tier Mouse album, 'good news' is as well and for some of the same reasons: catchy, yet beautifully strange compositions mixed with innovation and assimilation of other genres and artists. I think those characteristics are some of the many criteria to put a band in "classic" status, or at least one of the greats. And as far as that comment about 'good news' just being a tom waits rip off-well that's just plainly untrue. I love me some waits, especially the post 1990 waits once he completely embraced his inner weird, but the best description of how 'good news' relates to waits would be homage, maybe, or maybe it's just that the mouse decided they wanted some horns on their new album. Maybe both. Regardless, looking back I can definitely say without any hesitation that once Modeat Mouse took a cue from Tom Waits and embraced their own weirdness they became much more successful and the overarching thematic elements of their following albums were stranger and stranger until the strangeness landed itself in an actual album title (haha).

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