Modest Mouse: Isaac Brock (vocals, guitar); Eric Judy (bass); Jeremy Green (drums).
Additional personnel: Nicole Johnson (vocals).
Formed in Washington State in 1993, Modest Mouse begat a line of quirky indie pop that has influenced a rash of imitations. With melodies built around guitar harmonics and cracked vocals, the trio galvanized fans of an overcrowded genre. Molded from the combination of classic rock ideals and experiments with song structure evident in bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate, Built to Spill and Pavement, Modest Mouse built a following through relentless touring.
Its second release, INTERSTATE 8 captures the band's trebly, stinging guitars combined with driving rock balladry and knowing lyrics. On the title track, singer/guitarist Isaac Brock's convulsive vocals are momentarily subdued by a duet with Nicole Johnson's clear sweet musings--until he screams, "you're an angel with the amber halo, black hair and the devil's pitchfork...." and the song grinds to a halt in a miasma of atonality. Other (unusually) quiet moments include a rendition of the '50s song, "Sleepwalker," which appears as "Sleepwalking (Couples Only Dance Prom Night)." Live bonus tracks are also included, wonderfully raw songs appearing as a secret encore. INTERSTATE 8 displays all the power of a Modest Mouse live set.
Alternative Press (12/96, p.83) - 3 (out of 5) - "...sugar-coated weirdness....The joys of being young and playing rock are in full effect on `Tundra/Desert.' Even with a mistake right in the middle of the song, the disco beat and open-throttle tempo can't be denied because this is about feeling, not technique..."
Option (11-12/96, p.119) - "Fans of sprawling-but-tuneful indie pop, take note....combines Pixies pleasures with some of the intuitive meandering and genre-jumping of the best Shangri-La bands (Grifters, Strapping Fieldhands, Simple Ones..."