Modest Mouse – Interstate 8

Say, I was just going through a last box of childhood things from my Dad’s, and it was mostly old baseball cards and bad books and stuff like that, but there’s also this one picture, all in black-and-white except for one thing, drawn like a drawing in a children’s book, and it’s of this Caterpiller bulldozer about to crush this rose, which is the only colour in the drawing. It’s somewhat horrifying. Weird and worrying.

It’s the anniversary of my Mom’s death, and what am I supposed to do, you know?  Anyway, I was thinking in the shower today about how to resolve conflicts that depend on drawing hard lines when none exist, like (to be boring) your views on abortion, or when your girlfriend is in a “serious relationship” with you, and I think the key is to make arbitrary lines based on ballparking your thoughts, then basically stick with them. This prevents you from being pigeonholed or wishy-washy. The precedent for this is the law. To make laws, like the difference between assault and aggravated assault, you often need to be callous. That led me to my second thought, based on a common hypothetical situation posited by lame philosophy students. Namely, say you have a button in front of you that will kill someone you know and like (could be your Dad, girlfriend, best friend, or acquaintance). If you don’t push it, a number, for example a hundred, random third worlders will die in a horrible natural disaster. Would you push the button? If you say no (like I would), then what if the number was a thousand? Ten thousand? etc. etc. The question is where you’d draw your line. I was thinking about this, in the shower this morning, and I realized my magic number (which would be arbitrarily hardlined for simplicity as you do) would be extremely high. Like, what I came up with was “three million.” And even then I might have been lying to myself. I’m curious if everyone thinks this way or if I’m just horribly selfish, or if I just love me the people I like, or I’m misanthropic or what. Thought over!

Now then, this is an above average and insignificant EP. It’s really more of an album, being eleven songs and 56 minutes long. It has five studio tracks and six demo tracks, though those were presumably recorded in a studio as well. They’re mostly good, but almost all appear in more auspicious surroundings elsewhere, so taking the time to download it makes about as much sense as equating Wahhabism with Catholicism.

Take the studio tracks! Please, take them. Not taking them makes about as much sense as Jainists who don’t research microorganisms.

a)  “Interstate 8” is a somewhat overrated, but still rather good swooshy highway song that doesn’t nail their usual Modest Mouse desolation as well as many of their other early songs, and it appears on “Building Nothing From Something.”

b) “All Night Diner” is a scratchy, catchy song with oddly sexual lyrics (including dismissing talk of premature ejaculation with “better things to do so I’ll start drinking”) that does absolutely nothing interesting for its last two minutes. It appears on “Building Nothing From Something.”

c) “Sleepwalking” is a woozy, breathtaking nostalgia-song that steals a Bobby Darin melody, and it appears on “Building Nothing From Something.”

d) “Tundra/Desert” starts off slow before turning all disco-rock, and it appeared on their first actual album with the long title and the seventeen dicks on the cover.

e) “Edit the Sad Parts” is angsty and uncatchy. It was from the vinyl version of their first actual album with the long title. How angsty, you ask? “Sometimes all I really wanna feel is love / Sometimes I’m angry that I feel so angry” is the first winning couplet. You make me barf, Billy Corgan.

Then there’s a six song demo, presumably their first, that has four good songs that appear elsewhere with better sound quality, one, “Buttons to Push the Buttons” that doesn’t but isn’t very interesting, and another version of “Edit the Sad Parts,” which still isn’t very good.

Boy howdy! Oh well, maybe at the time it was worthwhile. You could always burn it and enjoy the way the CD reflects sunlight, so maybe life isn’t so bad.  Good songs, though!

7/10

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