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  • Modest Mouse Albums From Worst To Best
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Modest Mouse is an easy band to take for granted. Emerging from the Pacific Northwest twenty years ago, it’s perhaps tempting to consider them just another “indie rock” band buoyed by Nirvana’s lucky break. Like Yo La Tengo, Modest Mouse almost immediately transcended such a pejorative tag, plotting a course weird, wonky, and refreshingly sui generis, earning them legions of fans despite significant odds. With at least two undisputed classics to their name, and neither of them including their great, unlikely hit “Float On,” Modest Mouse are practically overachievers.

Initially taking cues, like many of their contemporaries, from the recently disbanded Pixies, Modest Mouse quickly distinguished themselves with brazen, unabashed jammy tendencies (their albums frequently made full use of the CD’s 80-minute capacity), taut, slinky bass lines, and a general indifference to (or ignorance of) what was hip. Frontman Isaac Brock would regularly cite the Chieftains and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band as influences — not exactly indie rock references du jour. Even the band’s ’cool’ influences seemed somehow misguided; these were guys who probably only enjoyed the Bastards disc of Tom Waits’s Orphans box set. You know, the one with all the sheet metal noises and weird poems and stuff.

Lyrically, Brock’s gift is for providing food for stoned thought. Often mixing willful naiveté with astute observations on space, nature, and class struggles, he personifies the too-smart-for-his-own-good wiseass on the playground teaching all the other kids about autopsies and orgies. In his songs, Brock assumes a position of great duality: geography-obsessed but preciously provincial; drunk-friend glib one minute, grappling with existential crises the next. While Stephen Malkmus was writing lyrics using the Scrabble dictionary, and popular underground bands still counted schoolteachers and graduate students among their ranks, Brock was singing, “God damn, I hope I can pass high school.”

Spotting specific influences in Brock’s guitar playing, too, is no easy task. Eschewing both the untutored Big Muff chug of the grungies as well as the clean, open-tuned indie jangle of contemporaries and Washington neighbors like the Spinanes, Brock’s whammy-bar-and-harmonic-heavy signature style is one of the more recognizable this side of J Mascis, a rare quality within the strict anti-hero politics of indie.

Even their best albums are stacked with filler. Live, they could be the worst kind of train wreck. Brock’s distinctive yawp has always sounded a little like South Park’s Eric Cartman trying to holler his way out of a DUI. Yet, Modest Mouse got famous, and not just, like, Neko-Case-indie-famous: Their songs have been performed on both American Idol and a Kidz Bop compilation; they’ve joined the, er, distinguished likes of Green Day, Elton John, and Creed for their very own entry in the inexplicably popular Pickin’ On series, which features bluegrass versions of decidedly non-bluegrass songs; and they’ve welcomed into their ranks a bonafide music legend. It’s hard to imagine a stranger Cinderella story, or, for that matter, many bands more deserving of one.

Current indie trends — gauzy noise-pop, joyless emo bombast, trap rave, etc. — make one nostalgic for the imagination, ambition, and scope of Modest Mouse’s halcyon days. There’s still no other band like them. With the band gearing up for a Coachella appearance, it’s high time to look back at their insane, explosive catalog. Start the Countdown here.

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Comments (176)
  1. It would’ve been cool to include Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks, The Fruit that Ate Itself, No ones First and You’re Next, and Building Nothing out of Something.

    • Looks like you beat me to it, although I don’t mind the exclusion of the EPs as much.

    • Agreed on Everywhere. “Night on the Sun” is one of the best songs Modest Mouse ever recorded.

    • Indeed it is strange they included sad sappy sucker and interstate 8 but didn’t include them. Not really a fan of No Ones First and You’re Next though.

    • yeah, if you’re going to include one ep, might as well include all of em

    • Yeah, it turns out there isn’t much thought or genuine critical ability brought to bear on these lists, they’re just cheap page view grabs.

      • I wrestled with including the EPs and BNOOS, and decided that 1. BNOOS, while indeed great, is mostly great for the inclusion of most of the Interstate 8 EP (which I included) + “Neverending Math Equation,” and 2. the other EPs, unlike the expanded version of Interstate 8, play like EPs, in that they’re short and arguably unnecessary supplements to the albums that preceded or proceeded them. I like the EPs – especially E&HNPT, which, in retrospect, I probably should have included with the Interstate 8 entry – but don’t think they’re as essential to understanding the MM story as the full lengths. The subheading is Modest Mouse ALBUMS From Best To Worst, after all. A line has to get drawn somewhere, right? Anyway, apologies to any who were offended by these omissions.

  2. I know it’s a compilation of B-sides/non-album tracks, but I’d love to see Building Nothing Out of Something on here, and probably in the number 3 spot. Otherwise I can’t argue with much.

    • I was just gonna say the exact same thing about BNOS at #3. Never Ending Math Equation, Interstate 8, Broke is just such a killer way to kick off a record.

      • Not gonna front, Building Nothing out Of Something is my favorite Modest Mouse album. Weird that it doesn’t count here.

    • “Other People’s Lives” is my favorite MM song. Can’t understand leaving Building Nothing out of Something off of this list. Would be my #2 after Lonesome Crowded West.

  3. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • I love Good News (“The View,” “Ocean Breathes Salty,” “One Chance,” sooo good), but I just don’t find myself returning to it and listening to it all the way through as I do Lonesome Crowded and Moon and Antarctica.

      For me, it’s more like you’ve got 3 tiers:
      Tier 1 – ‘LCW’ and ‘Moon and Antarctica’ – Pretty much untouchable all the way through
      Tier 2 – ‘Good News,’ ‘Building Nothing,’ ‘Long Drive’ – Excellent, excellent stuff, but I find myself skipping around or not finishing the record
      Tier 3 – ‘We Were Dead,’ ‘No One’s First,’ ‘Sad Sappy Sucker,’ etc. – Still great (We Were Dead and No One’s First in particular have some killer tracks), but just not as consistent overall

    • That’s just simply not true.

    • I love Good News and I could see arguing to put it above This is a Long Drive, but there is no way Lonesome Crowded West isn’t in the top two.

  4. Of course you choose West…I know this is your guy’s opinion. But mines is that nothing can beat the atmosphere of Moon & Antarctica…brilliant record..Other than that…the other ones look in proper place

    • Agreed. Moon & Antarctica is their masterpiece. They go places no one imagined them going (with Isaac’s jaw broken too)!

      LCW is awesome as well but it will always come 2nd to M & A.

  5. How can you talk about This is a Long Drive… without mentioning Talking shit about a pretty sunset? Shit, how can you even talk about modest mouse without mentioning that song?

  6. Long Drive is my favourite Modest Mouse album, by quite a bit. Am I on my own there?

    • when i saw that beach side property is your favorite(no u, are from across the pond?) song i was so exited to hear someone else say that. now i see long drive is you favorite album! honlads, do you want to be friends?

  7. “We Were Dead…” is incredibly underrated. The songs with James Mercer (which you made no mention of) are incredible.

  8. fyi, unrelated to content:

    google is showing this page as malware spam due to a tracking gif from celebuzz.com.

  9. So so so so sooooo happy to see a Modest Mouse list – and one that has Lonesome Crowded West at the top to boot!

    On almost any given day it’s a toss-up for me, between LCW or Moon and Antarctica, but overall Lonesome Crowded is darker, rawer, and more visceral, and ultimately that’s the music I find myself gravitating towards more often than not. Both are desert island discs though.

  10. top 10 modest mouse songs…. GO!

    • i’ll start:

      10. one chance
      9. lives
      8. never ending math equation
      7. ocean breathes salty
      6. trucker’s atlas
      5. talking shit about a pretty sunset
      4. polar opposites
      3. 3rd planet
      2. paper thin walls
      1. heart cooks brain

    • Guuuh! These could be almost any order depending on how I’m feeling –

      10. You’re the Good Things
      9. The Stars Are Projectors
      8. Dramamine
      7. The World At Large
      6. Heart Cooks Brain
      5. Interstate 8
      4. Like Like Weeds
      3. Third Planet
      2. Trailer Trash
      1. Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset

    • 1. Broke
      2. 3rd Planet
      3. Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine
      4. Gravity Rides Everything
      5. The World at Large
      6. Cowboy Dan
      7. Heart Cooks Brain
      8. Neverending Math Equation
      9. One Chance
      10. What People Are Made Of

      FUCK that was hard

    • ^ i hear you guys; shit is tough.

      • The amount of great songs in this discography is too damn high!!!!

        • Modest Mouse is favorite band so this is impossible, but here goes off the top of my head (so I don’t accidentally spend hours deliberating on a list that will change tomorrow)

          1.Third Planet
          2. Dramamine
          3.Ocean Breathes Salty
          4.Talking Shit about a Pretty Sunset
          5.Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine
          6.Trailer Trash
          7. The View
          8. Baby Blue Sedan
          9. The Stars are Projectors
          10. Spitting Venom (I’ve come to realize in the past few months that this one is way underrated!)

          • Agreed on Spitting Venom! Finally realized how great it was a couple of years ago. Like most of We Were Dead…, it takes a long time to grow on you, which is why I think that album doesn’t rank as high among fans

      • OMMGG such a burden :(((

    • Oh geez… I don’t think I can put these in an order

      Dramamine
      Doin the Cockroach
      Trailer Trash
      3rd Planet
      Lives
      Life Like Weeds
      The World At Large
      Ocean Breathes Salty
      Never Ending Math Equation
      A Life of Arctic Sounds

      Had to leave out a LOT of great songs though…

    • Fuck you for grenading my plans for the night! I’m gonna need a couple white boards, a tennis ball to bounce off the wall, a cup of coffee that may later be replaced by Maker’s Mark, and my Ipod.

    • 1. Breakthrough
      2. Broke
      3. Edit the Sad Parts
      4. Trailer Trash
      5. Dramamine
      6. Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset
      7. Whenever You Breathe Out, I Breathe In (Positive Negative)
      8. What People are Made Of
      9. Lounge (Closing Time)
      10. Every Penny Fed Car

      Sad Sappy Sucker barely fit in because holy fuck Jeremiah Green is a beast.

    • 1. Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine
      2. Trailer Trash
      3. Spitting Venom
      4. Dramamine
      5. Other People’s Lives
      6. Doin’ the Cockroach
      7. Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset
      8. Gravity Rides Everything
      9. Convenient Parking
      10. I Came as a Rat

    • 1. Night on the Sun
      2. Talking Shit About A Pretty Sunset
      3. Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine
      4. Breakthrough
      5. Dramamine
      6. Trailer Trash
      7. Other People’s Lives
      8. Doin’ the Cockroach
      9. Bankrupt On Selling
      10. 3rd Planet

      It’s truly sad how much time I spent working on this, but this whole thing has just reminded me how fucking amazing Modest Mouse is. Also t

    • How is it that only two of these song list has The Stars Are Projectors?! It contains some IB’s best one-liners, it’s possibly there most ambitious song, and it’s the cold, cold, heart of their greatest album!

      • I mean ‘their most ambitions.” Ugh

        • I have it on my list, but I sort of see why it can get overlooked. The dark, dense spiral in the middle of the Moon and Antarctica (Dark Center of the Universe – Stars are Projectors) is literally inseparable for me. Picking just one of those songs was almost impossible because I can’t really imagine any of those songs out of the context of the album anymore (even when they do pop up on shuffle). I ended up including Stars because its the climax of the run, even though I have no idea if its actually my favorite.

  11. Corey Beasley  |   Posted on Mar 6th, 2013 +14

    “Every time you think you’re walking, / you’re just moving the ground” is from “Cowboy Dan,” not “Truckers Atlas.” YES, I’M THAT GUY.

  12. Why are their best two albums in the highest two places? Something must have gone wrong at Stereogum this week (yes, it’s this joke again. But srsly.)

  13. My only argument would be to swap “We Were Dead…” and “Good News…”. Just because “Good News…” was a success, doesn’t mean it was great. With that said, nobody can doubt the greatness of “Float On”. And with THAT said, “We Were Dead…” was a shear powerhouse.

  14. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  15. I know I’m in the minority but both “Good News” and “We were dead” have grown on me infinitely since they came out. “Good News” especially was a bit disappointing when it first came out, but repeated listenings have made me love it. “Bukowski” is hands down my favorite MM song.

    I’m not really going to comment on the rankings of this list, though having Lonesome at #1 seems a bit safe (in a snobby “I have better taste because I’ve been listening to them since they started” way).

  16. Lonesome Crowded West is just so cohesive and well structured. Plus almost every song on that album ranges from excellent to damn-near-perfect. Brock was just writing so well. It still just narrowly beats out Moon & Antarctica, which overall is less focused lyrically but more focused atmospherically. And I guess that’s where the difference lies, some people may prefer the chilly expanse of M&A, and some, including me, prefer the sharp wit and thematic focus of LCW. Can’t really go wrong with either, but I like the choice to put LCW at the top.

    • Well put. I happen to be more of a sound guy than a lyrics guy so I slightly prefer Moon & Antarctica, but I can’t argue with preferring the wit of Lonesome Crowded West.

  17. Can we get a Worst to Best David Bowie Album list on here? Thanks.

  18. I’ve never been a huge fan of Lonesome Crowded West; it’s pretty uneven. Moon & Antarctica slogs a bit in the middle, but is pretty damn near perfect. We Were Dead would have been much better minus two or three songs, but seriously has grown on me since release.

    The fact is though it’s hard to quibble–so much quality, and doesn’t even include Building Nothing or three EPs that all have some great, great songs.

  19. I’m glad LCW made the top, it deserves it. It’s my favorite album period. I find i connected with it unlike anything i listened to previously, the groove and raw energy contained in that album is immense.
    I’ll probably want it played at my funeral.
    I even gave this album to a teacher of mine. In the 9th grade I had an english teacher who just changed the game for me, made me love the subject, class and made me engage in it in a way i had never done before. I’d go so far as to say he was my all time favorite teacher, and at the end of my grade 9 year he decided to move to Singapore and to eventually start a school in Cambodia. I gave him LCW as gift and I think it’s the best gift I’ve ever given. Such a three dimensional album. Remarkable.

  20. Lonesome Crowded West deserves it’s number one spot as one of the best albums of all time. I just wish they included Building Nothing out of Something, as it’s my 2nd favorite Modest Mouse album.

  21. I heard “A Different City” in a skateboarding video in middle school and Isaac Brock has provided the soundtrack to my life ever since.

    Thanks for the list. I’m always perplexed that “Edit the Sad Parts” isn’t talked about more. It’s on Interstate 8 and is absolutely a landmark song for them, the silent ending speaking volumes about Isaac’s ideology at the time.

    LCW deserves its spot at #1 though. If you haven’t, watch this wonderful documentary on the album: bit.ly/KG8PuK

    • haha, nice, my introduction to modest mouse was hearing “shit luck” in a toy machine video. out of curiosity, which video are you talking about?

  22. 1) Modest Mouse was my favorite band for many years, and I still have a lot of love for them.
    2) Moon & Antarctica is pretty much a perfect album in my opinion
    3) Lonesome Crowded West is the only album I would accept being placed above Moon & Antarctica.

  23. From about ’98 through 2005 Modest Mouse was the band I would use to introduce people to the whole concept of “indie music.” For anyone who likes guitar music but is only used to classic rock or pop radio – the opening minute of Dramamine is almost guaranteed to blow their mind and make them re-think everything they thought they knew.

  24. I agree with the others who suggested Building Nothing Out of Something should be included—It would land at the #3 spot.

    Interstate 8 (and Everywhere…, were it included) should be above Good News and We Were Dead.

    We Were Dead should be just above Good News for the sole reason that the latter contains the most actively offensive (to my senses) song that Modest Mouse has released: “Dance Hall.” I like listening to albums all the way through and that song, along with “The Devil’s Work Day,” and to a lesser degree “Satin in a Coffin” and “Black Cadillacs,” really hinder my enjoyment. There are some good songs (“Bukowski,” “Float On,” “Blame It On the Tetons,” “Ocean Breathes Salty,” etc.), but I think the best is the b-side “I’ve Got It All (Most).” But yeah, “Dance Hall”… WTF.

    Regardless, you got the top spots right, barring the obvious omission.

  25. More importantly than anything thing though, Isaac is rocking the fuck out of that hat and mean mug. SWAG!!!!!!!!!! :)))

  26. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Please, enlighten us: what does Isaac Brock have coming?

    • Isaac Brock is a real piece of work. I know some really juicy stuff, but I’m saving it for a book!

      • I know you’re new here Sasha, but I’d better fill you in: I’m the only former Laker here, and I don’t know that Stereogum wants another one. Also, weren’t you playing in a Turkish Basketball League at the time of this comment? Your coach can’t approve of you surfing the web from the bench. Unless he does, in which case I am done playing in the Dominican Republic and am headed for the Turkish League.

    • Pretty sure everyone knows about the rape allegations that were subsequently withdrawn and charges never pressed, if that’s what you’re talking about.

      • I do remember reading some stuff later that made him seem, at the very least, kind of sleazy, you know, an indie rocker who was basically a classic-rock cliche, sleeping with an endless string of groupies.

    • Sheila, don’t you know that on Stereogum you aren’t allowed to suggest that someone famous might not be a nice person? People on here can be unreasonably cynical about a lot of things, but for some reason, they tend to be idealists when it comes to famous people. Don’t try to understand it. Just accept that the Stereogum world is usually the polar opposite of reality. For instance, not too long ago, I heard that Mumford & Sons is a good band and that one could argue that Creep is Radiohead’s best song.

  27. First, I’m glad that the ‘gum posted a Modest Mouse list. I’m a bit older than some of the other posters, so “This is a Long Drive. . .” was my entry point to the band. As a result, I really appreciate the song structure and especially the lyrics of the older albums (Building Something. . ., LCW, and This is a Long Drive.) Those stand alone (to me) as three of the strongest albums of the era. If those were the only three that the band put out, I feel like Modest Mouse would be thought of as fondly as NMH by indie fans. I think that The Moon & Antarctica really changed the trajectory of the songcraft. While there are plenty of stylistic similarities, it is the glaring moment of change for me. It is also a near-perfect album. They could’ve stopped there and been one of the best bands of the 90′s-00′s. As it happened, Isaac decided to keep making albums. I enjoy some of their later tracks, and Good News is a pretty decent album. If We Were Dead. . . was released by another band, it would be considered absolute trash. To my ears, it is just lazy and a sad testament to what happens when a voice that so many people want to hear feels compelled to speak when he really has nothing left to say. For me, I would place Sad, Sappy Sucker above Good News and We Were Dead, because I think that we could’ve used a few more “Built to Spill’s” at the time. There are some real parallels in the trajectories of those two bands (Modest Mouse & Built to Spill). They are two of my favorite bands, fronted by two of the more innovative guitarists of our time. Unfortunately, the quality of their work has diminished over time. It would have been nice to a) have someone who understood and appreciated this trajectory make this list, b) have someone who actually liked the band and didn’t feel the need to saturate the article with snarky comments, weak descriptors, and shitty lyrical references make this list.

    • The snark also bothered me

      • Not sure how you could read this and think it was written by someone who dislikes the band. What snark?

        • One line that jumped out to me was, “Even their best albums are stacked with filler.” I don’t know how any song on Moon and Antarctica or Lonesome Crowded West could be considered filler, let alone stacked. Seemed a little snarky for a feature that is supposed to celebrate the band I thought.

          • It’s true, though. Even among the diehards commenting here, you don’t hear a lot of people repping for “The Cold Part,” “Long Distance Drunk,” or “Exit Does Not Exist,” for instance.

            And besides, the paragraph that contains that sentence is supposed to imply that, in spite of these things, MM is a great band. Most ‘classic’ albums have filler – when was the last time you skipped ahead to listen to “The Murder Mystery” or “Vicar In A Tutu?” One of my favorite bands of all time is the Replacements, and almost everything I said about MM in that paragraph could apply to that band as well. You don’t think Isaac himself would acknowledge that they’ve played some pretty shitty (read: sloppy drunk) gigs?

          • I agree, I didn’t like that line either. They are the only band that I can think of that there are very few songs that I don’t like. Some may not be spectacular, but they would be good songs by another band. You can’t play with the volume at 11 for the whole record, some songs have to be 5′s and 6′s. MM’s 5′s and 6′s are still damn good songs in my FAO (fucking awesome opinion)

          • I don’t mean any disrespect to you, and I appreciate that I was critical toward your article, but I don’t think that it was completely undeserved. Posters get to come on, hide behind anonymity, and make whatever cracks they want toward columnists, but I don’t want my post to come across that way.

            I’m not going to be the guy who tries to define “true fan” or “not a true fan” because that is a devolutionary conversation. My point is more that the inclusion and exclusion of EP’s on the list was questionable. Also, an album like Sad, Sappy Sucker (which is not an album and probably wasn’t intended to be released until a relatively large fan base was salivating for something “new” from the band) is an opportunity to see the early material that was to become the great albums. Though rough-hewn, the instrumentation and creativity far exceed the content of the later MM albums. I was also a little pissed about the Built to Spill knock (in case that didn’t come through above). So, I thought of that as being snarky. Along with the description of Isaac’s voice. You could definitely say that it reminds one of Cartman’s voice, but that is kind of like Southpark comparing Stevie Nicks’ voice to that of a goat. Not exactly reverent. And you don’t have to be reverent, by any means. I would have preferred someone who was a bit more so to write the article.

            As far as the “filler” deal, almost half of each of the newer MM albums are filler. Can’t say that about the earlier ones. I won’t disagree about your “Exit Does Not Exist” example, but I do take exception to “Long Distance Drunk”, which I think is just a jammy, better-heard-live track, but not really filler. The Moon and Antarctica is clearly a “concept” album, and I think of “The Cold Part” as a placeholder in the “middle” third of the story. To each his own. So when you make a statement like, “Even their best. . .”, then I assume you are referring to Lonesome Crowded West, and I would challenge you to qualify that album as “stacked with filler”.

            As a final explanatory note, describing the rhythm section as “loosey goosey” (drums) and “slinky” (bass) is inaccurate and trite, respectively. (See Also: Truckers Atlas, Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine, It’s All Nice. . .)

      • i heard it was james jackson toth that actually stabbed isaac brock onstage. dude HATES modest mouse

    • Completely agree on all the similarities with Built to Spill. The two used to be compared pretty often, but it’s interesting to see how differently they ended up. I think the likelihood of at least one more mind-blowing Built To Spill record is greater than a mind-blowing MM record.

  28. No fucking way! I can’t believe you guys did this list. I’m tingling with anticipation. I haven’t read it or any of the comments yet. I hope the EP’s are included. If not, then I don’t know that their body of work is large enough to warrant this conversation. Also, if something besides Lonesome Crowded West or Moon and Antarctica is number one, I’m gonna throw my laptop out the fucking window.

    • Not a bad list, I was sorta hoping you’d have M&A in the number one spot, but there’s nothing wrong with calling Lonesome Crowded West the best Modest Mouse album. I like that you guys gave Good News for People Who Love Bad News the credit it deserves. It’s not a top-to-bottom masterpiece, but it’s a damn fine album. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is also not as bad as some Modest Mouse fans will try to tell you. It has some major misfires but it has some really great songs as well.

      I do agree that if you’re going to include one EP, you might as well include the rest. Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks/Night on the Sun? The Fruit that Ate Itself? No One’s First and You’re Next? Some of their best work is on the EP’s. And Building Something out of Nothing might as well be an album. You decided on the Smiths list that compilations count, and you listed Interstate 8 here. What gives? Let’s try for a little consistency.

  29. Let’s stop beating around the bush, Stereogum. It’s time to argue about Neil Young.

    • I’d welcome this, except I can guarantee Tonight’s the Night will be ranked lower than it deserves to be.

    • Does anyone else think Rust Never Sleeps is his best, or am I stranded alone on that island?

      • My vote for #1 goes to the aforementioned Tonight’s the Night. I like Rust Never Sleeps, but it always felt the most compilation-like to me of his classic albums, down to the audience-deleted live numbers. I’d put it top 5 though.

        • yeah, I think that’s why I like it so much: it sort of feels like a combination of all his seventies work put together. Also the songs are spectacular. Tonight’s the Night is definitely up there as well, along with After the Gold Rush and Everybody Knows this is Nowhere.

          • I know it seems obvious, but After The Goldrush will always be my favorite. Everything I ever liked about Neil Young all on one album.

    • Tonight’s the Night, On the Beach, and Rust Never Sleeps would be my top three (1,2, and 3 respectively). Everybody Knows This is Nowhere would slot in next, but then it’s a little tougher – I think I’d go:
      5. Zuma
      6. After the Gold Rush
      7. Harvest
      8. Comes a Time
      9. Ragged Glory
      10. Harvest Moon
      If we’re counting Time Fades Away, slot that in at number 8. The rest of the list would get pretty messy, but my bottom three is probably Everybody’s Rockin’, Fork in the Road, and Greendale, although ranking which Neil Young albums are the worst is just as hard – but perhaps more entertaining – than ranking the best.

      • Landing on Water? At least Everybody’s Rockin’ has “Wondering” (which in non-rockabilly acoustic-form is a good song). I’ll organize this by tier (but not ordered within each tier).

        First Tier: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere; After the Goldrush; Tonight’s the Night; On the Beach; Rust Never Sleeps.

        Second Tier: Harvest; Zuma; Comes a Time; Harvest Moon; Ragged Glory

        Third Tier: American Stars n’ Bars; Neil Young (self titled); Silver and Gold; Freedom; Time Fades Away

        Fourth Tier: Mirror Ball; Broken Arrow; Hawks and Doves; Le Noise; Psychedelic Pill; Long May You Run; Old Ways

        Fifth Tier: ReAcTor (for Shots and Southern Pacific); Sleeps with Angels; Living with War; This Note’s For You; Chrome Dreams II

        Sixth Tier: Trans; Everybody’s Rockin’; Landing on Water; Life; Greendale; Are You Passionate?; Fork in the Road

        I think that’s a pretty good objective assessment. I might be forgetting an album or two – and didn’t include stuff like the Dead Man soundtrack or Arc/Weld.

  30. Not a bad list, I was sorta hoping you’d have M&A in the number one spot, but there’s nothing wrong with calling Lonesome Crowded West the best Modest Mouse album. I like that you guys gave Good News for People Who Love Bad News the credit it deserves. It’s not a top-to-bottom masterpiece, but it’s a damn fine album. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is also not as bad as some Modest Mouse fans will try to tell you. It has some major misfires but it has some really great songs as well.

    I do agree that if you’re going to include one EP, you might as well include the rest. Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks/Night on the Sun? The Fruit that Ate Itself? No One’s First and You’re Next? Some of their best work is on the EP’s. And Building Something out of Nothing might as well be an album. You decided on the Smiths list that compilations count, and you listed Interstate 8 here. What gives? Let’s try for a little consistency.

  31. I love the shit out of Lonesome Crowded West and The Moon and Antarctica and I like the shit out of Good News and We Were Dead. I think its time that I gave Long Drive a proper listen, thanks for the reminder!

  32. You know what else would start a fire on Stereogum? A Tom Waits worst to best. I don’t think there’s a ton of fans on here, but man are we passionate fans. Tons of material to sort through too.

  33. I personally love “We were dead…” above the others, but maybe because It was the first Modest Mouse album I lived on its release and through out all its singles ( I was like 15)

  34. I honestly don’t mind having Interstate 8 in there but not BSON. I might be biased as it’s my favorite, but Edit the Sad Parts is too good to be discounted.

  35. “All Night Diner” has been a hard favorite of mine for years.

    And as said above “Night on the Sun” EP is mega memorable. It opens with “Willful Suspension of Disbelief”

    Good list though, aside from album omissions. I have to agree with Lonesome being ever so slightly better than Moon. “Lounge (Closing Time)” anyone? Always loved how it builds to this glorious climax then unwinds for a good 2 minutes. Classic tune.

  36. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  37. There were a couple mistakes made in your final section. The song is called “Truckers Atlas.” Also, the lyrics “Every time you think…” are from “Cowboy Dan” not “Truckers Atlas.”

  38. How strange. Just yesterday I popped M&A in.

    I think We Were Dead is extremely underrated. Parting of the Sensory and Spitting Venom are most excellent and Missed the Boat is all of the best parts of the Shins mixed with MM.

    Lonesome Crowded is excellent, but I’d put M&A above it. That album is a friggin masterpiece. Perfect Disguise is the whole reason I started listening to this band.

  39. I’m from Issaquah. My sisters went to school with these cats. Lucky to have older siblings to show me Modest at such a young age. I felt cool when they got really popular and i would tell this story to people whenever i could. Guess i still do, huh?

  40. Does anyone care about No One’s First and You’re Next? I think it’s kinda weak overall but King Rat is one of my favorite Modest Mouse songs. The Whale Song is pretty damn good too.

  41. Isn’t the line “Every time you think you’re walking/ you’re just moving the ground” from Cowboy Dan?

  42. I only got into reading music blogs and whatnot after We Were Dead came out, so I didn’t realize that it’s supposed to be shitty. I think it’s a really solid album, that I’ve gotten more into in the last few years. Songs that I used to not care for so much, like Parting of the Sensory, have become some of my faves. I love the banjo boogie-down at the end. Yeehaw!

    I agree with the top end of this list though for the most part.

  43. awesome. thought i was in the minority for thinking lonesome crowded west was their best album.

  44. “Modest Mouse fans that scoff at Good News For People Who Love Bad News are likely the same contrarians whose favorite Nirvana album is Bleach.”

    Pants on head retarded. Oh my god.

  45. In fact, the whole thing could’ve been done a LOT better. Shit. Just mentioning the most popular songs on every album, taking things directly out of that pitchfork documentary, just dropping the ball in general. Whatever. These worst to best lists are all arbitrary anyways. Meant for generating site traffic. I shouldn’t even hit submit comment. Oh well.

  46. I am now going to listen to Dance Hall six times in a row, like I did with Rip This Joint last week.

  47. Someone posted this up above, but I wanted to post it again down here where it’s easy to find. Someone put a shitload of work into this and it’s some good reading if you’re a Modest Mouse mega-fan like me.

  48. My two cents on We Were Dead: Eight or nine great songs marred by a forced narrative that included some weak songs; an additional two or three bummer songs makes the album really uneven.

    The first 8 songs are all a narrative together; the rest are just songs. The last six tracks are all spotless except Steam Engenius and Education, both of which I cannot stand. Of the “narrative” songs, if we could ditch March into the sea and then mix up the tracklist and include a few of the b-sides from No One’s First, it could be an extremely awesome album… namely Satellite Skin, Whale Song, King Rat and Autumn Beds. Then we’d have a normal rocker, a more mellow track and two more epic tracks. This would be a longer running time but with less filler. Anyone agree?

  49. I love Modest Mouse. I want a new Modest Mouse album. I wish the EPs had been included. This is still a great post.

  50. Oh, this is a website? I thought it was an advertisement for The Sims 3.

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