Can’t wait to have “Chewing Gum” in my possession: probably my favourite track from this era.
For me, Good News first provokes the memory of standing in line at a Modest Mouse concert in Fargo during the summer of 2005 and seeing a big truck pull up blasting “Float On.” Instantly, a number of people started to crowd it and bob their heads. My friends and I (of course) immediately rolled our eyes and dismissed all these “ignorant” new fans. The concert experience followed suit: we seemed to be the only ones paying attention to songs like “Dramamine,” “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes,” and “Cowboy Dan.” I remember being pissed off and feeling superior. I’m sure many of us did.
I guess I’m part of the minority that actually preferred the back half of the album to the hits. Tracks like “The View,” “One Chance,” and especially “Blame It On the Tetons” spoke to me in my late teens and still do. Maybe part of their appeal was reactionary. I reached a point where I couldn’t listen to “Float On.” “Ocean Breathes Salty,” while still awesome, seemed like it was also starting to become another indie staple. I missed the gritty insight of their earlier stuff (for the record, Lonesome Crowded West and Long Drive are my favourite MM albums) and I found Brock’s lyrics were getting less interesting (however, I have to give the man credit for introducing me to Bukowski). I also missed not having to share Modest Mouse with people whose tastes seemingly clashed with my.
To me, Good News isn’t the beginning of MM’s decline (though I’ve never like anything on We Were Dead…) so much as an integral part of a changing landscape. Ultimately, I think the album does an admirable job of achieving a digestible balance that characterizes a lot of cross-over “indie” releases from early 00s. But I can’t pretend I wasn’t part of it that landscape. Good News marks the point where my own arrogance about indie music peaked, where checking P4K became a part of my daily routine and my computer’s hard drive really started to fill up.
Just for the record, Edmonton is one word.
I’ve been dreading this list mainly because, like every other die-hard Smashing Pumpkins fan, I wish I had written it. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I’ve always felt like this was MY band. But they’re not and my take on their discography has everything to do with when and how I experienced it. There’s only one thing that I can be completely objective about: my adolescence wouldn’t have looked the same with the Smashing Pumpkins.
Here’s my take on the list:
While I’m in complete agreement about “Cherub Rock,” I find it annoying that so much of these write-ups have focused on the singles. For me anyway, the singles are so familiar that I sometimes end up skipping them when I’m spinning MCIS or Siamese Dream. Yeah, everyone thinks “Today” is a great song, but isn’t “Hummer” really the Pumpkins at their best, artistically, sonically, lyrically? What about the grinding hook of “Geek U.S.A.” or the way “Quiet” crashes into you with breakneck speed? Similarly, Adore is far more interesting when you move into its latter half: “For Martha,” “Shame,” and “Annie Dog” are some of the most beautiful and heartbreaking songs in the Pumpkins’ catalogue.
I also find it hard to see why Gish is placing so high, besides the fact that it’s from their hipper years. To me it still sounds fairly immature and underdeveloped. A lot the songs feel thrown together or half-baked. Don’t get me wrong it’s still a great album. I’ll always look forward to songs like “Snail” or “Bury Me,” but I’d have placed it lower. That’s all.
Long live the Pumpkins. Actually, I take that back. Billy should really try something else.
Hummer has always been my favourite track. Like Soma, it’s a song with a huge arc and it’s still got that gypsy feel that made Gish’s sound so unique: the intro, the outro, the angsty wailing, the strange acceptance that certain things are beyond your control. As far as my adolescent self was concerned, Billy’s lyrics and songwriting peaked with Hummer. Nothing else on SD was this dreamy, metaphysical, and uplifting.
Ooof. In Rainbows and Amnesiac over HTTT any day. Also, am I the only one who prefers Kid A to OK Computer?
Dry might be my favorite, though it was the last of Harvey’s albums that I bought. Rid of Me is a close second mainly for sentimental reasons: it was my introduction to her music and it really did blow me away. I’m pretty sure I bought it on a whim while I was in junior high, likely after reading through SPIN’s 90 best albums of the 90s. Before I heard Rid of Me, I thought Hole’s Live Through This was the rawest, girl-fronted rock music out there. I was, of course, dead wrong.