On Sunday night, I joined a friend of mine on a seat-of-our-pants road trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to see a quietly promoted warm-up gig for Modest Mouse before the band kicked off its big spring tour in support of its fantastic new album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank.

According to Tickets.com, who were the online sellers for tickets to this show, no more seats were available when I checked on Thursday night. A few phone calls placed to area record stores told me that the website's claims were dubious. My friend and I, fueled by the freedom afforded him by the loss of his job that Friday, decided that, if nothing else, we were going to drive to South Dakota and enjoy a nice dinner before turning around and driving back.

Once we'd burned a few hundred miles of road and made our way to the Ramkota Exhibit Hall, I began to realize that our worries about finding tickets were for nothing. When we arrived 2 hours before show time, we not only managed to find a parking space 20 feet from the main doors, but only three teenagers were camping outside. Even after leaving Omaha 3 hours later than we'd originally planned, my friend and I had arrived way too early.

Still, the box office was not open. As showtime neared, there was a line of a few hundred people snaking around the outside, into the parking lot. While my friend and I argued about whether or not we should join the line, we soon found out that the line was for the poor bastards who already had tickets, but were experiencing a clusterfuck at the box office. My friend and I walked inside, bought our tickets, and were back out at the hotel bar within 3 minutes. The people who had prepared in advance would spend hours in that line, while dickheads like us who just showed up on a whim were let right inside.

Since I had entertained no thought of actually getting into the show, I was suddenly and excitedly realizing the dream of seeing the new Modest Mouse, featuring the additional gutiar skills of The Smiths' Johnny Marr.

I thought about how bizarre the situation had become. If you had told me a decade before that this dissonant, noisy indie band I loved called Modest Mouse would even have so much as a single mainstream radio hit, I would have told you to fuck off. Think about it. . . the same band that started by recording songs like "Dirty Fingernails" are now being featured on American Idol:

Come on, that's just ridiculous. Imagine what it must be like to be MM's Isaac Brock. One day you're fronting your little indie band, slowly selling more records and gathering an audience, and then one day THE GUITARIST FOR THE SMITHS IS IN YOUR BAND. I wouldn't even know what to do.

If you're Brock, you put him to good use, wailing away in your 6-piece band with two drummers and a multi-instrumentalist who looks like Hugh Laurie from "House." Marr fit right in, and it makes sense when you think about Modest Mouse's music, which is driven by the same strange angular riffs that Marr made famous in The Smiths. And really, who else can Brock thank for long song or album titles like Good News for People Who Love Bad News if not The Smiths?

The show was incredible, featuring a mix of mostly new (from the last 3 records) stuff and the occasional classic like "Trailer Trash" or "Doin' the Cockroach." The audience even got to see Brock's semi-psychotic side when limply tossed glass bottle hit the stage, leading the frontman to threaten more than once, "I WILL KILL YOU."

The set covered a lot of ground with a lot of varied instrumentation (the banjo and stand up bass even came out for "Bukowski"), but the band were at their peak when hitting the dance rock grooves with the disco basslines in songs like "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes." Brock's voice roared, the band was a cacophany of sound and the crowd began pogoing like a Justin Timberlake concert. When you can make the complacent indie rockers dance, you've really accomplished something. Even if your first band was The Smiths.

Tonight, a little mix CD of some of my favorite Modest Mouse songs. This was a bitch to assemble, since some of my favorite songs (hits like "Ocean Breathes Salty") had to hit the cutting room floor. Regardless, I think this is a fine introduction to one of my favorite bands. I encourage you to find all of their records, but for now:

1. Here it Comes
2. Never Ending Math Equation
3. Dashboard
4. Convenient Parking
5. Bukowski
6. Blame it On the Tetons
7. Cowboy Dan
8. Steam Engenius
9. Paper Thin Walls
10. Broke
11. Dramamine
12. Dark Center of the Universe
13. Tundra-Desert
14. Night on the Sun
15. Third Planet (live)

Cowboy Dan (Demo)
Cat Faces (from the Isaac Brock solo project/album, Ugly Cassanova)
South of Heaven (an acoustic Slayer cover by Modest Mouse and Califone)
Four Fingered Fisherman (live MM cover by Sun Kil Moon frontman Mark Kozelek)

- Order Modest Mouse CDs, LPs and more at Insound.com
- The band's homepage is right here, or apparently right here as well.



Pimpcast Volume 1


Thanks to my roommate's generous birthday gift, I finally have the ram in my computer do really get nutty with all of the app's on my Mac. While I've owned my computer for a while, it was always frustrating trying to use a program like iMovie, or especially GarageBand, with very little memory. Programs would freeze, or running functions would become so time consuming that it would kill my patience with a project.

If you remember, the only podcast I've ever "published" on Pimps of Gore was the post-Katrina "Pimps of Protest" cast I collaborated on with my friend Matt (at the time, he ran a site called This is a Pocket Protest). He was the poor sucker who had to do all of the work, while I just picked out some songs for him to work around. Now, I can finally leave poor Matt alone and work on these things myself.

Tonight's podcast, entitled "Venus and Mars Are All Right Tonight," was inspired by a single note, played at the end of The Shins "Turn On Me." That note struck me as sounding exactly like the note that brings the guitar solo to an end in Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper," and thus, a podcast was born.

I'm not making any promises here. Keep in mind that this is my first foray into my own podcasting, so things will run a little more smoothly from here on out. I kept this one on the short side (just under 30 minutes), largely because I made it for a couple of friends of mine whose commute runs about that length. I had not originally intended to share this with a mass audience, but I had a lot of fun with it and got to screw around with a few ideas that I thought worked okay.

Anyway, no more excuses:

PIMPS OF PODCAST, Vol 1: "Venus and Mars Are All Right Tonight"

Track Listing:
1. Venus and Mars/Rockshow (Wings)
2. Oh Sweetheart (The Shout Out Louds)
3. Steam Engenius (Modest Mouse)
4. Don't Fear the Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult)
5. -- snippet -- Drunkship of Lanterns (The Mars Volta)
6. -- snippet -- Welcome to Stop (31 Knots)
7. Hello Morning (Fugazi)
8. Toys in the Attic (R.E.M.)
9. Ron Klaus Wrecked His House (Big Dipper)
10. Turn On Me (The Shins)
11. Don't Fear the Reaper - outro

As always, this is designed to be played LOUD. Thanks for listening.


Tonight, in brief:

I'm working out a few hosting issues that should be resolved in the next 24 hours. After that, I have a few big posts planned for the month of March, including some new Wilco stuff (as part of my continuing Tweedy 100 series), a tribute to Modest Mouse (whose new record absolutely SMOKES) some of my favorite instrumental tracks and more.

For right now, I'm just posting one link, to my first of many monthly music columns in this week's issue of PLAY, a Philadelphia based weekly entertainment rag for whom I just started writing.

Initially, it was pitched to me that my column would be the print equivalent of Pimps of Gore. Eventually, the editors decided that the name of my blog was a little too obscure and wanted a more accessible, generic title. I told them that I was sorry I couldn't come up with a generic title, and gave them one other option: the title of a Spinal Tap song, "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight." Amazingly, they went with that as the name of my column!

My column pertains to the recent announcement by the Rock Hall of Fame and NARM (the National Association of Record Merchants, or some shit like that) of the "Definitive 200" list of albums they think everyone should own in their record collection. Along with the obvious choices, they went for a lot of multi-platinum sellers that I would call pretty fucking far from essential (Creed's Human Clay?! Essential?!). In my column, I recommend a handful of albums I think are just as essential but typically unsung by groups like NARM (why would this organization care if you bought a Fugazi album? They don't, and Fugazi are not on their list).

If you live in the Philly area and are able to find the print version, you'll also get to enjoy some hilarious graphic design features, including lightning bolts, heavy metal font and a picture of me dressed up as one of the dudes in Breakin. It's pretty impressive work on the magazine's part, and I'd love to give my kudos directly to the designer. If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to email you the .pdf of the article.

I will follow up on this post in the next day or two with actual music from all of the albums I mention in the column (including some random rarities or live tracks where available). Stay tuned for classic and rare stuff from the La's, Miles Davis, Neutral Milk Hotel, Fugazi, Funkadelic, Sam Cooke and Sleater-Kinney.

Most importantly: Thanks to all of you out there for reading.