Sammy the Seal

“Go to the grocery store, buy some new friends”

In music videos, vinyl on Thursday, 19 July, 2012 at 14:25

Song: Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine
Artist: Modest Mouse
Album: The Lonesome Crowded West

A crowd-pleaser this ain’t (unless you’re a fan). But is that abrasive, pissed-off opening guitar line awesome. It’s certainly not the most accessible, which of course was my reaction first hearing it however many years ago. To say nothing of the 6:53 run time, which is another thing that turned me off initially. I don’t know if it’s purely an age thing, where you have enough experience to appreciate different things more, a sense of “comprehension” (though that sounds kinda indie elitist snob, which is not what I mean). Or else it’s being in a certain state of life or even just frame of mind where one is more receptive to the energy (whatever that is) that’s being purveyed, or things just make sense. Anyway, it’s nice to be at the party, even if you’re incredibly late.

The song is a bit pent-up and angry, but intelligent. If you’ve ever heard or read their lyrics, much of them have a decidedly philosophical bent. Sure there’s some confusion and self-loathing, but it’s not stale, it has a nervous, frantic energy. I used to merely tolerate its presence as “track 1”, but now I actually enjoy it. Being more “mature” and all. You know a song is good when it’s almost seven minutes long and it’s still over too quickly. So maybe song length is a matter of age and experience as well, as I’ve been a bit more receptive towards longer songs recently. However, patience  obviously still has mostly to do with whether it’s a good song or not. It goes places, rather than wandering, noodling, or wanking about to stretch out the time. I appreciate the different movements, or segments. For example, the guitar line that supports the opening verses goes away after 1:30, sort of like the ragged but melodic and perky first two minutes of “Lounge (Closing Time)” before the tempo slows and shifts. Sad to see it go, but fortunately the rest of the song is good. It’s good headbanging music for brainy, thoughtful people. t’s smart, it’s “deep” (“do you need a lot of what you got to survive?”), and it rocks. Not that I’d throw this (or the album, for that matter) on looking to have a good time, as it’s a bit dark and “serious”. But as far as purging and expressing the inexpressible, music like this always valuable. And yet, it still is a little fun. The loud parts with all their heavy-osity are nice and charged– those conclusive 95 seconds? Yeah, man, yeah.

I can never resist really old clips of live performances, this one from 2000. The sound isn’t the best, however this one gets the nod because of the Mr. Show reference before the song (“King Shit….”), and because the show starts off (this was the opening song, allegedly) with Isaac Brock taking the piss out of a heckler (or hecklers). Also, it is said that before this show, some jackass (possibly the same verbal heckler) was throwing water at him while he was setting up. He asked the person to stop so he wouldn’t get shocked, they didn’t, so he jumped off stage and started swinging. The frustrated, pissed off thing isn’t just a songwriting tone, he brings that in real life too. I hope that story’s true. If only that were captured on tape somewhere….


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