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20 Watts Reviews Modest Mouse’s No One’s First and You’re Next by JohnCassillo
Modest Mouse's new B-sides collection is great for long-time fans

Modest Mouse's new B-sides collection is great for long-time fans

PREVIEW: Download Modest Mouse’s “Satellite Skin” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

B-side releases always seem to take either one of two different directions. Sometimes the albums are a welcome change-of-pace with new, experimental material that just didn’t fit on the band’s other efforts. Other times, these collections are comprised of songs that just simply couldn’t make the cut once the artist hit the studio. No One’s First and You’re Next combines the two.

While some songs were obviously written in the same mindset of their latest two albums, Good News for People Who Love Bad News (2004) and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007); there are also some tracks which are of the experimental variety too.

On most of their work, Modest Mouse create a theme and stick to it. Be it the struggle of the common man or the emptiness of a vast wasteland, each album has maintained a loose central trend. For No One’s First And You’re Next, pocketed angst and personal hopelessness are the moods du jour. Though the tracks were all written separately, they all fit together remarkably well; something odd for this type of release, which is usually meant to be sporadic.

Amongst the usual Isaac Brock rambling, one is sure to find both the ordinary and unique in terms of the usual Modest Mouse experience. For the rare, but not unheard-of slow track, “Autumn Beds” fits the bill. If you’re looking for a classic Brock rant, “King Rat” satisfies.

But my biggest surprise was probably “The Whale Song.” In the past, the band has never shied away from heavy, high-distortion guitar riffs, but this song appears to set a new standard for them. Playing with a busy noise rock influence I can’t recall ever hearing before from them, the track busts into two separate two-minute solos at the beginning and end. Though not necessarily out of control, both are equally sprawling and spacious, something completely new for any long-time listener.

Overall, No One’s First and You’re Next provides the perfect space-filler between albums.  Touching solely on unused material from their past two records, it provides a fair line of continuity between the the past two albums, as well as a possible glimpse into what will come next for the group. You’ll notice the additional rock ‘n’ roll influences appearing throughout the EP, which I would be all for. Time will tell, though. Hopefully we’ll see a new full-length sometime next year.

— John Cassillo

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