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Best of the 00s: Midlake, Missy Elliott & Modest Mouse

Posted by May 11th, 2013 No Comments »

Best of the 00s: Gabe Joins the 21st Century
Part 28: Midlake, Missy Elliott & Modest Mouse
By Gabe Baker & Matt Ashworth 

Nada Co-founders Matt and Gabe are listening to 197 of the music press’s picks for “best albums of the 00s” for a series called Gabe Joins the 21st Century.

Midlake – The Trials of Van Ocupanther
The A/V Club’s #47

Gabe: If you only buy one soft rock concept album about life in pioneer days America this year, make it The Trials of Van Occupanther. It’s got the literary aspirations of Grandaddy’s Sophtware Slump, substituting American pastoral for Grandaddy’s science fiction setting. The music itself is full, lush and detailed, like Fleetwood Mac at its most mellow. I enjoyed puzzling over whether I actually liked this, but I don’t expect to listen to it again anytime soon. Grade: Love

Matt: The Midlake song everyone seems to love, “Roscoe,” which opens the otherwise boring Trials of Van Occupanther, kind of sounds like the start of the M.A.S.H. theme but lives up to the hype. It’s a layered folk rock number with the lovely couplet “Whenever I was a child, I wondered/ What if my name had changed into something more productive, like Roscoe.” (And it’s awesome that there’s a version of it on Spotify called “Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve Remix.”) “Young Bride” is kinda nice too, with some danceable percussion and violin flair, but for the most part the Trials of Van Occupanther is a bit too “British Indie version of CSN&Y” for my tastes. Cool album cover though. Grade: DNL

Missy Elliott - Miss E So AddictiveMissy Elliott – Miss E…So Addictive
A/V Club #43

Matt: Without any proper hip-hop skits or interludes, Missy Elliott’s 16-song critically acclaimed third LP Miss E…So Addictive feels too long and inconsistent to be consumed as a proper album, but it sure is fun in doses of four or five tracks at a time. A decade after its release, it also seems notable that the album marks my earliest memory of Timbaland’s unique talents and was my introduction to the now-omnipresent Ludacris. (Less notable were the guest spots from Busta Rhymes, whose contributions include a seemingly-off topic verse about the importance of designated drivers.) “Watcha Gonna Do” is the best track, with Timbaland on vocals as well as the decks, whereas the auto-tune heavy “Take Away” is filler at best. Inconsistency aside, Miss M gets points for making music I don’t want my kids listening to (“Strange motherfucker’s wanna be my nigga / Turn your man to a ass-licker”; “A hard head make a soft ass, but a hard dick make the sex last”; and “Still get paid to hope on the dick / I’m a prostitute, I gotta a lot of loot” are a few examples of what a dirty little whore Missy is) and I love that her top three topics are sex, drugs, and Jesus. I hope they give her a show on Fox. Grade: Like

Gabe: In addition to being one hell of a performer, Missy Elliot appears be a brazen hussy. “One Minute Man” joins En Vogue’s “Never Gonna Get It”, TLC’s “No Scrubs”, and Beyonce’s “Bootylicious” on the list of Songs That Make Gabe Feel Sexually Inadequate. Despite the Missy intimidation factor, “Get Ur Freak On” is one of the only songs that ever made me want to dance in a night club. Actually, all the songs that feature Missy rapping (as opposed to singing on the more R&B-style numbers) sound great. Grade: Like

MouseModest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
NadaMucho.com’s #37

Matt: I can see why this is considered Modest Mouse’s least impressive album. With some electronic programming alongside live instrumentation, more Tom Waits homages, and the addition of former Smith’s guitarist Johnny Marr, it’s clear that Isaac Brock and his band are in experimentation mode, and some of those exercises miss (see: “Fly Trapped in a Jar” and “Steam Engenius”), but it’s still a very good album. “March in to the Sea” is stately and evil. “Flashlight” is the kind of disco pop the Cure perfected on Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, as my venerable review partner Gabriel pointed out back in 2004. “Fire it Up” has a lazy, dead cool vibe just like the superior “Heart Cooks Brain” from the band’s remarkable 2001 album Lonesome Crowded West. And this album’s best song, “Parting of the Sensory,” is classic Isaac Brock with tons of vocal venom and great lines like “With clothes that fit like wasps / Aw fuck it I guess we lost.” Consistent here and throughout Brock’s growing catalogue is his uncanny ability to go from the loveliest and most vulnerable of melodies to an absolutely evil bark, which is exactly what I’m still looking for in my art. Grade: LOVE

Gabe: Let’s get this out of the way: We Were Dead doesn’t stand up to its immediate predecessor, Good News For People Who Love Bad News, let alone Modest Mouse’s incomparable early albums. Pick any song on this album, and Modest Mouse probably did the same thing better before. For most aging bands, recording pale photocopies of their youthful triumphs would be a recipe for disaster.  And, to be honest, I think We Were Dead sort of sucks, expect for four songs.

But those four songs are fucking amazing. They crawl up and down my spine, and make me itch and squirm. There’s “Parting of the Sensory,” an epic jam about science and futility, that could only be by Modest Mouse. There’s the twitchy guitar in the “Tiny little curtain’s” verse of “Missed the Boat.” There’s the monsters of rock chorus in “Spitting Venom,” and the hard-earned wisdom of “People as Places as People.” In these four songs, the sounds and lyrics weave together in a way that makes me feel stuff. Maybe it’s the way that they use “we” instead of “I” in most of the songs, but these songs strike me as important. Call me a stupid pretentious fuckface, but I feel like I learn shit from them. In fact, I’d take these tracks as a 4-song EP over almost all of the other albums on this list. Grade: LOVE

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