As part of our ongoing Long Play series, opbmusic is playing selections from the Modest Mouse album “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” all day throughout the broadcast on Tuesday, April 30.
In 2004, Modest Mouse was a much loved, but relatively unknown rock band. Up to that point, they had released four full-length records to pretty much universal acclaim. And while the group’s quirky, anxiety-inducing sound won them diehard fans and glowing reviews from music publications, it was an impediment to broader success. This was something Epic Records found out with their brilliant but largely underperforming major label debut, “The Moon & Antarctica.” Apparently, Modest Mouse was too weird to be an arena rock band. And for the band, that seemed just fine.
In late 2003, the group left their Pacific Northwest home base to record “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” in the South (tracking took place at Sweet Tea Studio in Oxford, MS and Easley Recording in Memphis). They brought with them a group of songs mostly about death, loss, anxiety and drug use. There was even a track about notorious author (and asshole) Charles Bukowski. Benjamin Weikel (The Helio Sequence) joined the group on drums during the sessions, replacing longtime member Jeremiah Green who was in the midst of a health crisis. The recordings also featured contributions from The Flaming Lips and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The result was a sometimes bizarre, but incredibly catchy, collection of off-kilter tracks heavily influenced by southern gothic sounds with lead singer Isaac Brock playing the role of the most charismatic carnival barker since Tom Waits.
Surprisingly enough, the lead single “Float On” immediately found commercial success. MTV put the music video in heavy rotation (this was before YouTube when that still mattered), and within weeks every teenager in America was humming the anthem. “Float On” was eventually nominated for a Grammy in the Best Rock Song category and its mainstream success resulted later in appearances in the Rock Band and Guitar Hero video franchises.
But the album was more than one song and proved to be a typically deep Modest Mouse release. It produced two other notable singles in “The World at Large” and “The Ocean Breathes Salty,” as well other notable songs like “Satin In A Coffin,” the aforementioned “Bukowski,” Blame It On The Tetons,” and “Black Cadillacs.” The record was nominated for a 2004 Best Alternative Music Album Grammy and was later certified platinum, making it one of the most successful releases ever from an Oregon-based rock band.
This year, “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” is 15-years-old. Join us at opbmusic – all day this Tues., April 30 – as we celebrate the anniversary by playing the whole album throughout the broadcast.