Modest Mouse - Sad Sappy Sucker (Cover Artwork)

Modest Mouse

Sad Sappy Sucker (2001)


Modest Mouse have always been an interesting band with equally interesting a sound. It's nearly impossible to compare them to another band -- their weird combination of country, trad rock, and noise have stumped a-many music fans since the early 90's. As a band, they've lived off defying categorization since their inception, always turning left when you've thought they were going to turn right. In terms of song constructive patterns, the band has none -- they've followed whatever was in their stoned-out minds, even if people told them it was a bad idea. They might have scrapped some things after realizing they actually were bad ideas, but even those 'scraps' made a damn fine album (2000's Building Nothing out of Something was a compilation of b-sides and rarities from the Up catalog).

But they did make a crucial mistake very early on, and that was not releasing their original debut album. Most fans think that This is a Long Drive (1996) was their first record, but it was actually this album right here -- originally recorded in 1994 by Calvin Johnson (founder of K Records and current member of Dub Narcotic Sound System). The first 12 tracks on Sad Sappy Sucker were originally packaged to be the album that was eventually scrapped, but it also features the recordings from the Worms Vs Birds and Blue Cadet 3 vinyls, and nine songs from Issac Brock's Dial-A-Song project (most of which are extremely odd and pointless, ringing in no longer than 35 seconds a piece). The actual Modest Mouse material that made it's way onto the album is all nearly flawless, although some of it does lack the sparks that flew during their later recordings, although "Worms vs. Birds", "Dukes Up", and "From Point A to Point B" come close.

While it's a shame to call Sad Sappy Sucker inessential, it really is. Sure, it's a nice treat for those interested in hearing their early years, but for those who already owned and/or downloaded their earlier materials before they were made available for this disc, it comes off as kind of pointless. Isaac's dial-a-sound recordings are interesting to hear, but they're really nothing special. They sound like things that were eventually made into Modest Mouse songs, or things that were actually part of their songs already. All in all, they should have put them on a bonus disc rather than combine it with the original album's material -- but hey, I really shouldn't be complaining about it. It was a gift that K even released the album onto CD, because a lot of these tracks never made it past the 7" format.

Check this album out if you're a diehard, but this isn't the place to start off if you're just discovering Modest Mouse -- start off with This Is A Long Drive.