Category: Modest Mouse

All Folked Up: Modest Mouse
(covers from Ben Lee, Joshua James, Josh Ritter, Sun Kil Moon & more!)

September 14th, 2010 — 08:56 pm

Choice of coverage says so much about a folksinger’s generational outlook. Okay, every once in a while, someone like Peter Gabriel comes along with a Bon Iver cover, or Richard Shindell takes on Josh Ritter, and the world turns topsy turvy for a week or two. And though she’s not really my cup of tea, Joan Baez has made a point in her middle age of promoting and celebrating the works of others younger than herself, from Ritter to Dave Carter.

But generally, such things are the exception, not the rule. Case in point: though I had to head to the archives just to see if I had heard any of their work, a holy host of younger, cooler artists than I have paid tribute to under-40 indie rockers Modest Mouse in the past six years or so, making it clear that – just as Big Star covers were a nod and a wink to a slightly older set once upon a time – covering the seminal Portland-based alt-band these days serves as an encoded message to a particular set of Generation Y hipsters that yes, we know what you’ve been through, and we’re right there with you, bro.

Of course, their spacey post-progrock songs strip down marvelously; we’d be hard pressed to justify their celebration if they didn’t. Recent feature artist Mark Kozolek, performing as Sun Kil Moon, proves this thesis nicely with Tiny Cities, his 2005 whole-album tribute to the band’s songbook. And Modest Mouse greatest hit Float On, especially, has found a fine resonance in the hands of several artists, including Australian popfolker Ben Lee, a bevy of sweet-voiced YouTube amateurs, and, most recently, raw acoustic folkrockers Heathers, who are offering their own take as a freebie in exchange for an email.

But the band in question remains more than a one-hit wonder, and for good reason: from popfolk to bluegrass to indie, these songs carry the often-dark weight of their particular time and place, making them well worth the coverage. Check ‘em out to see what I mean.

*NOT a cover, but a song with the same name well worth listening to…*

In totally unrelated news, we’re ecstatic to announce that our little house concert series A Tree Falls Productions will be hosting acoustic singer-songwriter Chuck E. Costa over at a friend’s stately manor this weekend as a kick-off for the 2010-2011 season. If you’re within driving distance (Hartford CT; Northampton, Worcester, and Springfield MA), and are up for a Saturday evening of gorgeous songs and stunning songwriting in an intimate setting, let me know asap, okay?

Either way, of course, Chuck’s brand new album Waterproof Matches – his first as one third of newly formed group Mon Monarch – is absolutely incredible, with catchy hooks, soaring vocals, sparse production, and tender lyrics. Though it sports nary a cover, you can and should stream the whole thing at bandcamp here, and then pick it up for the proverbial buck. Trust me.

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