Modest Mouse: Over the past quarter century, Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock has served as indie rock’s resident backwoods philosopher, pondering his infinitesimal place in the world at large and seeking balance in a universe governed by polar opposites. On Modest Mouse’s earliest records, he was surveying the changes in the world’s physical landscape from the windows of the tour van, lamenting the displacement of natural beauty with big-box blights. The Golden Casket, the band’s seventh-studio album, is exploring the degradation of America’s psychic landscape through the glass of the smartphone screen. Throughout the record, you’ll pick up on all sorts of references to cellular devices, hashtags, computers, texting, and online dating culture. But this is no typical Luddite’s manifesto decrying iPhone addiction, disinformation overload, or how social media is destroying political discourse. The album is, however, very interested in the invisible technology that’s allowed all of that to happen: the cellular signals, radio frequencies, and WiFi waves that are likely beaming through your body as you read this. “Everything is giving off a frequency,” Isaac observes. “Everything is vibrating whether you know it or not. We’re swimming in some crazy shit right now—it isn’t visible, but it’s real. I think everyone’s minds are getting a little scrambled right now. And I feel it every fucking day.”
That sensation finds its most vivid, visceral manifestation on The Golden Casket’s stunning centerpiece track, “Transmitting Receiving,” where Isaac rifles through a never-ending list of consumer products, animals, and geographic phenomena like an auctioneer being broadcast through a detuned radio, before a competing vocal track cuts through with a beaming chorus line—”nothing in this world’s going to petrify me”—that finds the serenity in cacophony. Many of these songs can likewise be seen as attempts to coax peace from paranoia. You can hear it in the moment the apocalyptic blues of “Wooden Soldiers” dissolves into a blissfully existential coda mantra (”just being here now is enough for me”) that was inspired by the ceremonial burning of hallucogenic African tree bark, or in the off-kilter yet heart-swelling lullaby “Lace Your Shoes,” a.k.a. Isaac’s inaugural entry into the dad-core canon. “When we started putting this record together, I didn’t know how to really sing about anything except my kids,” he admits. “And so I was like, ‘I should just write a fucking song about the thing that is most important to me.’ It’s a weird thing to do, because cheap sentimentality isn’t really something I’m overly comfortable with, you know?” However, in his hands, “Lace Your Shoes” is no mere lovey-dovey ode to his little ones, but a protective embrace from the cruel world they’ll inevitably inherit.
Even at its most urgent and aggressive, The Golden Casket is always looking for the light, as Isaac couches the spiteful sentiments for the playful “Never Fuck a Spider on the Fly” while steering the seething post-punk propulsion of “Japanese Tree” into a blissfully escapist chorus. “That song was written over the course of a long time,” Isaac says, “so whoever I’m lashing out at in that song has been multiple different organizations, people, and situations. That’s the way a lot of the songs are: one way, it’s like this; and then you change the perspective, it’s still the same song, but with a different winner.” (Sometimes, however, a song about your friend freaking out on acid is really just a song about your friend freaking out on acid, as the antsy album opener “Fuck Your Acid Trip” attests.)
Whether Isaac is singing about electromagnetic waves, taking his kids for a walk, or tripping balls in the forest, The Golden Casket is ultimately a plea for harmony—between nature and technology, between progress and self-preservation, between hope and healthy skepticism—in a world that has seemingly lost all sense of it. But as much as it laments our modern way of living, it keeps the tinfoil stowed away in the kitchen cabinet to highlight the silver linings of our situation. On the album’s conjoined anthems—the driving single “We Are Between” and its divine sequel ”We’re Lucky”—Isaac reaffirms his humble standing on this here 3rd planet, floating somewhere between the seas and the stars, always trying to outrun his anxieties, but eternally grateful for the gift of existence itself. “We’re very lucky to get to be here, on any trip,” he says. “Whatever this is and whatever we all are, it’s kind of beautiful that we get to do it.
Pixies: Pixies have been acclaimed as the most influential, pioneering band of the late 80s alt/rock movement, having served as a major influence for artists like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, the Strokes, Weezer, and many more. And today, a whole new generation of music fans has been discovering and embracing the band’s “loudquietloud” signature sound. Quirky, catchy melodies have always been Pixies’ calling card; seven genre-defining studio albums, including the Gold-certified Surfer Rosa, and the iconic Platinum Doolittle, considered one of the all-time, quintessential alt/rock albums. Sell-out crowds all over the globe, Pixies’ live shows are unadulterated magic, simultaneously electrifying and lo-fi. Seventy-five minutes of the band playing anything they want, in whatever order they want, the classics and the new gems. And no two Pixies shows are ever the same.
After disbanding in 1993, Pixies launched their reunion tour in April 2004, playing to sell-out crowds across the globe for 15 years, a far longer period of time than they were a band originally. But writing, recording and releasing new music was something that the band had been wanting to do for a long time, so they secretly booked studio time in Wales for the fall of 2012. Six days into the recording, founding bassist Kim Deal decided to leave the band; Black Francis, Joey Santiago and David Lovering made the decision to carry on, finishing and releasing the band’s first studio album in more than two decades, 2014’s Indie Cindy.
As a prolific international touring band, Francis, Santiago & Lovering began working with a number of touring bassists, including former A Perfect Circle bassist, Paz Lenchantin who came out on the road with the band in 2014 and continues to this day. In 2016 the band welcomed Lenchantin as an official Pixie. The four piece are renowned for their emphatic live performances – where they play all four corners of the globe – their live sets regularly rack up to 30+ songs played – made even more impressive by the fact that there are no pre-planned setlists or soundchecks before the band walk onto the stage to play.
2016’s Head Carrier followed (which was Lenchantin’s recording debut with the band) and also marked the beginning of the band’s long-standing collaboration with British producer Tom Dalgety. 2018’s Beneath the Eyrie, the next full length recording project with Dalgety – was recorded at Dreamland Studios near Woodstock, NY. The recording session was documented by the innovative It’s a Pixies Podcast that captured a true un-edited record of the recording process. A deluxe edition followed featuring unreleased demos from the Dreamland session.
The band released stand alone single ‘Human Crime’ in the Spring of 2022 – the band immediately sold out shows in North America and headlined BBC Radio 6 Music Festival in Cardiff and Mexico City’s Vive Latino festival to 70,000 people to kick off the year.
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