Erik Gonzalez 100, #100 ‘The Lonesome Crowded West’ by Modest Mouse

So, here is the first in the Erik Gonzalez 100, list of my 100 favorite albums of all time. Remember, this isn’t supposed to be a “best” or “important” or “influential” albums list, just the albums that I have liked the most over my 31 odd years. If you want a refresher on how I scored the albums, see my introduction to the EG 100. Specifically, the equation for each album looks like this:

((4*GS)-((BS)+(0.25*FS)))^3+R^2+2*T+0.5*A+0.75*O

Where, GS = good song proportion, BS = bad song proportion, FS = filler song proportion, R = repeat listening ability, T = timelessness, A = album art, O = place in the artist’s oeuvre.

The score is weighted heavily towards the quality of the songs and the ability to hear said songs over and over, thus being a “favorite”. An album with a perfect score on all accounts would score a 196.5. To give you an idea of the range, the #1 album scored a 162.1 out of 196.5, while #100 scored 77.06.

And here we go!

Special Note 7/29/08: Due to the fact that I’ve discovered it will take me a long time to write ten of these summaries before posting, we’re trying a new strategy of posting them one at a time. Enjoy!

#100. Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West (1997)

I distinctly have this memory of not having any idea what to make of Modest Mouse when I first heard the band when I was in college. Sure, lots of the “people who mattered” were talking about the band in hushed voiced, trying to guard the band for themselves, but whenever I tried to sit down and listen to The Lonesome Crowded West, I was struck with the, well, cacophonous and amateur sounding nature of the whole endeavor. Not really sure what to do with this information, I decided just to ignore Modest Mouse until it went away. Needless to say, this tactic didn’t work too well, and no sooner than had I purchased the 3 CD Matador retrospective Everything is Nice did I finally heard “Heart Cooks Brain” with fresh ears – well, in that I had no idea it was Modest Mouse. And times being what they were, I was very surprising to discover this was the “Modest Mouse” I kept on thinking was a bunch of rabid monkeys banging on instruments (in a sense, they are). I finally, at that point years after its release, break down and buy The Lonesome Crowded West and each listen makes me like it more and more. Admittedly, it is not an easy album to listen to as music goes. Isaac is fairly aggressive and angular at times, both lyrically and musically, but at other points the band puts together some fabulous, dare I say, pop songs (all the hipsters gasp). It was pretty much after The Lonesome Crowded West came out that Modest Mouse began its rapid rise to the top of the pop charts and even added a Smith along the way, but if you really want to start at the right place in their career, this album is where to do it.

Excellent tracks: “Heart Cooks Brain”, “Out of Gas”, “Trailer Trash”, “Jesus Christ was an Only Child”, “Cowboy Dan”, “Truckers Atlas”

EG100 Score: 77.06

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