- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2001

After releasing a second consecutive stunning, critically lauded album in 2000, the Pacific Northwest trio Modest Mouse is back with a new EP to tide over its ever-growing cult of followers and a coast-to-coast tour to support it. The band plays the Black Cat tomorrow and Saturday.
Last year's release of "The Moon and Antarctica," the highly anticipated follow-up to 1997's "The Lonesome Crowded West," had many longtime fans worried, as it was the band's first album after signing a major-label deal with Epic Records. They should have known better. This very independent indie band didn't change its style a bit, releasing a cold, dark shiny black marble of an album.
The band is made up of lead singer-guitarist Isaac Brock, bassist Eric Judy and drummer Jeremiah Green, and it blends those three instruments with Mr. Brock's observant lyrics (delivered with appropriately restless vocals) to perfection to form a taut, disturbing yet irresistible sound that is unique and effortlessly brilliant.
The new EP, "Everywhere and His Nasty Parlor Tricks," includes four tracks from a very limited, vinyl-only EP released last year, three new songs and a remix of the song "I Came as a Rat" from "The Moon and Antarctica."
"Everywhere" picks up right where the band left off, even including a couple of outtakes from "Antarctica" that are so good it's hard to imagine they had to be cut from that album. "Willful Suspension of Disbelief" is as haunting and atmospheric as any song on "Antarctica," while the 7?-minute-long "Night on The Sun" starts off in a chillingly subdued manner before giving way to a gorgeous musical interlude that leads to a strong vocal finish.
With the exception of the brooding instrumental "The Air" and the unnecessary remix of "I Came as a Rat," the remainder of the songs are more rootsy and quicker-paced. "You're the Good Things" is a witty backhanded poke at a song in which Mr. Brock sings:
"You're the good things, yeah, that's you/ You're the icing on the cake on the table at my wake./ You're the extra ton of cash on my sinking life raft./ You're the loud sound of fun when I'm trying to sleep./ You're the flowers in my house when my allergies come out."
Mr. Brock is similarly on his game in the thrilling "So Much Beauty," a lovely, simple slice-of-life tune with rapid-fire lyrics that opens with an observation many a work-weary twentysomething can relate to: "Out of breath and out of cash/ You find yourself watching "MASH"/ every night on the couch."
Another brand new song, "Here it Comes" is yet another winner, with a stripped-down sound and matter-of-fact vocals like "Make a point to make no sense … well, here it comes./ Speak about the future in the past tense … here it comes."
For those not familiar with the band, "The Lonesome Crowded West" or "The Moon and Antarctica" is the best place to start. For devoted fans, "Everywhere And His Nasty Parlor Tricks" is an absolute must.

Weezer has returned to the scene this year after a five-year hiatus that included the departure of bassist and back-up vocalist Matt Sharp. The band plays the Patriot Center tomorrow in support of its new album, simply titled "Weezer" and often referred to as the Green Album because of the CD packaging.
The first release by Rivers Cuomo and Co. since 1996's stellar, underrated "Pinkerton," the Green Album is a disappointment, as Mr. Cuomo seems to be playing it rather safe with his songwriting this time around, perhaps in response to the negative reviews and poor sales the band suffered in the wake of "Pinkerton," a mature, hook-happy, power-pop gem that disappointed teenyboppers expecting another album of "Buddy Holly" singalongs. While the Green Album is a pleasant listen, overall the songs seem to lack charisma or flair. It's a forgettable album by a band that can do better.


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