21 May 2007

Retro Issue 1997

Modest Mouse
The Lonesome Crowded West

The long-woven connection between Jesus Christ and rock 'n' roll appears as varied as it is storied. Through lyrics, myths, praise and persona, Christ's incorporation is unavoidable; as prevalent in the sounds of the secular, as in the hymns of the holy. We bequeath the role of prophet to our musical heroes in response to the boldness and poignancy of their words. Consider Jim Morrison, a mythically large creature, whose own belief in this fact contributed to his downfall. By buying into his own legend, Morrison deflated the mysticism by which he was surrounded.

The counterclaims are equally noteworthy, as the late ‘70s and early ‘80s saw Bob Dylan's rejection of the title, favoring Christian imagery and humbling the critical masses on albums like Slow Train Coming and Saved. For G.G. Allin, Christ was a namesake at the hands of his evangelical father and served as an antithesis to the manner in which he lived. Legend has it that Robert Johnson even sold his soul in spite of the Savior. But it is in Modest Mouse's front-man Isaac Brock that we see a departure from a tradition of mystical figures and martyrdom. Instead, in Brock we find a representation of the Messiah free of pretense, bare-faced and filled with cynicism – a sort of Christ complex for the Generation-X set – one that is burdened, dark and downright fed up. Read the rest...

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