New Music


There just aren't enough new bands out there today with great stories behind them. Fortunately, that's not the case with Ugly Casanova, a touring side project spearheaded by Modest Mouse front man Isaac Brock. According to the label's story, Ugly Casanova was born out of a pile of hand-scribbled journals kept by oddball Edgar Graham, who met Brock after breaking through a window at a Denver show three years ago. Somewhere in the chicken-scratch chaos was a byline—Ugly Casanova—and the rest is history, or it would be if any of this actually happened. When pressed, Sub Pop says they're really not sure whether Brock made up the Graham story, but they're pretty certain it, um, kind of happened. But the truth doesn't matter all that much: the mystery adds juicy intrigue to an already complex album. While Brock retains the cynical harshness that will ring familiar to Modest Mouse followers, the beautiful sadness that flows through gentle songs like “Hotcha Girls” and “Cat Faces” unmasks the real man behind that perma-smirk. It's all the more poignant for his focus on the literal: over the marching rhythms of “Parasites,” Brock sings, “The parasites are exited when you're dead/Eyes bulging, entering your head/And all your thoughts, yeah, they run.” With quivering vocal accompaniment by John Orth, singing-saw spookiness and layers of bittersweet acoustical arrangements, it's a perfectly estranged tribute to the mysterious Edgar Graham, even if he's really just Isaac Brock. (Russell Brock—no relation)

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