by Scott Thill

Are you ready to kick your summer into gear? This intrigue-filled world is about to get much hotter -- especially if you happen to be a guy named Donald Rumsfeld. Hey, don't kill the messenger.

Which is just another way of saying that these next few months are all about rolling down the windows and cranking up the noise!

Pixies, Bossanova

After releasing three straight epoch-making indie rock albums, Black Francis and company had fully captured the attention and imagination of music lovers everywhere -- except America, which still had a hard time assimilating their brilliance into its stagnant airwaves. Perhaps the Pixies had that on their minds when they put together the underrated Bossanova, their most accessible work. There's no doubt that some of the album is easier on the ears than Surfer Rosa or Come On Pilgrim; to be sure, angular surf ditties like "Ana," "Havalina" and "Is She Weird" are low-key classics.

But those who have called Bossanova soft -- by Pixies standards, at least -- weren't paying serious attention. The album kicks off with four consecutive noise orgies, including one of their loudest, roughest punk songs ever, called (ironically enough) "Rock Music." Even "Allison," a song about jazz icon Mose Allison, is a raucous barnburner that clocks in under a minute and 20 seconds. Accessible? Maybe. Soft? Keep dreaming.

Modest Mouse, Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Speaking of the Pixies, one the of the bands that lurched into the void left behind by the band in 1993 was Modest Mouse, formed by Isaac Brock and his Issaquah, WA buddies Jeremiah Green and Eric Judy. A few permutations and several years later, Brock -- who shares an affinity for cryptic lyrics, cavernous bellows and disjointed musical composition with Black Francis -- and company were treated to a bidding war and what amounts to indie rock stardom, culminating in this year's well-received release.

Brock's chops are on full display on Good News, and they are formidable. Departing from the measured -- and sometimes too crafty -- The Moon and Antarctica, Modest's latest album returns to the rock sound for more poetic rantings on life, death and all things in between. "Bukwoski" and "Devil's Workday" are potent stomps that'll make the moshers happy, while those who prefer Brock's dreamy soundscapes will feast on "One Chance" and "World at Large." Modest Mouse seems to be maturing at a steady rate, but still seem interested in phreaking the paradigm whenever they can. In other words, this is the perfect summer album. Dig in.

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© Melt Magazine 2004