For better or worse, Pitchfork has a reputation for celebrating obscurity in music. But its new documentary, "The Lonesome Crowded West," illuminates Modest Mouse's breakthrough 1997 album in a way that's honest and accessible.
Part of Pitchfork TV's "Classic" series, the 45-minute documentary was released Monday on the outlet's website, where it can be viewed it in all of its widescreen glory. But it can also be seen here.
The scene is set in the "mall-fucked" suburbs of post-grunge Seattle, where in the mid-'90s, Modest Mouse are one of many bands on the periphery. But interesting stories can come from the fringes, and that's exactly what the documentary captures.
For diehard fans who've wondered about the origins of "Cowboy Dan," the answer lies within, along with other gems, as well.
"We learned the album's story back to front, including the fact that halfway through its recording, [sound engineer Phil Ek] was called in to rerecord three songs from the original sessions," Pitchfork wrote.
And for those new to the band, a slew of curated performances and interviews -- archival and current -- frame the creation of the landmark album in a way that's never belabored, and more often than not, wholly engaging.
Best of all, "The Lonesome Crowded West" is true to its subject -- the music, track by track. Although Modest Mouse has had its share of ups and downs, the documentary wisely avoids "Behind The Music"-style drama, and the resulting product feels as authentic and classic as the album itself.