So I just got off the phone with Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, undoubtedly one of my favorite songwriters currently rocking the rock. (He was participating in a new regular feature that we'll be launching soon, the details of which I'm going to keep under wraps for the moment so as not to spoil the fun.)

Anyway, after we wrapped that up, I asked Isaac about the status of new Modest Mouse album; he said it was coming along and he was really happy with it so far, but that he didn't have enough songs written yet. Then he mentioned that Johnny Marr of The Smiths had been flying to Portland from Manchester to write songs with him.

Pregnant pause.

I don't know whether it's because Brock is a funny, dry, sardonically witty guy–something I don't think his lyrics are given nearly enough credit for–or because it seemed like such a strange, almost wonderfully incongruous match, but I totally didn't believe him. I had just mentioned The Smiths a minute before, and I thought he was pulling my leg. Like an asshole, I asked him twice if he was lying, which I hope didn't annoy the guy too much. He assured me that he wasn't . Twice. Politely. (Turns out they hadn't been able to confirm it, but Portland's Willamette Week had reported the rumor.)

Don't get me wrong, Johnny Marr hasn't done anything to crow about in years (The Healers, anyone?), but it feels like big news that one of the most important guitarists of the '80s has hooked up with the most respectable crossover band of the day. I have no reservations about calling Brock a genius (witness "Never Ending Math Equation," "Interstate 8," "Teeth Like God's Shoeshine," "Paper Thin Walls," and a dozen others), and Marr certainly had it in him at one time (hello, all of The Queen Is Dead). Maybe they can help coax more out of each other. Whatever comes of the match should be interesting at the very least; here's hoping it'll turn out far better than that. The world's radio stations could use the ass-kicking.

Here's a link to an interview I did with Brock shortly before the release of Good News For People Who Love Bad News. Enjoy it while we all wait for the new record, due out sometime in 2006. How's that for vague?

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