"Sharpen Your Teeth" is the product of Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, Tim Rutili of Califone, Pall Jenkins of the Black Heart Procession, John Orth of Holopaw and Brian Deck of Red Red Meat. The official line still is that the songs were written by an enigmatic man with a muddy past named Edgar Graham who long ago disappeared into the transient fog. Official lines, like pumpkin seeds, should be eaten with a little salt. The songs were most likely group efforts composed in August/September 2001 at Brock's Oregon home.
Ugly Casanova departed from the astral soaring of Modest Mouse's "The Moon & Antarctica" for more pastoral, stripped-down locales of banjos and found object percussion. It's a sound that could harken back to Brock's childhood of rusted-out homes and corroded family relationships. "Sharpen Your Teeth" captures the beauty in watching everything fall apart.
Songs like "Smoke Like Ribbons" can underscore any cruise through the colored countryside. Watching the fall patchwork of trees comes with the acceptance that the trees will soon appear as dead.
Autumn reflects the boon of summer in the cold glare of the oncoming winter. The blue of summer gives way to the the grey which soon falls into the blackness of winter. "Sharpen your teeth or lay flat," Brock warns. Take heed, or soon the winter will be biting through to say more than hello.
Songs like "Cat Faces" hang and glow like leaves in the sun and then flutter to the ground. Maybe it'll be picked up by the wind and listened to again; maybe it will float to the bottom of a black lake. As Edgar Allan Green Toe said, "There's nothing more beautiful than watching a tree die."
Discover more great autumn albums in our "Falling in Love With Music" series.