Ugly Casanove is otherwise known as the solo project/alter-ego of Isaak Brock, mastermind of the widely acclaimed Modest Mouse.
It's hard to say what distinguishes this from a de facto Modest Mouse release, other than the fact that the only carryover member is singer-songwriter Isaac Brock. But this is hardly a problem, considering the flannel-clad Northwestern trio is one of the most engaging and inventive avant-garde rock bands America has to offer, right up there with the Flaming Lips and Built to Spill. Sharpen Your Teeth
doesn't miss a step, throwing up a familiar mix of lovesick vocals, funeral march rhythms, and terminally discordant song arrangements. "Diamonds on the Face of Evil" floats on a haunting bed of clarinets and rattling chains, while "Things I Don't Remember" charts the unlikely meeting point between psychedelic period Rolling Stones and early Tom Waits. Side projects historically serve as a venue for self-indulgence for disgruntled band members, but for Brock--working with former Red Red Meat members Tim Rutili and Brian Deck, the Black Heart Procession's Pall Jenkins, and friend John Orth--it appears Ugly Casanova is merely a way to keep a foot in the indie world, since Modest Mouse signed with Epic two years ago. As luck (and contractual obligations) would have it, the group's debut album is also its last, so the confusion is only fleeting. --Aidin Vaziri