The influence of Modest Mouse is far-reaching and, as more time passes, it becomes increasingly recognizable - the restlessly chopping guitars, rhythmically adding dissonant nuance to compliment the blown-out drums. Modest Mouse has a way of cherishing the guitar, of using every inch of it, even the parts that others might find ugly or unseemly. In exploring the ugly alongside the beautiful, the band achieved a sort of grandiosity, born out of unencumbered curiosity and a kind of backwoods appreciation of traditionally abandoned scraps.
Bands that take on influences from Modest Mouse tend to sound more lost to me than bands drawing from, say, Vampire Weekend or Death Cab for Cutie. If you are talented and you really want to sound like Vampire Weekend or Death Cab, well, you can. But no one can fully capture that Modest Mouse sound, which makes bands like Sioux Falls - which draws some influence from that infamous shack in Issaquah - sound forever searching, lost in the complexities of the guitar.
In a good way, if you can believe it.
"We grew up in Bozeman, Montana, me and the bass player, Fred Nixon, when we were maybe 15," says Sioux Falls guitarist Isaac Eiger. "I had been writing songs, up until that point. I had been in another band, but that one wasn't that serious. I don't know, it just fell into place."
"About six months ago, we decided that we should move to Portland, and see what happens. So, we got here, found a drummer on Craigslist, and we've been playing as many shows as we can," Eiger continues. "Originally, my favorite band was this band called the Touchers, from Bozeman. When I started writing songs, I was listening to the Touchers, and they're kind of a country-punk band. So, originally, everything had more of a twangy bent to it. Then, I started listening to different music. Got to Modest Mouse, got to the Pixies, and so it became a big emphasis on melody, but with a rawness to it."
Why the move from Bozeman?
"There isn't really an indie rock music scene in Montana," says Eiger. "There are tons of bands in Portland, a lot of them are really good, and there are tons of places to play, which is the main thing, you know? In Bozeman, there are a few venues, but it's a pretty small town. We moved here because there was no opportunity there."
And Sioux Falls has wasted no time getting up and running. After forming at 15 years old, the members are now mostly in the 18-year-old range, and they've just released a demo of songs recorded in a basement. Now Eiger says they're planning a West Coast tour.
What's most striking about Sioux Falls, despite clearly being a band still in the process of finding itself, is they've managed to land in a spot that indicates a sure-footed confidence beyond their years as a band. As Sioux Falls encounters more sounds on this tour down the coast, who's to say what shape the band will ultimately form?
It's the searching that matters.
[Tahoma Tea & Co., Sioux Falls with Sorta Ultra, Battersea, Saturday, March 24, 7 p.m., no cover, 1932 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.572.2477]