Getting ready for the new Mogwai album

Even into my forties, there’s still a number of bands for whom the release of a new album remains An. Event. Near the top of that list is Mogwai, who will release their ninth studio album Every Country’s Sun on September 1.

The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. Coolverine
2. Party In The Dark
3. Brain Sweeties
4. Crossing The Road Material
5. aka 47
6. 20 Size
7. 1000 Foot Face
8. Don’t Believe The Fife
9. Battered At A Scramble
10. Old Poisons
11. Every Country’s Sun

So far, two videos have been unveiled by the band for the album ‘Coolverine’ and ‘Party In The Dark.’  Two very different songs, two very different videos – but as ever, unmistakeably Mogwai.

 

The band’s world tour begins next week, and concluded with a massive show in Glasgow in December:

19 August – Hostess Club All-Nighter, Chiba
8 September – Festival No.6, Portmeirion
10 October – Rockefeller, Oslo
11 October – Nobelberget, Stockholm
12 October – KB, Malmo
13 October – Vega, Copenhagen
14 October – Columbiahalle, Berlin
16 October – Docks, Hamburg
17 October – E-Werk, Koeln
18 October – Aeronef, Lille
20 October – AB Main Hall, Brussels
21 October – AB Main Hall, Brussels
22 October – Tivoli Vredenburg Ronda, Utrecht
23 October – Grand Rex, Paris
25 October – Riviera, Madrid
26 October – Reithalle @ Kaserne Basel, Basel
27 October – Fabrique, Milan
28 October – Atlantico, Rome
29 October – Estragon, Bologna
31 October – Roxy, Prague
1 November – Arena, Vienna
2 November – Täubchenthal, Leipzig
3 November – Backstage, Munich
18/19 November – Corona Capital Fest, Mexico
20 November – Observatory N. Park, San Diego
21 November – Belasco Theater, Los Angeles
22 November – Regency Ballroom, San Francisco
23 November – Roseland Theater, Portland
24 November – The Showbox, Seattle
25 November – Commodore Ballroom. Vancouver
28 November – Ogden Theatre, Denver
30 November – The Waiting Room, Omaha
1 December – First Avenue, Minneapolis
2 December – House of Blues, Chicago
3 December – Majestic Theatre, Detroit
5 December – Danforth Music Hall, Toronto
6 December – Corona Theatre, Montreal
7 December – Royale Nightclub, Boston
8 December – Terminal 5, New York
9 December – Theatre of Living Arts, Philadelphia
10 December – 9:30 Club, Washington
15 December – O2 Academy Brixton, London
16 December – The SSE Hydro, Glasgow

 

 

 

Album Review – Mogwai

Mogwai atomic

Mogwai -‘Atomic.’ (Rock Action)

The late, great John Peel used to say about his favourite band The Fall, that they were ‘always different, always the same.’ It’s something that could be said about Mogwai, too. ‘U-235’ was the first track to do the rounds ahead of the release of this album, and the minute the listener presses play, it is unmistakeably them. It may sound a little bit more ‘electronic’ than some of their work, but the soundscape of darkness and beauty, dread and possibility could not be anyone else. Yes there’s other post-rock bands out there, but no-one could do Mogwai like Mogwai do.

It’s not the first time Mogwai have leant themselves for soundtrack work – they have previously soundtracked both the French TV series Les Revenants (The Returned) and Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. In this case, this album is composed of reworked versions of the music recorded by the band for the soundtrack to director Mark Cousin’s documentary Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise. Though I should probably declare that I have yet to see the film – the strength of the work is that it appears to fill the brief, as described in the press release – ‘Constructed entirely of archive film, an impressionistic kaleidoscope of the horrors of our nuclear times – protest marches, Cold War sabre-rattling, Chernobyl and Fukishima – but also the sublime beauty of the atomic world, and how x-rays and MRI scans have improved human lives.’ I mentioned dread and possibility in the last paragraph – that’s exactly what this soundtrack does. Evocative, in a word. Right from the start of album opener ‘Ether’ up to the closing bars of ‘Fat Man.’

As with much of their music, each listen reveals something more of this album. It may not rate as their greatest achievement, but for those who are new to Mogwai, this is a good place to start. For those who have loved the band for decades, it adds a new chapter to what is already an impressive tale. Mogwai probably vie with Belle & Sebastian for greatest band in Scotland at the moment; both acts are now beginning their third decade of music, and neither show any signs of slowing down. For which lovers of great music across the planet should give thanks.

****

Atomic is out now on Rock Action

Forthcoming from Mogwai

Mogwai 2015 01 - credit Steve Gullick

Mogwai picture by Steve Gullick

A mere matter of months since the career-spanning Central Belters compilation, Mogwai have unveiled details of a new album.

Atomic will be released on April 1. The album is composed of reworked versions of the music recorded by the band for the soundtrack to director Mark Cousin’s acclaimed documentary Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise, which was first shown on BBC Four last summer. Constructed entirely of archive film, Atomic is an impressionistic kaleidoscope of the horrors of our nuclear times – protest marches, Cold War sabre-rattling, Chernobyl and Fukishima – but also the sublime beauty of the atomic world, and how x-rays and MRI scans have improved human lives.

Director Cousins says of the film: “I’m a child of the nuclear age, and in my teens I had nightmares about the bomb. But physics was my favourite subject in school, and I nearly studied it at university. Learning about the atomic world excited me. It was like abstract Star Wars.”

Meanwhile Mogwai leader Stuart Braithwaite says ‘The Atomic soundtrack is one of the most intense and fulfilling projects we’ve taken on as a band. Ever since we went to Hiroshima to play and visited the peace park this has been a subject very close to us. The end results, both the film score and the record are pieces I’m extremely proud of.’

It’s not the first time Mogwai have tackled soundtrack work, having been responsible for the scores to both French TV series Les Revenants (The Returned) and Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait.

The tracklisting for Atomic is as follows:

1. Ether
2. SCRAM
3. Bitterness Centrifuge
4. U-235
5. Pripyat
6. Weak Force
7. Little Boy
8. Are You A Dancer?
9. Tzar
10. Fat man

The first track to be heard from the album ‘U-235’ can be streamed below:

Album Review – Mogwai

Mogwai - Central Belters art

Mogwai -‘Central Belters.’ (Rock Action)

According to legend round these parts of Scotland, when one Aidan Moffat told his Gran that his band was called Arab Strap, she responded by saying ‘But you’re from Falkirk! You should call yourselves Central Belt!’ One assumes that she didn’t know what an arab strap was (be careful where you google it, for most people it’s definitely NSFW). Obviously he didn’t take his Gran up on her suggestion, but a couple of decades later, erstwhile labelmates (on Glasgow’s legendary Chemikal Underground label) and collaborators Mogwai have given the title Central Belters to this exhaustive (but most definitely not exhausting) anthology of their first twenty years as a band.

The central belt refers to the middle of Scotland, the bit that includes Glasgow and Edinburgh. Central Belters is a massive 3-CD or 6LP vinyl set that stretches from early singles through albums and EPs up to last year’s Rave Tapes which became the first Mogwai album to reach the top 10 in the UK. Whilst most of Mogwai’s music is instrumental – but not all – the distinctiveness of their sound has ensured over the decades that their fanbase has grown and soundtracks the the experience of living in Scotland incredibly well. Not least the beauty of the place and the bleakness that descends.

Mogwai might seem to have specialised in the very quiet to the BLOODYFUCKINGHELLIJUSTJUMPEDOUTOFMYSKIN with their music (it’s not on here but the track ‘Like Herod’ from their debut Young Team is a prime example of this), but one of the very impressive things about this band is how they have continued to evolve and develop over the years. And whilst Mogwai fans might grumble about tracks they think should have made the cut (no ‘Ex-Cowboy’ or ‘Dial:Revenge’ guys?!), the album has been awesomely sequenced showing the many facets of the band. So there’s a chance to hear favourites again (I never get tired of ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ or ‘Stanley Kubrick’ for example), and also rediscover tracks again (I’d forgotten how good ‘Friend Of the Night’ and ‘Remurdered’ are). And it finishes with their 2001 single ‘My Father My King’ which is a twenty-minute long version of a Jewish prayer that rams the point home about how unusual and damn special they are.

At thirty four tracks and close on four hours, it’s a lot of Mogwai to ingest. Practicalities of the modern age may mean that not many will be able to deal it all in one listen (nothing to do with quality but those interruptions and irritations). It’s maybe Mogwai for connoisseurs rather than a simple ‘Introduction to…’ – though in this day and age of playlists rather CD-Rs or C90s perhaps that’s a moot point. But it is a wonderful collection, and proof of how utterly vital they remain.

*****

Central Belters is released by Rock Action on October 23.

Forthcoming from Mogwai

Mogwai 2015 01 - credit Steve Gullick

Mogwai, photo by Steve Gullick

It’s now twenty years since Mogwai formed, and this October will see the release of a fantastic compilation by the seminal Glasgow post-rock band.

Entitled Central Belters (Central Belt refers top the middle of Scotland, the bit that includes Glasgow and Edinburgh), it’s a massive 3-CD or 6LP vinyl set that stretches from early singles through albums and EPs up to last year’s Rave Tapes.

The artwork and tracklisting can be seen below:

Mogwai - Central Belters art

CD 1
1) Summer
2) Helicon 1
3) CODY
4) Christmas Steps
5) I Know You Are But What Am I?
6) Hunted By A Freak
7) Stanley Kubrick
8) Take Me Somewhere Nice
9) 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong
10) Mogwai Fear Satan

CD 2
1) Auto Rock
2) Travel Is Dangerous
3) Friend Of The Night
4) We’re No Here
5) I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead
6) The Sun Smells Too Loud
7) Batcat
8) Mexican Grand Prix
9) Rano Pano
10) How To Be A Werewolf
11) Wizard Motor
12) Remurdered
13) The Lord Is Out Of Control
14) Teenage Exorcists

CD 3
1) Hugh Dallas
2) Half Time
3) Burn Girl Prom Queen
4) Devil Rides
5) Hassenheide
6) Tell Everybody That I Love Them
7) Earth Division
8) Wizard Motor
9) Hungry Face
10) D to E
11) My Father My King

There’s a new video for ‘Helicon 1’ (originally released as a single in 1997) directed by Craig Murray and shot on location in Okinawa, Kyoto and Osaka in Japan.

Stanley Odd on Scottish Independence

In less than two weeks’ time (September 18) Scotland will hold a referendum on Independence. Trying to get unbiased and balanced views from either side has become difficult in Scotland, and whatever happens on that date, you can bet your bottom dollar that the shouting, posturing and hand-wringing will not be over.

I’ve long championed Edinburgh Hip-hop act Stanley Odd on these pages (and you can read an interview with them here. They have recorded a new song (with an awesome take on the notion of a lyric video) entitled ‘Son I Voted Yes.

Stanley Odd will join an awesome lineup that includes the likes of 17 Seconds favourites including Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai and Frightened Rabbit at ‘A Night For Scotland’ which takes place at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on September 14. Tickets for that event have been selling like hot cakes, but it may be worth trying…

Stanley Odd are touring in November, too:

Sat 15th Nov – Aberdeen, The Lemon Tree
Fri 21st Nov – Edinburgh, Liquid Room
Tue 25th Nov – London, Barfly
Fri 28th Nov – Inverness, Ironworks
Sat 13th Dec – Glasgow, The Garage
Oh, and if anyone asks me why I haven’t featured a ‘no’ event or songs on here – I haven’t been sent any.

Album Review – Mogwai

rave_tapes_2

Mogwai -‘Rave Tapes.’ (Rock Action)

This is Mogwai’s eighth studio album (not including soundtracks, compilations and remixes) and the impressive thing is that nearly twenty years into their career, Mogwai are still continuing to surprise listeners.

This time, there’s far more keyboards than ever before. If the only track you’ve heard so far is the one doing the rounds ‘Remurdered’ you’ll notice that there are keyboards on the track and these are far more prevalent than they have been on much of their back catalogue. In fact, it sounds like they’ve started listening to Kraftwerk and incorporating the Dusseldorf Kling Klang sound within,

In many ways, without going backwards, it’s one of the darkest sounding albums they’ve given us in perhaps a decade. Certainly titles like the aforementioned ‘Remurdered’ and ‘Simon Ferocious’ do hint at that. And yet the album starts off with ‘Heard About You Last Night’ which for the first fifty seconds is far more reminiscent of the likes of Brian Eno or Harold Budd, until the guitars kick in.

It may not be the most immediate or accessible work they’ve produced – but that’s probably no bad thing. What is clear is that Mogwai are continuing to operate at a very high level and have produced another excellent album.

****1/2

Rave Tapes is released on Rock Action on January 20.

Happy New Year!

mogwai101007small1

Hey folks.

Happy New Year and hope you had a good one. I’d not intended to take such a long break from the blog, but I hope you had a good time.

It’s fair to say that 2013 was a pretty great year for music, and there was no shortage of releases for people to get excited about. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that it’s becoming increasingly common for albums to appear with little or no fanfare. Three cases from the year that spring to mind are the surprise announcement of David Bowie’s first album in a decade, The Next Day on his 66th Birthday on January 8. Towards the end of the year, a matter of days after Beyonce’s label chief had told the world that her fifth solo album would be out at some point in 2014, it was released overnight via iTunes. And after a gap that made The Stone Roses and Guns ’n’ Roses seems slight by comparison, My Bloody Valentine suddenly stuck their head up above the parapet and announced that their twenty years in the making m b v would be available in a matter of hours – and it was.

Of course, these were surprises for different reasons, with the big deal with Bowie being that it was assumed he had quietly retired. But as far as we know, this is what to expect in 2014 (NB dates are for the UK).

Even January looks like being not as dead as you might expect. January 6 sees Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks release the sixth Malkmus solo album Wig Out At Jagbags. The same day will also see the release of Plagues of Babylon by Iced Earth, Nina Persson Animal Heart and Patterns Waking Lines. A week later, January 13, the day of the latest Bruce Springsteen album High Hopes, Broken Bells release After The Disco, Gyratory System Utility Music, East India Youth Total Strife Forever,Run The Jewels Run The Jewels and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings Give The People What They Want. January 20 is the day that Mogwai (above) Rave Tapes, Warpaint Warpaint, Rifles None The Wiser, Beth Nielsen Chapman Uncovered, Sophie Ellis-Bextor Wanderlust and Mary Chapin Carpenter Songs From The Movies hits the street. January 27 is a busy day with releases from Cymbals The Age Of Fracture, Dum Dum Girls Too True, Indica Shine, Of Mice and Men Restraining Force, Primal Fear Delivering The Black, Red Dragon Cartel Red Dragon Cartel, David Crosby Croz, Paul Rodgers Royal Sessions, Mike Oldfield Man On The Rocks, and You Me At Six Cavalier Youth.

Watch out for bored journalists somewhere writing about a possible Britpop revival for ooh, at least half an hour (it was twenty years ago after all), when in late January there are re-issues from Ocean Colour Scene (Ocean Colour Scene and Marchin’ Already, released on January 20), Gene (who re-issue their first four studio albums Olympian, Drawn To The Deep End, Revelations, Libertine and the compilation To See The Lights on January 27), Cast (who re-issue All Change, Mother Nature Calls, Magic Hour and Beetroot on January 27 and two of Luke Haines’ 1990s acts The Auteurs and Baader Meinhof (re-issuing New Wave and Baader Meinhof, respectively also on January 27).

February will see Katy B Little Red, Maximo Park Too Much Information, Young Fathers DEAD, Quilt Head In Splendour, Rosanne Cash The River And The Thread, Grand Magus Triumph And Power, Family Rain Under The Volcano, Bombay Bicycle Club So Long, See You Tomorrow, Within Temptation Hydra, Arthur Beatrice Working Out, Seth Lakeman Word Of Mouth and an as yet untitled McFly album (February 3). There will also be releases from Cheatahs Cheatahs, Temples Sun Structures, Neil Finn Dizzy Heights, Cage The Elephant Melophobia (February 10), We Are The In Crowd Weird Kids and Death Vessel Island Intellectuals (February 17), St. Vincent St. Vincent and Milagres Violent Light (February 24).

March meanwhile will give us the release of Rufus Wainwright’s compilation Vibrate on March 3. This will be followed by Metronomy Love Letters, Joan As Policewoman The Classic, Fenster The Pink Caves, Blood Red Shoes’ self-titled fourth album and Elbow’s sixth as yet untitled album (March 10), Lyla Foy Mirrors The Sky, Sabina Toujours, Black Lips Underneath The Rainbow (March 17),Jimi Goodwin Odludek and Johnny Cash’s unreleased album Out Among The Stars (March 24). This month will also see the release of Kaiser Chiefs Education Education Education And War and Band Of Skulls Himalayan (March 31).

In Scotland, Edinburgh has often played second fiddle to Glasgow, but there are new releases expected from Withered Hand, Broken Records, Meursault and The Last Battle. No confirmed release dates as yet, but well worth keeping an eye out for.

There are albums with titles but no firm release date as yet… including Manic Street Preachers Futurology, Kelis Food, Tori Amos Unrepentant Geraldines, Professor Green Growing Up In Public, Azealia Banks’ long awaited debut Broke With Expensive Taste, Blondie Ghosts Of Download, Beck Morning Phase, and Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s duets album Cheek To Cheek. LCD Soundsystem are also expected to release a live album of their final show in New York.

…while there are a number of artists who have been spotted near studios of late, including Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Interpol, Wu-Tang Clan, Brian Wilson, Adele, Damon Albarn (who is said to be working on both a solo album and a new Blur album), The Horrors, Staves, Carl Barat, Health, Charlatans, Howler, Best Coast, Muse, Big Pink, Alabama Shakes, Lily Allen, Bodycount, Black Submarine, Bwani Junction, Dead Weather, Cypress Hill, Snow Patrol, Jay Electronica, Emeli Sande, Sia, Solange, Flying Lotus, Foster The People, Liars, Let’s Wrestle, First Aid Kit, Courtney Love, Mastodon, Maccabees, TV On The Radio, Lana Del Rey, Metallica, Frank Ocean, Nine Black Alps, Modest Mouse, Rita Ora, TLC, Smashing Pumpkins, Wild Beasts and last but by no means least, Kanye West.

And artists who seem to have been working on new albums forever, including U2, La Roux and Klaxons are set to have albums out. Outkast are also set to return in 2014. Me? Well, I’ve already set aside Christmas money for vinyl versions of Mogwai, Warpaint and Stephen Malkmus…

You can also stream the Stephen Malkmus album in its entirety:

Getting ready for 2014

Mogwai 2013

Yup. The year still has two more months yet to run, but already those of us who blog and write for websites are being asked to consider our favourites for this year and who might be our top tips for next year.

In addition to which, some people are getting ready to release new albums, and first up are Mogwai.

Although Mogwai’s last studio album Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will came out in 2011, it doesn’t seem like so long, perhaps because in that time they have given us the remix album A Wrenched Virile Law and the Les Revenants soundtrack, as well as a couple of EPs, so the home fires have been kept burning, so to speak.

Their seventh studio album is entitled Rave Tapes, which will be released on January 20 and the tracklisting is as follows:

1. Heard About You Last night

2. Simon Ferocious

3. Remurdered

4. Hexon Bogon

5. Repelish

6. Master Card

7. Deesh

8. Blues Hour

9. No Medicine For Regret

10. The Lord Is Out Of Control

You can stream ‘Remurdered’ below…

…and if you submit your email, you can download the mp3 for free!

Album Review: Mogwai

mogwai_les_revenants

Mogwai -‘Les Revenants.’ (Rock Action)

There is a school of thought -not one I subscribe to, by the way – that doesn’t quite see band’s albums that are soundtracks being, well, proper albums. In nearly 20 years of making music, this is Mogwai’s second soundtrack -following on from 2006’s Zidane – A 21st Century Portrait -and as with that album, it holds its’ own with the rest of the Mogwai back catalogue. In this case it’s a French TV series.

The definition of post-rock -which Mogwai are lumped in with – could be the subject of an entire PhD rather than a review of a few hundred words, and I won’t go into it now. But I’ve always felt that a lot of music released under that heading often feels like classical music (and no, not because it’s often instrumental), and this album encapsulates that a great deal.

And there’s still surprises from Mogwai. They’ve taken minimalism to great lengths (‘Mogwai Fear Satan’), nodded to dance music (‘The Sun Smells Too Loud’), covered Black Sabbath (‘Sweet Leaf’) and demonstrated that they can make an entire audience jump out of their skins (‘Like Herod’). This time, there are, in fact, no loud mental bits at all. And yet the end result doesn’t feel that Mogwai have ‘sold out’ or compromised. I know next to nothing about the TV series, but these fourteen tracks are one very impressive whole, from the opening ‘Hungry Face’ to the closing ‘Wizard Motor’ which opened the Les Revenants EP which preceeded this release.

Finally, the penultimate track ‘What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?’ features that rarest of things on a Mogwai record: singing. It’s a cover of a song originally written by Charles Albert Tindley (who is also credited by some with being the man who originated the basis of the US Civil Rights Anthem ‘We Shall Overcome’) and as the sleevenotes is inspired by the version performed by Washington Philips. Mogwai geeks will realise that this is not the first time that the band have performed a song based on a religious motif – see the 2001 single ‘My Father, My King’ which is an old Jewish hymn – but this time the end result is a faithful reading, and yet somehow still Mogwai’s own. I’m not planning on checking out any time soon, but right now, I’m planning on having this at my funeral…

****1/2

Les Revenants is released on Rock Action on February 25.