Monday, September 15th, 2008

Scotland's Shame

Photo via MySpace

When I wrote up Mogwai’s show at the Phoenix back in June, the main thesis of the piece was that Mogwai will always sound like Mogwai and that’s alright. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to formula if said formula is still potent, which based on that show it most obviously was.

And then just a day later, they released the first MP3 from their forthcoming album The Hawk Is Howling, out next Tuesday. Built around a steady synthesized bass throb and with a distinctly electronic sheen, “The Sun Smells Too Loud” was melodic, thoughtful, and melancholic whilst decidedly upbeat – no mean feat for an instrumental song. And besides being the most immediately ear-catching thing I’d heard from the band since their previous high-water mark, “2 Rights Make 1 Wrong”, it sounded rather unlike anything Mogwai had done before and thus disproved my theory from just 24 hours previous. Thanks a lot, guys.

So it’s with equal bits relief and disappointment that I can report that the rest of the album sticks largely to boilerplate Mogwai circa their last few records. Slow, sweeping and sinister with occasional forays into all-out guitar-mageddon and with some of the more synthesized touches from “Sun” manifesting themselves elsewhere, but subtly so. Conceptually the same, but it’s noteworthy that only two of the album’s ten tracks clock in at less than five minutes and that pair only barely so. This is in contrast to the last couple records in which the extended forays were the exception, not the rule, and the remainder were pop-length songs that were hardly pop. The decision to allow themselves to stretch out is beneficial as ideas and atmospheres are allowed to develop at their own pace, whereas previously they might have been prematurely truncated. It’s something that might escape notice at first, but it’s significant. Yes, Mogwai are still Mogwai but they’re getting better at being Mogwai every time out.

As the band prepares to kick off their North American tour, they’re doing press with the likes of Caliente, Tuscon Weekly, LA Weekly and Seattle Weekly. The Guardian also has a piece from Alan McGee about the band. They’re in town next Wednesday night, September 24, for another gig at the Phoenix alongside Fuck Buttons and courtesy of Against The Grain and Beggars Canada, I have contesting. Not “contesting” as in, “I contest the suggestion that hawks howl” or “I contest the attempt to pass off a bald eagle as a hawk”, but “contesting” as in “I’ve got stuff to give away”. And said stuff is as follows: five pairs of passes to the show at the Phoenix, four copies of The Hawk Is Howling on CD and two copies of the Batcat EP on 12″ vinyl. And to maximize the goodness, I’ll dole them all out separately. If you want to win the passes, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Mogwai” in the subject line and your full name in the body. If you want the CD, put “I want The Hawk Is Howling” in the subject line and your mailing address in the body. And if you want the vinyl, put “I want the Batcat” in the subject line and your mailing address in the body. And if it wasn’t clear from the sponsors of said giveaway, it’s open to residents of Canada only. Contest closes at midnight, September 21 – next Sunday night.

And don’t forget that live Mogwai recordings are available en masse at Archive.Org.

MP3: Mogwai – “The Sun Smells Too Loud”
Video: Mogwai – “Batcat”
MySpace: Mogwai

Sigur Ros tells The Times they’re not really all that highbrow. They play Massey Hall next Monday night, September 22.

The Quietus talks to Manic Street Preachers James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire about their early days on Heavenly Records.

Scotland On Sunday and Times & Transcript interview Bloc Party.

The Raveonettes are releasing three free digital-only EPs this Fall, starting with Raveonettes REMIXED, now available, Sometimes They Drop By next Tuesday and two more coming in October and November. Get the at Vice Records.

So just how many tribute albums to The Cure does the world need? At least two, apparently. In the next few months there will be two covers compilations for everyone’s favourite goth-poppers, one entitled Just Like Heaven from American Laundromat Records and Perfect As Cats from Manimal Vinyl. Wired has an interview with the folks responsible for the former,set for a January 27 release and featuring arguably the more impressive list of participants, and The Tripwire has info on the latter collection, set for release on October 28, and a download of one of the tracks from Bat For Lashes.

MP3: Bat For Lashes – “A Forest”

Billboard reports that Bob Mould is working on his autobiography along with author Michael Azerrad and is looking at releasing the story of Husker Du and Sugar from his POV in December of 2010. He’ll also have a new solo record out in March of next year.

Paste gets Matt Berninger of The National to explain some of the lyrics from Boxer.

Support for Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ now sold-out show at the Kool Haus has been announced – Vancouver’s Black Mountain will be warming things up. Now don’t you wish you bought tickets so many months ago when I told you to? Black Mountain are also playing their own show at the Opera House a few nights earlier on September 27.

The Guardian profiles a few of the UK independent record labels who, contrary to the general doom and gloom usually associated with the music industry, are doing quite well.

Oh, and to all you RSS people, you may have noticed I changed my feed to a Feedburner one. Appreciate your re-pointing your readers to the new one, apologies for any inconvenience.

By : Frank Yang at 8:32 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Frank Yang says:

    testing comments