“I was raised up believin I was somehow unique, like a snowflake distinct amongst snowflakes, unique in each way you can see”, this is the kind of thing Robin Pecknold has been musing over whilst we have been quietly getting on with our lives. Below is the first song to be unveiled from their second album of the same title and I feel a backlash a comin’. It’s a perfectly nice song that ups the tempo from 2008s self-titled debut but things have moved on, the Americana folk explosion has kind of fizzled out. Will definitely withold judgement, but feeling a little underwhelmed, helped little by listening to the new Bright Eyes album.
On a more exciting note, new Panda Bear artwork……………..
Some SONGS are all about the riffs…… Holding Out is all about the riffs. Some BANDS are all about the riffs, Yuck remind me of Dinosaur Jr in that respect. This is fuzzy, scuzzy and fucking AWESOME!!!!!!! Debut album out Feb 15th on Fat Possumwhen we will find out if Yuck are really all about the RIFFS!!! Rawwwwkkk!!! YUCK!!!!
Night Dolls With Hairspray is a haid scratcher, the songs change direction entirely without warning just as you might think you have them pinned down. Like an impatient kid with ADD flicking through TV channels, this thing is batshit crazy and impossible to keep pace with. The piss-take falsetto that is becoming a staple of any Olde English Spelling Bee release is present, but instead of layering it over distorted R&B or hazy drones, the musical backdrop is founded on big-haired 80’s metal power-riffs. Obviously it all sounds like it has been recorded from radio to a well used cassette, but underneath the intentionally shakey production the songs are pure bubblegum. Killer Nerd, like the album artwork is a perfect example of all the above:
I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, mainly because I have been trying to work out if I like it or not. I just keep asking myself; “When is a Mogwai song, not a Mogwai song?” There’s no punchline, but what I am getting at is that Mogwai have stuck loosely to a tried and tested formula throughout their 15+ year career and in doing so have established themselves as a go-to band if you want to listen to some long, drawn out instrumental, crescendo-climaxing post-rock. There are loads of bands that operate in similar circles but Mogwai execute it better than most, they are synonomous with the genre and have almost become spiritual godfathers. Understandably the restriction of being pigeon-holed has not sat comfortably with Scots and every now and then they get restless and deviate from the well-trodden path. Hardcore is one of those detours, featuring shorter, far more accessible songs, vocals and even a dash of electro. These songs remind me of those smaller more condensed versions of the broadsheets that are sold at train stations, more compact and manageable versions of their parent publications designed for people on the go. Similarly with Mogwai, If you’re at home on a Sunday morning you might reach for Young Team or The Hawk Is Howling, but if you have a fifteen minute walk to work, Hardcore might serve you better. Like Mr. Beast, Hardcore flirts with traditional song structures and the addition of vocals, this is Mogwai so it’s never as straight forward as it sounds. In ‘Mexican Grand Prix’ the words are whispered before Mogwai decide to go all Can and Kraftwerk on us, and on ‘George Square Thatcher Death Party’ the vocals are heavily manipulated. They certainly haven’t gone all singer-songwriter on us.
It could be argued that vocals are entirely necessary on this album; after all, when the songs are shortened they lose something. With traditional Mogwai, patience is required as the songs gently build to the reward of the crescendo, the journey is half the fun though. When they are shortened, they become more conventional and something is lost, they become relegated from sonic odysseys to mere instrumentals. The vocals serve to plug the gaps, but unfortunately Hardcore is lacking in spare fingers. Vocals are only utilised on few occasions and the results are mixed, where they are left out, the songs just feel half baked. It’s not like there is nothing here for the grumpy Mogwai fan that is afraid of change though, album closer ‘You’re Lionel Richie’ is the only song that significantly breaches the six minute mark and serves as a reminder that they haven’t entirely forgotten how to take their time.
I know how bad it sounds to moan that a band is trying something new but the saying, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ just keeps popping to mind. I’m all for growth, progress and evolution but the bottom line is that when I want to listen to Mogwai, I won’t be reaching for Hardcore.
Shortly after the tragic passing of Broadcasts Trish Keenan, a homemade mix (that was compiled for a friend) found itself online for general consumption. It’s a fantastic and sometimes poignant journey and below are two of my favourite cuts. One is entirely unknown to me, the other is a cover (or the original??) of Rolling Stones B-Side Playing With Fire. The full mix is available here.
It seems that the brilliantly psychadelic opener of the Wild Vibes Ep ‘It’s All Happening’ has been gaining a lot of attention recently, but it’s this slightly more muted and blissfully gentle little track that caught my ear most. The beat is softer, the guitars are gently plucked and the melody is more defined – the vibe, far from wild. Its reminiscent of JJs brand of electronic R&B pop music but comes off way less clinical and amibiguous. The entire Ep is available for download at Deerhaus here. Highly recommended; I have been listening to it most of the day.
It’s looking likely that Future Of The Left are gonna kick our asses again this year. If this demo is anything to go by they won’t be letting their foot off the intensity pedal, if anything they may be cranking it up a notch. The thought of a new album is exciting enough but the real treat will be seeing them live again, there are not many bands I can think of that would relish trading body blows with FOTL. This demo might sound a little rough around the edges but you’ll get the picture.