Posts Tagged With: Mogwai

Minor Victories – Minor Victories

Comprising Rachel Goswell of Slowdive, Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, and brothers Justin and James Lockey, supergroup Minor Victories present their debut self-titled album. The new album comprises many elements from each respective members original groups, offering an incredible shoegaze album experience scattered with remnants of post-rock and indie-rock. At the forefront of the album is Rachel Goswell’s gorgeous vocals, saturated beneath layers of intense guitar and bass that build up phenomenally. Everything equates to an impressive album experience, marred perhaps by the inclusion of particular tracks, but overall serving as a wonderful introduction to this newly founded super-group.

On Minor Victories, we’re presented an powerful album experience, where each respected member utilizes their own skill, bringing a sharp edge to the arguably bloated shoegaze genre. All the basic elements of shoegaze are present on the record, from airy vocals to huge walls of noise that push everything along at an incredible pace. In spite of this, everything feels incredibly fresh and new, with the band drawing many ideas out of the genre and presenting it all in one very well structured and cohesive package. There’s a powerful energy on the album that immediately enters the foreground and refuses to let go, even as it shifts and morphs through different musical passages.

Minor Victories have done a great job at adding a level of diversity to their music, whilst also making it all feel part of some larger story. This ranges from shifting from dynamic tracks to gentler tracks, helping with the flow of the album and preventing it from sounding a little too stagnant. This mostly seems to work until we arrive at ‘For You Always’, featuring Mark Kozelek. Whilst the track itself contains many merits, it seems to disrupt the very strong flow of the album itself, perhaps due to Kozelek’s vocal delivery, which although works well on his own records, feels a little off this time round, as though it is struggling to fit into the dynamic of the album.

Though there’s a few weak moments here and there on Minor Victories, the sheer strengths of the album’s highlights help to elevate this album as one of the strongest releases of this year. Fans of each artist and their respective bands will no doubt find a lot to be enjoyed on this record, which really showcases some of the best elements of each member’s respective talents. With a wonderful range of intensely dynamics tracks to achingly beautiful ones, Minor Victories showcase a great creative streak that has resulted in a wonderful album experience. One only hopes that there’ll be more to come in the future.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Give Up  The Ghost
  • Scattered Ashes (Song For Richard)
  • Folk Arp
  • Higher Hopes

Minor Victories’ debut album ‘Minor Victories’ is out now.

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Atomic – Mogwai

Following the announcement that guitarist John Cummings would be leaving the band, the future of Mogwai’s music seemed a little uncertain, mostly in part to the phenomenal input of Cummings himself, who helped shaped so much of Mogwai’s music. However, any fear can easily be laid to rest, as the release of ‘Atomic’, a soundtrack by Mogwai, shows incredible promise from the Scottish post-rock band. The soundtrack, conceived for film-maker Mark Cousin’s documentary Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise, works well in context of the source material, but remarkably so, works incredibly well as simply another Mogwai album, and one that really stands out in their already eclectic discography.

Many of Mogwai’s releases seem to introduce new elements here and there, showcasing the band as one willing to expand their own capabilities. ‘Atomic’ is no different in that respect, with the album featuring some of the band’s most interesting work to date. Everything perfectly encapsulates the themes of atomic war, with some tracks capturing the essence of nature’s beauty, and others the sheer terror and panic of nuclear war. Though at times, a somewhat challenging listen, there’s many moments that stand out brilliantly, sounding just about as strong as any particular fan favourite.

Certain tracks on ‘Atomic’ may be raise an eyebrow or two on some Mogwai fans, notably on tracks where the standard notions of post-rock seem to have been thrown out of the window. It’s perhaps here though we see the real strengths of Mogwai as a band, who refuse to let the standard notions of the post-rock genre restrict them from interpreting the source material in their own way. The result is an album that perhaps pushes the boundaries of post-rock just that little bit further, showing us that there is more that can be done with the genre if one is only willing.

It’s one to make a soundtrack that perfectly fits the film it’s supporting, but it’s something else entirely when that soundtrack also works well as its own stand-alone release. There’s a phenomenal power and energy to ‘Atomic’, which shows Mogwai still hitting those amazing strides that only they can do. Whilst the absence of John Cummings is somewhat disappointing, it seems that the rest of the band-members have all pushed themselves even further, showing they’re still capable of making some of the most incredible instrumental rock music in this day and age.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Ether
  • Are You A Dancer?
  • Tzar

Mogwai’s latest album ‘Atomic’ is out now.

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The CD Critic’s Top 5 Albums of 2014

5: Unravelling – We Were Promised Jetpacks

Scottish rockers We Were Promised Jetpacks have been making incredible progress since the release of their debut album effort of ‘These Four Walls’, showcasing a great rock style fused together with a few somewhat experimental notions that give a little bit more edge to the music. The bands’ third studio album ‘Unravelling’ sees the band really pushing forward their own capabilities and strengths, producing what is arguably one of their most cohesive and impressive album efforts thus far. There’s incredible range and scope from the band, who manage to showcase tracks much more delicately crafted than some of their previous efforts suggested, without losing the great levels of energy that made the first few records so great to listen to. It seems the band are slowly becoming much more mature than what their debut effort suggested, though the level of quality being demonstrated by the band on ‘Unravelling’ hardly suggests this as a band thing, but if anything elevates them to the same level as other Scottish rock bands like Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad.

4: More Than Any Other Day – Ought

Canada’s youthful rocker’s Ought’s debut album of ‘More Than Any Other Day’ is to simply put it, a stunning debut album effort. Incredible confidence and natural charisma exudes from each song, demanding attention and retaining it through interesting musical motifs, vocal styles and lyrics. There’s arguably an amateurish element running throughout this debut effort, though this adds much to the album’s experience, and much to how easily enjoyable the whole effort is. There’s clear evidence of a great band, hidden underneath layers of slightly odd yet incredibly satisfying musical layers. ‘More Than Any Other Day’ offers up an incredible amount by a band who are ready to showcase everything they have to offer. It’s easy to see what works here, with the main appealing elements being the incredibly charged energy from the band, which at times descends into musical madness with clear methodical methods being it all. Ought are clearly a band who are destined for great things, and one can only hope they achieve the levels of greatness that their music so clearly suggests.

3: Rave Tapes – Mogwai

‘Rave Tapes’ saw Mogwai pushing out what they simply do best, music of exceptional quality. On their latest album the band opted to push forward a few more experimental ideas, playfully hinted at on some previous efforts. The result is one of Mogwai’s more interesting and perhaps more experimental album experiences. There’s a fair amount happening on the album, and whilst there’s a lot that’s different, there’s also a lot that remains in the music that makes it all feel a little bit familiar and somewhat comforting. Electronic instruments dominate many of the tracks, adding to the experimental nature of how the band are approaching their own methods of composition. At times it’s exciting, at times it’s unsettling. Many of the tracks showcase a range of ideas and themes, showing Mogwai’s incredible range of expressing emotion through music. ‘Rave Tapes’ is perhaps arguably not one of the bands’ most strongest releases out of their whole discography, but this is perhaps due to the standard the band has maintained for many years, as ‘Rave Tapes’ is a very enjoyable record from them nonetheless.

2: Last Ex – Last Ex

Simon Trottier and Olivier Fairfield (of Timber Timbre) joined forces for the release of their side-project Last Ex, a set of recordings born from the abandonment of a film soundtrack the band members were composing. With some extra tinkering here and there, Trottier and Fairfield managed to push forward one of the most interesting released of this year, a post-rock album experience that echoes the early days of Do Make Say Think and Tortoise. There’s a lot happening, a lot of emotion and energy and a lot of scope being offered by the band who push forward idea after idea. For the most part, the album itself is rather unsettling, featuring musical motifs that could easily send chills down the spines of listeners. There’s much more at play here rather than the album being the recycled material of the band members, but instead an album experience that has been clearly envisioned, without coming across as so. It’s incredibly creative and enjoyable to those who enjoy the more classical (or what could be deemed as classical) side of post-rock music. It’s effects are rather subtle, but there’s a lot of evidence of greatness being demonstrated.

1: Syro – Aphex Twin

Richard D James’ albums have always had a highly experimental and slightly inaccessible element to them, though there’s always been clear evidence of extraordinary talent. Following up some incredibly impressive albums after many years on hiatus is no easy feat, though Richard D James’ latest album effort under the Aphex Twin moniker ‘Syro’ does exactly that, coming across as one of the musician’s most enjoyable album efforts to date. There’s a wonderful mixture of new methods and ideas, many of which have been combined with some of James’ old and more classic methods of composition. ‘Syro’ can at times bombard and confound, though there’s an incredible amount being offered up, which certainly makes up for the many long years of inactivity. ‘Syro’ comes across as its own entity deserving of its own attention and praise, with the wonderful grooves and motifs of the music coming through in fantastic style. Definitely a pleasing record with many memorable and outstanding tracks that hopefully signal the beginning of much, much more to come.

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Rave Tapes – Mogwai

The beginning of 2014 brings with it the latest upcoming album by Scottish post-rock band Mogwai. The bands eighth studio album titled ‘Rave Tapes’ sees the band progressing once again in terms of their sound, offering up a new and interesting album experience, different from the rest of the bands already enjoyable and exciting discography. ‘Rave Tapes’ sees Mogwai entering a (somewhat) more subtle area of their music, delicately crafting each track with precision and key. The whole effort comes across as one of Mogwai’s more interesting albums in their current discography, and although it might do away with some of the more trashy elements of post-rock, it brings with it a much more creative and versatile style of music.

There’s a lot happening on ‘Rave Tapes’ that makes it a very interesting album, and one of Mogwai’s more enjoyable efforts. Everything seems to be much more subtle and quiet, with specific instruments coming in and out at key moments to help bring out the best of the individual songs themselves. There’s a nice versatile range on the album as well, with a good number of instruments being incorporated and utilized for the betterment of the songs. Many ideas present on the album seem to just work, whether it’s Mogwai relishing in quieter and gentle moments of instrumentation, or whether they go full force with everything. It’s a very diverse and enjoyable album that arguably surpasses some of Mogwai’s previous album efforts.

‘Rave Tapes’ is certainly an enjoyable album, though it seems to be an album that could very easily polarize fans of Mogwai. The album itself, whilst being enjoyable, does take a long while to build up and get going, and even when it does, it might not be to the liking of the listener. Unless one enjoys more slower brooding moments of Mogwai’s music, they’ll find very little to enjoy on ‘Rave Tapes’. It should be said that ‘Rave Tapes’ is by no means a slow album that progresses like a glacier. It’s simply an album that on most of the songs, it takes more time to build up to its bigger moments of grandeur.

It might polarize fans of Mogwai, and perhaps fans of the post-rock genre, but ‘Rave Tapes’ is a wonderful example of a band progressing in the right way, utilizing their already existing talents, and turning them into new creative ideas that are interesting and exciting. ‘Rave Tapes’ offers us a new chapter in Mogwai’s music, showing us that they are capable of even more than what they’ve already achieved. ‘Rave Tapes’ is perhaps one of Mogwai’s more brooding album efforts, though it is every bit as interesting as some of their best and most revered albums. At the very least it’ll be incredibly interesting to see where Mogwai go from here.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Heard About You Last Night
  • Remurdered
  • Blues Hour
  • The Lord Is Out Of Control

Mogwai’s eighth studio album ‘Rave Tapes’ is set for release on 20th January 2014.

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Les Revenants – Mogwai

An original soundtrack for the French TV series of the same name, ‘Les Revenants’ is the latest offering from Scottish post-rock band Mogwai. This album’s releases follows on from their previous studio album ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’, and it’s two companion releases, ‘Earth Division EP’, and the remix album ‘A Wretched Virile Lore’. It seems that in the past few years, Mogwai have been more than busy. The last few releases by Mogwai have certainly been interesting, in that they’ve managed to show another side to the band. This soundtrack album ‘Les Revenants’ also fits into this category, as it is an interesting album of music.

It is interesting reviewing a soundtrack album, as it has to be considered that the music on the album has been written for a television broadcast, and it is meant to be accompanying images and dialogue (depending on the show of course). But at the same time, the album is still an album of music that has been released by the band just like any other album, and therefore it should be considered in the same way their other albums would be considered. It just so happens though that the music on ‘Les Revenants’ can be enjoyed as easily as any other album by the band. It could be said that Mogwai have the huge advantage of being a post-rock band, as it means that with all their albums being instrumental, that ‘Les Revenants’ is just another post-rock album. However, unlike other Mogwai albums, there isn’t such a dynamic switch in tone in the album. Much of the music is relaxed and down-tempo, with it rarely exploding into huge crescendos of loud heavy guitar, as Mogwai have so often done in the past. The music follows a very gentle flow, with a lot of emotion coming out of the music. There’s a tense feeling when listening to the music, as well as times of just beauty and relaxation. It is a sure sign of how there is a lot of talent within Mogwai, and how they easily deserve the title as one of the world’s best post-rock bands.

When listening to it as just an album, and not as a soundtrack, it becomes quite an enjoyable experience to listen too. The music’s generally calm tones seem to wash around the listener, pulling into the emotion that the music wants to establish. It feels to me, that a lot of the music on this albums in terms of how it sounds, is an extension from what Mogwai established with their EP release ‘Earth Division’. The EP’s release could be seen as a surprise, as musically it was quite a radical change from what people normally expect from Mogwai. I feel that the first track ‘Get To France’ could have so easily been included in ‘Les Revenants’ if they had chosen to write it for the television show. Unlike ‘Earth Division’ though, ‘Les Revenants’ rarely changes in tone, and instead continues to follow along with the sound that is established in the beginning of the album. There’s still some surprises though, with the biggest being the inclusion of a track containing vocals. Those familiar with Mogwai’s music would know that the band rarely ever do vocals (though it isn’t completely unknown as fans who are even more familiar would know). It is an interesting track though, as it could easily be included on any kind of album Mogwai would want to release. As it is, I tend to find Mogwai tracks with vocals to always be surprising, and so in a way, ‘Les Revenants’ is no different in this sense.

Overall, I feel that as a music experience, ‘Les Revenants’ is actually a very good album to listen too. In a way, it would be hard to extract specific songs and enjoy them as stand-alone tracks, but with that being said, it is actually not impossible. There’s some great music on the album, and it is easy to see how the music would work as a soundtrack, even if one has never seen the accompanying television show. In terms of an album package, the music isn’t perfect, but it is still incredibly enjoyable, and it is just another surprise release from one of post-rocks best and most beloved bands. I would recommend the album to fans of Mogwai, if not for the penultimate track ‘What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?’. whose choral vocals make it one of Mogwai’s most interesting tracks to date.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • The Huts
  • This Messiah Needs Watching
  • What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?
  • Wizard Motor
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