After a somewhat tentative start to the new year in January the month of February more than compensated, giving rise to a whole host of events, musically and beyond.
The normally uneventful month of February saw a lot more activity than the norm as 2021 saw significant signs of hope and optimism begin to appear. The United States Of America welcomed incoming president Joe Biden as he set about reversing the policies of his impeached predecessor. The UK vigorously set about implementing their vaccination programme and managed to give 20 million people their first jab by the end of February. A 'road map' out of the pandemic was announced inspiring some festivals, including Reading & Leeds and Creamfields to confirm that this years events would go ahead. The US had it's Super Bowl, including a pre-show by Miley Cyrus that had an audience of specially invited, inoculated, health workers to a Tik-Tok Tailgate Party.
Taylor Swift: Photo credit: Isabel Infantes, PA Images.
Taylor Swift announced that she would be re-recording her first six albums as she sets about reclaiming ownership of her songs, Billie Eilish was the subject of an Amazon interview, Britney Spears was the subject of a Sky documentary and the allegations against the now disgraced shock-rocker Marilyn Manson continued to mount. Sia drew criticism for her Golden Globe award nominated film debut Music but Andra Day triumphed, winning the Best Actress award for her lead role in The United States vs. Billie Holiday. And so, with winners in mind, here's our top-five musical favourites from February.
The 20 nominations for the Scottish Album of the Year announced.
The Mercury Prize might be the main indie music accolade everyone's talking about, but if you're in Scotland you'll be more interested to hear this year's nominations for the Scottish Album of the Year. The ceremony takes place next month, and in that time the long-list will be whittled down to nine.
Franz Ferdinand at The Biggest Weekend
Like the Mercury Prize, the SAY Award includes a monetary prize which this year stands at £20,000, while the 9 runners-up get £1,000 each. There are 20 artists on the long-list, with the stand-out nominees including Franz Ferdinand with their sixth studio album 'Always Ascending', former Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers with their Ninja Tune outing 'Cocoa Sugar' and, of course, Glasgow's Mogwai with their release from last year 'Every Country's Sun'.
Scottish post-rock pioneers Mogwai have been one of the genre's most key exports for over 20 years now. Across records such as 'Mogwai Young Team', 'Mr Beast' and 'Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will', they've repeatedly managed to take their listeners on various journeys, from the warm and tender to the tense and heavy. Most of the time, they do so without vocals, but with their playing being so rich in emotion, vocals aren't essential for Mogwai to inspire rich moods and atmospheres of any sort.
They hit Leeds Brudenell Social club tonight to celebrate two things: 1) The release of their new album 'Every Country's Sun', and 2) the start of the brand new Community Room here at Brudenell in which they demonstrate their mastery.
Firstly though, we have The Declining Winter who deliver a lovely opening set of indie-rock creating a pleasant atmospheres not too far away from tonight's main event with Autumn crisp chords and Winter fireplace vocals. They take the interruption of a fire alarm in their stride, joking that they probably won't try that last song again.
Continue reading: Mogwai - Leeds Brudenell Social Club 07.09.17 Live Review
Tomorrow sees the release of Mogwai's ninth album, "Atomic". An album of reworked songs from the score to last year's BBC Storyville film - Atomic: Living in Fear and Dread. Mogwai refine their new, more electronic sound for a somber reflection on nuclear warfare.
Mogwai, like many other post-rock bands, often push the more cinematic, narrative elements throughout their albums, which makes scoring movies a logical move. Mogwai's first foray into scoring was Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait which was ten years ago. Since then, aside from their own efforts, they have worked on Daran Aronofasky's The Fountain and the recent tv series The Revenant. In this case, Mogwai's music embellishes the dystopic tone of the archive footage and highlights the urgent message of disarmament behind the project.
Given that context, it might be surprising to find that its title track, "Ether" is one of Mogwai's brighter, more uplifting moments. This song accompanies the first chapter of the film. Which celebrates the development of organic life throughout evolution. These proud tones build from gentle muted notes welcoming a long, brass crescendo which explodes in true Mogwai style.
Continue reading: Mogwai - Atomic Album Review
Mogwai have been a band for what feels like a lifetime, at least almost all of my lifetime, and they've released albums, EPs and soundtracks consistently throughout. Central Belters is here as a celebration of that 20 years together. A greatest hits - if you will. Greatest Hits collections are touted as 'collectors only' items in this day and age and largely this won't be played by anyone who doesn't already own the majority of its tracklist, but that's missing the point. Mogwai have been steady in their career, but over 20 years they're sure to have gained some fans and lost some by the wayside and this career spanning collection of what they deem their greatest tracks serves as a basecamp to catch up before you begin climbing the behemoth before you.
Central Belters is largely chronological in nature it's three hour plus running time spans from the slow moody vocals of 'CODY' to the taut synths of 2014's Rave Tapes which gave the band their first top 10 hit. The band that got stuck with the quiet/LOUD/quiet description have evolved over the course of their eight studio albums. Not suddenly and not drastically, but from an elemental level. They're an instrumental band and yet many of these tracks feature vocals. They're an insidiously heavy noise rock band and yet many of these tracks are deathly slow. They've got 20 minute songs and yet there's songs here that are under three minutes. You think you know Mogwai and yet you don't; Central Belters is a testament to the versatility and depth of this beast.
The classic raging guitar scuzz that builds and falls through the 16 minutes of 'Mogwai Fear Satan' closes up CD1 and seeps into the now iconic opening notes of 'Auto Rock' from 2006's Mr Beast. CD2 is then given over to the arguably more trite period. This in itself spans eight years and from 'Travel is Dangerous' to the snappy Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will's 'Mexican Grand Prix' there's a lot of growing room. It's easy to track their progression to the current day while listening to this record. There's no real hits on Central Belters because Mogwai don't have any as such, but there's everything that makes them into the earth shattering, tear inducing, ear splitting song writers that they are.
Continue reading: Mogwai - Central Belters Album Review
Incredible acts have been revealed for the eco-friendly Plissken Festival in Greece this summer.
The famous Plissken Festival is celebrating its fifth birthday this June with a phenomenal line-up. Hard-hitting, electric, and the best quality: this summer is looking amazing for Greece, with some of the best alternative artists and performers around.
Mogwai dub Metallica "sh*te" before facing up in the same time slot at Glastonbury.
Of course, anyone who's remotely interested in music would choose to see Scottish post-punk heroes Mogwai over Metallica at the Glastonbury Festival 2014 and the Glaswegian band have been doing their best to pull the crowds away from the Pyramid Stage on Saturday. Metallica - the only metal band on the bill - were a surprise and controversial booking, though Mogwai's singer Stuart Braitwaite doesn't seen what all the fuss is about.
Mogwai Hates Metallica
"I just can't wait until we go all quiet and you can hear 'Enter Sandman' in the background, because we're on at the same time. I don't really see the fuss. They're a pretty big rock band and it's a pretty big rock festival. It would be good if they could go back in time to 1989. Metallica at Glastonbury in 1989," he said.
Continue reading: Mogwai Laugh Off "Sh*te" Metallica, Call Lars Ulrich "Terrible" Drummer
As one of the founder members and undisputed heavyweight champions of the genre known as post-rock, Mogwai have little left to prove to anyone other than themselves. While their legacy has spawned literally hundreds of imitators seemingly intent on recreating the "loud-fast, quiet-slow" template set out by 'Mogwai Young Team' some fourteen years ago, the original artefact seem to have spent the past few years embarking on something of a transitional period in their illustrious career.
Continue reading: Mogwai, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will Album Review