Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Mogwai - Earth Division EP

The days of Mogwai being a fully fledged post-rock band have been long dead, probably since the release of glorious Mr Beast with its follow ups The Hawk Is Howling and Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, soaked in so many influences that Mogwai grew into a sound that fit their name only, a culmination of experience and talent.

The Earth Division EP continues on the ground that Mogwai have treaded lately. Opener ‘Get To France’ is a piano based track with underlying violin orchestration that nods towards operatic geniuses like Beethoven, rather than the rock and soundtrack influences that Mogwai wore on their sleeves previously. ‘Hound Of Winter’ is a slow melodic plucked guitar focused track with almost sighed vocals that plays its hand at some form of laidback folk. ‘Drunk and Crazy’ is the Mogwai that we would more expect today, a quick upbeat electronic bass line, with the band are at the height of their soundtrack prowess here, mixing rock sensibilities with an almost dance music feel before cutting back the swell to show off their orchestral talents once more. ‘Does This Always Happen’ is almost post-rock by numbers, a basic guitar melody repeated and repeated while clever instrumental touches are added behind and around it, and while it doesn’t reach a predictable crescendo, it does so to its benefit recalling the fantastic work that Mogwai created for The Fountain soundtrack.

The Earth Division EP shows why bands should be allowed to create their fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth album with Mogwai continuing to craft their own sound, a portrait of a mixture of genres. Post-rock bands watch out, these are the dizzying heights that you should all want to reach and with this EP, Mogwai are once again raising the bar higher.

4 / 5


Saturday, 20 August 2011

Fionn Regan - 100 Acres of Sycamore

Given the success of The End of History, the mercury award nominated album that saw Fionn Regan rise from the shadow of obscurity and into the limelight with the media spouting the usual "next Dylan" nonsense, it was almost inevitable that Regan would drop the ball on its follow up The Shadow of an Empire, and he did just that creating an album that marked a swift change, more electric and quicker in pace but losing Regans uncanny ability to pen a fantastically memorable lyric in the process. Regan's third album 100 Acres of Sycamore therefore is the perfect place for the record to be put straight and for Regan to get his foot back in the doorway of a room filled with the fantastic singer-songwriters around today.

100 Acres of Sycamore is a return to the sound that made Fionn such an unstoppable force from 2006 onwards. The album titled opener is full of atmosphere, a slow burner that broods with orchestration taking the forefront rather than the single bright guitar we would have seen from The End of History and while it isn't perhaps the horse out of the gate start to an album we would want, it is wonderful to listen to. Dogwood Blossom meanwhile harks back to the simple production that served Fionn well in the past with a beautifully contemplative acoustic guitar melody while vocally, there is just a slight hint of reverb that creates that spine tingling feeling that few can create these days. But they are just rare moments in an album that is too eager to just stay in first gear, while The End of History and even despite its flawed The Shadow of an Empire had personality, 100 Acres of Sycamore comes across as a dross, droney uninspired set of twelve songs that you would not expect from such a talent. Let us all hope for Fionn Regan's sake that his fans forgive such a dire excuse of a record.