It must be strange to be in Mogwai, and to read reviews that chastise you for sounding too much and not enough like yourself.  It’s a familiar pattern, but then Mogwai are a familiar band these days.  Perhaps that’s the problem: when they started out with the ten minute songs and the Blur: Are Shite t-shirts and the Bucky rage they were easier to idolise.  Eight albums in, they’re a more difficult journalistic proposition.  As comfortable noise merchants, opinionated men who are adamant that their music carries no pre-determined meaning, purveyors of defiantly mainstream art rock, what exactly are we supposed to make of Mogwai in 2014?

These concerns seem relevant in blog posts and in music magazines, but in the context of January’s show at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall they seemed utterly meaningless, even absurd.  It’s an observation that’s tired enough to seem trite by now, but Mogwai are one of those bands who you really need to see live in order to fully appreciate.  2010′s Special Moves is an excellent simulation of the band’s live dynamics that doubles as a testament to the quality of their later work, but even played at an absurdly high volume it never threatens to capture Mogwai’s true range.

There’s something in the grain of Mogwai’s live show that’s never quite made it onto their records.  It’s in that washed out, trebley guitar sound that starts out sounding like an inner ear itch and then grows until it batters you bodily.  The physical impact of this noise would be near-impossible to recreate without the help of plush PAs like the one in the Concert Hall, but you can hear an echo of it Mogwai’s quieter recorded moments – it haunts Happy Songs for Happy People and provides the undercurrent of barely controlled rage in their soundtrack to Douglas Gordon’s Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, for example.  You can hear it on Rave Tapes too, but what was merely a whispered rumour on the album version of opener ‘Heard About You Last Night’ is screamed loud enough to ruin hairlines and destroy reputations in concert.  

Speaking of damaged reputations, click here if you want to see me do more violence to my own!

Despite my seeming full mental breakdown after the first issue of Transformers: Regeneration One, I held on to my sanity well enough to continue buying it on a monthly basis.  Didn’t take long for a feeling to creep in that, beyond the initial shock, things were maybe… Off the boil? I continued to buy it more out of a sense of nostalgic loyalty than any actual engagement.  After all, who doesn’t want to see the creators of their childhood iconography still get paid, in this crazy work for hire world?

(assuming they haven’t espoused something morally dubious or engaged in something horrible)


For Christmas this year I was given the prospect of impending joblessness, a gift that has a fine Dickensian heritage, though unfortunately it’s not Dickens but Shakespeare who has a cameo in the comic at hand:

You don’t need a Shakespearean imagination to understand that redundancy is not the sort of gift I’ve always dreamed of receiving, or to appreciate that it’s not the sort of unwanted gift that you can easily pass on to an unsuspecting relative…

Not that I’m so lacking in compassion for others that I’d *want* to inflict that on anyone else. Even in this post-Monneygeddon age, there’s a limit to what I’m willing to admit in public!

A few weeks ago an alternative version of this present drifted into view, a hot air balloon that looked like it might be capable of taking me somewhere:

Click here to find out exactly where that cheeky chappy there thinks he’s going to take you!