A couple of album reviews

I’ve been listening quite a bit to Malcolm Middleton‘s Waxing Gibbous and Mogwai‘s The Hawk is Howling since buying them two or three weeks ago. Admittedly, both albums have been out for some time (particularly the latter), but I’ve never exactly had my finger on the musical pulse, even with artists I am a big fan of.

The two albums have complemeted each other well, coming from Scottish artists that exude similar moods and tones.

Waxing Gibbous, by former Arab Strap member Malcom Middleton, is very good, and is the usual blend of acerbic, downbeat wit and cunning observation about life, love and identity. I maintain what I think I’ve said before, that Middleton is something of a modern-day Bob Dylan. The first couple of tracks are uncharacteristically chirpy and energetic, but the rest of the album reverts to type a little too unimaginatively, and while it’s a sound album it’s nowhere near the lyrical and musical genius of Sleight of Heart and Into The Woods.

The Hawk is Howling, from veteran Scottish post-rockers Mogwai, is excellent. As you’d imagine from a band that’s been on the go since the mid-90s, their music has been a mix of some epic crackers and not a little inaccessible or missable mediocrity, but so many of their albums – like those of a lot of great bands – are worth buying simply for the one or two gems contained within which more than carry the rest of the tracks. The Hawk is Howling, however, is (in my mind) their most consistent album to date. Each song is very likeable, and the mix of pulsating drumming and catchy guitar riffs can be felt acutely throughout. It’s a very, very addictive listen. It also boasts some darkly humourous song titles, such as “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead” and “I Love You, I’m Going to Blow up Your School” which never fail to raise a chuckle.

Neither album is typical summer music, admittedly, although the weather of late suggests it’s not really a typical summer. This evening, though, is beautifully warm and sunny, which is good as I am just about to head off to church.

Now, which album to listen to as I walk…?

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