Friday, May 16, 2014

FDF Volume 3 Issue 337 - Mogwai - Young Team

Album – Young Team
Artist - Mogwai
Key Players – Brendan O'Hare – piano, guitar. John Cummings – guitars. Martin Bulloch – drums. Dominic Aitchison – bass. Stuart Braithwaite -guitar, glockenspiel

Produced By – Paul Savage, Andy Miller

Release Date – October 21, 1997

Overview – This is the debut album from the Scottish post rock band Mogwai. Formed in 1994 (and named after the creatures in the movie “Gremlins”) in Glasgow Scotland the band became a favorite of influential radio host John Peel. They'd hone their skills and enter the studio and at the time of the recoding the band had only three songs finalized so finishing touches were done in the studio. The ten track largely instrumental record would sell well and go on to make a name for the band world wide.
The album would be re-issued in 2008.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The 65 minute, 10 track album opens up with “Yes! I am a Long Way From Home”. All the listener hears is a muted conversation for the first minute and then finally after about a minute you hear the first ring of the bass and guitar. O'Hare is in no hurry on the drums as Cummings, Aitchison and Braithwaite ease in to things as well. The bass starts to get a bit more of a groove as the layers of guitars stack up. The tune slowly swells and about 3:40 in we get the overwhelming punch from the band that fans have grown to love and expect. It might be wailing feedback solos but you listen and Aitchison just keeps his bass in a locked down place, pushing it forward. Aitchison keeps the lead as "Like Herod" begins. Again the guitars slowly creep up and Bulloch gives it the occasional pounding on the drums, but the guitars are taking this one. The first time listener will make the mistake on this and turn it up because its getting “too quiet”, then..look out. Welcome to a mogwai song. For good measure they do it to you twice. The track is the second longest on the record at 11:41 to really shock your senses. “Katrien” opens with the bass up in the forefront, then drums join. This is another track that has hidden “vocals” but they are not lyrics in that sense, its hard to decipher spoken word as the band does their thing over it. Clocking in at 1:35 “Radar Maker” follows. On this track we have O'Hare playing a solo piano piece, with no accompaniment. “Summer (Priority Version)” has the quiet bass and guitar under the spoken vocal portion before growing in to a “pretty side” of Mogwai's sound. The bass and swirling guitars are there but Bulloch sets the pace and is in no hurry so the band is left to do their thing as a unit. The feel of the song is a nice change for the band so they don't come off as one trick ponies. Sticking with Aitchison taking the lead on the bass at the start, we get that again before the guitars join in. Its not a wall, but another prettier steadier growing track, and although its short for this record, the band does give us the old gut punch with getting nice and loud. “With Portfolio” is another track that is heavily lead by piano, until the guitars come up. The mix is wild with the guitars buzzing from right to left (on headphones particularly its almost disorienting). Aidan Moffat of the band Arab Strap handles the vocals on “R U Still In 2 It”. He speaks the lyrics more than “sings” them and the band falls in to that mode of a slower tempo track  “A Cheery Wave From Standard Youngsters” is a short track (just over two minutes) with drums and piano being the main two instruments. Not a lot grabs you it almost feels a bit like and interlude to the epic album closer  "Mogwai Fear Satan". A power house at 16:19 in run time you will be taken on a ride as the listener. The guitars run the same riff over and over, then a second guitar does the same as the bass and drums grow with it, then add in another guitar over all that, and repeat the riff...for a bit, but then buzz the crap out of one of the guitars, delay another a bit, all the while repeating your riffs and when you feel like you are going to burst, change direction and slow it down totally. Toss in some flute (Shona Brown), but leave the bass line still locked in its groove and the drummer finding heavy rumbles on the floor toms. Let that go on for a bit, then everyone get really loud all at once, and lock in to that sonic barrage. Bulloch is all over the kit, Braithwaite, O'Hare and Cummings seem to want to get the best of each other, but make it all all the louder and more punishing..and this is the first HALF of the song. The flute comes back and the guitars echo with e-bow and delay. There is a reason this track is still played live by the band.

Where are they now? - The band are still active both in studio and in the live setting. They released “Rave Tapes” in early 2014. The band has remained intact, only Brendan O'Hare was released from the band shortly after this album release.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off? - Often times a bands debut hardly gains dust. Truth be told I went back to much of the Mogwai catalog in recent weeks as I had tickets for their Boston show. This is a perfect spring board, and one of the first three Mogwai records I'd suggest to anyone new to the band. Gives you a solid example of what they are like, and it is pretty awesome to play nice and loud.

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