Paperback Mitre is one of my favourite football sites. Full of personal thoughts on clubs by fans and writers who are ‘not idiots’. Which is rare. They also get distracted by music quite often, which is nice.
I’ve been hassling them for a while about wanting to join the team, and now I have. My first piece is on the day Carlos Tevez confirms he wants to go home, and before United play Arsenal. If we lose, I fully expect to be hounded out of town tomorrow. Click that link above if you want to read it.
I’ve been a little disappointed by the last couple of Mogwai albums - a couple of stand-out tracks on each seem to have masked quite a bit of going-through-the-motions album filler. This track made available for free download had me regretting having bothered after the first minute. 3 variously distorted guitars plodding through the same up-and-down scale riff for 5 minutes seemed like the work of a band who no longer have the heart for the fight. But Mogwai’s magic has always been in taking the unremarkable and dragging unfathomable depths out of it and by the 2nd minute I’d decided this was a blistering return to form; hypnotic, loud, atmospheric, undeniably Mogwai. Not entirely made up my mind yet as to which opinion will stick with me, but it’s worth a listen if you’re a fan. And new album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will proves they can still come up with some brilliant names, if nothing else.
Review; The Phantom Band @ Deaf Institute, 17th November
It’s been 18 months since Glasgow-based The Phantom Band last graced the too-small stage of The Deaf Institute.
Then, as now, the 6 piece are in danger of knocking each other off the precarious platform and into the near capacity crowd.
Then, though, debut album Checkmate Savage had been recently released. An assured and unique blend of folk influences and goth tendencies wrapped up with rock riffs and stealthy near-electro rhythms, it became a personal favourite and went on to be the ever-reliable Piccadilly Records' Album Of The Year 2009.
Again the band are here with a new album in tow, The Wants being released in October this year. While the debut won critical acclaim and plenty of fervent fans, allowing the band to make numerous festival appearances and to record a confident follow-up, it hasn’t moved them on to bigger venues, yet.
The Wants, though, reflects a band more than comfortable in the cosy surrounds of a place like the Deaf Institute. The songs are, if anything, longer and more diversely influenced. The darkness is underpinned by motorik beats and synth squelches. The Celtic and folk influence is still there; tales of beasts, hauntings and endless references to nature are present across songs from both albums tonight. But on this show’s evidence, the band are now truly confident - unafraid of experimentation and enjoying the live experience.
There’s a genuine swagger to the older material; Folk Song Oblivion and Left Hand Wave are greeted like stadium favourites - they seem sharper than they once were. Slight revisions in the arrangements make them seem rockier than previous; recognisibe riffs spilling from multiple guitars, bass and synth and unassuming frontman Rick Anthony leading the congregation through joyous familiar favourites.
The newer material, including harmony-heavy O, and Into The Corn, are more challenging, but for all their synths and tricky vocals, these songs come alive on stage in the most organic way. For a band whose songs appear full of death and dark imagery it strikes you that they actually do enjoy what they do. There’s no empty style employed in the music or in the performance; just a band honest enough to throw all the influences they love into a melting pot and leave nothing behind.
There are touches of gentle, traditionally-influenced folk atmospherics from a band not afraid to slow things down a notch. But when the band re-emerges for a keenly-demanded encore and Anthony completes the sense of communion by passing a bottle of whiskey out into the crowd before launching into an extended version of instrumental Crocodile from the debut album, they add post-rock to the list of genres conquered in an 80 minute set.
With two brilliant albums’ worth of material behind them, and an ever-improving live reputation, the next time we see The Phantom Band in Manchester, it should be on a much bigger stage.
Recent track from Advances In Mathematics’ recording day back on a sunny day in Rochdale. It was a last-minute decision to record this new, under-rehearsed track at the end of the day. So far it’s the only usable track we got.