"come on die young"
29th march 1999|
helps both ways
year 2000 non-compliant cardia
waltz for aidan
may nothing but happiness come through your door
oh! how the dogs stack up
punk rock/puff daddy/ANTICHRIST
sleeve art by adam piggot.
uk album chart - no. 29 (10th april 1999)
uk cd: chemikal underground [chem033cd]
uk double vinyl: chemikal underground [chem033]
uk cassette: chemikal underground [chem033mc]
us cd: matador [ole365-2]
us double vinyl: matador [ole365-2]
australian cd: spunk [ura005]
australia/nz cd: spunk [ura005]
japan cd: toys factory [tfck-87225]
'come on die young' marks the start of mogwai's long-standing us deal with http://www.matadorrecords.com/
the recording of 'come on die young' marks the start of barry burns' membership of the band. other musicians appearing on the lp include dave fridmann, richard formby, wayne myers and luke sutherland.
the album was recorded at tarbox road studios in cassadaga, new york, with dave fridmann, in 1998.
nov. 13, 1998 dave begins recording with mogwai. they are here from scotland for chemikal underground records.
the dialogue in 'punk rock' is taken from an iggy pop interview (broadcast on march 11th 1977 by cbc in canada). the interview can be watched in full here:
the first draft of the tracklist (presumably for a single album) was:
(2)country (aka 'cody')
(5)christmas steps (new version)
(7)helps both ways (new version)
from the same press release: "the band also recorded versions of live and session favourites kappa, waltz, o how the dogs stack up and 6/4 which will appear on various singles and/or compilations in the future. indeed, it's likely that one of the album tunes, known internally as 'nick drake', has already been replaced by 'o how the dogs...'."
a new sample was added to 'helps both ways' to replace the unauthorised john madden commentary.
"oh how the dogs stack up: another weekly world news (or national enquirer it was a long time ago) headline.
year 2k non compliant cardia: this was us making mirth in highly poor taste of the media rumour that pacemakers would all stop at the turn of the last century. it was martins idea." - stuart, july 2008
'chocky' is the title of a book by john wyndham
writing credits (from chrysalis music publishing):
christmas steps - dominic aitchison, stuart braithwaite
chocky - john cummings
'come on die young' sampler
chemikal underground [SCHEM033CD]
images: cover |
sent out to press and radio prior to full promo copies of 'come on die young'.
from the glamour—free fringes of glasgow come mogwai. they are a band whose recorded output to date far exceeds their tender age. their music is the sum of the previous forty years — the primeval rhythms of rock ’n’ roll; the raw viscera of the velvets; the naked passion of joy division; the heart and soul of the holy trinity of spaceman 3, mary chain and my bloody valentine; and the brooding beats of the dance floor. all this from a primarily instrumental band.
mogwai’s roots can be traced to 1995 when friends stuart, dominic and martin quit their various bands on the periphery of the glasgow scene. from that moment on they set about crafting serious guitar music, recruiting a second guitarist, john cummings to the team.
over an eighteen—month period they conjured up some magical tunes for the likes of wurlitzer jukebox, love train and che labels. these releases were collected together on the "ten rapid" lp, released on mogwai’s own rock action imprint.
chemikal underground, glasgow’s most successful and most fiercely independent label, inked a deal with mogwai in ’97. their first release was the "4 satin ep" and shortly thereafter one brendan o’ hare, former telstar pony and ex—teenage fanclub, came into the fold. brendan’s involvement was on a strictly ad hoc basis — he was and still is the motivating force behind macrocosmica. he however contributed to the recording of the debut long player "mogwai young team".
"mogwai young team" was recorded with what appears to have been a degree of fanaticism. all members of the band adopted new identities — plasmatron (stuart), demonic (dominic), capt. meat (john), bionic (martin) and quite naturally the relic (brendan) — were branded with "myt" and all save the relic shaved their heads before recording commenced. "mogwai young team" was released in october ’97. it is an lp that transcends the everyday a record that pushes the sensibilities of the listener from the opening bars of "yes, i am a long way from home" to the heart—stopping "mogwai fear satan". to date myt has sold in excess of 35,000 copies in the uk alone.
mogwai ’98 took their audiences to another place. a six—month excursion throughout europe and the uk left little time for returning to the studio. their recorded output last year included the remix project "kicking a dead pig" which surfaced on the dance—oriented eye—q label and their reworking of david holmes’ "don’t die just yet". to the consternation of a few and to the bemusement of the musically challenged, mogwai joined the manic street preachers on their tour in september.
for a band without words, mogwai have used their chosen medium to great effect in setting a political agenda. last year a nightfall curfew was introduced in south lanarkshire for all those of school age. mogwai’s response was to highlight the campaign, initiated by the scottish human rights project, opposed to this draconian legislation. mogwai believe that the curfew was an unfair and unjust solution to the rising youth crime rate. they felt a better answer lay in offering positive alternatives — improved amenities and a better education. they printed and distributed thousands of stickers bearing the legend ’fuck the curfew’ and also released the "no education = no future (fuck the curfew) ep".
in the final months of ’98, mogwai decamped for the rural life in the backwoods of new york state. their home for three weeks was to be tarbox road studios, cassadaga, some 50 miles from buffalo. working with dave fridmann, one time member of mercury rev and producer of their much praised "deserter songs" lp, mogwai fashioned their soon to come second lp, "come on die young". this time they were to take an altogether different tangent. gone are the quiet bit, loud bit quite loud bits and in comes a new depth of composition and a new permanent member in barry burns. ah... barry — ex—music teacher, all round good fella and very big on the lanarkshire flute circuit.
"mogwai young team" took its name from scottish gang graffiti, "come on die young" does the same.
c.o.d.y. released march 29th, 1999.
stuart braithwaite — guitars / keyboards / percussion
john cummings — guitars / piano
dominic aitchison — bass / guitar
martin bulloch — drums
barry burns — flute / guitar / keyboards
'cody' review, by "pitchfork" website|
in the pitchfork tradition of groundbreaking review styles, i present you with the always- right critomatic album review. simply scroll to the review you want to read-- the opinion that you, the infallible reader, wants to hear-- and proceed. we here in the pitchfork labs are always striving towards innovations for the future.
you slip on your headphones... guitar chords twist down from lavender skies in slithering fibers and attach to your goose- bumped skin. with each upward strum from the plaintive second album from mogwai, these delicate cables tug you heavenward-- they're soft tugs, paced and patient. as you ascend further into the clouds you can make out the ground below you. the scottish highlands, god's golf course, bubbles in pillowy hills. green grass hills filled with warm fat, feathers, and the carefully dug tunnels of fairies and elves roll to the sea, where they suddenly drop off in marble cliffs, wet from the spray of slapping waves. a storm is brewing in the distance. thunder rumbles. mogwai's music is weather. its landscape, stunning in its simplicity and reduncancy. come on die young develops in one long movement, a sparse symphony of indie. you can follow its pattern like a weatherman charts flows from high pressure to low pressure.
unlike mogwai's last album, which constantly shifted from loud loud to quiet quiet, come on die young builds tension over eight and a half songs before erupting in the white noise of "ex-cowboy," "chocky" and "christmas steps," the latter being the only respite from restraint for the riffheads. but it's the album's title track, carrying the record's only vocal, sung in soft sighs, that pulls apart your heart like string cheese, muscle fiber by muscle fiber.
like a bottle of fine wine, mogwai is not intended to be ingested on every humdrum day you live. it's not to be played as you drive to the target to pick up some plastic adhesive hooks. keep come on die young on a cedar rack in a damp basement. reserve it for thunderstorms and candlelight. its open spaces and moments of silence are meant to be filled with raindrops and whispers of awe.
fo'ckin bollocks! where's the rock? listening to mogwai's come on die young excites as much as toasting white bread with a magnifying glass in the sun on a partially- cloudy day. here's the thing, if mogwai weren't from the uk, no one would give a rat's arse about them.
i call this phenomenon the "3 colours red effect," which states that any british band that plays a style of music that is completely overdone in america, but not particularly in the uk, they will achieve success in their native land. would 3 colours red's brand of polished grunge sell any more than a new gruntruck or paw record? call up sony and find out. likewise, would mogwai's brand of third generation post- slint instrumentals raise anyone's attention outside of those few chicago college kids who still listen to spiderland religiously? in the uk, mogwai open for the manic street preachers (who are amazingly big in the uk) and headline festivals. if they were from urbana, illinois they'd be on quarterstick records at best, opening for june of 44 at the blind pig.
come on die young's most exciting track, "christmas steps," sounds like an unfinished sweep the leg johnny song (i.e., minus the vocals, sax, more complex tempo changes, etc.), which, while pretty decent, is not enough to get you a spot opening for everclear in the states. this is not to say that fame is an essential element to good music. i'm just pointing out that mogwai could perhaps be the most over- hyped indie rock band in the world. there are much better bands doing the same thing from the back of vans across the us.
young team, mogwai's last record, painted in bolder strokes. feedback and riffs burst unexpectedly from beautiful melodies. i found myself hunching over the boombox waiting for come on die young to develop. then my back got sore. for an instrumental album, the playing is not mathy or complex enough to evoke interest. i mean, have you ever been to scotland? it's constantly cloudy. decaying industrial towns pop up in rusty clusters over barren hills. the locals drink to make their livers pop. it's not surprising mogwai comes from this environment of incessant gloom and fog, where there's not much to do but fondly recall history and sulk.
poorly written, ambiguous indie zine review:
mogwai are an instrumental band from glasgow, scotland. they play quiet indie rock. if you like slint and its spin- offs, check them out.
review, by "rolling stone" magazine [joe gross]|
as ian curtis of joy division once said, "here are the young men/the
weight on their shoulders." the scottish band mogwai, who are not yet
old enough to rent a car in most states, have been charged with
leading a british isles indie-rock resurgence. come on die young isn't
quite all that, but it's a nifty achievement nonetheless, a balanced
blend of heavy overdrive and subtle gestures. the mostly vocal-free
mogs create their brand of epic, often truly beautiful and strange
wanderings with guitars, keyboards and flute (!?); "kappa" and "cody"
stretch out their hooks until well past bedtime, as sampled bits of
sportscasters fade in and out. although they engage in a strummed mope
similar to that of their pals and label mates arab strap, mogwai
aren't perennially down; the amp-breaking thunder of "ex-cowboy" uses
rock as a verb without shame. the be-all and end-all of young rock
noise? don't believe the hype. but have the lads made an excellent
collection of supermodern six-string thrum? absolutely.
review, by "the times" newspaper, 27/3/1999|
the leading lights of the scottish underground do not show much
interest in joining the computer/dance interface underpinning the very
late twentieth century. nevertheless it is a fascinating scene, full of
musical bravehearts who don't give a tinker's cuss for the confines of
indie or the commercial concerns of pop.
mogwai exemplify this movement with their instrumental rock
configurations, undulating dynamics and old fashioned concern for
texture. we are talking serious music here, with no overspill from their
offstage humour and stories of alcoholic jinks.
the boys consistently name-check the corrosive edginess of equally
serious brit bands such as my bloody valentine and spacemen 3, yet
mogwai's roots lie far closer to the new york no wave movement that
immediately followed punk; specifically the guitar symphonies of glenn
branca and the detuned arrangements of sonic youth. what unites all of
the above, mogwai included, is a penchant for quiet/loud dynamic; but
either mogwai have realised that this well-worn approach holds little
surprise for an envelope-pushing band and its audience or the beatific,
bucolic location setting of these studio sessions has seeped right in.
come on die young (named after a patch of scottish gang graffiti) is
produced by dave fridmann, the man behind mercury rev's recent classic
deserter's songs, a man who operates out of his own studio in upstate
new york haven cassadaga.
for long stretches, the album dwells at the contemplative, ambient end
of mogwai's spectrum. the opening punk rock may sample the voice of
mogwai hero iggy pop but the music's sepulchral, slow-motion swell
completely belies its title.
things only revert to debut album type twice, on ex-cowboy, which
injects two shattering crescendos, and the staccato riffing that
momentarily interrupts christmas steps' ghostly demeanour. otherwise,
it's the calm without the storm, and sometimes for ten minutes at a time
(chocky, christmas steps). there are even vocals (of a mixed-back,
breathy nature, by guitarist stuart braithwaite) and a distinct melody
on cody, which revisits the glacial-paced rock of spacemen 3 and
american trio galaxie 500. there is one more voice, an unknown american
sports commentator, on helps both ways, though he has to fight to be
heard above the forlorn gridlock of guitars, flute and brass.
to what end? you might ask. mogwai aren't the types to elucidate. but
then neither did jackson pollock, whose drip paintings' abstraction have
plenty in common with this music. yet there's a natural limit to how far
mogwai can go with all this. it is the two soundtracks-in-waiting, oh!
how the dogs stack up (stately piano lead, feather light guitar
scratchiness) and the bafflingly titled punk rock/puff daddy antichrist
(mournful trumpet, dubby echo, chilling tape trickery) that indicate a
way forward. when everything gels, the effect is compelling, the
monotony quietly exhilarating. there's plenty of life in these young
review, by the "mirror" newspaper|
opening rather oddly with an iggy pop speech, this resolutely difficult
bunch of scots delinquents are past masters at using the space behind
the chord or the beat. this is a highly-tuned series of downbeat but
curiously beautiful tunes which comes on like an unwritten soundtrack
for bob rafelson's five easy pieces. the ultimate synergy between what
at first sight appears to be random meanderings is a sheer joy.
persevere with it. yum.
review, from "melody maker" newspaper [neil kulkarni ?]|
everyone will tell you to hear this. do. it'll clarify. nothing to lose can mean nothing to gain. freedom can mean static insignificance. isolation can disable communication. eccentricity can mean deshonest. mogwai's new album, "come on die young", is ravishing for an hour and won't help or hinder your life one iota. at no point do you feel mogwai care one way or the other about what
they're doing, at all points you realise that what they're doing works in purely melodic terms, works as an imaginative recontrucion of what an emotion might feel like. what should be a blinding remider of soul in a hollow world becomes background music more insipid than any rock traditionalist could manage. because mogwai don't feel or think: mogwai have been told that being is enough. and this slack
mathematics will be their stock-in-trade forever.
"punk rock" is a poignant opener: an iggy sample of rock'n'roll belief over yer usual sinuous guitar- but are mogwai smirkinking under their caps or trying to pretend they're picking up that lineage? "cody" is one of the best things mogwai have done since "ten rapid". "helps both ways" perfectly distils mogwai's strenghts and problem: the intersection 'tween riff and dynamic is exquisite, but treated by spods not magicians: repeat to fade with minimum variation and keep your heads down. the hope is that the music will attach itself to your life: find ways to signify. but it has to be a lot more demanding on your time for that "year 2000", "kappa", "may" depend upon your desire to be affiliated, rather than barraging into your heart, insisting on your space. rallying briefly on "ex-cowboy" and "chocky", falling badly off on "christmas steps" and "waltz for aidan, "come on die young" fades on an aftertaste of noodle that you can't shake.
why this album doesn't work: it's differant for everybody. it's a lifestyle choice as to wherther tou want to cinematise your everyday existence with this. it's cool-spray for your domicile. it's roll-on emotion for the acrid and empty. it's a choice and rock'n'roll can't be. that's its failure. do listen.
review, by "jockey slut" magazine|
there was always a slight feeling with scottish guitar scramblers mogwai
that they were, to an extent, hiding behind their wall of sound, waiting
for confidence to turn up and direct them in future ventures. well, the
good news is that with come on die young mogwai have found that
confidence, adding a richness to their once stark palette. as a result,
the album achieves a solemnity and majesty not heard since early 90s
outfits such as codiene (particularly the title track) and more
tellingly, slint. in time, come on die young could be a major reference
point for re-juvenated guitar music.
review, by "nme" [simon williams], 23/3/1999|
"what sounds to you like a big load of trashy old noise is in fact the
brilliant music of a genius. myself." so declares one iggy pop at the start
of 'come on die young'. and by 'brilliant music' he refers, of course, to
the power of punk rock. "that music is so forceful it is beyond my control.
do you understand what i'm saying?"
probably. as statements of intents go, 'punk rock' is a wonderfully casual
warning: for the next 65 minutes glaswegian sonic terriers mogwai are about
to stormtroop out of the speakers, armed with little more than a big load of
trashy old noise and an attitude which says, 'grrrrr. and grrr again.' it's
thunder. it's frightening. let's offload...
the pre-release rumours were strong, and most revolved around the giddy
conceit that 'come on die young' was going to differ from '97's debut
'mogwai young team' in the sense that there would be a lot more singing, a
load more orthodox 'songs' and a shiteload of juicy dance beats that steps
would sell their pearly white smiles for. allegedly.
rather splendidly, however, we find the '99 model of mogwai in tip-top
perverse condition, patiently playing to their strengths and praying to the
good lord of sizzling effects. we have bone-crunching dynamics. we have
squalls of extreme noise terror. we have mercury rev's studio dude dave
fridmann behind the mixing desk in new york state. we have the deep
understanding that mogwai are making music which is pretty much as far 'out
there' as you can get without growing your hair and choosing to play a gig
to absolutely no people in somewhere like sod bastarding pompeii in the
as is traditional with this post-rock malarkey, some of the song titles are
works of art in themselves: 'oh! how the dogs stack up' is two minutes of
crackling piano doominess; 'year 2000 non-compliant cardia' is the most
unorthodox three minutes of deliciously controlled mayhem you will hear this
month; and 'kappa' is a bit like 'year 2000 non-compliant cardia', only with
in fact, a few parts of 'cody' sound a bit like each other. eschewing the
tradition for releasing albums which consist of two cheery hit singles and a
barrel load of crap fillers, mogwai make records which rely on more
organically-inclined strengths and themes. and when they pile together three
songs - 'ex-cowboy', 'chocky' and 'christmas steps' - over the course of 29
stereo-fearing minutes you're struck by the fact that, far from creating a
soundtrack for a drippy generation of drop-outs, mogwai's muse is infused
with a sense of fevered restlessness. consider the way in which parts of
'ex-cowboy' make like concorde taking off from your neighbour's kitchen,
then ponder twitchily over the fact that, just as bark psychosis' 'hex'
album captured that wide-eyed essence of nocturnal carnage, so 'cody' is way
too demanding, too unsettling to merely act as background music for the
which is the whole point. sometimes 'cody' is kind, sometimes it is cruel
and at many times it is lovingly, leeringly abstract. because this is [what!? this is what? - thos]
review, by the "jewish chronicle" magazine|
mogwai - hardcore punk or prog rock? you decide...
you could make a good case for glasgows guitar terrorists mogwai being the
true inheritors of punk's poisioned chalice.
for a start, there's the unashamedly defiant stance they take. there is also
their stubborn refusal to take the easy path to pop glory and, their
anarchic, diy approach to live performance. that, and calling their second
album 'come on die young'.
but the band, named after the not-so-cuddly creature in speilbergs
'gremlins' have a distaste for the three-chord con-trick as they see it.
instead, with the help of mercury rev's dave fridman, 'come on die young' is
a vibrant example of cross fertilisation - gorgeous slo-mo guitar
explorations and spoken word vocalising reign and there's not a programmed
drum 'n' bass beat in sight.
in fact, in another time and place it would have been called progressive
'come on die young' soon blurs into one long, aural excercise. but with
titles as good as 'year 2000 non compliant cardia' it's easy to understand
why they didn't go the whole hog and call this 'concerto for guitar and
voice' as elp would have done.
review, from "uncut" magazine [dominic wills]|
manics-supporting glaswegian indie-proggers test the boundaries of beauty and patience.
mogwai have been hailed the masters of "post rock". and yet they've also covered black sabbath's "sweet leaf", admitted to shitting themselves at the thought of meeting ozzy osborne, and clearly aped the soften-them-up-then-blow-them-away tactics of sabbath bloody sabbath on their own instrumental debut lp, young team.
young team was superb, but not, as has been claimed, post rock (it actually stepped 10 years back to the indie-prog of spacemen 3, loop and my bloody valentine), just a startlingly accomplished entrance from a gang of glaswegian metalheads stultified by the predictability of much of today's fare.
cody is a further step away from corporate pap. it's also a step away from mogwai's favoured black country metal in that at no point does it attack. where yt saw the periods of anticipation between guitar blitzes stretched to almost erotic lengths, cody is beautifully crafted by the band and producer dave friedmann ... and spends much of its time building to climaxes that creep up on you rather than detonate in your face.
beginning with a long speech by iggy pop on punk rock, the lp sets out its stall with track 2, "cody". with its sweeping oceanic cymbals, languid intertwining twangs and subdued, maudlin vocal (yes, vocal) harmonies, it feels at first like an updated "albatross" then, as the guitars quietly twist into countrified shapes and the repetitive vocals become a soft chant, resembles dinosaur jr at their most spiritual or, better still, the sacred delicacy of low. by the next track, "helps both ways", you wonder whether the disappearance of mogwai's metallic edge might point to their teenage sense of adventure and invincibility having been replaced by a more mature respect for pain and sense of inadequacy. the sound twists and evolves and intrigues, but it mostly descends. it is not up.
but then neither is it forever down. using golden guitar, harmonic chimes, military beats, scratches, shrieks, jolts of piano, literally monstrous single-note bass and high-pitched john carpenter synth-whines, they lead you by the nose from climax to climax, almost all of them soft yet satisfying ("christmas steps" being the solitary screamer), and each of them upon you before you know it.
sometimes, as with "year 2000....", it's all over before it really begins, and occasionally, as with "chocky", it's protracted to the point of monotony. though eschewing the hoary verse-chorus-verse format, mogwai are more than capable of finding new ruts of their own.
perhaps the problem was time. this album was recorded in a mere five weeks and this - an evident (and mostly successful) experiment in tone, texture and soulful manipulation - could really have done with more.
review, from the "saturday telegraph [arts + books]" newspaper [clark collis], 27/3/99|
one of the great things about writing instrumental music is that you
have more opportunity to give tracks utterly ludicrous titles.
leaders in this field are undoubtedly the orb (viz a huge evergrowing
pulsating brain that rules from the centre of the ultraworld), but
mogwai must surely be hard on their heels thanks to come on die young,
which is not only a great title in itself, but also features year 2000
non-compliant cardia, punk rock / puff daddy / antichrist and the truly
magnificent oh! how the dogs stack up. sadly, the actual tunes
themselves prove to be less intriguing.
mogwai have been labelled "post-rock" yet, in truth, "post-music"
might be more accurate as each track finds the band listlessly offering
variations on riffs that never sounded very interesting in the first
place. produced by dave fridmann - who oversaw mercury rev's acclaimed
deserter's songs, not that you'd know it from the evidence provided
here - the record perks up only with stuart braithwaite's singing on
cody. but, as a whole, the result is like listening to the soundtrack
of a film that you really don't want to see.
review, from the "sunday telegraph [review]" newspaper [james delingpole], 28/3/99|
this is exactly the sort of album that appears on critics' records-
of-the-year lists. it has all the correct influences (spiritualized,
mainly); it's wilfully obscure; and it has just the right ratio
between melody and total inaccessibility. i like it very much but
unless you're already in tune with the work of this moody, scottish
post-rock ensemble, it may sound at first like a tedious and
occasionally horrible dirge of droning guitars. but rest assured,
after a few more plays, it will all begin to make sense. the soporific
melodies will grow more distinctive, the noisy bits more seductive and
you'll be able to recognise passages such as the mournful, out-of-tune
piano sampled at the beginning of oh! how the dogs stack up for the
flights of genius that they are. alternatively, you may conclude i'm
stuart/barry interview, published in unknown uk guitar magazine, summer 1999|
"barry, play that chord! the paedophile chord!" stuart braithwaite, mogwai's guitarist and alpha male, is suffering from a bad case of cabin
fever. recording their second album in the eerily quiet american town of fredonia, he hasn't slept in two days. recently, in a fit of mania, he
decided to shave off all his hair. there's no escape - he can't even go for a walk. it's hunting season and he might get mistaken for a bear,
albeit a bald one.
legs akimbo, barry burns, mogwai's newest member, plays the chord. "ooh," cries stuart, "that's nasty. it's got lots of horrible fifths in
it. it's like a paedophile on the prowl."