The group’s sophomore effort for Sub Pop goes deep into sonic space.

Mogwai
Rave Tapes
Sub Pop

Mogwai’s second album on Sub Pop, Rave Tapes, starts out on a slow-burning wavelength of ambient electronica, eventually building to Bill Frisell-esque jazz-rock grooves. A mystique broods around the namesake, and midway through the stylistic exploration on “Repelish,” a narrator talks about Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” being the most popular song in rock history, but there isn’t any overt sonic implication. The narrator then mentions how subliminal satanic messages were put on records in reverse while a decidedly unsatanic melody moves in and out.

The guitar spotlight shines brightest in “Hexon Bogon” with its exploding delay, and the next few tracks are an impressive procession of thumping percussion and distorted bass drones illuminated with bright solos and jabbing synthesizers. Mogwai certainly knows space well and has been successful with scoring, and this conjures feelings of flying or perhaps being embroiled in an epic action sequence of a video game.

These nuanced instrumental compositions would be perfectly at home with lyrics, their solid foundations topped with pleasingly funky layers, à la Tool or Radiohead. A few vocals are present, but the sense of their purpose is yet unclear. I might have to find Rave Tapes on vinyl, play it backwards, and see what happens.

Must-hear track: “Hexon Bogon”

A faithful recreation of the Germanium Mosrite Fuzzrite with a modern twist.

Read MoreShow less

Kenny Greenberg with his main axe, a vintage Gretsch 6118 Double Anniversary that he found at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville for a mere $600. “It had the original pickups, but the finish had been taken off and the headstock had been repaired. So, it’s a great example of a ‘player’s vintage instrument,’” he says.

On his solo debut, the Nashville session wizard discovers his own musical personality in a soundtrack for a movie that wasn’t, with stops in Africa and Mississippi hill country.

Kenny Greenberg has been Nashville’s secret weapon for decades. He’s the guitarist many insiders credit with giving the Nashville sound the rock ’n’ roll edge that’s become de rigueur for big country records since the ’90s. It’s the sound that, in many ways, delivered country music from its roots to sporting events.

Read MoreShow less
Andy Wood on Eric Johnson's "Cliffs of Dover" | Hooked

The hot picker recalls receiving a mix CD of must-know guitarists and the Grammy-winning track was the one that "hit him like a ton of bricks."

Read MoreShow less
x