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Malcolm Middleton Reviews

PM is very happy to be included amongst the slew of reviews for Malcolm Middleton’s new LP, Waxing Gibbous, as highlighted by the man himself on his website:

“Some reviews of Waxing Gibbous.

“All this from a man”

“Malcolm Middleton spent a decade in an important band named after a sex toy”

“some of Middleton’s lyrics are not upward looking”

“Middleton’s breakthrough album”

“an almighty two fingered salute?”

“he has again produced something”

PM’s is the second-to-last one. What a guy. Read PM’s review here and listen to some of its component songs here. Also see what he had to say about the other week here.


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How’s Your Week? – Malcolm Middleton

Malcolm Middleton. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? PM is honoured to have a few words from the ex-Arab Strap-ee and truly excellent solo artist. Despite what you may have read, he’s not disappearing.

Malcolm Middleton

In a word, how’s your week?

Not good. Ups & downs. I’ve been rehearsing with my band and I find these things stressful, it’s like recording the album again, every day. I’ve probably had 3 successes this week, and about 9 failures, so all in all things are on the decent. On the bright side, I just received the finished CD version of Waxing Gibbous and it looks great, I’m very proud of this album. Although I wish I’d never said I was taking a break as that’s not doing me any favours. To be clear, I’m not taking a break, it’s just going to be that my next couple of albums will be under different names and styles and collaborations etc. If anything I’ll probably be doing more. Just not anything under my MM moniker for a while. I’ll still be touring till the end of the year though.

What did you get up to last night and how was it?

Last night… Wednesday? …home from rehearsal at 6, did some e-mails, picked girlfriend up from work, went to highly-recommended authentic Indian restaurant, didn’t like it, came home, messed around, read book, put on black polo-neck, stared at ceiling (upper right), the abyss, did some work on an overdue remix, bed?

What’s for dinner tonight and who’s cooking it?

I’m cooking tonight. Schnitzel with asparagus, broccoli and potatoes.

What have you listened to today and did you like it?


I listened to the She & Him album which I really like. It’s on the verge of being annoying but I’m in the mood for that at the minute.

What’s your favourite/least favourite thing that’s happened this week?


Favourite: Rehearsing the song Carry Me and realising that I love it and it will sound good live. Least favourite: Hearing Zoe Ball on Radio 2 and realising that now I have to move onto Radio 3 probably. First Wiley, then Cox, now Ball. Get out of my radio!

That’s the longest ‘In a word’ we’ve ever encountered, but who’s complaining? NO-ONE, divs. Anyway, see Malcolm’s excellent album reviewed here, and have a listen to him doing a noise here.

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Malcolm Middleton – Waxing Gibbous

Malcolm Middleton – Waxing Gibbous (Full Time Hobby)

Malcolm Middleton - Waxing Gibbous

Because Waxing Gibbous is reputedly Malcolm Middleton’s last solo LP for quite some time, you’d expect some sort of parting message, a farewell, a sign-off. It appears to be “Fuck off. Can’t be fucked”. And that’s in no way a bad thing. Hasn’t most of his career, whether in Arab Strap or on his own, been a series of statements that amount to an almighty two fingered salute? Far from being a punk aesthete, Middleton has proven if nothing else to be a man continually obsessed with valorising himself. Desperate to be worthy and convinced that he’s not, this struggle has informed the work of other confused tykes like Jeffrey Lewis, but suits Middleton’s dour deliveries beautifully.

Waxing Gibbous begins with Middleton’s strongest ever single, Red Travellin’ Socks. A breezy, brisk and flying paean to change and not changing, it’s just about short enough and, in a weird Travelling Wilburys kind of way, totally heartening in its gruff harmonies and infinite chug. His Bat Out Of Hell. Of course, that can’t-be-fucked attitude doesn’t seem apparent amongst the Springsteen pomp and bristle, but Middleon’s typically self-chastising words paint a mirrored image. “I’m out of money and I’m sick of these songs… I need to get back where I belong,” When he’s knocked his material in the past, such as in the celestially excellent Devil And The Angel, it’s been from the perspective of others. The Devil visits Middleton in bed and tells him that his songs are shite, but this time Middleton’s telling himself.

Of course, it could be a numbing tactic of just knowing that your songs are alright while protesting that they aren’t so that people are encouraged to praise them, but that seems unlikely given the forceful and constant reference Middleton makes to his own shite-ness. When, on Ballad Of Fuck All, he whines softly of “dying softly” and other such weighty bags, we can see that the concerns of artistic integrity have not only become magnified, they’ve mutated into existential worries as well. What a time to leave the game, Malcy! Things are starting to get really interesting. That much of this new found focus on ‘the biggies’ of life is accompanied by a renewed sonic palette is a double frustration, because the wispy and relentlessly bleak crushing of man-made electrics is beautifully balanced with his now almost-virtuosic strumming.

But that doesn’t matter on the album’s closing track. Made Up Your Mind is a delicate ballad with balls, the likes of which Middleton has become used to effortlessly producing. Cruising he may be, but lines like “I’ve not given you all I’ve got” make his decision to abandon the solo craft for the meantime seem all the more inexplicable. If that stuff he hasn’t yet given us takes shape in another project then that’s fine, but his first five solo LPs have given us so much that any other incarnation will seem slightly alien. Until that happens, Malcolm Middleton couldn’t be fucked with how we feel about all this. Well, some of us could give a fuck, and want some more.

This is out on June the first, via Full Time Hobby. More here ‘cos that’s where it is and where you should go for it yep. Also reviewed at The Quietus, here. Happy Bank Holiday, see you Tuesday with a few words from Steve Abel


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James Yorkston/Malcolm Middleton – London St Giles In The Fields Church 11/12/08

Malcolm Middleton

Gigs in churches are just ace. No one talks, no one wanders around and gets in the way, everyone’s seated, not drunk and the artists are more likely to play at their best ‘cos of all the upturned faces at their feet. Malcolm Middleton seems very nervous about the whole affair, though, even though it’s a support slot. It’s not a nervousness in performance, particularly, more a nervousness that God will strike him down for saying “shite”, “pish”, and “we’re all gonna die” like a quiet shaman. Nothing like that happens, thankfully, and we’re treated to some spirited woe and a beautiful version of Devil & The Angel, leaving the audience several times warmer in this nippy old crypt than when he arrived.

James Yorkston

James Yorkston shares with Middleton a similar wariness about language and content, but unlike Middleton a real, performance nervousness that sees him bash the mic stand and forget his words in the first song. “Does anyone know how to play Steady As She Goes?” he later asks, bashfully. Ah well. From then on, though, it’s admirable festive stuff, with several highlights from the recent When The Haar Rolls In LP getting a welcome leg-stretch. Particularly endearing is the sweet and luxurious B’s Jig (in which the accordion and clarinet blend timbres like the separate elements of a Fruit Corner), and recent single Tortoise Regrets Hare, which features japesy contributions from Pictish Trail and Rozi Plain.

Throughout, though, it’s clear to see that Yorkston’s ease as a performer is what we’re all enthralled by, and the way he interacts with his hermetically tight band as well as the audience is a lesson in sympathetic control. As he gently crescendos all the way to the climax of the obligatory Shipwreckers, it’s hard not to be swept away by the conflict of grandiose religiosity trading blows with the defiantly homespun in this most glorious of surroundings.

More info and some ruddy music can be found here and here. And, get this, you can see the same review HERE! Why would you want to do that? TO PROVE THAT SOMETIMES PEOPLE DO READ WHAT WE WRITE!

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