Music – gigs not to miss by Stephen Butchard
Mitski – Stereo, Glasgow; 04 October
Mitski’s music fizzes, constantly threatening to bubble over but rarely giving into fits of panic. Her warn vocal has mastered tension building, so all she needs is a rumbling electric guitar, a few airy synths and she has us in a spell. That, and her lyrics, of course. The songwriter’s latest full-length was a painful portrayal of early adulthood and the hollowness that comes with it, but it’s delivered with the humour, heart and nuance it takes to truly captivate. Personal confessions of depression and a crisis of self-intenty keep the album overwhelming in its intimacy, while her darting melodies soak in universally. The artist recently took to twitter to vent about appearing detached on stage, something that reminded many fans how vulnerable the stage can be when you’re baring your heart to a room full of strangers. In truth, Mitski has nothing to worry about. Even with a cool deadpan, she remains utterly engaging.
Mura Masa – Glasgow Art School; 04 Oct
Alex Crossan has been delivering fresh dance pop since his first tentative remixes under the Mura Masa name in 2013. Sleek, vibrant textures back his elastic grooves that take queues from the likes of SBTRKT and Disclosure to craft something that’s both immediate and timeless in appeal. The instrumental quirks and flourishes he works into his beats give him personality beyond his influences, while his sweet melodies melt into your brain in a way not many producers can muster. His meteoric rise has been in tandem with that of his collaborators, Shura and N.A.O (the latter’s upcoming set on the 26th of October is also not to miss). While it would be easy to pass off this internet hype as a shallow trend, the quality of this early work is undeniable, and there’s no reason why Mura Masa won’t grow into something greater as he sinks his teeth deeper into the music industry. Catch his upcoming set at the Art School to see what the hype is all about.
Michael Kiwanuka – The Liquid room, Edinburgh; 7 october
Micheal Kiwanuka’s soul infused folk debut was a gorgeous offering of stripped-back songs, and one that managed to bag him a Mercury Prize nomination and a sizeable fanbase. Yet it never really stood out from others working with an acoustic folk sound that year, many of whom were climbing higher up the charts. Love and Hate was different. The follow-up to his breakthrough was a sprawling statement that used funk, orchestral backings, choirs and a feast of instrumentation to beef up its songs that ranged from personal tales of struggle to universal lambasting’s of injustice. At its core, it’s Kiwanuka’s writing that elevates this melancholic collection of songs that were fuelled by increasing racial tensions on both sides of the pond. This assured change of pace will colour the tone of his latest tour. Kiwanuka sounds larger than ever on ‘Love and Hate’, and this size should translate beautifully when he plays the liquid room in October.
Ezra Furman and the Boy-Friends – The Liquid Room, Edinburgh; 15 October.
Over the past couple of years, Ezra Furman has gone from a cult hero to an outright outsider icon and one of the most respected live acts going – all for good reason. Furman’s glam-inspired music conjures Bowie and Dylan at their most freewheeling, but his wit and personality are his own. Rather that use his rebel status to exclude the conformists, Furman instead makes universal pop music that would go down well with even the dourest of curmudgeons, as long as they didn’t get a look as his dress before clicking play. This hummability is a sign of talent; his messages are left no less urgent by the search for a big chorus, but are only amplified by the replayibility he works into his songs. Backed by his band of ‘Boyfriends’ is where Furman really shines, swaggering on stage like a legend in the making. Many acts could topple under the weight of their own cult status, but Furman embraces his success with a warm heart and a killer chorus. He’s an essential act to see when he passes through Edinburgh this October.