Mogwai, ‘The Hawk Is Howling’ (Matador)
Have these once-deafening, instrumental Scots finally returned to the Imax guitar-rock dynamics that made them one of the most egregiously ripped-off underground bands of the past ten years? Almost. On their seventh album — following the more subdued Mr. Beast and Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait — doofus song titles (“I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead”) take the piss out of moody movements that scream, “Soundtrack license here, mate!” But when they work up a good buzz and growl (“Batcat”) or hit a scrumptious riff (“The Sun Smells Too Loud”), Mogwai still take your breath away.