So Mrs. Toad and I are back from Rust2Romania (just) and before I throw myself into the second half of the Pale Imitation Festival I thought I might take the time to reflect on the rather epic adventure we just experienced.
We have some of the tunes, both excellent and just plain silly (and sometimes both), which we played as we charged about through some of the more unexpected parts of Europe. Driving from Edinburgh to Romania, for example, probably shouldn’t include a chapter titled ‘via Greece’, but somehow it did.
Getting slung in a Romanian jail also ‘shouldn’t’ have happened either, but it was awfy close, and finally Mrs. Toad and I ended up with a wee trip down memory lane by going to a Heuriger in Vienna on the way home. It was all over the place, this particular trip, but especially fantastic because of it.
01. Simon & Garfunkel – Baby Driver (00.25)
02. The Clash – I Fought the Law (07.51)
03. Motorhead – The Ace of Spades (11.42)
04. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (14.36)
05. The Lovely Eggs – Fuck It (25.19)
06. Chuck Berry – Jaguar & Thunderbird (30.11)
07. The Muppets – Movin’ Right Along (32.11)
08. Kings of Leon – Charmer (38.39)
09. The Strokes – Vision of Division (41.39)
10. Kenny Rogers & the First Edition – Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition is In) (47.35)
11. R.E.M. – Be Mine (53.07)
Hello folks. Well we are back from Romania, not entirely in jail although it was close, and not entirely burned to a crisp either, although Mrs. Toad was rather in danger of entirely melting on one or two occasions. Go here for the full story – you just have to scroll down a bit.
Anyhow, we return to the second half of the Pale Imitation Festival and there are some absolutely brilliant gigs still to come in our very own celebration of local Scottish music in the heart of the (over-priced, imported rubbish of the) Fringe.
Tomorrow we have eagleowl, on Saturday we have Adam Stafford (whose new album is fucking amazing, by the way) and then next week it’s the Supermoon show at Summerhall and the Night School Records show with Happy Meals and then the closing party. So many good bands. So much beer to drink.
And my mum’s here, so erm, so many disappointed stares to withstand.
Whilst I am currently off getting locked up in Romania for speeding offences (in a 1992 Volvo estate – is it even possible to speed in one of these? – apparently so) The Pale Imitation Festival thunders wonderfully onwards.
If you want to see the Rust2Romania updates check out my Tumblr, but this page is about music, and that means two absolutely fucking brilliant gigs at Henry’s Cellar Bar this week, to which you should all very much go.
Firstly, on Thursday 13th we have an indie rock night (do the kids still call it that, they probably don’t, do they) with two of Aberdeen’s finest – Min Diesel and Wendell Borton – joining awesome Glaswegian newcomers Spinning Coin.
And then on Saturday 15th we have the fantastic Save As Collective, with Jonnie Common, River of Slime, Glamour Muscle and MC Almond Milk bringing a collection of music which treads on pretty much all toes from pop to hip hop to electronica to experimental to just plain mental.
They will be fucking great shows, only a fiver in, and all at Henry’s Cellar Bar, starting at 7:30pm. Be there or be sq.. no, sorry, I won’t go there, that’s awful. Please come. Will that do the trick? Advance tickets can be found here.
Hiya folks, once again in advance of the glorious Pale Imitation Festival we have a podcast exploring all the weird and wonderful bands who will be playing in Edinburgh during August for your wild and enthusiastic entertainment.
Because you’re coming along, right? All of you?
Oh god do please come. Please. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease!
Ah fuck that, it’s really undignified when I grovel isn’t it. Fucking come along or you are missing the fuck out on seeing the best under-the-radar bands in Scotland at the most reasonable of prices (a fiver per show or a season ticket to the whole damn thing for £25 – all tickets here) in one of Edinburgh’s most legendary underground venues. (Literally. It’s actually a cellar.)
It’s a bit haphazard, but it’s a bloody great festival, the beer in Henry’s is really good these days and the wonderful Kitchen Disco will be providing cakes and DJing on every single night because they are massive heroes and they are the reason the terrorists will never win.
01. Numbers Are Futile – Monster (00.17)
02. Beam – Hex (08.12)
03. Bat Bike – Willing (18.52)
04. Sharptooth – Queen of Scots (26.37)
05. Min Diesel – War Band (28.32)
06. Adam Stafford – Atheist Money (35.07)
07. Wolf – Tricks and Bones (42.56)
08. Tryptamines – Black and White Blues (47.57)
09. Supermoon – Klopfgeist (55.45)
10. Happy Meals – Electronic Disco (1.03.57)
Toad pal and musical favourite Samantha Crain has a new album out called Under Branch & Thorn & Tree (buy one here). I haven’t covered the album on Song, by Toad yet, mainly because I don’t really write record reviews anymore, but it’s really good.
It’s been interesting watching Sam become more and more politically vocal on Facebook recently. It’s mostly US socio-political stuff rather than global geo-politics, and tends to cover a lot of the topics which have been in the news over the last couple of years, from the treatment of non-white people in the States to the more specific issues facing native people (she is Choctaw herself, I think).
I’ve also seen some folk have a dig at her here and there for being too much of an activist and not staying in the nice, neat box of ‘popular entertainer’. Personally I think it’s great though. Partly, if non-white people don’t speak up whenever they can, how is the fact that white voices dominate all media conversations ever going to be challenged. And partly, as a white, cis-gendered, hetero middle-class etc. male, how am I going to develop a better perspective on my own privilege if my non-white, non-male, non-hetero etc. etc. etc. friends don’t constantly point out things which my privilege might easily either cause me to underestimate or blind me to altogether. Personally, I am just grateful that she has the energy to keep talking about this stuff.
Protest music is a tricky one to tackle, post-Bono, but Sam describes this as her underdog album. From the press release:
“It focuses on every-day, small town life and the challenges of the working class who have lost their voice in today’s “one-percenter” society.
“The oligarchy we live under today is not the republic we were promised and it is important to see that and to take action,” said Crain. “I’m not trying to win arguments, I just want to get people involved in the conversation.””
I remember some painfully contrived attempts at addressing the 9/11 attacks, and wondering if we could really produce proper protest music anymore, given how strongly we cling to irony, tangent and obliqueness in the lyrics of fashionable music. It seemed like a straight, sincere protest album addressing current issues would simply seem too self-conscious and somehow naive these days.
Recently, though, with economic hardship and gross societal power imbalances nibbling away at the actual foundations of the Western civilisation it seems people can tackle this stuff and have it come out sounding ‘right’. I don’t know what the difference is. Maybe people are just so pissed off these days that they just don’t give a fuck, and that is what makes the music good. Given how little access people of colour have to dominant forms of mainstream media, music still feels to me like an important outlet for these voices, and it seems that more and more good stuff is emerging that is pissed off, unabashed and has something to say.
And finally, some more details on the video at the top of the page:
“Directed by Houston-based filmmakers Weston Getto Allen and Dorian Electra, the “Killer” video was inspired by Michael Brown, who was brutally gunned down on a Ferguson, MO street by police officer Darren Wilson, Freddie Gray’s “rough ride” in a Baltimore police van that led to his traumatic death, and John Crawford, shot by police in an Ohio Walmart while facing away from the officers, on his cell phone, holding a toy BB gun he had picked up off a store shelf.
“According to Allen and Electra, “‘Killer’ tells the story of Evan, an African American boy who dreams of becoming a police officer in order to better his community, but who is killed by the police because of the colour of his skin.” The video stars Evan Horsley and was filmed in Houston’s Third Ward and at the historic African American Olivewood Cemetery in Houston. Dating back to the 1870s, it was the first African American burial ground within Houston’s city limits, and was established on land that was formerly a graveyard for slaves.”
Hello folks, it’s well past time to announce the third annual Pale Imitation Festival. Remember T on the Fringe? The Edge Festival? Retreat? Well this isn’t nearly as good as any of those. But this is Edinburgh, where fun and culture are strongly frowned upon, so we are just going to have to make do.
All tickets, including the super-bargainacious season ticket, which gets you into all gigs, can be bought here, unless you just want individual tickets to see Supermoon and Rob St. John at Summerhall in which case this is the page you want. All the other gigs will be at Henry’s Cellar Bar as per usual – one of the key engine rooms of the Edinburgh live music scene for years, and now with extra added nice beer! I know! Amazing!
Once again, this is a fantastic celebration of the best underground music Scotland has to offer. There are established Toad favourites, plenty of Song, by Toad Records bands, a flash night out at Summerhall, plenty of new bands never to play the festival before, and we close on the 29th with a showcase of one of my favourite Scottish labels, Night School, and then a late night party with music and dancing.
In a massive show of endurance and sugar, the glorious Kitchen Disco will be DJing every single night of the festival as well, bringing you awesome tunes and delicious cakes (the latter of which will generally be tenuously related to the bands on the bill through some dreadful pun or other, but will taste amazing whatever they’re called).
The ever-awesome Independent Label Market is returning to London this weekend and we shall be there once again (and this time I shall remember to bring all our recent releases along with me as well).
We are on the outside corner of the market, behind Heavenly and Full Time Hobby, and next to BBE and R2 and it would be excellent to see you there if you happen to be in London.
Since I was last there in March we have released several fantastic albums, so have a listen to the following and see if you don’t fancy coming along to pick up a copy on Saturday. Or just buy them on the internet if you prefer that, or don’t live anywhere near London.
Andrew R. Burns has been a wee bit quiet for the last year or so, but a new EP has just made its way onto his Bandcamp page, under his slightly amended new guise of Andrew R. Burns and the Tropicanas.
It’s something of a piece with his existing stuff, and as he builds his back catalogue it’s starting to flesh out into a really good collection of material. It’s very much from the introverted lounge lizard school of modern guitar pop which I know some people have taken a bit of a scunner to, but fortunately I am not one of those people.
This new four song EP – rather catchily titled One Man’s Garbage is Another Man Person’s Good Ungarbage – has a couple of cracking straight up pop tunes, and a rather cute instrumental, Emargo, which doesn’t go anywhere much but has a really nice, playful wee melody line – verging on chiptunes.
There’s a really nice dreaminess to these, mixed in with a little bit of swagger. It’s a fairly popular mix these days, but when the balance is right and the tunes are there I really like this kind of stuff.
There are band names, and then there are band names. Yves Yacolt, when they first got in touch with me, went by the name of Wank Hilliams. Presumably Auntie Flo suggested it over Sunday lunch one weekend.
Apparently radio play was a little tough to come by for Wank Hilliams for some unfathomable reason, so a super-slick firm of image consultants (or, perhaps, Auntie Flo again) have rebranded the band as the far more family friendly Yves Yacolt which is, by almost every single measure yet invented, a significantly better name.
The songs, however, haven’t changed much, which is excellent news because I thought they sounded really good.
It’s grumbly guitar music, and can be droney, but in general is more of a low-level growl than an all-out bellow. There’s a lot of acoustic guitar over the grumble as well, which works nicely, and makes it all feel nice and approachable, despite the occasionally disinterested approach to singing.
My description of the guitar and vocals sounds a bit like every other band I’ve covered here for the last five years I guess, and that’s not entirely wrong, this stuff won’t shock you when you hear it. There are interesting things going on though, and the percussion can be improvised really nicely, such as She Only Sleeps When She Prays, which is a really nice touch and takes the music somewhere more individual and interesting. There are six songs to have a listen to on their Soundcloud player and enough little detours and surprises like this to imply that the band might well have some rather interesting things in their locker.
The songs are short and sharp, and surprisingly catchy despite the roughness, and I am really glad the band are back in business after going quiet for a while. Right, where’s that Pale Imitation bill?