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?
This is what is becoming the annual Rust2Rome podcast. Not so much intentionally as such, it’s just that sitting in the car with tapes is pretty much the only music I’ve been listening to recently that’s all, so that’s what the podcast is from.
After two years doing the French Alps route I decided that since Mrs. Toad wasn’t coming with me this time (she’s coming on Rust2Romania in August) I would try the new Swiss Alps route.
The driving was definitely more spectacular, if not quite as quick due to the general busyness of the roads, but it was fantastic to do the new route. And after the absolute rammy last year when there were 55 cars and 140 people, going in a group with 10 cars and a mere 22 people was blissful peace and quiet, much more sociable and of course with fewer people everything was easier too.
What a fantastic expedition! And good old Bette too – ticking up towards 300,00 miles!
01. The Golden Toadstools – Silly Savage (00.21)
02. Soulsavers – Revival (05.35)
03. The Growlers – Gay Thoughts (13.39)
04. Adam Faucett – Melanie (18.36)
05. The Tarantulas – Tucumcari (26.13)
06. Bob Seger 2+2=? (32.46)
07. Grandaddy – El Caminos in the West (37.27)
08. Yo La Tengo – Outsmartener (40.54)
09. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Fortunate Son (48.47)
10. SWF – Automobile Blues (56.07)
Things move fast in the music industry, and memories are short. We released the debut album by Inspector Tapehead back in something like 2010 I think, but they promptly disbanded to the furthest corners of Scotland and, whilst not calling time on the band per se, at the very least meant that we heard little at all from them for the next several years.
I almost forgot about their album myself, shamefully enough, until last year when we moved house and I had to put the office back together again in the new place. I noticed the album when I was unpacking and started listening to it regularly again. And it’s fucking brilliant – eccentric, cheerful, catchy, humorous and just plain fucking weird. It was a nice moment actually. It may not figure on many people’s radars anymore, but it is still a bloody great album – have a listen to Pherenzik Tear if you need convincing.
Anyhow, the band are back. I wasn’t really expecting to hear from them, I have to confess, and we had too many commitments already piled up to be able to release their new record, but they have found a home right around the corner from us at Glint Recordings where you can pre-order the new album. And if you want to see them live for the first time since God was a wee boy then I suggest you come along to Henry’s Cellar Bar on the 2nd of July, where they’ll be joined by friend and collaborator Panda Su.
One of the reasons I have been a little quiet on the blog lately (aside from wheelspinning out of the parking lot of care homes in Canada and racing stupid cars through the mountains of Europe of course) is that I have been very much occupied with recording and mixing the fourth in the Song, by Toad Split 12″ series.
Funnily enough, despite the fact that we have just added all sorts of soundproofing measures to the warehouse specifically so that it can be used for recording, we actually recorded all of this in our new living room. It’s got an incredibly characteristic, very warm sound, and the mixes I’ve done so far very much reflect this. It’s clearly a record made with a very definite sense of place and time and I like that. All the effects on vocals and stuff like that tend to be simply room mics brought up to increase the ambient sound of the room itself.
We’ve got new recordings from Viking Moses (above), Virgin of the Birds and Supermoon (below). The fourth band is yet to be decided, but the three sets of songs we have already mean they will have to be quite specifically chosen – something which fits with what we have, but is still different enough to have its own character. Usually we invite all four bands at once, and that was the same this time, apart from one having to pull out late on so we are now in the position of having to invite someone else, but having a far better idea of what their music will be sitting alongside, which is unusual.
Still, what we have so far sounds absolutely fucking gorgeous, and it’s really nice to record something in the living room before the acquisition of proper furniture dampens that natural reverb down, and before the recording moves out to the warehouse for good.