Song, by Toad

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Yves Yacolt

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 09.25.26 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?

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Toadcast #317 – The Swisscast

MP3TAG 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!

Toadcast #317 – The Swisscast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #317 – The Swisscast

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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)

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Inspector Tapehead Are Back

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.

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Song, by Toad Split 12″ v4

Viking Moses-8

(All photos by Nic Rue)

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.

Virgin of the Birds-16

Virgin of the Birds-20

Viking Moses-11

Viking Moses-23

Virgin of the Birds-21

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This Saturday at Henry’s: Songdog, Best Girl Athlete and Grayson King

Well, back here for a day and already firing back into the gigs because, erm, well honestly just because bands I really, really want to see keep on getting in touch, and honestly I can’t help myself. This Saturday 20th June at Henry’s Cellar Bar we have Songdog, Aberdonian prodigy Best Girl Athlete and Edinburgh’s Grayson King – tickets can be bought here for a fiver.

Songdog is the kind of music where, just as the melodies and warmth of the delivery are starting to sink in, and just as you are about to sit back and relax into the music, a jarringly stark lyric just hits you in the head. And suddenly instead of sipping wine and enjoying the ambience, you are hanging on absolutely every fucking word.

“I’m nobody special, but I give pretty good head” Classic romantic singer-songwriter stu… no wait, what the fuck did he say?

I remember that happening when I first heard Songdog’s music, back in two-thousand-and-not-very-much when I Love My Angel’s Plastic Wings appeared on an Uncut cover-mount CD. If I remember, the lyric in question went “I love my angel’s plastic wings/ she likes my nice tight ass and things” – again, it was one of those ‘hang on, he said what?‘ moments; a turn of phrase at once so jarring, so daft, so natural and so discomfiting that it absolutely demanded you listen closely to absolutely everything else.

Due to cash and attention span constraints I didn’t really follow up on that one weird, fascinating song until almost ten years later when the truly superlative A Life Eroding was released. Suddenly I was completely on board once more. It was a dark-as-coal album stuffed with sadness and the very blackest of humour, along with oddly hummable tunes and a near-overwhelming sense of melancholy.

The latest album, Last Orders At Harry’s Bar (see how appropriate having this gig at Henry’s is!), is perhaps a smidge lighter, but still utterly compelling. I am really, really looking forward to this.

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Back to, Erm, ‘Normal’ Then

r2ralps

Hello folks, well I am back in my office now and, well, as ready for business as I ever am.

As you can imagine, Rust2Rome was absolutely incredible. I am not going to go on about it too much, as I already covered it plenty on my Tumblr site so if you are interested here are all the posts tagged with R2R so you can see what we got up to (in reverse chronological order of course).

Anyhow, back to business. We have a gig coming up on Saturday with the awesome Songdog, Aberdonian prodigy Best Girl Athlete and Edinburgh’s Grayson King. It’s a fiver in, and will be fucking ace.

I have packed away our camping stuff for a little while, and Bette is quietly resting. She hit the 280,000 mile mark on the way back from Paris, and I reckon with Rust2Romania and a wee trip to Norway in the Autumn she might just hit 300,000 this year, which will be cause for celebration indeed. Tough old bird that she is.

One of my favourite aspects of Rust2Rome was the way every so often someone would have a wee peak under the bonnet to confirm that actually, no, she really did just have a 2L, four cylinder Volvo engine under there. There were no mods and there was no V8.  Snigger. She’s just driven by a fucking lunatic that’s all.

Anyhow, as I prepare to commence the serious business of record labelry once more, here are a couple of highlights from the mixtapes I made to go away with. Fucking TUNES!

 

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Two Moments of Brilliance Left – The May 2015 Avalanche of Gigs is Nearly Over

rope-unraveling-300x113 I have to confess that by the time I looked at the finalised version of my May gig calendar I kind of knew it was going to be like this. Chaos. One gig after another and little time for the blog or the label. I’ve tried to keep both on track of course, but it’s been the absolute bare minimum in both cases, because this month was all about the twenty-seven bands I was going to be putting on over the course of the thirty-one days of May. You may scoff, but I am not a professional promoter, and it has been a shitload of fun, but heavy going nevertheless.

And it isn’t fucking over either, because this week we have the last two shows of our hectic May schedule, and then I am never putting another gig on ever again as long as I live. Or at least until late June when we have Songdog coming to Edinburgh.

TOMORROW, FREE at the Paradise Palms on Bristo Square: Strop (formerly Froth), Psychic Soviest and alansmithee.

The last night of our fantastic run of free shows at the Paradise Palms showcasing the very best new Scottish guitar bands. The first three shows have been incredible and this will be no different. All the bands are raucous, kind of messy and incredibly fun to watch. All three are also on a new 12″ vinyl compilation we’ll be releasing in the Autumn, which I have just about finalised and which is sounding fucking brilliant.

Also, try the Ninja Buns at the Paradise Palms because they’re bloody ace.

FRIDAY: £5 at Henry’s Cellar Bar: Rob St. John, Eerie Idles and Elara Caluna.

Rob is back with a full band for the first time in ages, and this is brilliant news. There’s something so recklessly brooding about them when they really get going, which is a real counterpoint to how lovely Rob’s music can be when he wants to dial it back a bit.

The rest of the lineup can probably at best be described as a little elusive. Eerie Idles only exist at all because we asked Pablo from My Kappa Roots to play and this is what he came up with. I think it’s just one of those occasions when you just have to shrug your shoulders, accept that fuck it, he’s a talented wee bastard and let’s see what the fuck he comes out with.

And finally, Elara Caluna are simply a new Glasgow band about whom I know very little indeed, but who still sound really promising. There are only wee bits here and there on the internet, but those bits are good, and they’ve been on bills with some good bands in Glasgow too, so I am most excited to see them.

Sucker Punch this weekend in Glasgow.

This weekend sees the fabulous Gold Flake Paint celebrating its fifth birthday by hosting Sucker Punch at the Glad Café on the Southside. It’s a fantastic lineup across every single day, and on Saturday Rob St. John and Supermoon (Neil from Meursault’s new thing) will both be on the bill, so if your chief interest is Toad stuff (ha!) then that’s the day to be there.

Honestly though, the whole fucking lineup is absolutely fantastic, so don’t fuck about, just go along to the whole thing.

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Rob St. John Full Band Shows Coming Up

bad fun poster

It’s been a while since I saw Rob St. John with a full band. It was his full-band, going electric, judas performance at the Retreat Festival back in 2000andsomethingsomething that I realised I didn’t just like his music, I thought it was fucking brilliant, and after a bit of determined stalking that’s kind of how we ended up releasing his records.

So, after a relatively long absence in this particular guise Rob returns to Scotland next week with two full band shows. One is our own show at Henry’s on Friday 29th May (see the poster image above) which you can get tickets for here. For this show Rob will be joined by Eerie Idles, the new project from Pablo Clark who you may remember from his previous guise My Kappa Roots, and Glasgow newcomers Elara Caluna.

Then on Saturday Rob (along with Supermoon) will be playing at the Gold Flake Paint fifth birthday celebrations at the Glad Café in Glasgow. The event is actually spread over two days and features all sorts of incredible bands, like C Duncan, Kathryn Joseph, Wolf, Apostille and plenty more. You can hear a playlist of all the bands here, and get your tickets from this link.

The song below is one of Rob’s tunes on the new split 10″ vinyl we just released with him on one side, long-time pal Woodpigeon on the other, and paintings by another friend Jake Bee on the front and back covers. It is fucking ace. You should buy one.

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Video: Numbers Are Futile – The Great Chimera

Numbers Are Futile have just unveiled the video for their new song The Great Chimera. The song is from their new album Sunlight on Black Horizon (get the vinyl here), the launch night for which is at the Hidden Door Festival in Edinburgh this Saturday.

It’s a fantastic album – the vinyl just arrived this week – and has been described thus by the Sunday Herald: “Right across the album, that shoegaze voice stretches out further, even as the music remains hectic and a chronology of keyboards dive and resurface. Errors, Steve Reich, Tangerine Dream and Vangelis flash past the windscreen as adrenaline injections pummel the heart over and over again.”

The video itself is an entirely DIY affair, made for absolutely no budget at all, but looking excellent nevertheless. That’s why I don’t tend to make music videos; I have a reasonable camera and I know how to edit, but I just don’t have the ideas, really. Fortunately Panos and Felipe do and the results are ace.

They’ll be headlining the Long Room stage on Saturday, and it will be pretty intense, I reckon. Their music is pretty euphoric when it gets going and they’re a fantastic live band so hopefully you can make the time to pop along and see them. I shall be drunk.

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Toadcast #316 – The Sweepcast

mp3tag What a weird, monumentally depressing and yet slightly hopeful few days we’ve had. A majority elected Tory government basically labels whatever percent of the imbecilic British people who voted for them as rapacious, bullying, socially vindictive, economically illiterate idiots. And there is literally nothing to be happy about in them being elected to govern Britain again. Nothing.

But on the other hand, where Labour destroyed themselves by failing to refute plainly ridiculous Tory fairy tales about the economy, and by being cowed into bowing to their (plain stupid as well as utterly immoral) program of increased welfare cuts, and their (plain stupid as well as utterly immoral) crusade against immigration and asylum, at least Scotland massively embraced the most vocal, credible alternative in the whole conversation.

This shouldn’t be seen as a wholesale endorsement of all SNP policies, or even their track record. I don’t want to live in a one-party state, and I think we’ll see a far more politically diverse result during the Scottish Parliament elections, not least because we embrace proportional representation up here, and that the country will be the better for it.

What this was was a complete rejection of a long-discredited economic dogma and an utterly regressive social narrative spun by one vindictive and avaricious party and barely countered at all by the self-described alternative. It was a rejection of the Lib Dems for their spineless support for a Tory government and complete abandonment of their election promises. It was basically a backlash against two parties who have show their spinelessness in the face of the other, and the narrow cowardice of the Westminster consensus.

It may not fix much in and of itself, but at least up here people have called bullshit as loudly and unanimously as possible.

Toadcast #316 – The Sweepcast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #316 – The Sweepcast

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01. Breakfast Muff – Dishes (00.22)
02. Onions – You’re Not As Boring As (06:15)
03. Joey Fourr – My Dolphins (10.00)
04. Crystal Shipsss – Drum (14.44)
05. Min Diesel – War Band (25.51)
06. Klangstof – Hostage (33.09)
07. Leisure – Got it Bad (38.41)
08. Coin Locker Kid – Boy Toy Pts. 1&2 (45.04)
09. Supermoon – Sarah (Toad Session) (56.55)
10. Trupa Trupa – Halleysonme (1.00.55)