Song, by Toad

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Toadcast #295 – The Passed-outcast

tag I will preempt your question: what the fuck is this?

Well, on the Sunday of SXSW this year, the Sunday of our traditional and traditonally chaotic SXSW podcast, I went off to record this podcast instead, with the awesome Draught Punk gents. WHAT? Ignoring our awesome annual podcast in order to hang out with new friends? Isn’t that what happens just before massive comeuppance in every high school movie in history? Have you learned NOTHING from shallow, saccharine, moralistic cinema?

Well, as every cheating boyfriend ever would say, wait, I can explain. I didn’t realise at the time that it would be an either/or situation, but after discussing excellent beer over the course of six or seven pints during the afternoon I got back to Peej’s house and realised I was far, far too drunk to try and record anything at all. So I drank more margaritas instead, because of course I did.

Fortunately Peej stepped in to rescue matters and recorded this for us. Bless him. Although one or two bits had to be beeped out. Mostly me.

Toadcast #295 – The Passed-outcast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #295 – The Passed-outcast

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01. Willie Nelson – I Gotta Get Drunk (00.26)
02. Sparks – Reinforcements (08.17)
03. Sweet Baboo – Let’s Go Swimming Wild (04.55)
04. Withered Hand – King of Hollywood (20.09)
05. EMA – California (23.59)
06. Fat White Family – Touch the Leather (31.17)
07. Cate Le Bon – No God (35.52)
08. Tony Joe White – Polk Salad Annie (41.47)
09. Eagulls – Possessed (47.37)
10. Big Tits – You Made Me Look (52.15)
11. Meursault – I’ll Believe in Anything (55.34)

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Record Store Day 2014 and the Vinyl Revival

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Record Store Day 2014 is next Saturday, as you probably know, and although we don’t have a formal RSD release the new Virgin of the Birds album is out pretty much now and if you want to buy something Toadly then that’s the one.

It’s understated, and Virgin of the Birds stuff often takes a while to settle in, so I don’t expect it to be an immediate hit but nevertheless this is an absolutely excellent album – one which on first listen immediately had me going back to the start to listen again, which is a rather fantastic thing to feel when you release records for a living.

As well as the first single Every Revelry (see video below) there are exclusive plays of two album tracks Nine Sisters (which contains the best saxophone solo of all time) and The Serpent Plume on this excellent interview Jon did with Dani Charlton from Amazing Radio.

You can buy the album from Monorail or LoveMusic in Glasgow, or from Vox Box Music or Coda here in Edinburgh, or if you are more electronically inclined, from our website here.

It’s only out on 12″ vinyl (or digitally of course), not CD, and I suppose it looks a lot like we’re becoming a vinyl-only label these days, which in a sense we are, but it’s not a deliberate or strategic decision actually, just circumstances.

We can really only afford to release most album in one format, either CD or vinyl, not both, as we simply can’t afford the extra manufacturing costs. With albums like this one and Adam Stafford’s which are both co-released with North American labels, we pretty much have to press vinyl as apparently North American customers have all but given up on CD. Or at least that’s what I am told by my US-based hipster spies.

Now, I love vinyl, don’t get me wrong, and I was at the recording of Vic Galloway‘s vinyl special for BBC Radio Scotland earlier this week where they talked about many of the things I love about the format: the tactility, the artwork, the ritual of playing records, the physical embodiment of your love of music, and all the other stuff.

What didn’t come up, though, were any of my reservations about either the format itself or the much-vaunted revival it has experienced of late.

Revived it may be, but vinyl still only accounts for a tiny number of album sales. A huge percentage increase in sales is easy to achieve when the numbers are low, even if the absolute number of sales is still small.

For larger labels I strongly suspect the future is still in the effective monetisation of streaming and on-demand services, rather than vinyl sales, and for smaller ones vinyl is expensive to press and simply doesn’t generate very much profit on short runs. I love the stuff, as I said, but I am not sure it’s quite the industry saviour which the press paints it as.

Headlines need to be written simplistically and sensationally of course, so they are mostly bollocks when it comes to sensitive issues like this, but the whole ‘vinyl revival’ line reminds me of the mindless and utterly wrong statement that ‘all the money is in touring, nowadays’, which was repeated so often that it became common knowledge, despite being complete balls.

The relatively recent revival of interest in building vinyl collections is a good thing, of course, but perhaps more because it points towards an admittedly small but nevertheless important group of people for whom a strong relationship with music is still a core part of their personality, rather than implying any specific importance of vinyl itself. Some people collect plants, some buy every cooking implement going and create incredible meals, and others want to build a large, beautiful collection of the music that they love, and to surround themselves with that collection. It’s nice.

Is vinyl particularly central to that, as a format, though? I don’t know. It’s bolder and more visual than other formats, so I guess it’s the most obvious candidate. But (whisper it) a good CD gives you better audio fidelity, and I have seen some truly lovely CD and cassette releases too.

There is a definite possibility that a significant aspect of the vinyl revival is simply a passing fashion, no more significant than the retro-fetishism of Super 8 film, Instagram, drinking from Mason Jars, and an awful lot of hipster clothing fashions. It could easily, in other words, go away as fast as it has seemed to appear.

I don’t like to think like this, because I love my record collection, and I love making albums as well. But I do sometimes think the vinyl revival needs to be approached a little more critically than it is, rather than people pointing at 200% rises in sales from tiny to very small numbers, and endlessly parroting the dubious claim to superior audio fidelity.

I still welcome it, of course, and I will inevitably spend far more money than I can actually afford on RSD, but I still think a healthy degree of scepticism is needed, because these simplistic narratives are almost never right, and in the music industry at the moment we need to keep open minds about the future rather than relying on jumping from one version of ‘The Answer!’ to the next.

You should totally still buy the Virgin of the Birds album though. Seriously.

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Song, by Toad Records Sampler 2014

a1625803646_2 Yep, it’s that time of year again – the time when I try and parlay your loyalty and support into something altogether more cynical and tawdry: email addresses for our mailing list.

Well, that’s not entirely fair. Actually, you do get plenty in return for either your email address or modest donation: ten fantastic songs from our upcoming releases in 2014.

This includes an exclusive new track from Sparrow and the Workshop, a sneak peak at our next Split 12″ and a song from a fantastic collaborative album between David Thomas Broughton and the Juice vocal ensemble, due out in September.

So happy, erm, I don’t know, is it Easter soon? Or Chinese New Year? Well happy them, then, and don’t say we never give you anything.

Song, by Toad Records Sampler on Bandcamp.

2. Ilona, You Should Still be My Vampire Attendant by Virgin of the Birds (4.39) 
A slick pop classic from Abandoned Love, part of our Five Years/Five Records anniversary box set. We’re also releasing the next album by the band, who are from Seattle: Winter Seeds, out on 7th April.

3. Photosynth (Split 12” version) by Jonnie Common (4.58) 
This is an off-cut from our third Split 12” album, which we recorded up at the Insider Festival in June last year. The others on the split are David Thomas Broughton, Sparrow and the Workshop and Siobhan Wilson.,

4. Sex Acts by Animal Magic Tricks (3.10) 
Another from our Five Years/ Five Records box set, this is from Brighton-based Animal Magic Tricks debut album Sex Acts. Frances’ last appearance on one of our releases was with Meursault and King Creosote on the Cold Seeds album from 2009.

6. Yorkshire Fog by David Thomas Broughton & Juice (3.54) 
Vocal ensemble Juice and experimental pop maverick David Thomas Broughton will be releasing a collaborative album with us in September 2014.

7. Ghosts by Plastic Animals (4.47) 
After their brilliant contribution to our second Split 12”, released last year alongside the Beer vs. Records project, we are currently working on Plastic Animals’ debut album. This song will be on there, but this version is an old one.

8. Dear God by Siobhan Wilson (5.08) 
Another gorgeous song from the Glasgow-based singer-songwriter, this is also from the third Split 12” recorded up at the Insider Festival.

10. Dirt & the Roots (2014 version) by Meursault (3.24) 
Another tune from the Five Years/ Five Records box set, this is from Kissing on Bonfires by Meursault which is a complete, start-to-finish re-record of their classic 2008 debut album.

11. In Heaven by Naked (4.29) 
The b-side to the Edinburgh band’s debut single Lie Follows Lie, which we released last year, with their follow-up effort Tell Me What is Not Yet Said due for release in May.

12. Switches by The Leg (3.27) 
From The Leg’s gloriously abrasive 2008(ish) album What Happened to the Shrunken Tina Turner, this is as gentle a song as there probably is on the album. Another from our box set.

14. One Brush by Sparrow & the Workshop (2.22)
And finally, we finished with an exclusive new tune by Sparrow and the Workshop. This was an off-cut from their brilliant album Murderopolis, which we released last year. The band are also on the Insider Split 12”, out in June.

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Hidden Door Festival

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From this weekend the Hidden Door Festival will be running in Edinburgh. Having grown from the Bowery several years ago, they’ll now be taking over the sweep of arches at the East end of Market Street.

If you know Edinburgh you may still have no idea these arches are even there, but they look amazing. And the plans for the various nights look equally excellent.

In Toadly terms, we have Adam Stafford and Plastic Animals joining Rory Sutherland and Broken Records tomorrow night, and then next week on Friday 4th April Meursault are playing with Miaoux Miaoux, Conquering Animal Sound and Law. There’s also a Lost Map showcase on Monday 31st March, as well as a Songs in the Key of Fife evening this Sunday 30th, hosted by our charming but odd friend Vic Galloway, and based around his recent book.

The plan is to combine multiple art forms across the various spaces, with music, installations, theatre, dance and visual arts all overlapping and creating something a bit broader and more interesting than the usual, rather segregated Edinburgh habits.

So get ye along. I’ll be back soon, and then the usual stream of bollocks on this blog will resume. Sorry, but it had to happen sometime.

And apologies again to the Hidden Door folks, and Jamie Sutherland. I was supposed to be helping them out with this, and then Meursault’s US tour became more and more all-consuming and I had to drop out at rather late notice. So I’m sorry lads, and I hope it goes really well.

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Toadcast #294 – The Tourcast

tag Umm, perhaps not as slick as the usual ultra-professional fare you’ve no doubt come to expect here at Song, by Toad, this podcast is nevertheless at least not quite as howlingly mental as our usual SXSW podcast.

Instead of recording the usual podcast, drunkenness compelled me to put it off, so we ended up recording one in the tour van a week later. I say ‘tour van’ but what I really mean is 30ft RV, which is what we’re actually travelling around in instead.

Late confirmations meant we couldn’t confirm the trip until the last minute, so booking hotels would have been an expensive nightmare, and a regular van was looking to be twice the price, so we, er, ended up with this. Fuckwit caper of a lifetime!

Toadcast #294 – The Tourcast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #294 – The Tourcast

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01. Meursault – Was ist Das? (00.24)
02. Gary Numan – Are Friends Electric (19.04)
03. Fat White Family – Wet Hot Beef Pt.1 (24.25)
04. Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle – Gustavo (37.41)
05. Nirvana – Love Buzz (Live at the Milestone, Charlotte) (49.11)
06. Adam Faucett – Melanie (58.08)
07. Kevin Ayers – Religious Experience (Singing a Song in the Morning) (1.07.24)
08. Calexico – Black Heart (1.12.02)
09. Little Feat – Long Distance Love (1.23.28)
10. Viking Moses – Little Arms (1.32.40)

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New Album from Virgin of the Birds on Song, by Toad Records

Every Revelry is the first single from the forthcoming debut album by Virgin of the Birds, called Winter Seeds. It’s out in a couple of weeks on vinyl and you can pre-order one here. You can download the mp3 from the Soundcloud player at the bottom of the page.

This is a perfect example of the kind of laid-back, literate guitar pop in which the band specialise. I was actually drawn in by the lyrics initially, only to realise a little later that I could hum every single tune as well.

When Jon Rooney started Virgin of the Birds he had just moved to a new city and didn’t really want to throw himself back into the dive bar circuit of relentless, thankless gigging.

So he set about doing things a little differently, by recording a series of EPs himself, which he released for free on Bandcamp between 2009 and 2012. Whether this proved a more effective strategy in the long run… well, who cares really, because this is how he came to our notice here at Song, by Toad.

Ilona, You Should Still be My Vampire Attendant was on the first of those EPs and named in my Festive Fifty for 2009, and every EP earned a glowing review on the blog. Jon even happened to visit Edinburgh that Winter and ended up playing the first of our now-traditional New Year’s House Gigs.

At the time I thought those EPs were too good simply to be given away for free on the internet, and late last year I decided to do something about that: compiling my favourite songs from the EP onto one of the five 12” vinyl we released as part of ourFive Years/Five Records anniversary box set.

Jon will be over in the UK in May to tour in support of the album.

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Meursault US Tour

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Hello everyone. My fucking head hurts. It really hurts. Fucking gin. I have two days to sober up, and then I drive Meursault on their East Coast US tour in, ummm… that thing.

I’ve been trying to manoeuvre the fucker around Austin for the last couple of days too, in the middle of a major festival. It’s been, er, somewhat challenging.

Anyhow, before I get my first gin of the new day, I thought I should post the list of tour dates so that if you happen to be around you can come and see the band play in the next couple of weeks.

Two SXSW shows today in rainy Austin:
2pm: Latitude 30, British Music Embassy
9pm: Hype Hotel (with Gary Numan)

Tue 18 Mar Memphis, TN @ Lamplighter Lounge
Wed 19 Mar Charlotte, NC @ venue tbc
Thu 20 Mar Boone, NC @ Beet House
Sat 22 Mar Washington, DC @ HomeStageDC cancelled
Sun 23 Mar Baltimore, MD @ The Crown w/ What Moon Things
Mon 24 Mar Harrisburg, PA @ Make Space
Tue 25 Mar New York, NY @ Cake Shop  cancelled
NEW SHOW: Tue 25th Mar
New York, NY @ Sidewalk Café
Wed 26 Mar Hudson, NY @ The Half Moon
Thu 27 Mar Kingston, NY @ BSP Lounge
Fri 28 Mar Philadelphia, PA @ Fergie’s Pub
Sat 29 Mar Providence, RI @ Lady’s Den cancelled

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2000 Miles Worth of Fannying About

2014-03-09 09.31.59

Kaboom, fuck yeah music, etc etc etc… No, sorry. No music today. Alright, maybe some, but not much.

As you’ve probably guessed, this blog is going to be an erratic place to be for the next few weeks, until I have finished driving first myself, then Meursault and then myself and Mrs. Toad around America.

In theory, I was supposed to fly to Phoenix last Friday with half of Meursault to collect an RV to use as a tour van for SXSW and their subsequent US tour. In theory. One long series of utterly avoidable fuckups later, and I am here by myself while they are back in Edinburgh cancelling early shows and hoping they can get out in time for Thursday’s Aster Foundation day party, which it fortunately looks like they now can.

All of which leaves me in America with and RV and four days to kill.

(This is going to be long. Really long. If you’re of the TL;DR persuasion then it’s best avoided, I think. But then if you’ve ever actually used ‘TL;DR’, then seriously, fucking grow up you fucking imbecile. Seriously though, this is too long. Don’t read.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Toadcast #293 – Adam Stafford Toad Session

Adam Stafford Toad Session from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

Video – Vimeo – YouTube
Photos – Flickr
Session tracks Soundcloud – zip download (right click – save as)
Interview podcast – mp3 – iTunes – Mixcloud (playlist at bottom of page)

Adam Stafford released his fantastic album Imaginary Walls Collapse on Song, by Toad Records early in 2013. You can buy a copy on vinyl here if you like, but it won’t tell you quite as much about Adam as I am hoping this session might.

Adam is a film-maker as well, and has a genuinely eclectic taste in music, of the sort that makes me feel really rather ashamed by my own tunnel vision. He made a rather fantastic mixtape for the excellent Gold Flake Paint a while back called Magnatory Baws Prolapse which (despite its rather rotten name) reminded me all too strongly of everything that is wrong with my own taste in music – as well as being brilliant to listen to, dammit!

This session was recorded by myself, with photos by the ever-awesome Nic Rue, with the filming done by Gavin White and Ian Greenhill and the videos all edited by Gavin.

 

Full interview podcast:

Toadcast #293 – Adam Stafford Toad Session by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Session tracks:

Session track videos

Podcast playlist:

01. Adam Stafford – Imaginary Walls Collapse (Toad Session) (00.22)
02. Y’all is Fantasy Island – High Hopes, Lost Love & Ruined Lives (15.07)
03. Colin Stetson – Judges (19.16)
04. Adam Stafford – Cold Seas (Toad Session) (29.11)
05. Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo – The Solitary Rabbit (39.27)
06. Siobhan Wilson – Te Petite Minette (42.43)
07. Adam Stafford – His Acres (Toad Session) (53.02)
08. PAWS – Violent Vicki Violet (1.08.20)
09. Toulemani Diabaté – Eylan Road (1.11.01)
10. Adam Stafford – Shot Down You Summer Wannabes (Toad Session) (1.28.32)

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Blood of the Bull – Bend Over EP

bend Which is Scotland’s finest indie label? Us? Chemikal Underground? Lost Map? Why it’s us of cou… actually, whisper it, but the answer might be d) None of the above. It might, over the last couple of years, have been Soft Power Records.

Located in the highly unpromising commuter town of Livingston, I don’t know if they would actually win in a nose-to-nose with release schedules which boast, say, the RM Hubbert or Pictish Trail albums but they’d certainly be (in awful football parlance) right in the mix at the end of the season. They certainly have me casting envious eyes at a lot of the things they put out.

The Bend Over EP by Glasgow-based Blood of the Bull is four songs of bright and breezy retro-tinged garage guitar pop with a gorgeous, clear, high vocal. A very zeitgeisty mix of Britpoppy and more rough and ready garage sound from the late sixties, this actually embraces elements of psychedelic folk in the vocal delivery of tunes like Hold Your Head Up High and Go Fuck Yourself, with shades of late Fairport-era Sandy Denny in there, to my ears at least.

Like a few of the Soft Power releases, this may be garage pop, but it’s not all that lo-fi. Where other corners of this particular landscape may be distorted and aggressive, this has a a cleanliness to the sound to match the vocal. It’s still kinda retro and may be very DIY, but that doesn’t pull the music anywhere it doesn’t want to go. There’s some rougher stuff on the band’s Soundcloud page, and I have to confess I rather like that too.

In fact, in some ways this reminds me of the sort of woman I’ve seen a lot of in places where there are many tattoos to be seen. There seems to be a very specific look at the moment which embraces polka-dot dresses and glamorous hair, and yet includes being covered in ink. The combination of such prettiness with dense tattoos, which still retain something of a hard-edged, rebellious feel to them, always struck me as a little incongruous. In fashion terms it’s a style I have to confess that I really like, and there are elements of that in this EP. It can be very pretty, with a deliberate girlish innocence at times, and then at others there are some noticeably rougher edges. It’s a fascinating combination and a really good record.

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