Song, by Toad

Archive for the Edinburgh Live Listings category

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Pale Imitation Festival 2014

Pale Imitation 2014 digiflyer

Well brace yourselves, here we go: the full lineup for the Pale Imitation Festival 2014 has been finalised and can now be announced, tickets can be bought, and giddy excitement can commence. It’s a cheap and cheerful festival of Scottish music, held at Henry’s Cellar Bar over the course of August.

Conceived initially as a way to keep the fun, family-friendly DIY spirit of the awesome Retreat Festival alive, I think for me it’s sort of evolved into something different. I like the Edinburgh Festival, I really do. Or at least I try. There’s lots of awesome stuff happening, but there is also a massive, stifling avalanche of over-priced, imported rubbish which smothers everything in the city and dominates the press and makes it almost impossible to do anything at all in music except sit back for six weeks and wait for it to be over. And being a bloody-minded little shit, I don’t accept that.

Music used to be really well served during the Edinburgh Festival, but now it seems that small local enterprises doggedly trying to support Scottish music are pretty much the only ones giving it any kind of foothold at all. The Queen’s Hall and The Electric Circus have some great stuff on in August, and then there is us: a reasonably-priced, month-long celebration of local music, held in one of Edinburgh’s stalwart underground venues. A fiver per gig, and a season ticket available for only £25, as well as a separate, showcase gig at the Queen’s Hall which will be the last ever Meursault show.

The full lineup is below, and tickets can be bought here, except for the Meursault/Plastic Animals Queen’s Hall show which can be bought directly from the Queen’s Hall. Season tickets are here, and they entitle you to attend all the Henry’s gigs (the QH one is separate) – meaning you could get nine gigs for the price of five, which is pretty amazing. Do try and get there by 8pm though, so we know whether to hold you a place or not at the busy shows.

Sat 2nd Aug - Adam Stafford, Le Thug & Duchess
SAY Award-shortlisted Adam Stafford is currently working on a new album, and his experimental, looped guitar pop songs will be complemented by the hazey washes of Le Thug and newcomers Duchess.

Thu 7th Aug - The Leg, Now Wakes the Sea +1 TBC
Screaming pop mentalists The Leg headline the second night, with support from the phenomenal, if a little wonky, Now Wakes the Sea, plus another band to be confirmed.

Sat 9th Aug - The Yawns, Sharptooth & alansmithee
The Yawns play a lazy brand of sloppy guitar pop, and made one of the sleeper albums of the year a wee while back. They are joined by the slightly more aggressive Sharptooth and Livingstone newcomers alansmithee.

Wed 13th Aug - Meursault & Plastic Animals – Queen’s Hall
The centre-piece of the Pale Imitation Festival this year is the last ever Meursault show, at the Queen’s Hall. That’s right, your last ever chance to see the current band play live, and they will be joined by pals and label-mates Plastic Animals.

Thu 14th Aug - Deathcats, Garden of Elks & Passion Pusher
Surfy, guitar loons Deathcats released their debut album this year, and it is every bit as hugely enjoyable and sloppily noisy as you would have expected. Abrasive shouters Garden of Elks and Edinburgh’s most hapless guitar pop star in the making comprise the rest of the bill.

Sat 16th Aug - Jonnie Common, Jesus H. Foxx & Andrew R. Burns
Jonnie Common is a maverick genius, who makes experimental music sound like the most accessible of pop songs, and he’ll be joined by the recently resuscitated Phoenix H. Foxx, and Chillwave revivalist Andrew R. Burns. Jonnie really needs to start using his middle initial, to fit on this bill properly.

Thu 21th Aug - Rick Redbeard, Siobhan Wilson (Ella the Bird) & Kitchen Cynics
If Rick Redbeard would stop buggering about being famous with the Phantom Band, I think he could be one of Scotland’s most loved singer-songwriters. He’d be one of mine, certainly, and after only recently discovering his stuff, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear myself saying the same of The Kitchen Cynics. Siobhan Wilson has just started to perform under the name Ella the Bird, but her gorgeous voice and songwriting remain very much the same.

Sat 23rd Aug - LAW, Numbers are Futile & Wozniak
LAW has been one of the breakthrough sensations of recent years. Based in Edinburgh, and collaborating with members of Young Fathers, her music is dark but danceable, and actually reminds me of an Edinburgh pop singer of a few years back – anyone remember Helicopter Girl? No? Just me, then. On the bill with LAW are the hypnotic, rhythm popsters Numbers are Futile and messy shoegazers Wozniak.

There will be a big old after-party after this show, with Lost Map DJs and, erm, well hopefully I won’t be allowed anywhere near the decks at all.

Thu 28th Aug - eagleowl, Ian Humberstone & Smackvan
Eagleowl are Edinburgh’s most glacial post-anti-drumcore, kraut-folk band, and will be joined by the gorgeously intimate croon of Ian Humberstone and warm miserablism of Smackvan.

Sat 30th Aug - PAWS, Halfrican & Et tu Brute!!!
Our favourite pop-punk band PAWS proved they had rather more strings to their bow than just awesomely hummable guitar tunes with their fantastic second album, released at the beginning of the year.  They are pals of ours, they almost signed to our label, and they’re the most prolific accumulators of parking tickets on the Toad Van, so they seemed like a perfect choice for the closing party of this year’s Pale Imitation Festival. Joined by short-shorts-wearing Halfrican and the intense battering of Et tu Brute!!!, it’s going to a lively last show. And then I will get some fucking sleep.

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Split 12″ v3 Launch Gigs

SbTR-A-026 Outer Sleeve v2

Our third Split 12″ is nearly here, and this one was recorded up at the Insider Festival last year. The festival takes place up in the Highlands, and Nic Rue took some fantastic photos of the recording process, which you can see here.

We’ve got a couple of launch nights booked – one for Glasgow and one for Edinburgh – to welcome the record into the world in the nicest possible way. The Glasgow night is at Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’s on Thursday 24th July, and the Edinburgh show is on the 25th, the day after, and will be the first house gig in our new place in Leith.

We’re planning to light the barbecue as well, so you can come down with some burgers if you want, and have something to eat with us before the show. It would be lovely to see you at either of these shows, so please do come down if you can – and you can pick up some lovely, clear yellow vinyl as well.

All the bands will be playing except for Sparrow and the Workshop, for baby-related reasons. So for all that’s a bit of a disappointment as far as these shows are concerned, it’s great news for Jill and Nick, and also saves me the hassle of trying to get four bands on stage in a relatively short space of time.

Tickets for the Glasgow show can be found here and to buy tickets for the Edinburgh house gig use the Paypal link below.

SOLD OUT NOW, SORRY

And partly to whet your appetite, and partly because it is just an absolutely sublime song, here is Dear God by Siobhan Wilson (who will henceforth be performing under the name Ella the Bird), our first single from the Split:

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The Pale Imitation Festival 2014 is Taking Shape

The-Wickerman-Nicolas-Cage I have to confess that when we first conceived the Pale Imitation Festival (like most of the stupid ideas we get involved with it was first suggested whilst sitting in the back garden with a lot of gin) I was prepared for it to be a bit of a damp squib.

I don’t mean that out of pessimism, though, more a sense of caution in the face of a pretty big undertaking.

The point of the Pale Imitation Festival is to offer a cheap, local antidote to all the over-priced, imported shite which dominates the Edinburgh Festival itself.

It went better than I ever imagined, I have to confess, and even the very worst show of the festival was only ‘very good’, and pretty much all the rest were bloody great.

Anyhow, this year we’ll be doing it all again – every Thursday and Saturday at Henry’s Cellar Bar during August we’ll be showcasing the very best of independent Scottish music. And there’s also a big shiny Queen’s Hall show thrown in as well, just to make things more interesting: Meursault and Plastic Animals on 13th August.

We’ve not booked the entirety of the lineup yet, but so far we have some truly awesome bands on there, such as SAY Award nominees Adam Stafford and Rick Redbeard, as well as future nominees LAW and PAWS. Here are some of the currently confirmed bands, but keep a look out for future announcements as the rest of the lineup gets finalised. And remember, our £25 season ticket will be available again too.

Confirmed so far: Adam Stafford – Le Thug – Meursault – Plastic Animals – Andrew R. Burns – LAW – Rick Redbeard – Ian Humberstone – PAWS – Halfrican

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Meursault & Viking Moses vs Yusuf Azak, Ian Humberstone & Wounded Knee

rocky_2827501b Ah fuck it, people, I don’t think I can help you with this. You’ll have to decide for yourselves, and it won’t be easy. Tonight in Edinburgh there are two fantastic gigs and I honestly can’t separate the two in terms of recommending which one you attend. You’re on your own, sorry.

Meursault & Viking Moses at Leith Dockers Club.
Yusuf Azak, Wounded Knee & Ian Humberstone at the Banshee Labyrinth.

Okay, so little more than a hundred metres from our new house we have the first gig at Leith Dockers that I’ll have been to in a while. Viking Moses has just been touring in China and Spain, I think, and is stopping off in Edinburgh on a brief jaunt around the UK.

I struggle to describe music like Brendon’s, honestly. It’s ‘indie’, I suppose, in the loosest sense. It’s definitely indie in the original sense of being independently made and released. It might sound a bit like Americana to a British ear, but that’s just because Brendon has an American accent, really, not for any other reason I can think of. It could be described as being a bit folky I suppose, and Brendon himself calls it RnB/Soul on his Bandcamp page, but both of those are kind of a stretch. It’s just fairly downbeat pop music I guess, based mostly around vocals and guitar, and it’s very good. The teaser track from his new album is embedded below, and it’s bloody gorgeous.

Meursault should need no introduction around these parts, but if you don’t know them they’re a definitelynotfolktronica band from Edinburgh, and will be playing a stripped down set tonight, solo with mostly guitar, and possibly some piano, I think.

As for the Banshee Labyrinth show, this will be Yusuf Azak’s album launch, and his first record to be released on vinyl. It’s a progression on previous stuff, incorporating more synth and electronic elements, but still retaining that characteristic dreamy folk style. Some people have told me that it’s an acquired taste and I honestly have no fucking idea what they’re talking about. It’s first class, old-fashioned sounding, acoustic pop music, end of story.

This will actually be Yusuf’s first full band show in Edinburgh, and although I am not entirely sure what a full band is, in this context, I am really excited to see it. He’ll be joined on the bill by the awesome Ian Humberstone and Wounded Knee.

I honestly don’t know which bill I prefer, frankly. You could pretty much deal these bands out like cards to make two random shows and any combination of lineups would work brilliantly. Fuck. Ah well, good luck deciding.

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New Bastard Mountain Song and Launch Dates

bastard mountain launch digiflyer

Whee, yes, there’s more from the Bastards! The response to this album has been fucking great so far, and I am pretty delighted with how it’s going. Mind you, it’s a great album, so it bloody well should be doing well, but it’s still nice to see people agreeing with me about music for a change.

Anyhow, we have two album release shows booked in, and the band won’t be playing all that much otherwise so if you are keen I would try and get to these if I were you. I think they are going to be rather special. Although if you can’t make it to either, then you can treat yourself to the record here instead.

Saturday 24th May – SHHH! Festival, London (tickets).
Thursday 29th May – Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh (tickets).

As well as some great reviews we’ve had some fantastic radio play, particularly from the ever-supportive Tom Ravenscroft and Vic Galloway. Getting press is always a challenge for a small label like us, but to get to the stage where people are getting in touch with you actively asking to review the album is absolutely fantastic.

Given the band don’t really exist, exactly, I haven’t actually seen them play since we recorded the album, almost two years ago now. Consequently I think that for all I’ve heard the record an awful lot, I’m probably as excited as anyone else for these launch gigs. It’s such haunting, beautiful music I really can’t wait to see it performed live, particularly in a setting as lovely as the Queen’s Hall.

And, as we’re being generous today here’s another song from the album to help whet your appetite:

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Record Store Day 2014 at Vox Box

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Saturday 19th April – St. Stephen’s St., Stockbridge, Edinburgh.

Of all the Record Store Day stuff I think the Vox Box events are consistently my favourite. Instead of endless grasping after exclusive releases, these days seems to be a bit more about music fans and music makers hanging out together and having a good time. Records get sold as a by-product, rather than a direct goal (although I am sure Darren wouldn’t put it in quite such idealistic terms!), and there’s none of the queueing or frenetic charging around associated with most other places.

Let’s be honest, if you’re a real record collector then you will be quite prepared to wait it out anyway. RSD teases a certain level of hysteria into people if it can, but it’s still nice to go to a good shop and have a look at the few things they have chosen to stock, rather than fighting it out with a million other people for the list of things you definitely NEED.

That is the point of shops, after all. If you’re adamant you need a certain thing, you’re better off with the internet. If you want someone who gives a fuck about music to have a look at the huge list of limited edition stuff being put out and to pick out their own favourites, then you might just get some pleasant surprises.

I’ve never gone into Vox Box and got what I came for. Mind you, I’ve never come away less than delighted with the stuff I ended up buying either.

Anyhow, here is the press release about what’s happening tomorrow. It will be fun, I promise:

Featuring loads of exclusive releases and lots of live music with a few surprises too: Simon Goddard & Ian Rankin Q&A, Tuff Love, Law, Stanley Odd, Book Group, The Pictish Trail and more!

The shop will open at 9.30am and we’ll be stocked up with as many of the exclusive RSD releases as we can get our hands on, as well as our usual selection of other new and used records.

Then at 12 noon at a venue very close by we have Simon Goddard in a Q&A with Ian Rankin about Simon’s new book, Simply Thrilled: The Preposterous Story of Postcard Records which is released that day - 

From 12.30 till 6pm we’re bringing you some of the very best bands from Edinburgh and beyond: 
STANLEY ODD
TUFF LOVE
LAW
BOOK GROUP
THE PICTISH TRAIL
BROKEN RECORDS
YUSUF AZAK

This is all free entry and also open to children (accompanied by an adult).

Last year was a fantastic celebration and we are going bigger and better this year as we approach our 3rd anniversary in the music business.  We’ll have as many of the exclusive RSD releases as we can, but it’s not just about the exclusive records!

We are celebrating what we love. A wide selection of music, the vinyl format, the grass roots record industry, the local bands and record labels as well as our fantastic regular customers that give our shop such a positive feel and of course our wonderful street.

SIMON GODDARD & IAN RANKIN Q&A
Simon’s new book is released by Random House on Record Store Day. Come down and hear them discuss all things Postcard, arguably Scotland’s favourite and the original Independent record label. (featuring Josef K and Orange Juice. Pick up a book and have it signed by the author. These copies come with Ltd Edition free poster.
http://bit.ly/OWythA

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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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Song, by Toad New Year’s House Gig 2013

Yep, continuing in our proud if raucous tradition of avoiding the drunken chaos of the Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations by creating drunken chaos all of our own, this year will see another Song, by Toad New Year’s House Gig.

These events are TICKETS ONLY for the gig part, because we need to pay the band and we need to control the numbers of people clattering about our house scaring the cats, so if you can’t get a ticket, that’s just unfortunate, sorry.

On the other hand, if you’re lucky enough to snag one, this year’s show features NAKED and the awesome Dan Mutch from The Leg, and will have lasers and smoke machines – amazing!

Tickets sold out now, sorry.

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It’s Birthday Time! And Christmas! And Birthdays!

5th Birthday Digiflyer

Yes folks, as we come crashing headlong into Christmas Song, by Toad has decided to confuse things by muddling it up with a birthday as well. Well honestly, fuck off, it’s not just old hippies in sandals with legions of deranged followers who get to celebrate birthdays at this time of year, sweary, deluded amphibians can do so as well if they so choose.

Because it just so happens, as you probably know by now, that our first ever release was in December five years ago, when we celebrated Meursault’s Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues with a Christmas party at the Bowery, may Tom Waits rest its soul.

So, in the next few days we’ll be having a couple of shows to celebrate our birthday, and we may as well celebrate Christmas at the same time. Or Hanukkah, if you fancy, it really doesn’t bother me either way, it’s all just gin and swearing as far as I’m concerned. They shows themselves are as follows, and it would be ace to see you there, if you thought you could make it.

London, The Sebright Arms, Thursday 19th December – tickets here.
This lineup will feature a solo set by Meursault, mostly on the piano I think, so depressing lyrics aside it should hopefully be most Christmassy! As well as Neil there will be a probably not-very-Christmassy-at-all set from The Leg, who are celebrating the recent release of their new album Oozing a Crepuscular Light (get one here), and the splendid Animal Magic Tricks.

Edinburgh, Henry’s Cellar Bar, Saturday 21st December – tickets here.
On Saturday we’ll be at Henry’s with an awesome lineup of bands, including Zed Penguin, PAWsault (yes, that’s exactly what you think it will be), and a sort of cabaret of brief informal sets by a selection of different people on the label. There will also be a one-off exclusive appearance by the world-famous William Henry Shatner, performing the hits of Song, by Toad Records for us in his own inimitable style. A rare treat for you then, and something no-other Christmas party would dare offer!

So there you go, there’s these, and then I intend to descend into the territory of Christmas lists for the rest of the year, and embarrass my parents by how much gin I can shift over Christmas. Poor fuckers.

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Song, by Toad Records’ 5th Birthday

5thBirthday Digiflyer London

5th Birthday Party Shows:

Thursday 19th December – London, at the Sebright Arms with Neil Pennycook (Meursault) solo, The Leg, Rob St. John and Animal Magic Tricks. (tickets)

Saturday 21st December – Edinburgh, at Henry’s Cellar Bar, with PAWsault, Tom Collins Shatner and assorted label friends and guests. (tickets)

Song, by Toad itself turns ten next year, and in the first few years a friend of mine in London suggested I consider starting a record label. I laughed at him and told him that honestly I had no desire whatsoever to get involved in that sort of madness. And then, of course, eighteen months or so later, that’s exactly what I did.

It’s been a total fucking rollercoaster, to be honest. So many amazingly brilliant moments, and in all honesty, some really frustrating ones as well.

It’s quite fun disagreeing with people about music when you’re just talking about it, even as a blogger, but as a label if you disagree with the world it results in releases which no-one writes about and no-one buys, which can be pretty depressing in all honesty.

Having said that, when things do well and the world suddenly realises how awesome a band is who you’ve loved for ages, then it’s absolutely brilliant. Packed venues, surprise radio play, great write-ups, talking to someone successful in the music industry who surprises you by being well aware of what you do… there are a million tiny triumphs in this business as much as there as a million tiny disappointments.

Even when I did overcome my common sense and actually start releasing records I certainly never imagined it would usurp my day job, let alone do so so fast, but I’ve been full time for over three years now and for all I still haven’t really figured out how to make any fucking money, I don’t regret the decision for a second.

And yes, here we are, five years later. We’re actually going to be releasing a birthday box set of five 12″ vinyl to celebrate, but more of that later. For now, just come to the gigs, please! I promise they will be fun.