Song, by Toad

Archive for the Edinburgh Live Listings category

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Rick Redbeard

red It seems ridiculous, but tomorrow’s Pale Imitation Festival gig is actually going to be the first time I have properly seen Rick Redbeard live.

Even more ridiculous when you think that I first became aware of his stuff on MySpace back in about 2006 or 2007.

And yet more so when you think that his debut album No Selfish Heart (buy here from Chemikal Underground) was in my top ten albums of the year last year.

I mean, for fuck’s sake, he only lives in Glasgow for crying out loud, not Singapore. But actually it’s not as bad as all that. I saw him play an open mic night years and years ago, and more recently a short set at a record fair as well.

But tomorrow night Rick Redbeard headlines our next Pale Imitation Festival gig, and I am immensely looking forward to it. Having happened across his early demos on MySpace years ago, I was a long time waiting for something formal to be released, but No Selfish Heart more than justified the wait.

Everyone whose music is dominated by vocals and acoustic guitar automatically gets tagged as folk or country or something like that, but I suppose Rick is basically just a singer-songwriter, however daft that term may be, with elements of all these things smooshed in there somewhere.

Most of those early MySpace demos made it onto his debut album, but I did actually notice one which did not: Dreams of the Trees. This has been rectified now, by Vancouver’s excellent Kingfisher Bluez label, who recently released it on 7″ vinyl. Like most of the reworkings, it’s fleshed out and cleaned up a little, but the core of the song is mostly unchanged, and it’s amazing.

As an extra treat there is a b-side which has been sitting on Rick’s Soundcloud page for quite a while now: a gorgeous, contemplative spoken-word track called Flow Like Unicorns. It’s beautiful. And I really hope he continues recording as Rick Redbeard despite the success of The Phantom Band (which he also fronts) because this stuff is just lovely.

I am really looking forward to tomorrow. Tickets are only a fiver, you should come down.

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Kitchen Disco – Massive Pale Imitation Thanks

cake We are ploughing through the shows at a frightening rate, but the Pale Imitation Festival still has four fantastic lineups coming your way before the end of August, with headline slots from Rick Redbeard (this Thursday), LAW (Saturday), eagleowl and PAWS (next week – full lineup details here).

The Pale Imitation Festival is mostly about the bands, I suppose, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Partly, we are trying to celebrate the quality of the music scene in Scotland when so many tourists are in town, and partly we just like music and aren’t going to stop doing things just because it’s August.

And to that end, the tireless and fantastic work of Tallah and Malcolm from Kitchen Disco has been absolutely brilliant. As well as DJing before, inbetween and after the bands every single night of the festival, they’ve brought fantastic free cakes and terrible puns along each time as well. ‘Jonnie Common Shogun Choux Buns – what’s inside? IT’S A SECRET!’ for example.

Alright, you have to know Jonnie’s stuff pretty well to get that one, but the gin and lemon cake they made at my request for the same night is a little more obvious. And the cakes themselves have been completely delicious.

As much of a music nazi as I am, I am at least aware that my own music taste is really not best for DJing. Not that it’s all morose of course, but a lot of it is and I have no real capacity to judge what other people want to hear because, well honestly, I just don’t fucking care.

Kitchen Disco, on the other hand, seem to have played all sorts of stuff which I love – the stuff most appropriate for people actually enjoying themselves – as well as all sorts of excellent stuff which I don’t really know. The music has been fucking excellent, frankly, and for that, their good cheer, the cakes and their sheer stamina I owe them a massive thank you. Hooray!

Find Kitchen Disco on FacebookInstagramTwitter - Tumblr.

Also, they start every single night with this. Heroes!

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The Leg

leg The Leg are headlining tonight’s Pale Imitation Festival gig at Henry’s, so I thought I might as well tell you about how they slowly but surely became one of my favourite bands, because it wasn’t something that happened overnight.

As I first started to get into local music Bart from eagleowl and Neil from Meursault always used to insist that it was The Leg who were the best band in Edinburgh, not any of the newer ones I was so excited about at the time.

I genuinely didn’t get it at first. It basically just seemed like deliberately obscure mentalism to me, honestly. I did try though, given the people who kept insisting that they were great, and I am not sure what changed, but as they prepared to release An Eagle to Saturn a few years ago I remember hearing Twitching Stick and absolutely loving it.

I don’t know what the difference was, either in me or in the band, but it’s not exactly like they had suddenly become more digestible. Twitching Stick is great, but it might not be the first thing you’d play to a Leg newbie as the easiest song for them to get into, but for whatever reason I suddenly heard something in the music that I absolutely loved.

From that point on, I was sold. I don’t know what changed in my head but I suddenly saw that thing that Neil and Bart had been going on about. We released An Eagle to Saturn on Song, by Toad Records and subsequently released not only their next one as well – 2013′s Oozing a Crepuscular Light – but also their previous one, which we included in the label’s fifth anniversary box set in January this year.

I remember this happening with Tom Waits, too. I never liked his more avant-garde stuff when I first heard it, and I always thought Bone Machine was actually just a bad album. It took ten years, starting with the accessible early troubadour years, moving through Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs a few years later onto the more theatricl stuff like The Black Rider a couple of years after that, only to eventually get to the stage where I finally realised that Bone Machine is, in fact, as brilliant as everything that went before it if not better.

The same sort of happened with The Leg. After the penny finally dropped we released not only An Eagle to Saturn, but also Oozing a Crepuscular Light last year, which is bordering on being an album of show-tunes. Deranged, hooting, terrifying show-tunes maybe, but by The Leg’s standards it is absolutely full of pop music. Lionlicker, for example, might be a bit lyrically odd, but the music itself certainly isn’t scary.

And funnily enough, once we’d arrived at a position where the band were releasing music which was as accessible as anything they’ve ever done, I went back to What Happened to the Shrunken Tina Turner, an album they released before we started working with them. It’s a ferocious, snarling beast of an album and I think the first recorded work of theirs I ever listened to. At the time I pretty much just turned it off immediately, and now it’s one of the go-to albums when people ask me about The Leg. In fact, when people about me ask about the whole label.

It’s got the aggression which a lot of metal seems to think it has, except because metal follows such a template it ends up just sounding a bit tame and formulaic to me. This album oozes menace and unhinged, terrifying intensity. It’s phenomenal. I just don’t understand how I didn’t get it the first time.

A bit like metal bands, though, deliberately ‘strange’ bands can end up sounding really tame and uninteresting to me, because oddness and confusion is a goal. The Leg just make music this way naturally. There’s nothing forced or deliberate about it, this is just the way it seems to spill out of them. Alright, they’re all phenomenal musicians so it’s not just random smashing, but there’s no sense of archness or artifice, they just make pop music and this is what it sounds like.

Where the band are going next I couldn’t tell you. There are a couple of sketches and demos up on their Soundcloud page which might offer a clue, but with guys like this I tend not to look too closely. Why worry. They will tell me when they are ready with their next thing, and if they want us to release it they will say so and I will be fucking delighted to do so. But with this band I really think the best way is just to sit back and wait and see where they decide to go, and worry about what it is afterwards.

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Now Wakes the Sea

nwts Continuing with our profiles of Pale Imitation Festival bands, joining yesterday’s New Fabian Society on the bill with The Leg tomorrow (7th August) at Henry’s will be the fantastic Now Wakes the Sea.

Given my constant exhortations not to over-estimate bands on the basis of one or two songs, it’s sort of ironic that I find myself looking at the entire output of this band and thinking hang on a minute, they’ve three incredible albums, two EPs, an experimental cassette thingy and an entire re-recording of Hospice by Antlers.

It’s time to stop fucking about talking about potential here and start insisting what is patently true: these guys are without a shadow of a doubt one of the very best bands operating in Scotland at the moment. And by that I mean definitely top ten, possibly top five. This is not exaggerating for effect or careless use of hyperbola: looking at their output over the last three years or so, I can’t think of anyone who has bettered it.

It’s not radio pop, I suppose, and the use of noise and low vocal mixes probably puts it in a fairly small niche in terms of taste, but nevertheless in amongst the narcotic haze there are some really accessible pop songs.

Whilst their recorded material is brilliant, however – like the best lo-fi pop music slowly being strangled by the weight of its own intransigence - the live show is a bit less predictable. I’m not sure if it’s inconsistent personnel, predictable booking or a lack of will, but I haven’t seen the band all that determinedly out and about playing over the last few years.

I managed to put them on as a full band once, and it was ace, but they’ve appeared solo, and done entire sets of abstract noise too, so I think it can be a bit erratic. Who knows though. We have a full band set waiting for us tomorrow, and some of the finest songs I’ve heard in ages. So pretty much whatever the outcome I am highly looking forward to this.

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New Fabian Society

nfs Throughout August I shall mainly be blogging about bands we’ll be putting on at the Pale Imitation Festival.

The festival itself is pretty much a live extension of the blog, I suppose, with me basically just booking a bunch of bands I myself most want to see, and that’s basically what I do here with writing, really. Although with the Pale Imitation stuff I do make a specific effort to keep it local.

Anyhow, on Thursday we have our second gig of the festival, with The Leg, Now Wakes the Sea and New Fabian Society. Tickets can be bought here, and *cough* you should come.

The New Fabian Society released a handful of EPs up to about the middle of last year, but have been a little quiet since. In that scenario the best bet is usually that they’re working on their debut album, but you never know, they could just be being lazy. In any case, I’m really looking forward to seeing how they’ve progressed in the interim.

For a two-piece they make an absolutely furious fucking racket, these guys. The first time we put them on in Edinburgh they sounded not unlike a denser, more industrial version of Interpol actually. You know, the Interpol which Interpol could have become after Turn on the Bright Lights but didn’t.

This stuff is so much less stylised, though, and so much more intense, it has that proper ‘clean out your brain and singe your eyebrows’ quality to it, particularly live. They’ll be opening the show on Thursday and I think it will get people’s heads in the game nice and early – no talking at the bar, motherfuckers, unless you think you can talk over this!

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Toadcast #302 – The Palecast

tagWell as you can probably tell from the graphics and indeed also the title, this is going to just be one long plug for our August antics at the Pale Imitation Festival this year.

But, as you will hear me rattling on about, I suppose the label and the gigs are essentially the same as the blog really aren’t they, in that it’s basically just me having a massive tantrum that the entire world doesn’t completely agree with me about music. So in that sense plugging label releases and our live shows on here isn’t me compromising the integrity of the site, is it, it’s just an extension of the original purpose of the site in the first place isn’t it? ISN’T IT?

I hope so, anyway.

In any case, for those of you outside Edinburgh you can’t actually attend this festival but that won’t really matter because basically this is just a podcast full of absolutely fantastic Scottish bands, so for a change I am being Mr. Scotland tonight, although as you will hear, I’m not all that gracious about it!

Toadcast #302 – The Palecast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #302 – The Palecast

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01. Adam Stafford – Vanishing Tanks (00.22)
02. Le Thug – Paints (08.40)
03. Andrew R. Burns – Stinking Ship (16.19)
04. Sharptooth – Bonnie Blaze (19.22)
05. alansmithee – Snooze (26.07)
06. Deathcats – Danny Dyer (29.47)
07. Ian Humberstone – Ocean Paths to Palace (37.57)
08. LAW – Lilo (44.45)
09. Rick Redbeard – Dreams of the Trees (47.30)
10. Kitchen Cynics – When Father Hanged the Children (57.22)
11. Halfrican – I’m in L.U.V. (1.05.55)
12. PAWS – War Cry (1.07.04)

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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.