Song, by Toad

Archive for the Scottish Bands category

avatar

Chump – Treat Me Mean

chump Chump are another one of the David Cameron’s Eton Mess alumni, that awesome compilation of under the radar Scottish guitar bands we released towards the end of last year.

Chump were a bit of a left-field inclusion on that record, in the sense that I didn’t really know anything about them, apart from the one gorgeous song on their Bandcamp page (which was the song that appeared on the record). They were a recommendation from a friend, Tara was really nice about being on the album, and I’ve been waiting for new material ever since – curious to find out more about the band, beyond speculative extrapolation from one single song.

And now, here we have it, and it definitely is different. Tracks like Out Of It are still pretty reminiscent of the downbeat, morose slacker vibe of Sleeping In, but there are some loud, nasty guitars here and the whole thing gets pretty bloody big in places. There are even traces of Sharon Van Etten here and there if you ask me, not that I would really compare the two artists overall sound.

There’s even a sort of glam theatricality at times, albeit only here and there, which gives the whole thing a great dynamic. It’s available on pink cassette on their Bandcamp page, so go have a listen and grab one there. I really do need to see this band live now.

Tags:
avatar

Hans Klammer

hans I was raised in Austria, and Franz Klammer is a folk hero out there, and one of the most legendary Austrian ski-racers of all time, so the name of this Edinburgh band is actually rather dear to my heart although admittedly I don’t entirely understand the ‘Hans’ pun.

Pointless digressions aside, there’s a lot of really interesting music knocking around Edinburgh at the moment, but it is really rather under the radar, and this band are one of the best of that rather scattered bunch. They have a couple of things up on Bandcamp, and it veers between sweepingly cinematic, really infectious indie rock songs and more ambient, experimental soundscapes.

When they decide to right a straight up tune they really do a fine job of it, which is slightly surprising given how the more dreamy, thrumming beats dominate the EPs they’ve released so far. It’s great though, you get all these swirling atmospherics, and then suddenly a proper riff breaks out, almost out of nowhere.

It’s all pay-what-you-like too, so have a wee explore.

avatar

DTHPDL – The Future

DTHPDL – THE FUTURE from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

Because we don’t have enough new releases bubbling away at the moment I thought it might be time to introduce you to our next awesomest thing!

You may have seen this skittering about the internet yesterday, but given the reckless pace of the average Twitter feed and Facebook’s steadfast refusal to allow people who explicitly sign up for news about your thing to actually receive news about your thing,  I figured I should actually post a formal announcement on the blog. Just, y’know, to be safe.

DTHPDL (Deathpodal, if that helps with pronunciation) are a new-not-new Edinburgh band, who released an EP back in about 2009 or something like that, and then promptly vanished until early last year, at which point they reappeared sounding entirely different. So not technically brand new, but effectively they might as well be.

Their new EP The Future is out on Song, by Toad Records in a couple of weeks, and the launch night will be at the Leith Depot on Saturday 22nd April, supported by the excellent Lush Purr and Miracle Strip, and with Jesus H. Foxx (fuck me – remember them!) DJs.

Tickets can be bought here, and the EP bought here – do it, you know it makes sense!

Tags:
avatar

Jonnie Common – Kitchen Sync

Kitchen Sync by Jonnie Common is a brand new instrumental album composed entirely of the sounds of Jonnie ‘playing his kitchen’. And of course it’s released on a set of four hand-pressed, hand-packed kitchen magnets. Artisanal, organic, locally sourced kitchen magnets I assume. Jonnie made them all himself from the pages of an old cookbook and they are all unique, each one using the accompanying image to a different recipe.

The official release date is the 9th May, but you can pre-order one here for now, or pick one up from our stall at the Independent Label Market in London next weekend, from either of the two launch shows which are coming up in early April, or from LoveMusic in Glasgow or VoxBox in Edinburgh on Record Store Day if you prefer.

Kitchen Sync launch shows:
Saturday 2nd April – Glasgow, The Glad Café with BEAM and GB Thomson – tickets
Saturday 9th April – Edinburgh, The Happiness Hotel – tickets using the awkwardly-pasted PayPal button below. The venue is our warehouse down in Leith, and it’s BYOB, but I’ll email you the exact address closer to the time.

Sold out now, sorry.

JC1

JC4

JC2

JC3

avatar

Fuzzkill Records – Under the Covers Vol.2

fuzzFirst things first, this whole album is utterly ridiculous, and absolute shit-ton of fun, and therefore fucking great. It’s also being released to support Greater Maryhill Foodbank and Refugee Action, so your cash is going to a good place.

The album was released around Valentine’s Day I think, or at least the image seems very much to imply that, what with the roses and the actual contents of the album and all. For this is a massive who’s who of the Glasgow underground music scene taking classic love songs and basically sticking a thumb up their collective arses and cackling at the squawk of distress.

Classics are rendered angry, sloppy, growly and at times you can hear that the band have barely even learned the song. It’s a great big silly mess of a tape, and yet it’s really good. Why? Well I reckon for two reasons. Firstly the songs themselves are classics, and secondly it’s all done in such good humour. Who cares how daft this gets, some of the takes are absolutely excellent, some are just hilarious, and y’know, music should be fun shouldn’t it?

So vote for fun, contribute to a good cause and enjoy some of the most highly improbable cover songs you’re ever likely to hear.

avatar

Fuzzkill Records March On With Spinning Coin and The Bullybuttons

2016-02-03 15.34.18

In terms of actual releases I think I would say that Fuzzkill Records have probably been my favourite label in Scotland over the last couple of years. They’ve out out all sorts of rough and ready guitar music, largely nineties-tinged, and with a real sense of energy and freedom. There have been sampler compilations, covers compilation, and EP after EP, mostly on tape, of the most promising new bands in Scotland. Their contribution to our fantastic David Cameron’s Eton Mess 12″ vinyl compilation which we released last November was absolutely invaluable.

While I was away in the States and not paying much attention to life back home they released new EPs by The Bellybuttons and Spinning Coin, both of which are well worth your time. Spinning Coin have just signed to Geographic Music, a label which I believe is run out of Monorail by Stephen Pastel and is a subsidiary of Domino, which bodes very well for their future indeed.

You hear the work of what I think is three different songwriters on their new self-titled EP, from the louche pop of Sean Armstrong to the frantic screaming of Cal Donnelly, but it still holds together really well. All this stuff has a real nineties indie feel to it, loose guitars, drawled vocals, but the tunes are fucking good like all of Fuzzkill’s stuff, there’s a real pop sensibility behind the rough and ready exterior.

avatar

New Tunes From Chump & Elara Caluna

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 15.08.36 Both Chump and Elara Caluna fit into that sort of vague category of ‘bands I know almost nothing about, but am still quite excited by’.

Apart from exchanging a few very friendly emails with Tara from Chump I couldn’t tell you any more than your own ears about the band itself. They only had one song out and about on the internet until recently, the awesome Sleeping In, which we put on our fantastic 12″ vinyl compilation of the best new Scottish bands David Cameron’s Eton Mess.

That was sort of a low dreamer but this new tune Treat Me Mean, which emerged a few days ago, is much bigger, more grandiose beast. It’s from a forthcoming tape release apparently, although there don’t seem to be many details just yet, but it’s louder, nastier and has a certain theatricality to by the time the crescendo really peaks.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 15.08.49 Elara Caluna, on the other hand, weren’t on David Cameron’s Eton Mess. I tried to keep that compilation more guitary I suppose, so they didn’t quite fit, and hardly had any official recorded material at the time anyway.

On the basis of what they did have – a cover version and some slightly ropey live footage – I invited them to play a show for us last year. It wasn’t much to go on, but they came recommended by a pal and the stuff which was out there did sound promising. Annoyingly, though, I was out of the country and unable to attend. Brilliant.

Anyhow, they went down really well with my pals who were at Henry’s that night, and someone has told me since that they’re generating something of a buzz over in Glasgow, but Edinburgh is so utterly fucking insulated from all forms of popular culture that I can’t really confirm that myself.

Instead, we have a new song, Silver Dust, one which came out at the tail end of last year while I was away. There’s less crackle and hum on this than I was expecting, and instead of that warm haze there is a sort of creepy fairytale pop feel to the song. Not pop in the Erasure or the Chvrches sense, more a sort of dark cabaret with maybe more in common with the constituents of Glasgow’s awesome Night School Records.

So with two new tracks there’s not an awful lot more to go on than there was before, but these are two really good tunes and it’s nice to see these two highly promising projects cranking into gear for 2016. If I did ‘ones to watch’ these two would be two of the ones I would tip, I think.

avatar

Aberdeen Is Not As Shit As It Seems To Think It Is

union street from other end

I remember the first time I moved to Scotland and realising just how strong a taboo it was to actually say you were good at anything. That’s not something the English are especially comfortable with either of course, but it does seem that the further North you go the more likely some earth-shattering achievement is to be greeted with a noncommittal shrug and an inquiry as to whether or not you’d like another pint.

It was a bit off-putting at the start, learning to translate the full knowledge that, say, my German language skills were near fluent (which they were at the time) into ‘oh yes, I can speak a wee bit of German but it’s been a while’.

Once you get used to it, though, it’s really quite nice. And occasionally quite funny. If DaVinci were Aberdonian I am pretty sure the most you’d hear of it would be ‘yeh, ah fuck aboot wi paints sometimes when I can be ersed. Pint?’

Aberdeen is known as a bit of a shit-hole actually, but I am pretty sure that the main reason for that is not the town itself, but the fact that every time I go there all my friends apologise quite profusely for the fact that I felt the need to come up to Aberdeen at all.

It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s grey, because of the oil industry there is some of the greatest wealth inequality in the UK, the music scene is shit because no-one fucking bothers… you could paint it in a pretty crappy light I suppose.

The thing is, I first visited the place back in 1996 or so (I drove a friend up to start their new job and more or less the first thing we saw as we drove out to the complex was a field of sheep – hooray clichés!) Not all that frequently but nevertheless regularly I’ve been going up there for years now and on my latest trip, when once again my pals were apologising for me even having to be there at all, I had to stop them because it occurred to me that actually, I have never had a bad night in Aberdeen.

I mean, I keep going back, don’t I.

Contrary to that other great entirely bullshit Scottish cliché, they are some of the most generous people I know. Alright, there’s dicks everywhere, but Scottish people are generous as fuck and the further away you get from the fucking sphincter-clenchingly prissy middle classes of the Edinburgh New Town, the more people will go miles out of their way to help you out.

And this may seem like a bit of a tangent, but in fact, Rust2Rome has also been, erm, ‘enlightening’ when it comes to this particular part of the world. There are heroic exceptions of course, but the most legendary Rust2Romers seem to almost always be bloody Fifers or people from the North East of Scotland.

I suppose it makes sense. If you’re going to embark on a massive fuckwit escapade through Europe in a shitey car which may or may not start any given time you turn the key you are going to need a certain amount of stoic unflappability, and if that was an Olympic sport, every gold medal winner in history would come from the towns in and around Aberdeen.

They’re fucking mental of course. Just absolute blazing nut-jobs, the lot of them, but in the absolute best possible way. On the latest Rust2Rome one of the cars went on fire twice, and another didn’t start under its own steam for the entire trip and burned fifteen litres of oil. The drivers: Aberdonian (give or take a few miles). The response, a laugh, a shrug, a quick cigarette and get the fuck on with it.

This is a music blog of course, so I suppose I get to something like the point, inasmuch as I have one: what is the problem with the music scene up there? Well actually not all that much at the moment, which is sort of the point of this incredibly long and largely off-topic ramble. The classic criticism of the Aberdeen music scene was described thusly by a friend of mine a few years ago and I’ve run it past a few Aberdonians since, and they seem to generally agree.

Aberdeen is a very long way away from the rest of the country, especially the UK, but even most of the population of Scotland, so consequently no-one tours there. It’s expensive to get to and audiences are small. Because touring bands don’t really come through all that much, the local music audience tend to support their own, and look locally for the best music. The net result of this, however, is that the whole scene becomes very inward-facing so when touring bands do actually bother to visit Aberdeen, no-one goes, and of course that just makes them less likely to return, and the whole cycle become self-reinforcing.

But actually, if you look at what’s coming out of Aberdeen at the moment there is a really good collection of bands, so no matter how shit they keep telling you the place is, something is going very much right up there.

Take angry guitar music, for example. It won’t fill Wembley Stadium, but if you put Depeche Choad, Wendell Borton and Min Diesel together, that would be an excellent bill. Or alternatively, on the slightly more acoustic side, maybe Kitchen Cynics and Best Girl Athlete. Or the woozy electronic dreamscapes of Tryptamines. And that’s before you get into the ‘Aberdonian diaspora’ of the likes of Gerry Loves Records in Edinburgh, and bands like Lush Purr, The Yawns, DTHPDL and presumably countless more.

And to put the weirdness in perspective, Alan from the Kitchen Cynics just disappeared from our house when he came to play down here, wandered off into the haar over Leith Links, walked the town overnight and apparently got the first train back home.

Chemical Callum from Tryptamines is a concert pianist with an arm held together by half a dozen metal plates, who turned up in Edinburgh looking like the Levellers had turned to heroin, and then sat down and played the most beautiful piano to ever come from someone wearing a combat jacket.

Best Girl Athlete is a dad touring the world with his sixteen-year-old daughter during the school holidays.

I think Depeche Choad introduced themselves to me by telling me to fuck off, actually, although it’s all a little hazy. They really are all crazy, but somehow absolutely brilliant at the same time.

Glasgow is a magnet and tends to draw all the bands in Scotland into itself, but if you look at who is actually making the music, music in Scotland is not really all that dominated by the Central Belt at all.

I’d put on an all-dayer of this stuff of course, but the expense of driving six bands on a six-hour round trip would basically kill all hopes of not losing money, and therein lies the other problem: that distance makes it a serious challenge for bands in Aberdeen to get out and about and tour as much as they need to in order to get ‘out there’ to a wider audience.

There’s great stuff happening up there at the moment though, and I fucking love the place and the people. It’s a bit like London in the sense that you just have to develop a total blind-spot for the wankers, but if you do, then you too can develop that perfect tone of voice that lets you say ‘nah, it’s shite’, but secretly mean that a weird part of you loves the place for reasons that you can’t really be bothered to explain.

avatar

Garden of Elks at CMJ

GardenOfElks_Initials_FionaCameron-660x495

By sheer good fortune, on the exact same day we (temporarily) became a Brooklyn Record label, one of our Song, by Toad Records bands turned up in New York to play some shows at CMJ.

Garden of Elks’ fantastic album of thrash pop A Distorted Sigh came out on vinyl and tape in April, and they’ve got five shows over here this week, as well as a few other bits and pieces, so having moved over here yesterday knowing pretty much no-one it seems I am now going to spend much of my time dotting around Brooklyn with Niall going to see bands. Not exactly a radical change of lifestyle, I have to confess.

And we’re in Red Hook too, which is surprisingly similar to Leith in many ways. I like it here.

Garden of Elks CMJ 2015 shows:
October 13th//The Living Room//British Consulate ‘Music Is Great’ showcase
October 16th//Fat Baby//11.45pm
October 17th//CakeShop//CakeShop Presents//1.30pm
October 17th//The Shop//8pm
October 18th//Fulton Stall Market//Paper Garden & Little Water CMJ Brunch//3pm

avatar

New Andrew R. Burns Stuff

arb 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.