Song, by Toad

Archive for the Song by Toad Records category

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Record Store Day 2015 at Voxbox

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This Saturday (18th April) me and some pals will be going round to VoxBox in Stockbridge for beers and records and live music. People who run record labels will be there, as will lots of musicians, promoters, Darren who runs the shop, and a lot of people who just plain love music. (And, erm, free beer. People who love that too.)

In short, everyone who is involved in the art of music will be getting together and celebrating this thing we all do. As the record industry struggles for an identity it is this interaction that will keep it all together, I think, and recent initiatives like Record Store Day, the Independent Label Markets and Independent Venue Week are a really important way of cementing that.

Spotify can do what it likes, no-one cares what Jay-fucking-Z thinks, and people who love music will continue to write it, record it, make it, sell it and buy it. That’s what Record Store Day is good for, and that’s what I like about it. And the live music – either in the shop itself or over the road in The Last Word – will be as follows:

12:00 Supermoon
12:45 The Holy Ghosts
13:30 Tuff Love
14:15 Miracle Strip
15:00 Gerry Cinnamon
15:45 Delta Mainline
16:30 Randolph’s Leap
17:15 Garden Of Elks

Funnily enough though, VoxBox won’t actually be stocking any Record Store Day exclusive releases. In fact I haven’t even bothered looking up the RSD list, and in all honesty I don’t really care. I don’t think VoxBox is the only good record shop in the city of course, and there will be others which do have the limited stuff, but Darren isn’t doing it this year.

I’ve explained why I like Record Store Day and for all it’s easy to be attracted to the shiny baubles, it’s not really the releases which do it for me. In fact, if you look at the list of labels represented in that poster above I think only one of them is actually doing a proper RSD release. This may sound weird, but the day itself is suffering something of an identity crisis at the moment.

There has been a lot written about the state of Record Store Day recently, and a couple of labels are doing a sort of semi-boycott which led to a rather spirited response from the organisers themselves, and everyone getting a bit hot under the collar and blah blah blah, all the usual pish.

I have some sympathy for both sides of this actually, and in fact the whole spat reminds me rather a lot of my own inner debate about Record Store Day, which I wrote about extensively about four years ago. It’s not quite this simple, but you can break the argument down into a few things: namely that in its favour Record Store Day is a huge boost in cash and promotional awareness for record shops, as well as encouraging interest in unusual releases.

On the negative side, releases from major labels, quite a lot of which are dubious reissues, apparently often pressed without permission, now completely overwhelm all the independent stuff. Apart from starving the indies out of any opportunity to benefit from RSD this also clogs up all the vinyl pressing plants to the extent that even if we aren’t doing anything for RSD our manufacturing lead times are fucked for months either side of it.

Then there are the eBay scalpers who buy things at (an already inflated) retail price and due to scarcity are able to sell them on for instant and considerable profit. These are not music fans, they are just exploitative little shits. Shops rarely get everything they order because of the scarcity, but still have to pay up front because there is no sale or return, meaning they have no idea what their bill is likely to be in advance.

So it’s contentious. I can see the drawbacks. I can’t be arsed doing a release myself, really, as much as I enjoyed our Beer vs. Records project. And actually I can see why Darren can’t be bothered pissing about with all the uncertainties of stocking the releases. Some of my label-running pals say they can sell out a whole pressing of something in a single day, in which case I get it, but we can’t really do that. And every shop you speak to will tell you that the influx of cash is massively important for them.

So I get it. I can see the benefits. But I don’t think you have to succumb to all the frantic mentalism to get a lot out of the day. After all, it’s just supposed to remind you of the importance of independent record shops and their role in the music community, and to encourage you to support them. A deranged frenzy of exclusive releases isn’t really necessary to achieve that.

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Nic Rue’s Cyanotypes and the Napier Photo Collective

Moth Cyanotypes from nic rue on Vimeo.

You all know Nic Rue, right? She’s the awesome photographer who does a lot of our Toad Session photography and all the photos for the Split 12″ series (123) we’ve been releasing over the last couple of years. Well she’s coming to the end of her degree course and has been doing some absolutely gorgeous work with cyanotypes, which you can see in the video above.

Moths fulfil a similar pollenation role in nature as bees and butterflies, and they are apparently as endangered as both of those as well at the moment, and for much the same reasons. I have to confess I had no idea that this was the case, but raising that awareness is one of the central points of Nic’s project.

The group she’s part of – the Napier Photo Collective – are currently raising a very modest sum of money to help them exhibit at the Free Range Gallery down in London. You know, the usual stuff like renting materials needed for the exhibition, transport and accommodation costs. All the crap which makes it so expensive for our bands to travel to London to play, basically.

You can contribute to this by going to their Indiegogo page and chipping in, and I hope you will because, well… nice people doing good things.

Napier Collective @ Free Range 2015: IndieGogo Campaign Video from Jo McClure on Vimeo.

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Garden of Elks – A Distorted Sigh Out Now

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Garden of Elks themselves call this ‘thrash-pop’ and I really can’t think of anything better, to be honest. In the words of Whisperin’ and Hollerin’ it’s “ten ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-them’ tunes that sound like the missing link between The Ramones and Sonic Youth”.

Or inbetween Arcade Fire and Iggy Pop if you look at the playlist on KEXP the other day.

Whatever you call it, this is pop music which is intense, exuberant and aggressive and, as all good pop music should be, absolutely hummable as fuck. It’s out on vinyl and cassette, and can be found in Monorail and LoveMusic in Glasgow and in VoxBox and Coda here in Edinburgh. If you want to see more pictures of how pretty it is, like the one above, then go here.

The band will be headlining the Bongo Club Stage at our label showcase at the Hidden Door Festival this year (although that’s a secret for now, so sssh), as well playing Power Lunches in London on the 29th April, and we’re working on a few other festivals for them as well. In the meantime though, if you can’t enjoy this stuff as much as the kids in the video below, you must just hate fun.

Garden of Elks – SWAP from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

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Label Markets Are Odd

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I really like the Indepedent Label Markets I travel around to on a regular basis, but they are strange things to go to, I have to confess.

Meeting devoted fans of our releases in places like London and Inverness who can go through the whole display and point out no more than maybe one or two things they don’t already own is wonderful, but strange. I don’t really expect anyone but my good self to have that level of blind conviction that everything we release is fucking ace, but there definitely are a few people out there like that and it’s nice, if surprising, to meet them.

The other really nice thing is that with everything laid out in front of them, people tend to spend far more time on older releases than then normally seem to, and I get asked all sorts of questions about back catalogue stuff which no-one seems to take that much of an interest in most of the time.

The other thing which reinforced that sort of weird time machine effect was that on Sunday I went to see Jane Weaver at the Lexington and my friend who was promoting the gig suggested I just fire on my label playlist on shuffle, rather than be arsed putting together one himself at the last minute. So a packed venue had the rather dubious pleasure of being serenaded by our somewhat, er, broad variety of releases for the course of the evening.

Someone spotted Rob St. John’s rather distinctive voice but other than that I don’t think that anyone really noticed or gave much of a shit about what they were hearing, but that doesn’t matter. I cared. It was odd. And kind of fun. It’s easy to move past your own history in this business because the immediate future always needs such very urgent attention, but it was a nice moment to have it all mixed up together, the old stuff and the new stuff, and reflect that yes, the world was very much Wrong About Music back then too.

So, two songs, one from Surrender to Summer by The Japanese War Effort and one from He Was Such a Quiet Boy by Trips and Falls. Both absolutely massive smash hits the world never knew it missed.

The Japanese War Effort – Summer Sun Skateboard from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

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Rob St. John & Woodpigeon Split 10″

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It’s taken a while for this to come together, but we can now announce a Split 10″ release by Rob St. John and Woodpigeon called Young Sun | Trouble Comes. Released on the 20th April, you can actually pre-order one here and we’ll post them out a wee bit in advance, because for once we’re really organised and we have the finished article already – you can see how lovely they are here if you like.

This collaboration between long-time friends Rob St. John and Mark Hamilton from Woodpigeon has been a long time in the making. Woodpigeon’s songs have been ready for a while, but last September we finally managed to get Rob pinned down for a recording session in our new house, and his contribution was completed as well.

The collaboration is actually three-legged, in that the cover artwork makes extensive use of paintings by another friend – Edinburgh artist Jake Bee. Jake actually has an exhibition on the horizon – the 14th of May I think – but the exact details escape me, so keep your ear to the ground for more info when it worms its way out into the world.

The result of all this is a beautiful Split 10″ of psyche-folk gems and gorgeous artwork. A small release, but a lovely one! Keep an eye out for some live dates in the near future too. Rob has a full band show at Henry’s on 29th May, and there will be a tour to promote this release as well.

The video for Trouble Comes (below) was edited by Rob St. John from public domain footage found here.  It’s used under Creative Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0 licence, and was produced by the Moody Institute of Science in 1951.

Woodpigeon – When You Look For Trouble, Trouble Comes from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

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Garden of Elks Album Launches Tomorrow and Sunday

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Yep, that’s right, A Distorted Sigh by Garden of Elks is coming out soon – early April, actually – but the vinyl has arrived and I am collecting the tapes from Glasgow today so if you can catch them at their next couple of shows then you can get a copy slightly ahead of time (alternatively, you can order one from us online). They look and sound ace, too.

The lads are playing two dates with Broken Records this week, one at Summerhall in Edinburgh tomorrow and the other in Glasgow at Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’s on Sunday, so pop down if you want to see them.

Tomorrow is the first night of a series of gigs at Summerhall under the Nothing Ever Happens Here banner, something which is hopefully going to bring mid-level touring bands back to Edinburgh for the first time in what feels like years. It’s perfectly placed inbetween the smaller venues like Henry’s, Sneaky Pete’s and the Electric Circus which we’re actually relatively well-served with here, and the bigger places like the Queen’s Hall, who have to be a bit careful who they book because it’s a big venue and they have to be confident that they can draw enough people.

One of the key things I am hoping the press surrounding these nights will do is start to dispel the impression that Edinburgh isn’t well-served for music. As the name implies, it’s a popular perception, but in fact there is quite a lot going on in Edinburgh if only we could persuade people to come along to it and take a more regular interest. And hopefully some of this more well-publicised, high-profile stuff can encourage people to poke around and see what else is available, particularly if, as is the plan, a lot of the smaller bands playing these more underground nights get the chance to play more high-profile support slots at the Summerhall shows.

Anyhow, see you there tomorrow? Don’t let yourself down by making bad life choices.

Garden of Elks – SWAP from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

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Song, by Toad at the Easter Independent Label Market in London

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That’s right folks, this weekend we shall be down in London for the Independent Label Market at Spitalfields once again.

We don’t really have any ‘exclusives’. I mean, we don’t really do exclusives, honestly, we try and make everything as special as we can, and then make it available for everyone. But we do have some interesting advance copies of stuff you may like – the Garden of Elks album, for example, and the Supermoon tape, and also the Rob St. John and Woodpigeon Split 10″. And of course our fantastic Gin & Swearing t-shirts and Real as Fuck sweaters.

So there will be lots of very, very good things for you to come along and buy, and of course you get the wonderful benefit of my gloriously sunny company. And who could possibly ask for anything more.

I’ve got the stall plan now too, and we are in the very far corner of the market. This may sound less that ideal, but actually we’re right next to Domino, and in terms of musical suitability that makes a lot of sense to me, and maybe we can exploit some of their overspill to make up for the fact that I will probably spend far too much money on their records while I’m there.

Garden of Elks – SWAP from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

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Jonnie Common – Binary 101

Jonnie Common – ‘Binary 101′ (Official) from Jonnie Common on Vimeo.

It’s been a good wee spell for Jonnie Common. In the wake of his excellent 6Music session with Tom Robinson (starts just over half an hour into this show, if you want to listen back), he’s been playing a series of dates around the country in places like Manchester, Cardiff (Sunday) and, this Saturday, The Shacklewell Arms in London with Song, by Toad label-mates Le Thug.

To accompany the tour this week we released Binary 101, the third single from his latest album Trapped in Amber, released to a pretty splendid reception on Halloween last year. It’s from the slightly odder end of the spectrum, as far as the album is concerned. We tried to stick to ‘the pop songs’ for the first couple of singles, and this is a little odder, although I say a bit too much, no matter how strange the noises are which Jonnie uses, the end result is pretty much always really approachable.

There’s also a b-side, Binary 202, which I think started out as a reworking of Binary 101, and was initially even just called ‘extended mix’, but ended up moving so far away from the original source material that it turned into a separate song in its own right. Enjoy! And pop along to some of these shows if you get the chance.

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digitalanalogue – Be Embraced, You Millions!

digitalanalogue – ID 83846 (Don’t Look Down) from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

This week – today in fact – sees the release of the wonderful Be Embraced, You Millions! by digitalanalogue, the largely solo recording project of Ian Turnbull from Broken Records. It’s on limited-run, 12″ vinyl in hand-printed sleeves with artwork by Fee Buckle, and photography and writing by Ian himself.

We’re a bit behind, in that the sleeve printing starts tonight, but nearly there and the whole thing is going to be fucking lovely. In the meantime you can buy it on iTunes here or stream on Spotify here, if you can’t wait for the vinyl. We’re working on a really nice launch night in Sofi’s, hopefully over the Easter weekend, so keep your eyes on the internet and we’ll be sure and let you know.

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Jonnie Common and Le Thug in London on the 21st March

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Yep, along with our pals at Postcards, we are having a bit of a Song, by Toad Records night down in London on Saturday 21st March. Jonnie Common and Le Thug are making the trip down South to play at the Shacklewell Arms in Dalston.

You all know both bands pretty well by now I would imagine (and there are two awesome videos at the bottom of the page in case you don’t) but the short, short version is ‘idiosyncratic electronic pop music’ and ‘dreamy, electronic shoegaze’ respectively.

I’ve said this a lot recently, but getting Scottish bands out of Scotland is surprisingly hard. The supportiveness of the local audience is fantastic, but for a band from Scotland to really make headway I tend to think that getting down to London as often as possible is pretty key. Depending on where you draw the line around it, London has three times the population of Scotland, for starters, but just the petrol to drive down there in the van is upwards of £200.

So for those of you in London, or with friends down there, please do try and encourage people to come along to this. It would be great to see you, and you will get to see two awesome bands who might not make it down South all that often.