Song, by Toad

Archive for the Song by Toad Records category


Song, by Toad Records at the Pleasance Sessions Marketplace on Saturday 10th October


Yep, we shall have a wee stall at the Pleasance Sessions Label Market thingy at the Pleasance Courtyard this Saturday, and there is even more awesome news:

Yes, it looks like we are indeed going to have a small handful of advance copies of our awesome new 12″ vinyl compilation David Cameron’s Eton Mess. Hooray! As well as our new cassette release by Youngstrr Joey, called Grilled Wiig.

Those will actually be our last releases of 2015, so I am delighted that they’ll be ready in time. In fact, we’re only getting about ten copies of Eton Mess, with the rest being delivered next week, but for the keen few (i.e. probably just me) you will have the wonderful excitement of getting your hands on one earlier than everyone else.

And don’t ask me about the Youngstrr Joey tape either, because that’s just weird. Which is exactly why I love it.

You can check out or buy both of these on our Bandcamp page, but it would be much better to just come along on Saturday don’t you think? Then we can get shit-faced together.


Youngstrr Joey – Grilled Wiig


So erm, well yes. This is happening.

A tape release coming in early November, with nine songs recorded between nine at night and five in the morning. It’s not going to be a pop smash, this one, but it’s weird and I like it and that’s what our tape releases are for.


Willard Grant Conspiracy Mix Terror


(All photos by Nic Rue)

Alright, the word ‘terror’ might be somewhere in between a mild and a total exaggeration, but erm well, ‘moderate anxiety’ doesn’t seem to quite cut it as a headline in these ‘what happened next just broke my heart’ days.

I am not exactly what you would describe as an expert recording engineer. In fact, apart from the fact that I have actually recorded and mixed several things which have been released on a real record label (admittedly, just this one, but hey-ho), I am not really a recording engineer at all. When you’re recording bands who barely have more than a few demos that doesn’t seem to matter as much. That’s not meant to sound disrespectful, but they don’t know what they’re doing, I don’t know what I’m doing, and we all accept this and try and make music as good as we can as best we can. A fair deal.

Of course, in the last few years as I’ve become more experienced and more confident I’ve recorded some rather more established bands, and in almost every case mixed those recordings as well, which is a different kettle of fish altogether. You are expected to be a professional, at least to an extent. Initially it was just Toad Sessions, but recently it’s been for record releases with relatively well-established musicians that I know and admire. David Thomas Broughton was probably the first real example of that, on the third Split 12″. Jonnie Common and Sparrow & the Workshop were there or thereabouts too, albeit mitigated by the fact that we were already friends, which makes everything less scary.


Even more recently – i.e. last week – I invited the Willard Grant Conspiracy into our warehouse in Leith to record for our fifth Split 12″ (the fourth isn’t out yet, I know, but it is recorded and mixed so keep an eye out). Nothing is absolutely cast in stone just yet, but it looks like they will be joined on the record by Micah P. Hinson, the Kitchen Cynics and Tissø Lake, which is fantastic. Kitchen Cynics and Tissø Lake might be slightly more recent discoveries, but I’ve loved both Micah and the Willard Grant Conspiracy’s music for years, and I suppose that could be a terrifying thing for someone as inexperienced and inexpert as I am when it comes to audio engineering.

Fortunately, though, for some reason that sort of thing doesn’t really worry me. I don’t get flustered by meeting people whose stuff I really admire, which is something I am pretty grateful for, particularly given the industry I work in. There is definitely a worry about the basic mismatch in expertise with the Willard Grant Conspiracy particularly given that David, who played viola on these songs, actually recorded and mixed their (brilliant) last album himself, but well, why worry about that. It’ll be a learning experience, and they are really nice guys and I am pretty certain that they’ll be happy to extend me the patience to arrive at decent mixes in my own time.

In fact, sometimes it’s actually easier to mix for people who seriously know what they are doing. I remember doing Jonnie Common’s stuff for the last Split 12″ and thinking what a fastidious little fucker he is with his own recordings, and how painstakingly well-crafted his music is, and it made me very nervous. And in fact he did come back with all sorts of mixing notes. The difference, of course, was that precisely because he does know exactly what he’s doing, those notes were clear, precise, and once I had gone through them all they gave him exactly the mixes he wanted. So a lot of notes, fair enough, but only one iteration on the mixes was needed, which was brilliant.

So no, what gives me the anxiety is not actually any of this kind of stuff. I am relaxed about this sort of thing and the Willard Grant Conspiracy are decent guys, so no real stress there.


The worry is actually much more practical than that: it sounds so very good already, I get the feeling that 95% of the things I ‘might’ do whilst mixing it can only make it worse instead of better. The setup was Robert on vocals and acoustic guitar, with Jonah and Dave on cello and viola respectively. They play with a lot of empty space, and music that sparse gives me the jitters because it just feels more sensitive than a three piece rock band.

When all that’s happening in a song is a deep, sonorous bow of the cello then that sound has to be absolutely right or it will be really painfully obvious. And when the sound of everything is all basically spot on already it takes a very subtle and discreet touch to really make it ‘sing’ (sorry), and the risk of clumsily announcing your own amateurishness, particularly by overdoing it, is rather nerve-wracking.

When I first started to mix stuff I remember talking to my little brother about it, who is a professional sound engineer, albeit in a rather different field. I said that I had no idea what I was doing and would have no idea if I had done it right, and his response was pretty awesome. Basically he said that I listened to loads of music and therefore if I liked the results and thought they sounded good then they were right, end of conversation. You love this stuff, and if it sounds right to you, then that’s as right as it has to sound.

Obviously I go back and forth with the bands on any mixes I do, and will accept any and all feedback, but that bit of encouragement still sticks with me. Don’t worry, it’s music. If it sounds about right then by definition it is right.

So as long as I remember not to try and do too much and to let the actual playing and the sound of the room speak for themselves, I am hoping should be more or less okay. But it’s still really intimidating sitting there with these gorgeous, minimalist recordings, worried that every last tiny little thing you do to them will stand out like a sore thumb.

But, as I told myself when I started to learn to drive, there are plenty of way dumber people out there than me who can do this stuff, so fuck it, if they can do it so can I!



Pale Imitation Festival Half Time Oranges

Pale Imitation 2015 digiflyer

Hello folks. Well we are back from Romania, not entirely in jail although it was close, and not entirely burned to a crisp either, although Mrs. Toad was rather in danger of entirely melting on one or two occasions. Go here for the full story – you just have to scroll down a bit.

Anyhow, we return to the second half of the Pale Imitation Festival and there are some absolutely brilliant gigs still to come in our very own celebration of local Scottish music in the heart of the (over-priced, imported rubbish of the) Fringe.

Tomorrow we have eagleowl, on Saturday we have Adam Stafford (whose new album is fucking amazing, by the way) and then next week it’s the Supermoon show at Summerhall and the Night School Records show with Happy Meals and then the closing party. So many good bands. So much beer to drink.

And my mum’s here, so erm, so many disappointed stares to withstand.

All tickets here.

Remaining shows:

Thursday 20th – eagleowl, Now Wakes the Sea, Faith Eliott

Saturday 22nd – Adam Stafford, Wolf, Tryptamines

Thursday 27th (at Summerhall) – Supermoon & Rob St. John

Saturday 29th – Happy Meals, Apostille, Clip Art


Toadcast #318 – The Palecast Vol.3

mp3tag Hiya folks, once again in advance of the glorious Pale Imitation Festival we have a podcast exploring all the weird and wonderful bands who will be playing in Edinburgh during August for your wild and enthusiastic entertainment.

Because you’re coming along, right? All of you?

Oh god do please come. Please. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease!

Ah fuck that, it’s really undignified when I grovel isn’t it. Fucking come along or you are missing the fuck out on seeing the best under-the-radar bands in Scotland at the most reasonable of prices (a fiver per show or a season ticket to the whole damn thing for £25 – all tickets here) in one of Edinburgh’s most legendary underground venues. (Literally. It’s actually a cellar.)

It’s a bit haphazard, but it’s a bloody great festival, the beer in Henry’s is really good these days and the wonderful Kitchen Disco will be providing cakes and DJing on every single night because they are massive heroes and they are the reason the terrorists will never win.

Toadcast #318 – The Palecast Vol.3 by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #318 – The Palecast Vol.3

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01. Numbers Are Futile – Monster (00.17)
02. Beam – Hex (08.12)
03. Bat Bike – Willing (18.52)
04. Sharptooth – Queen of Scots (26.37)
05. Min Diesel – War Band (28.32)
06. Adam Stafford – Atheist Money (35.07)
07. Wolf – Tricks and Bones (42.56)
08. Tryptamines – Black and White Blues (47.57)
09. Supermoon – Klopfgeist (55.45)
10. Happy Meals – Electronic Disco (1.03.57)


Various Artists – David Cameron’s Eton Mess


Yep, this un-unseeable monstrosity will be out on 12″ vinyl in October. You’re welcome, universe!

Bands included are: Lush Purr, Sean Armstrong, Breakfast Muff, Dune Witch Trails, alansmithee, Youngstrr Joey, Spinning Coin, Chump, Passion Pusher, Andrew R. Burns and the Tropicanas, Psychic Soviets, Joyce Delaney, Wendell Borton, Froth, Dearness and Pennycress.

Every song is a fucking single.


Song, by Toad at Independent Label Market on Saturday 11th July


The ever-awesome Independent Label Market is returning to London this weekend and we shall be there once again (and this time I shall remember to bring all our recent releases along with me as well).

We are on the outside corner of the market, behind Heavenly and Full Time Hobby, and next to BBE and R2 and it would be excellent to see you there if you happen to be in London.

Since I was last there in March we have released several fantastic albums, so have a listen to the following and see if you don’t fancy coming along to pick up a copy on Saturday. Or just buy them on the internet if you prefer that, or don’t live anywhere near London.



Inspector Tapehead Are Back

Things move fast in the music industry, and memories are short. We released the debut album by Inspector Tapehead back in something like 2010 I think, but they promptly disbanded to the furthest corners of Scotland and, whilst not calling time on the band per se, at the very least meant that we heard little at all from them for the next several years.

I almost forgot about their album myself, shamefully enough, until last year when we moved house and I had to put the office back together again in the new place. I noticed the album when I was unpacking and started listening to it regularly again. And it’s fucking brilliant – eccentric, cheerful, catchy, humorous and just plain fucking weird. It was a nice moment actually. It may not figure on many people’s radars anymore, but it is still a bloody great album – have a listen to Pherenzik Tear if you need convincing.

Anyhow, the band are back. I wasn’t really expecting to hear from them, I have to confess, and we had too many commitments already piled up to be able to release their new record, but they have found a home right around the corner from us at Glint Recordings where you can pre-order the new album. And if you want to see them live for the first time since God was a wee boy then I suggest you come along to Henry’s Cellar Bar on the 2nd of July, where they’ll be joined by friend and collaborator Panda Su.


Song, by Toad Split 12″ v4

Viking Moses-8

(All photos by Nic Rue)

One of the reasons I have been a little quiet on the blog lately (aside from wheelspinning out of the parking lot of care homes in Canada and racing stupid cars through the mountains of Europe of course) is that I have been very much occupied with recording and mixing the fourth in the Song, by Toad Split 12″ series.

Funnily enough, despite the fact that we have just added all sorts of soundproofing measures to the warehouse specifically so that it can be used for recording, we actually recorded all of this in our new living room. It’s got an incredibly characteristic, very warm sound, and the mixes I’ve done so far very much reflect this. It’s clearly a record made with a very definite sense of place and time and I like that. All the effects on vocals and stuff like that tend to be simply room mics brought up to increase the ambient sound of the room itself.

We’ve got new recordings from Viking Moses (above), Virgin of the Birds and Supermoon (below). The fourth band is yet to be decided, but the three sets of songs we have already mean they will have to be quite specifically chosen – something which fits with what we have, but is still different enough to have its own character. Usually we invite all four bands at once, and that was the same this time, apart from one having to pull out late on so we are now in the position of having to invite someone else, but having a far better idea of what their music will be sitting alongside, which is unusual.

Still, what we have so far sounds absolutely fucking gorgeous, and it’s really nice to record something in the living room before the acquisition of proper furniture dampens that natural reverb down, and before the recording moves out to the warehouse for good.

Virgin of the Birds-16

Virgin of the Birds-20

Viking Moses-11

Viking Moses-23

Virgin of the Birds-21


Rob St. John Full Band Shows Coming Up

bad fun poster

It’s been a while since I saw Rob St. John with a full band. It was his full-band, going electric, judas performance at the Retreat Festival back in 2000andsomethingsomething that I realised I didn’t just like his music, I thought it was fucking brilliant, and after a bit of determined stalking that’s kind of how we ended up releasing his records.

So, after a relatively long absence in this particular guise Rob returns to Scotland next week with two full band shows. One is our own show at Henry’s on Friday 29th May (see the poster image above) which you can get tickets for here. For this show Rob will be joined by Eerie Idles, the new project from Pablo Clark who you may remember from his previous guise My Kappa Roots, and Glasgow newcomers Elara Caluna.

Then on Saturday Rob (along with Supermoon) will be playing at the Gold Flake Paint fifth birthday celebrations at the Glad Café in Glasgow. The event is actually spread over two days and features all sorts of incredible bands, like C Duncan, Kathryn Joseph, Wolf, Apostille and plenty more. You can hear a playlist of all the bands here, and get your tickets from this link.

The song below is one of Rob’s tunes on the new split 10″ vinyl we just released with him on one side, long-time pal Woodpigeon on the other, and paintings by another friend Jake Bee on the front and back covers. It is fucking ace. You should buy one.