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.
The Garden of Elks debut album A Distorted Sigh is coming out on Song, by Toad Records in April, and this is the first single.
The video, like the song, cavorts joyously along for a couple of minutes and then packs it in – no fussing, no unnecessary embellishment, no fucking about. That’s pretty much what the album is like too, and that is why I love it.
We’re currently booking gigs around the UK for them to celebrate the release, and they’re playing Edinburgh and Glasgow with Broken Records for the Scottish launches. Pre-order the album on cassette or vinyl from here.
The vinyl for Le Thug’s gorgeous new EP Place Is has just turned up, and it looks AMAZING! The light in our kitchen isn’t ideal for taking pictures but I hope you get the idea. You can order a copy here, if you are suitably convinced.
The launch night is on Valentine’s Day at Summerhall (i.e. next Saturday), and tickets can be had here. We’re going to be in one of the steep-sided lecture theatres, and Ian will be doing some custom one-off visuals for the show. You know Ian – formerly of Song, by Toad Records and now more properly know as dashing young internet entrepreneur/jaded Nathan Barley figure of the Scottish media scene. He and his pal Jordan run Something Something, and made the rather fantastic video for Basketball Land, which has been doing the internet rounds recently and which I have embedded below.
I am away down to Manchester for a couple of days for family stuff, but I will post all of these off when I get back. Don’t they look ace? YIPPEE!
Jonnie Common’s Trapped in Amber was a bit of a quiet triumph, I think. Partly the response was incredible at the time, but it’s also been nice to watch it continue to creep up on people over the last few months despite the relative limits of our PR resources.
Both Jonnie and Bastard Mountain did really well in the BAMS awards – the Scottish ‘Bloggers And Music websiteS’ vote for the album of the year. The Twilight Sad won it, but Jonnie finished in the top ten and Bastard Mountain just outside, which is really nice. Jonnie has some live shows coming up as well, and we are just in the process of sorting out a London show too – hopefully in late March sometime.
28th Feb – STIRLING – Tolbooth headline show
7th March – EDINBURGH – Limbo headline show
8th March – GLASGOW – Broadcast, supporting R.Seiliog
17th March – MANCHESTER – Gulliver’s, supporting Kiran Leonard
Music Like Dirt also named Crumbs and Shark its joint favourite songs of 2014, which is absolutely great news. Neil even recounts the time I had a misty-eyed conversation with him in a pub in London about missing out on releasing Jonnie’s first album – a conversation I had entirely forgotten until that wee reminder – so I suppose he must have had a wee chuckle to himself when the press release for the new one came out.
We’ll be doing a new single with Jonnie soon, Binary 101, so keep an eye out for some new artwork, some extended and alternative mixes and various other bits and pieces. On the subject of artwork, actually, David Galletly, who did all the art for Trapped in Amber including a fantastic wee looped animation which was projected at the album launch shows, has put together a really nice post on this own site about the work he did. It’s great when a release has such coherent, distinctive artwork like this, and I’m really grateful to David for the work he did for us.
In other news, Nialler9 recently made Crumbs one of its best tracks of the week, and Niall himself played the song on his Irish radio show. Muruch also featured Le Thug recently, and you may wonder why I mention these two particular things, but Niall and Vic from Muruch are two of the very first music bloggers, both well established when I started Song, by Toad, and I was early enough as it is.
We know each other from the now-deceased elbo.ws blogger-only message board, but for all I always got on really well with them there, it’s been a long time since we’ve released anything which has prompted either of them (or indeed anyone else I know from that era) to post about our music. That’s fine of course – contrary to the constant accusations of cliqueyness, just being pals with someone doesn’t mean they will like or feature your music. We’d be on the Vic Galloway show every week if that was the case.
But it is nice to see that people you know still keep half an eye on what you’re doing, and that some fellow internet music loons are still beavering away after all this time. At a time when the hipsters writing for free for the bigger online mags seem to have lost interest in us altogether, it just makes me feel like there are still some nice, reliable things about the universe.
Well first of all, thank you so much to everyone who came down to Henry’s on Thursday. It was a packed show – not our first sell-out, but definitely the first time we’ve had to actually turn people away at the door, which is a bit of a shame, but still feels like something of a triumph nevertheless.
It’s mostly fairly minimal recording, but it showcases the move from orchestral rock, as I suppose you could call the last Meursault album, through a slightly lost phase of being a three-piece Black Sabbath tribute band with which Meursault toured the States but has yet to be captured on record, to something weirder and with a bit more needle.
It’s a welcome direction, from my point of view. You know me, I always like music with a bit more tension and discomfort captured in there somewhere, and this stuff definitely has that. There will be a formal physical release at some point in the relatively near future, although I have no idea how much similarity it will bear to this stuff.
I think a good few of the songs will remain, if not necessarily all the recordings, and Neil’s recent comic drawings will feature heavily (find these on Instagram), but that’s about all I can tell you at this stage, largely because I don’t really know myself until I see the finished article, and Neil tends to play these cards fairly close to his chest.
Nevertheless, in the meantime there is this EP. It’s quiet, a bit odd, and embraces noise and crackle, and until we come up with something physical for you to actually purchase, is a pretty good intro into where the Supermoon project is heading.
Remember Lil Daggers? We did an album, an EP and a split 7″ with them, and they are one of the very few non-Scottish bands we’ve ever released. They were based in Miami, made nasty, nasty swampy psychedelic rock songs (actually, if they were releasing nowadays the Modern British Hipster would fucking love them) and amazingly enough, Mrs. Toad loved them. She doesn’t love much that we release, although she definitely leans more towards nasty sounding guitar music, but it’s rare and rather nice when she pipes up and says ‘this is good’.
Anyhow, given then never managed to get over here and tour – understandable, Florida is a long fucking way away – our release never did much more for them than garner a couple of really nice reviews and give me awesome stuff to play if I was ever asked to DJ. Seriously, try playing Ghost Herd in the middle of a party of any sort, the looks on people’s faces are hilarious (it’s awesome, have a listen).
Anyhow, from the ashes of Lil Daggers springs a new band, one called Heavy Drag. There’s not too much out there at the moment, beyond one song on their Bandcamp page and and digital single to buy on iTunes (the video above is from that), but it all sounds really good so far.
It’s not as rambunctious as Lil Daggers – a bit slower and more shifty – more like the stalker you think you see at the end of your street than the dick picking a fight with you in a bar. It still has the garagey and psychey elements, but it definitely all feels different this time. The combination of the jangly guitar and descending bassline in Tissue is a great example – rhythm and foundation, but still skittery and loose.
This is excellent news. I am glad they haven’t gone away.
Well anyone who has heard our new sampler for this year, Song, by Toad’s Magic Beanz, or has listened to a recent podcast or has erm, met me down the pub, knew this already, but Edinburgh’s fantastic Numbers Are Futile are going to be releasing their debut album on Song, by Toad Records this year.
For a self-appointed ‘music writer’ I am never that sure how to describe the music that we release, but ‘thumping, percussive electronica’ is probably not too far from the mark. You never know, though, they might kill me for that.
The album is coming out in May on vinyl only, and will include hand-numbered posters currently being made by the band themselves. Then we’ve got to get the fuckers out touring, so if you know someone we should get in touch with near you then just let me know and I will see what I can do.
Meursault ceased to exist in late 2014, but then there was Supermoon. And no-one really knew what that was, apart from NOTMeursault, but since then we have start to see new bits and pieces cropping up which might give us a few hints. Firstly, there are the cartoons which have been appearing on Instagram. They are, erm, well not narratively expansive exactly, but they do give you something of a sense of something anyway, even if I am not entirely sure what it is.
There are also new Supermoon recordings cropping up on Soundcloud all the time at the moment, and we’re working towards a formal EP release in the fairly near future, so we though fuck it, why not have a proper gig and say hello to the world like normal bands do.
The show will take place at Henry’s Cellar Bar on Friday 23rd January, and you can get tickets here. Neil will be joined by the awesome Wolf, who you should hopefully remember from either Howlin’ Fling or Jonnie Common’s album launch last year, as well as locally-based poet and one of the key driving forces behind the Forest Café, Ryan Van Winkle.
Umm, that’s about it, really. Party. Pop music. Gin. And Bart Owl and Neil Moon will be providing non-specific musical entertainments. Don’t ask – I have no idea.
Also, it’s a fiver to get in, so we can pay the band. Because we’re nice like that. Also, it’s BYOB, although we will provide munchies and things, as we usually do. Oh, and it’ll be in the warehouse, so be aware it might be a bit chilly. We’ll try and warm it up, and with loads of people there it shouldn’t be a problem, but dressing warmly might be advisable.
Welcome to Song, by Toad’s MAGIC BEANZ! This is a wee sampler of six new band’s we’ll be working with this year – a complete rejuvenation of the label, in many ways. We’ll be releasing stuff by our more established collaborators of course, but 2015 will be dominated by the new people.
In February we have Le Thug‘s six-song vinyl EP Place Is – electronic-infused shoegaze with gorgeous, dreamy vocals.
Then in April the debut album by Garden of Elks, called A Distorted Sigh, which is all short, sharp, punchy as fuck indie rock songs. Picking the singles from this was a bit of a challenge as they’re pretty much all singles.
Ian Turnbull from Broken Records has his own album coming out too: Be Embraced, You Millions! – a beautiful collection of instrumental drone and detail, out as limited run vinyl under the name of digitalanalogue in March.
Then in May we have Greco-Portuguese newcomers Numbers Are Futile, whose hypnotic, percussive album of thrumming electronica is called Sunlight on Black Horizon.
We’re still waiting on a final mix, so we don’t have a release date, but either early Summer or mid-Autumn will see Edinburgh’s sludgey, shoegazey indie rockers Plastic Animals release their debut album Pictures From the Blackout.
And finally, in February we’ll be recording some more stuff with Passion Pusher, whose Couch King EP we released in November 2014 on cassette.
So 2015 will be all about the new kids at Song, by Toad, but don’t worry, Adam Stafford has a new record on the way, we have a Split 10″ with Rob St. John and Woodpigeon and Meursault have disintegrated and been re-born again as Supermoon, and Jonnie Common has all sorts of ideas too, so we won’t be unrecognisable, just with a youthful spring in our collective step.