Song, by Toad

Archive for the Song by Toad Records category


Death to Meursault

Meursault Cloud For the eagle-eyed amongst you – or, basically, just those of you with Facebook – you may have noticed the recent announcement that August’s Pale Imitation show at the Queen’s Hall will be the last ever Meursault show.

It’s weird, this. There’s a large sense in which it’s none of my business, of course, but Meursault were the first band we seriously released, way back in late 2008, so it’s quite an important event from the the point of view of both myself and the label. It’s very fair to say that, initially at least, our reputation hinged on being Meursault’s record label. We’ve diversified since then, of course, but having them on the books from the off meant that people took us way more seriously than they would have otherwise.

Neil will continue to make music, of course, and a lot of his current collaborators will continue to work with him, so from a fan’s point of view I really don’t think too much will change.

You might ask, if that’s the case, why bother killing off Meursault, and I have to confess that I can’t quite answer that. People all know that Meursault is based around the songwriting, delivery and generally also the arrangements and production of Neil Pennycook, so Meursault can be whatever he wants it to be, surely. Song, by Toad is my voice on the internet, whatever I chose that to be, so when the Friday Fives and Monday listings became a serious chore to write every week I just killed them off, because labouring through those posts every week was threatening to sap my enjoyment of writing.

Having said that, creative identities can end up developing their own sense of confinement. In some ways the commercial damage done by having to relaunch a new band into the world will probably be quite liberating. Maybe we can finally, finally hear the end of terms like folk-fucking-tronica, and perhaps the general music industry perception that each project by a band needs to be bigger and more ambitious than the last will also be sidestepped.  So as much as I don’t think I would have made this particular decision myself, I can certainly understand it.

Then again, no one Meursault album has ever sounded all that much like any other anyway, so will the next project be wildly different from what has come before? I don’t know, but as I said, I doubt there will be much difference from a fan’s perspective. The new project, whatever it ends up being, will probably sound as unlike Meursault as any of the Meursault albums sounded like their predecessors, but the industry and the wider, less actively interested public will probably see things a little differently, and I think that will probably be enough.

Myself, well, there’s that ‘end of an era’ nostalgia, but I don’t really mind all that much, to be honest.  I just want to hear whatever music happens next, irrespective of what it’s called. I guess we’ll see. So with a bit of luck I’ll see you at the Queen’s Hall, and we can bid goodbye to the band who have given us a shitload of truly phenomenal music over the years. The King is dead, long li… no, hang on, that’s too clichéd even for me.

I guess I’ll just end with a song I heard on my first ever visit to the band’s MySpace page. A visit where I thought ‘holy fuck, what the hell is going on here’, and the rest, as they say, is hist… no, sorry, fuck that, no more clichés, I promise.


Our Third Split 12″ Vinyl Is Here!

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Yep, that fine, yellow beauty up there is the third in our series of Split 12″s on Song, by Toad Records. You can buy one here, and I recommend you do, because it’s fucking awesome.

Of course, I would say that, wouldn’t I. But it’s not just me, we’ve had radio play for this from Tom Ravenscroft, Gideon Coe, Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq and Tom Robinson, as well as a ton of support on Amazing Radio as well. It’s been brilliant, particularly given our traditionally patchy results with self-promoting to national radio. Anyhow, the launch nights are fast approaching, so I thought I should give you another wee nudge. Firstly we have Glasgow at Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’s on the 24th July (tickets here), followed by our first Song, by Toad House Gig in the new place down in Leith on the 25th (tickets here). We’ll be getting the barbie on for this one before the gig (if it’s not raining) so bring something to throw on there if it’s nice.

And also, out of sheer, naive generosity, here is some more streaming fun for you – a cover of James Yorkston’s Chalkhill Blue by Sparrow and the Workshop. Side 2, track 1!


Split 12″ v3 Launch Gigs

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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.

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:


The Ambiguity of David Thomas Broughton

The Ambiguity of David Thomas Broughton (teaser trailer1) from Greg Butler on Vimeo.

I suppose this would be a good idea to quietly mention the David Thomas Broughton and Juice Vocal Ensemble album we’re going to be releasing in September (there’s a track from it on our current sampler). And perhaps subtly hint at the trans-continental triple vinyl which is being brewed for 2015.

But for the meantime those are yet to be formally announced and are officially a secret, so in the meantime, let’s start with this:

This is a trailer to music documentary currently being made about the eccentrically surreal performer and heartbreaking musician and songwriter David Thomas Broughton.

The film is in the early stages of production and this trailer was created after conducting the first five interviews. Since the trailer was first put together 12 interviews have been shot and included contributions from Shearwaters Jonathan Meiburg, Sam Amidon and David Shrigley. Many other interviews have been lined up over forthcoming months including Beth Orton, Liz Green and James Yorkston among others.

A crowd funding campaign is about to get underway so please pledge some money if you are fan of David’s work at all (from 23rd June on Indiegogo) So far I’ve put purely my own money into this project and I need some help if I am to make something really special and make the film that that David’s talent deserves.

The film should be completely shot by September and edited by the end of the year. Let me know if you can help me in any way shape or form, any help would be much appreciated and maybe even rewarded in a small way.


3rd Song, by Toad Split 12″, with David Thomas Broughton, Jonnie Common, Siobhan Wilson & Sparrow and the Workshop

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This is the first song from our third Split 12” – Dear God by Siobhan Wilson. Pre-order the album on clear yellow vinyl here.

The third in our Split 12” series seemed set to be rather different to the first couple.

I was talking to Gordon from the Insider Festival in the Bailie in Edinburgh and he talked about collaborating on a vinyl release. Recording a Split 12” up at Inshriach House, on whose grounds the festival is held, seemed like the obvious option, but it also raised some questions.

Our house is such a strong part of the identity of these Split 12”s that I wasn’t sure what moving elsewhere would do the visual identity of the record, but more importantly, we are used to recording there. We know how to make the room sound good, and it’s our house, so the bands tend to be relaxed and therefore they usually play well too.

Still, we found four bands on the bill we really wanted to record with, and arranged to record David and Siobhan on the Friday and then Jonnie and Sparrow on the Saturday, so we figured we’d just head up there, adjust to whatever we found and try and make it work.

What we didn’t expect to find, however, was somewhere so similar to our living room in Edinburgh that it was basically like a home from home: a Georgian living room, full of old carpets and furniture, a large fireplace, with three full-height windows on one side and a door in the middle of the opposite wall. It was basically identical to the room we record in back home.

Nevertheless the process wasn’t without its problems. The festival was buzzing around us as we worked, and the bands’ live schedules put a bit more pressure on getting things done within a certain timeframe, and we had more nerves and more false starts than we’ve had before, as well as more songs retroactively rescinded by the artists as they weren’t happy with the takes, so this has meant a rather tougher post-production process than any of the other Split 12”s.

The album we’ve ended up making, however, is one of which I am really proud, as well as a lovely record of the Insider Festival itself. I love small festivals, as opposed to the trampled wastelands of the bigger ones, and this is one I’d been trying to get to for a few years now, so never mind recording, I was happy just to be able to go.

The setting was spectacular, and Nic, Rory, Neil and I slept on the floor of the room in which we were recording, meaning we woke to beautiful Highland scenery and really good coffee every day. Everyone who was based in Inshriach House was so incredibly friendly and so positive about the idea of making a record that we felt at home pretty much immediately, and being up in the Highlands away from normal working chores made it a surprisingly peaceful way to work.

And the unique working environment is probably why this album has worked out so nicely. I think it’s an unusual, but fantastic addition to our Split 12″ collection.


SAY Award – Vote for Adam Stafford!


Vote here. Yes, NOW – voting closes today! 

After last year’s near miss for Meursault, we have another release in the running for the Scottish Album of the Year Award this year: Adam Stafford’s glorious Imaginary Walls Collapse.

You can help vote it onto the shortlist by going here and ignoring all the other entirely wrong choices and voting ONLY FOR ADAM. Only Adam, got that? We only sanction the enjoyment of one kind of music here at Song, by Toad and that is OUR music. But you knew that by now, right?

Although that Rick Redbeard chap is awfully good too.

I don’t have a free download to offer you as an incentive, unfortunately, but ummm… well, you could always download the new Brown Brogues Toad Session, for example, or have a listen to the Eef Barzelay one, which is just going up now. And here’s a song from Adam’s session which we recorded last year:

Adam Stafford – Cold Seas (Toad Session) from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.


Bastard Mountain Launch Shows Tomorrow and Thusrday

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Bastard Mountain aren’t going to play all that many live shows. It’s a collaborative effort and the band all have their own projects going on, so if you want to see them live then this coming week is going to be pretty much the only time to do it.

On Saturday 24th May (yes, tomorrow!) they’ll be playing the Sssh! Festival in London. And then on Thursday 29th May the Edinburgh album launch will be taking place at the Queen’s Hall. I can only make it to the latter, unfortunately, but the Queen’s Hall is pretty much the perfect venue for this kind of music and I am really excited about the show. We’ll have all the tables and candles out too, so it will be proper sophisticated, likes. None of the usual scruffy shite you’ve probably come to expect from Song, by Toad gigs over the years.

The response to this album has been fantastic. The reviews have been brilliant, and we’ve had great support from our pals Vic Galloway up here, from Gideon Coe and Tom Ravenscroft on 6Music, and we’ve had a couple of daytime spins from Lauren Laverne this week as well, on Monday and Wednesday. On Monday she played the Rory Sutherland (Broken Records violin player and Toad Sessions recording engineer/cameraman) song Drone Armatrading then on Wednesday the gorgeous, Rob St. John-penned Palisade.

In fact, the response has been so good that our distributor has sold out already, and I am nervously eyeing the remaining boxes here in the office and wondering if we can really afford to send them all the extra stock they’ve asked for when we have two launch shows coming up. I think we may end up re-pressing this only two weeks after the bloody release date, which is both great news and something of an indictment of my ability to plan things properly.

So a massive thank you to all who have written about this album or played it on your podcasts and radio shows. It is a properly gorgeous album and I am really, really proud of it. Well done Bastards!



Adam Stafford SAY Award Nomination and News

SAYaward Congratulations are due to Mr. Adam Stafford whose album Imaginary Walls Collapse (which you can buy from Song, by Toad Records here) has been nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year Award.

I’m genuinely delighted for Adam, and to celebrate he is coming into our new studio (and by studio I mean empty warehouse) to do some recording in a couple of weeks. I am not sure what the new material will be – a new EP, quite possibly – but I am very much looking forward to seeing what he does with the space. It’s echoey as fuck at the moment, but we’ll be looking into sorting that over the next little while, so it should be more or less up and running fairly soon with a bit of luck.

Also, Adam is playing the SHHH! Festival in London on the 24th of May, along with Bastard Mountain and a few others, so if you are one of those Southern types and you wish to see his convulse his way to pop Nirvana then that is the time to do it. For Scottish types, keep your eye on the Pale Imitation Festival this August, as he’ll be headlining one of our nights there too.


New Virgin of the Birds Song – Edinburgh Dates This Weekend

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To coincide with Virgin of the Birds‘ visit to Edinburgh this weekend, where they’ll be playing the Book Group EP launch at Henderson Hall on Saturday 17th May, we thought it was time to release another song from this excellent album.

An understated gem of a recordWhisperin’ & Hollerin’
“Marvellous stuff from beginning to end”Americana UK
The ominous lyrics prick your ears and the surprisingly catchy melody draws you closerFresh on the Net
“an uncommon grasp of adroit, heartfelt songcraft … Essential”The Herald
It all goes down so well that I had to rewind a bit to think about why this album felt so special.When You Motor Away

For those of you wanting to get to know a bit more about the band, Jon will also be appearing Live From the Latin Quarter on the Saturday before the show, and we’ll be recording a Toad Session with him on Sunday, before he plays a flat gig here.

So for those of you yet to have a listen to the album, maybe start with the song below and then go here and buy the vinyl. I promise you won’t regret it.


New Bastard Mountain Song and Launch Dates

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Whee, yes, there’s more from the Bastards! The response to this album has been fucking great so far, and I am pretty delighted with how it’s going. Mind you, it’s a great album, so it bloody well should be doing well, but it’s still nice to see people agreeing with me about music for a change.

Anyhow, we have two album release shows booked in, and the band won’t be playing all that much otherwise so if you are keen I would try and get to these if I were you. I think they are going to be rather special. Although if you can’t make it to either, then you can treat yourself to the record here instead.

Saturday 24th May – SHHH! Festival, London (tickets).
Thursday 29th May – Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh (tickets).

As well as some great reviews we’ve had some fantastic radio play, particularly from the ever-supportive Tom Ravenscroft and Vic Galloway. Getting press is always a challenge for a small label like us, but to get to the stage where people are getting in touch with you actively asking to review the album is absolutely fantastic.

Given the band don’t really exist, exactly, I haven’t actually seen them play since we recorded the album, almost two years ago now. Consequently I think that for all I’ve heard the record an awful lot, I’m probably as excited as anyone else for these launch gigs. It’s such haunting, beautiful music I really can’t wait to see it performed live, particularly in a setting as lovely as the Queen’s Hall.

And, as we’re being generous today here’s another song from the album to help whet your appetite: