Song, by Toad

Archive for the Song by Toad Records category

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Song, by Toad at the Restless Natives Festival

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The Restless Natives Festival is happening in Glasgow in the first week or so of May, and there is an absolute shitload of excellent Toad stuff happening. About which I have no doubt you are thrilled. Just thrilled.

We have a showcase, the David Thomas Broughton documentary is playing, and Adam Stafford is doing a live movie soundtrack. Awesome, no?

The Ambiguity of David Thomas Broughton is a documentary about the man himself, and made by Oh Kestrel film. I’ll be conducting a live Skype Q&A with David on the night, as he’s based in South Korea these days and that’s as close as we could get him.

The Ambiguity of David Thomas Broughton (trailer 1) from Oh Kestrel Film on Vimeo.

Adam Stafford on the other hand will be performing a live soundtrack to A Page of Madness, which is not something I can say I know much about, but sounds weird and interesting. He’s a film-maker himself of course, so I guess this kind of thing should suit him.

And finally, we have a three-band Song, by Toad bill of Le Thug, Numbers Are Futile and DTHPDL at Collective Studios on 10th May (details and tickets here).

The festival is a celebration of all things DIY in the arts, from visual art and film, to music, comedy and debate. It sounds ambitious as fuck to me, and I’m really pleased they’ve seen fit to invite us to participate. Hopefully see you there, Glasgow!

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

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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!

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Split 12″ Vol.4 Album Launch

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Our Split 12″ series is, erm, sporadic, to say the very least. It’s been a couple of years since the last one, but there will be three released within the next twelve months, to take the tally up to six by early 2017.

This one is, a little like the Insider one we did last, going to be unique in the sense that it was actually recorded in the living room of our new house in Leith where, Mrs. Toad has decreed, no recording shall ever take place ever again. That’s what The Happiness Hotel is for.

And speaking of The Happiness Hotel (it’s our warehouse, and if you don’t get the reference you are dead to me), that is where we shall be holding the launch night for Song, by Toad Split 12″ Vol.4, on Thursday 5th May. The record features Viking Moses, Supermoon, digitalanalogue and Virgin of the Birds, but seeing as two of those bands are based in the States and hoping for them to be in Scotland at the same time seemed a little optimistic, we thought we would have to make do with three bands from the Split, get each of them to learn a song by the regrettably absent Virgin of the Birds, and include Viking Moses’ tour pal Sam Goodwill just for shits and giggles and because he’s good.

It’s BYOB, and you can get your tickets below:





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Micah P. Hinson vs. Phil Ochs

One of the absolute greatest things about being as close to the actual making of music as I now am is being able to actually witness new and awesome things as they come into existence, and to savour that ‘holy fucking shit, what is this, it’s awesome‘ moment when you realise that it is going to be excellent.

I am still amazed by what a mess music can actually sound like when you are in the room, listening to the actual act of recording. I remember some of the flat-out rock bands we recorded in our old living room, and it just sounded like someone throwing a load of old pots and pans down the stairs with some poor fucker trying desperately to scream over the top of the resulting cacophony. It sounded awful. And it turned out fantastically.

As you know I am currently in the middle of recording Song, by Toad Split 12″ Vol.6 (Vol.4 is out in July and Vol.5 in November) and we have three bands’ songs more or less down now. This project has embodied both ends of the ‘what the fuck is going on’ spectrum, from the Willard Grant Conspiracy, whose performance in the room itself was so obviously beautifully that my sole responsibility as a mixing engineer is not to fuck it up, through to the Tissø Lake songs, which were mostly individually tracked, so I didn’t really have much idea what I was hearing until we started to assemble everything together. It still surprises me when proper, grown-up music emerges from all those scraps, but it shouldn’t anymore.

Micah P. Hinson, on the other hand, has been a slightly different case. I am not sure he really enjoyed the recording process himself, primarily because he is from Texas and was playing in an unheated warehouse in Edinburgh in November, so he was absolutely fucking freezing. I am genuinely sorry for this – I blame the perennial postponement of our stove installation – but you honestly wouldn’t know it from the recordings. The sound as Micah generally does: unhurried, rich and sincere.

One of the nicest bits though, and the bit which prompted the opening sentence to this post, is a cover that Micah played. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but it’s a Phil Ochs song and listening to it the other day as I tweaked the initial mixes, it struck me, hearing Ochs’ lyrics sung by Micah, how much lyrical common ground there is between the two. Phil Ochs is obviously more overtly political of course, but in other senses they have such a similar feel – the burst of humour (bitterly acerbic or otherwise), the flair for lighthearted musical styles to back poignant lyrics, that constant sense of self-doubt and nagging fear of futility, and of course the ability to write absolutely crushingly sad, beautiful songs as well as almost anyone I’ve heard.

There’s an intensity to the two of them too, sitting there beneath the surface of the music, and you never quite know what to do with it, which I think it probably what makes it brilliant.

Micah is fond of a cover, of course, and recorded a whole double album of them a few years ago, but this was just one of those moments where I thought ‘oh yeah, that’s perfect, and I never realised at all’.

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Song, by Toad Records at Easter Indie Label Market, London

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Hello folks, we are coming back down to London once more, to peddle our wares at the Independent Label Market which is taking place on Saturday 2nd April at Old Spitalfields Market.

We’ve some awesome new stuff for you as well. Apart from the somewhat sullying sight of me getting steadily drunker over the course of the day, and access to our entire back catalogue from almost eight years of releases, you will also have your first chance to pick up the new Adam Stafford album Taser Revelations (“a tour de force brimming with confidence and invention from an artist at the top of his game” – Is This Music?) as well as the new David Thomas Broughton triple vinyl Crippling Lack (“The fact this album exists at all is testament to the inherent brilliance at the heart of humankind.” – Collective Zine) and Jonnie Common’s new experimental instrumental album Kitchen Sync, which is released on a set of four unique fridge magnets*.

Adam Stafford – Phantom Billions from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

*’Unique’ is quite literal in this case – he hand made them all and no two are the same.

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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.

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Coming Up On Song, by Toad Records in 2016

What do we have going on at Song, by Toad Records in 2016? The short answer is lots. Lots and lots. Seriously. Fucking lots.

In fact, pretty much the only reason I am writing this down is so that I at least have the whole damn thing in one place. And you know what, as I write this Le Thug have just sent me some really, really good new songs too.

FEB: Plastic AnimalsPictures From the Blackout Shoegazey, krauty indie rock, out on vinyl a few weeks ago.

MAR: Adam StaffordTaser Revelations Intense, electrified alt-pop is what Adam calls it. It’s his third album, his second with us, and is out in a couple of weeks on CD or white vinyl. We also have an awesome video for Phantom Billions in the works too, which we should hopefully be coughing up to the world in about two or three weeks.

APR: David Thomas Broughton – Crippling Lack A triple-vinyl record, with each volume released on a different label around the world, each one month apart. This is a sprawling experimental folk epic featuring collaborations with Beth Orton, Aidan Moffat, Sam Amidon and Luke Drozd, all recorded whilst David was living out in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Seriously, everything I have said there is true. Promise.) We’ll have the first song to share with you very soon.

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APR: DTHPL – The Future Indie rock with a bit of synth and a nice, nasty undercurrent to it, out on tape in late April.

MAY: Jonnie Common – Kitchen Sync An instrumental, experimental album composed entirely of found sounds from Jonnie’s kitchen. Released on a set of fridge magnets. Yup, seriously.

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JUNE: Split 12″ Vol.4, featuring Supermoon, Viking Moses, Virgin of the Birds and digitalanalogue We’ll be having a launch night in May with three of the four bands, and if you want to hear one of the Supermoon songs from the record then look no further than the Independent Music Podcast from a few weeks back.

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SEP: Modern Studies – Swell to Great Something of a supergroup, made up of Emily Scott, Rob St. John, Pete Harvey and Joe Smillie, and what a fucking gorgeous album they have made. This’ll be on CD and vinyl.

OCT: Lush Purr We’re collaborating with Electropapknit Records in Glasgow to put out a cassette of awesome new stuff by Lush Purr: nice, gravelly, laid-back, lo-fi guitar tunes. We’re still talking about this one so it’s not 100% confirmed yet, but I really like the music and would love to be able to work with Gav.

OCT: Virgin of the Birds – Secret Kids A new album by our suave, sophisticated poet laureate of the Pacific Northwest.

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NOV: Split 12″ Vol.5, featuring Eskimeaux, Furnsss, Beach Moon/Peach Moon and Small Wonder This is the Split 12″ I recorded with my brother and in collaboration with Gold Flake Paint while Mrs. Toad and I were out in New York at the tail end of 2015. It’s fucking amazing.

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DEC: REST, dammit, I will be having a fucking rest!

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DTHPDL – The Future

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

I am not going to write too much about this, but we will be releasing the new DTHPDL EP The Future in April on Song, by Toad Records. It will be good, here is a teaser, and if you want to have a listen to some DTHPDL demos and bits and bobs their Soundcloud page is here.

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Making a Music Video For Adam Stafford

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(Photo by Rob O’Donnell – more here if you fancy a gander.)

I don’t mean to imply that Song, by Toad Records is in any way a half-arsed, cowboy operation at all. Totally not in any way whatsoever. But, erm. Well.

Well we’ve spent the last couple of days shooting a video in our house for the next Adam Stafford single Phantom Billions (fortunately for me, Mrs. Toad vanished to Berlin within twelve hours of the circus descending) and it’s been, er, instructive. This is a pretty tiny skeleton crew working on a bare-bones budget and by comparison to everything else we do it’s like the fucking CIA swooping in and saying ‘this is above your pay grade sheriff, we’ll take it from here’. Not that they have, they’ve been lovely, but I’ve had an amusing couple of days.

It’s weird, at the moment music and video are as unified as they have ever been, really, even including the MTV era. Trailer clips for albums, embedded Facebook lyric videos which autoplay, people exclusively using YouTube to listen to actual music. It’s funny, the music video almost died out, then came back as digital DIY fever took hold, but in the last year or so it’s exploded as almost all social media feeds have started to fanatically emphasise the visual, presumably as a way of arresting your attention as much as possible.

We have most of the equipment required to make at least a passable DIY video for our releases, but not really the ideas, nor the expertise to execute anything with any real level of ability. It would show, too. I mean, we could make something reasonable enough, and we might get lucky being charming, funny or just weird, but film-making is a serious technical and creative skill and just bodging it will catch up with you in the end.

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The thing is, most of our albums are pretty DIY too, the main difference being that we are actually starting to know what we are doing with the limited tools at our disposal. And we are starting with excellent material too: the ideas and the musicianship are all in place already. Still, most of the albums we’ve ever released on this label were made by a team of, what, maybe half a dozen people at most, including the band themselves.

So it’s a bit odd to be faced with a team of film crew who are all actual, proper professionals, with production meetings, planning, equipment (admittedly mostly borrowed, because SbT is a cheap-as-fuck label) and just generally what appears to be an idea, a team, a plan, and the skills and experience to execute it. When I think of the cack-handed trial-and-error approach with which we started the label, and which still permeates almost everything we do to this day, it’s a bit surreal and kind of funny to think that this one video is being done better and more professionally than pretty much anything we have ever been involved with.

It’s almost shameful really, all these competent people working hard on a shoestring budget in the service of an album made by four people and released on a label run by one. Ah well, if you knock together a good website these days you can fool a lot of people I guess!

I don’t really have much clue what they’ve up to, either. I figured fuck it, they seem to know what they’re doing. And from the still above it looks pretty ace already.

Adam’s new album Taser Revelations is out on the 14th March on vinyl and CD (pre-order here), his album launch show is at Summerhall on the 11th March, and the vinyl looks approximately this pretty. In fact, it looks almost exactly this pretty:

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And here’s the first single, Atheist Money:

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Out Now: Plastic Animals – Pictures From the Blackout

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Well as you’ve probably guessed by now, Plastic Animals’ debut album Pictures From the Blackout is being released this week, and you can buy one here. It is a very good album. I like it a lot. I am excited. Not a massive shock there, then, given it’s my record label. The launch night last weekend was awesome, and massive thanks are owed to Frog who also played a blinder.

We’ve had some cracking writeups of the album so far too: “Pictures from the Blackout is certainly a record that will reward the patient listener” from The List, “a blend which proves intoxicating” from The Skinny, “A debut album for the band to be proud of” on 17 Seconds, and a giddily excited “I’ll be very surprised if this debut album from Plastic Animals doesn’t finish up on many an end of year, best of lists. It is simply that immense” on The Sound of Confusion.

So yep, there you go, you’re welcome! Some slow-burning, slightly krauty, psychey, dreamy, shoegazey guitar rock for you. And if that isn’t fucking hipster music description buzzword bingo I don’t know what is.