Song, by Toad

Archive for the Song by Toad Records category


Le Thug Scottish Dates Coming Up


It’s probably not on the list of characteristics bands tend to aspire to, but Le Thug might be hands down the very nicest people I’ve ever dealt with when working with Song, by Toad. It doesn’t get you on the cover of the NME perhaps, but fuck me they’re lovely people.

They’re also an absolutely fantastic band, which helps. They may not be the most animated of live acts, but they are pretty bloody hypnotic, and Clio’s voice is a thing to behold in real life.

Also they’ve not played for ages so get yourselves out and see them if you can.

20th Nov. Strange Behaviours Festival, Stirling
24th Nov. Detour Sixfest with BDY_PRTS, Bloc, Glasgow
28th Nov. with Trembling Bells, The Tunnels, Aberdeen
5th Dec. with C. Duncan, Glasgow School of Art


Toad Flake Paint Records Split 12″


As you may know, Song by Toad Records is a super-cool Brooklyn record label these days – well, for the next month or two anyway. We’ll be back to rather-less-cool Edinburgh in the new year. But anyway, for now: HIPSTERS!

Anyhow, I reckoned that one of the best possible ways to commemorate our trip was to record a Split 12″ with local bands while we were out here. My brother works in a recording studio and it seemed like a really good way to get involved with local music.

I have a couple of friends who are really into a lot of bands from around this part of the world. James from Passion Pusher and Tom from Gold Flake Paint have pointed me in the direction of a lot of great bands so I nudged them for a couple of recommendations and we soon came up with far too many bands to fit on one record because, well, whatever anyone tells you, there really is an awful lot of very good music out there.

Tom has his own label called Gold Flake Tapes actually, and we’ve talked in the past of doing jointly-promoted shows under an amalgamated Toad Flake Paint banner so… well, you can see where I’m going with this can’t you. This Split 12″ will be a one-off release on the newly minted Toad Flake Paint Records imprint, one sure to take the world by storm and become the great kingmaker label the world has been waiting for for so long.

Or maybe we’ll just make a record we both really, really like. Maybe just that, actually.

I went to see most of the bands in question during CMJ, which by sheer coincidence happened to take place the very week Mrs. Toad and I first moved over here, and it was a bit nerve-wracking to actually meet them in person.

I have a missing incisor at the moment, and a semi-inebriated, toothless Englishman lumbering up to a band after a show saying ‘hey, that was great, remember we talked about being on a record, well erm, want to be on this record we’re making?’ didn’t strike me as a great strategy for approaching people.

I never really make a good first impression on folk anyway though, and I have learned over the years that just not worrying about that and blundering on anyway in the hopes they’ll realise I’m sincere at some point tends to be the best approach. I’ve tried actually modifying my behaviour and trying to be a bit more subtle, but it tends to just come across as condescending and insincere, so I basically just went for it and hoped for the best.

It seemed to more or less work this time, I think. At least, everyone was really nice, if a bit baffled-looking at first, and a few members of the various bands had time for a bit of a chat and some basic planning.

One of the odder aspects of the process this time around is where it is actually going to be recorded.

See, the place my brother works over here is actually the National Opera Centre in Manhattan. It’s all entirely above board, but basically we are going to be faced with the somewhat bizarre scenario of waiting for all the nice grown up opera people to go home and then sneaking a bunch of pop bands in the back door to use the nice facilities after hours. It really is going to be an odd experience, but a fun one I think.

Because we are cheap bastards and refused to fly our normal photographer Nic Rue out for this one, my brother will do all the recording, I’ll do the photos and the video and then presumably we’ll mix the results between us.

Even though he’s a sound engineer who talked me through all my tentative early attempts at recording, my brother and I have never really worked together apart from an Inspector Tapehead Toad Session many years ago, so that too will be really nice.

Furnsss and Eskimeaux are on board already, and we’re just finalising the last couple of bands, but we’re nearly there and have recording dates down for late November and early December so far, so it’ll be a couple of months before it finally all comes together, but all being well we should leave New York at the end of the year with an amazing new record almost ready to go. Woo hoo!


Garden of Elks at CMJ


By sheer good fortune, on the exact same day we (temporarily) became a Brooklyn Record label, one of our Song, by Toad Records bands turned up in New York to play some shows at CMJ.

Garden of Elks’ fantastic album of thrash pop A Distorted Sigh came out on vinyl and tape in April, and they’ve got five shows over here this week, as well as a few other bits and pieces, so having moved over here yesterday knowing pretty much no-one it seems I am now going to spend much of my time dotting around Brooklyn with Niall going to see bands. Not exactly a radical change of lifestyle, I have to confess.

And we’re in Red Hook too, which is surprisingly similar to Leith in many ways. I like it here.

Garden of Elks CMJ 2015 shows:
October 13th//The Living Room//British Consulate ‘Music Is Great’ showcase
October 16th//Fat Baby//11.45pm
October 17th//CakeShop//CakeShop Presents//1.30pm
October 17th//The Shop//8pm
October 18th//Fulton Stall Market//Paper Garden & Little Water CMJ Brunch//3pm


Two New Releases Available at the Pleasance Sessions Tomorrow


We don’t usually bother with exclusives or limited this, that or the other, primarily because we sell sufficiently few of more or less everything that it is all pretty much an exclusive limited edition by definition.

Tomorrow at the Pleasance Sessions Marketplace, however, we have two genuinely exciting first glimpses at new music we are releasing, almost before I’ve even had the chance to announce it on the internet. Yep, tomorrow will be your first chance to lay your sweaty hands on our fantastic compilation of new Scottish guitar bands, called David Cameron’s Eton Mess. Yes, seriously. Have a look at the artwork here. I promise you I had absolutely no idea that things would turn out the way they have – I actually designed it months ago. You can have a listen at the bottom of the page.

And secondly we have that glorious abomination at the top of the page: Grilled Wiig by Youngstrr Joey. Available on limited edition purple cassette, this was recorded under the influence of sleep deprivation, deliberately trying to make the guitar sound as weird as possible. And results are both as wonky and as excellent as that implies. Well, as that implies to me anyway, you might just think I’m nuts.


And finally, here’s a wee look at the artwork, and a preview player thingy for David Cameron’s Eton Mess. Yep, even more awesome and terrible than you were already imagining. And I promise, entirely coincidental.




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

Subscribe to the Toadcasts on iTunes

Subscribe to the Toadcasts on Mixcloud

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.