Song, by Toad

Archive for the Unsigned category


Oloff – Buddy

buddy It’s a slightly odd concept this, but it works pretty flawlessly if you like wonky, eccentric stuff with peculiar charm. And who doesn’t.

This is a mumbled album of self… well, err, self-loathing isn’t quite right but it’s relatively self-critical at the very least.

The music, on the other hand, is composed entirely of chopped up Buddy Holly samples, giving this whole business a weird sort of ‘Buddy Holly in Dystopia’ feel. It’s alienating and odd, but still the cheerful chimes of the Buddy Holly stuff and the half-hearted self-evisceration of the lyrics ends up producing a weirdly agreeable combination.

You look at a description like this and it could as easily be utterly brilliant as it could be completely awful. Fortunately, this is fucking ace. Fuck knows why it even exists, but I am glad it does.


Black Polygons – À Travers

atrav Having spent three years in France while she was (kind of) growing up, Mrs. Toad will tell you that French radio can be a little odd. There are laudable rules in place which mandate a significant percentage of the music to be Francophone, as a means to combat the overwhelming plague of English language culture currently smothering the world.

I respect this stance, but it did seem rather oddly to result in a near-monopoly on French radio of Johnny Halliday and the fucking Eagles. I am not sure how the rule led to the result, but for some reason they seem inextricably linked in my mind.

My relationship with French music has also always been somewhat unfairly tainted by the ubiquity of Johnny Halliday on the airwaves, and I never really got into genres that they are really good at like hip hop, although some of their twee pop is pretty awesome.

This is nothing like that stuff, however, but I do like it and it is French and I always appreciate music that pulls me away from lazy habits, even if you don’t take your own lazy thinking that seriously.

Black Polygons’ Bandcamp tags sum the music up pretty neatly, so I suppose there’s no massive need for me to elaborate: ambient, experimental, lo-fi minimalist noise. And that’s pretty much what it is. Some pretty twinkles appear to lighten the mood, but there is really satisfying enjoyment of tone and buzz on this album. A lot of the guitar playing just teases a growl of distortion along for minutes on end, letting it rise and fall in a way which just about lets it meld with the more melodic elements, but in general just enjoying the rumble for its own sake.

There are quite lovely, sweeping cinematic elements here, particularly in some of the keyboard parts, although I’d love to see the movie that dared to use anything as dirty as this stuff for its soundtrack. It would probably be set in the pale winter sunlight in Iceland somewhere, with a handsome bearded man looking moody in a thick knitted jumper.

Anyway, it’s always a shame when albums as enjoyable as this don’t have a physical release anywhere to be found, but you can download this from their Bandcamp for a few bucks and it is more than worth that. The internet free-for-all can mean music like this gets lost a little, I fear, and this really doesn’t deserve it at all.


Sean Armstrong and Keel Her

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 12.49.28 I’ve told you before, on numerous occasions, that I think Sean Armstrong is a talented wee fucker. Quite apart from his own stuff, his songwriting is a large part of both The Yawns and Spinning Coin, two fantastic bands themselves.

I first played Keel Her on a podcast over three years ago, and going back to Bandcamp I have to confess I had managed to lose track of quite how much stuff has made its way onto their page in the last couple of years.

Anyhow, the two have now collaborated on this tune, and I have no idea what the plans are for it or if there is more of this stuff, but I fucking hope so because this is bloody brilliant. Sean’s vocals are as elusive and distant as ever, but the duet anchors it all beautifully, and brings a lovely touch of warmth to the song.

It’s lo-fi, I suppose, but I suppose it sounds right like that – to me anyway. A simple drum machine, some guitar, a toy synth… it’s simple, but so effective. And that descending chorus bit is pure magic. Damaged pop, I suppose you could call it if you wanted a stupid invented genre, but it’s fucking ace.


New Andrew R. Burns Stuff

arb Andrew R. Burns has been a wee bit quiet for the last year or so, but a new EP has just made its way onto his Bandcamp page, under his slightly amended new guise of Andrew R. Burns and the Tropicanas.

It’s something of a piece with his existing stuff, and as he builds his back catalogue it’s starting to flesh out into a really good collection of material. It’s very much from the introverted lounge lizard school of modern guitar pop which I know some people have taken a bit of a scunner to, but fortunately I am not one of those people.

This new four song EP – rather catchily titled One Man’s Garbage is Another Man Person’s Good Ungarbage – has a couple of cracking straight up pop tunes, and a rather cute instrumental, Emargo, which doesn’t go anywhere much but has a really nice, playful wee melody line – verging on chiptunes.

There’s a really nice dreaminess to these, mixed in with a little bit of swagger. It’s a fairly popular mix these days, but when the balance is right and the tunes are there I really like this kind of stuff.



Yves Yacolt

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 09.25.26 There are band names, and then there are band names. Yves Yacolt, when they first got in touch with me, went by the name of Wank Hilliams. Presumably Auntie Flo suggested it over Sunday lunch one weekend.

Apparently radio play was a little tough to come by for Wank Hilliams for some unfathomable reason, so a super-slick firm of image consultants (or, perhaps, Auntie Flo again) have rebranded the band as the far more family friendly Yves Yacolt which is, by almost every single measure yet invented, a significantly better name.

The songs, however, haven’t changed much, which is excellent news because I thought they sounded really good.

It’s grumbly guitar music, and can be droney, but in general is more of a low-level growl than an all-out bellow. There’s a lot of acoustic guitar over the grumble as well, which works nicely, and makes it all feel nice and approachable, despite the occasionally disinterested approach to singing.

My description of the guitar and vocals sounds a bit like every other band I’ve covered here for the last five years I guess, and that’s not entirely wrong, this stuff won’t shock you when you hear it. There are interesting things going on though, and the percussion can be improvised really nicely, such as She Only Sleeps When She Prays, which is a really nice touch and takes the music somewhere more individual and interesting. There are six songs to have a listen to on their Soundcloud player and enough little detours and surprises like this to imply that the band might well have some rather interesting things in their locker.

The songs are short and sharp, and surprisingly catchy despite the roughness, and I am really glad the band are back in business after going quiet for a while. Right, where’s that Pale Imitation bill?


Coin Locker Kid

coinlockerkid ‘Unapologetic art rap’ is not really the kind of music you would expect me to get into, really, is it. And having been raised in Austria I can certainly tell you that music from there is generally not the sort of thing I would expect to warm to either.

Oddly enough, though, I’ve found a surprising amount of stuff from Austria I’ve liked in the last few years. Not a lot, mostly little isolated gems here and there, but certainly way more than I was ever aware of when I lived there.

And as for the art rap? Well, seriously, just listen to this. If you want to make the very loftiest comparisons I suppose you could inflect early Jib Kidder with a bit of The Books and be sort of close-ish.

There are lovely moments, some discordant wailing, layers of samples going in every direction and plenty and plenty of ‘what the fuck is even going on here’ moments. It’s really all over the place, and in all honesty I am still digesting what I really think about it. There are times when it all gets a bit annoying, but he still has a pretty good nose for when to reign it back in and do something less confrontational.

There’s quite a lot of stuff on their Bandcamp page too, and I am only just starting to go through it now so I can’t tell you too much, apart from the fact that Sweet Caroline, yes that Sweet Caroline, is incorporated quite fantastically into the first track of Traumnovelle, which all in all seems so far like a slightly less weird cousin to Hailstorm & Maelstrom. It’s still pretty awesome though, and all this stuff is downloadable on a pay what you like basis too.

What an excellent surprise to open my emails to this morning.

And for just a little bit of added ‘what the actual fuck’:


Shards – Just Something to Get Started

I don’t really know anything at all about this band, apart from the fact that Stephen from Edinburgh band Collar Up (and an arch-nemesis of mine from the Edinburgh amateur football leagues) is involved in one way or another. I am not really sure how he is involved, but he sent me the song, so that’s about it.

It’s theatrical in a way, but slow and dreamy, almost as if it’s stiffly staring off into the middle distance. The vocal and the really, really restrained instrumentation work fantastically together. It reminds me really strongly of something I can’t quite call to mind, but as one-song introductions to new bands go this sounds extremely promising. I eagerly await more.

Keep an eye on their Soundcloud page here, for when more stuff materialises.


Crystal Shipsss – I Will See No Moon No Sky

shipss Jacob Faurholt has sent me quite a bit of stuff over the years, and I’ve always quite liked it, but somehow never really written about it. This, on the other hand, has gone from my inbox to the pages of the blog in about a day, which is pretty rare around here.

It’s gorgeous, drifting between something akin to heavy psyche and dreamy post-rock, with some experimental droney soundscapes mixed in for good measure, and I am not sure which end of the spectrum I prefer.

Faurholt’s is an interesting voice, quite high and thin, and on the more ambient tracks it works well, adding a dreamy element to an already textured and hypnotic collage, but when the music itself is at its heaviest is when I think I like the vocal the best. I don’t think I’ve heard many bands combine that kind of light, fragile vocal delivery with such dark, dense psyche, and the juxtaposition is fantastic.

Drum is incredible for that. Nasty, doomy guitars and this vocal peeking out like occasional rays of sunshine poking through the darkest of thunderclouds. Their own description of the music as being “like a bird trapped in a chimney” seems rather apt.

It’s out on really limited run clear red vinyl which looks gorgeous and which you can buy here. I’d move fast – unless people are complete idiots these shouldn’t hang around for long.



CHUMP / shut eye from chump on Vimeo.

HEY EVERYONE, GUESS WHAT I’M ABOUT TO WRITE ABOUT? Yep, that’s right, more lo-fi, DIY guitar music from Glasgow.  Seriously, I know it’s becoming quite funny by now, but there is so much good music coming out of that city at the moment that I have been in a state of pretty much permanent excitement for the last year or so.

Anyhow, apparently Chump did a whole pile of recording recently which has not seen the light of day yet. I’ve asked a friend, and apparently whilst there used to be a live band, more often than not Tara plays with just a guitar and a loop pedal and builds these woozy, downbeat, dreamy tunes solo.

The tune below is the only one on Bandcamp, and it’s just a demo. It’s not hooky, exactly, but the rise and fall of the vocal is absolutely gorgeous.

This basically makes me think two things. Firstly, that I can’t wait for the recently recorded songs to surface. And secondly, I wonder when the next BAD FUN night I can reasonably try and persuade Chump to play would be.


Jealous Girlfriend

jealousgirlfriend Jealous Girlfriend is yet another of the many-splintered side projects belonging to someone from that wee group of Glasgow bands which include Spinning Coin, Froth (soon to be renamed Strop), Herbert Powell (recently deceased), Youngstrr Joey, Dune Witch Trails and Psychic Soviets. In this case, we’re talking Eilidh from Strop.

There are two EPs on the Jealous Girlfriend Bandcamp page, one which looks more or less solo and one done with a little assistance from Cal from Youngstrr Joey. They’re both sort of hesitant and grumbly, but Eilidh’s voice is lovely so there is a really appealing combination of nice and nasty.

The guitar tone provides the nasty, but it is a pretty awesome kind of nasty, buzzing and grumbling its way through the songs with very little fuss. This may be as lo-fi as fuck – just listen to the hiss which precedes every track – but it’s not played with harshness or aggression particularly, just a bit of shy awkwardness here and there, a bit of deliberate insouciance, and wry charm pretty much everywhere else.

I don’t have a lot of references for this kind of thing and I am sure there are better comparisons to make, but there are touches of the tweeness of Kimya Dawson in the cute Keep Your Head Above the Water, but that song is about as far as it goes in that direction. I am glad about that as cuteness doesn’t generally do it for me all that much, but I do like a little bit of self-deprecating silliness here and there.

It’s hard to tell what this kind of project is intended to be, sometimes. Is it intended to be a full-blown, ambitious musical project? Just a way for a musician to work out some ideas? A ‘have a go and see what comes of it’ thing? Who knows, and to a degree who cares, it’s a little rough around the edges but there’s some good stuff in here.