Song, by Toad

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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.

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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.

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New Adam Stafford single: Atheist Money

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New Adam Stafford single? Why of course, it would be my pleasure.

He has a new album out in October called Taser Revelations, and a wee tour coming up pretty much now.  I don’t want to give too much away about the album, apart from the fantastic artwork by Paul Ryding above.  Paul also did the artwork for Adam’s last album, Imaginary Walls Collapse, which you can buy here on vinyl.

Musically, I suppose that having listened to it several times over since Adam first sent through the (still not quite entirely finished) mixes a couple of weeks ago, I can sort of try and give you an idea. As you can hear, there’s a clear progression from his last record, one of the poppiest and in many ways most un-Toadlike songs I ever thought I would release, which I really rather surprisingly happen to love, but then in the second half things suddenly get rather darker.

I dunno, who knows what people will make of it, but I fucking love this record and I’m really looking forward to getting it out into the world (so hurry up and finish those final mixes please, Adam).

May 1st – Newport-on-Tay, New Port Sound, Rio Community Centre
May 2nd – Aberdeen, Cellar 35
May 5th – Stirling, Tollbooth
May 6th – Glasgow, Glad Cafe w/The Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo
May 7th – Leeds, The Fox & Newt
May 8th – London, Disorder @ The Old Blue Last, Shoreditch
May 10th – Edinburgh, Summerhall Dissection Room

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Numbers Are Futile Album Launch at the Song, by Toad Hidden Door Showcase

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The Hidden Door Festival this year brings us, amongst dozens of other things, the glorious Song, by Toad showcase that *ahem* the world has been waiting for all these years. And also the album launch for Numbers Are Futile’s debut album Sunlight on Black Horizon, which you can pre-order here if you like.

Tickets here.

We have the continuing rebirth of Supermoon, Adam Stafford is back too and preparing for a new album, and new signings Le Thug and Garden of Elks will be playing too. There will be a weird, somewhat creepy stage up in the Cage Room, and a raucous off-shoot of the Dingus Rock Slop Fest we’re doing at Paradise Palms in May, with brand new bands Lush Purr and Youngstrr Joey, along with Trashmouth Records signings Bat Bike.

In short, it’s going to be fucking awesome and you should come along.

Long Room:
Numbers Are Futile, Supermoon & Lush Purr

Cage Room:
Adam Stafford & Le Thug

Bongo Club:
Garden of Elks, Bat Bike & Youngstrr Joey

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Toadcast #315 – The Cherryblossomcast

mp3tag Fuck me, sorry, I seem to have managed to not do one of these for about two months. That totally took me aback, I have to confess.

Ah well, I suppose it was inevitable. Due to slightly ambitious scheduling we ended up with four or five releases all being live at the same time in the late Winter/early Spring period and I was kind of overwhelmed with all the work which needed doing for all of them I am afraid, which kind of accounts for how overwhelmed I ended up getting.

The Cherryblossomcast was suggested by Stephen Lappin on Twitter, as I took that picture over there of our front door once the two cherry trees which flank the gate started flowering this week.

It’s been sunny and gorgeous here in Edinburgh, and we’ve been doing that classic thing you do in Northern cities, and sitting outside and drinking too much absolutely every available sunny second, and sometimes persisting way after it’s become far too cold to reasonably sit outside. It’s just such a joyous relief to feel the warmth and the sunshine, much of a Winter fetish as I do have.

Toadcast #315 – The Cherryblossomcast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #315 – The Cherryblossomcast

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01. Garden of Elks – I Hid Inside (00.22)
02. Rob St. John – Young Sun (06.02)
03. Woodpigeon – When You Look For Trouble, Trouble Comes (10.30)
04. Youngstrr Joey – Cheerleaders (16.43)
05. Bat-Bike – Raw (20.51)
06. Taman Shud – The Ziggurat, A Mirage (24.49)
07. Chump – Sleep In (Bedroom Demo) (30.42)
08. DTHPDL – The Future (Live Demo) (39.50)
09. Passion Pusher – Thinking Very, Very Hard (44.23)
10. Wendell Borton – Saucy (51.34)
11. Slows Down – The Blues Easing (56.14)

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Paradise Palms Song by Toad Dingus Rock Slop Fest

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If you read this blog on a regular basis (does anyone actually still do that?) you’ll know that there has been a huge explosion of awesome, DIY guitar music coming out of Glasgow recently, and this free entry mini-festival is designed to showcase as much of it as possible.

EVERY WEDNESDAY IN MAY, 7:30pm FREE ENTRY
PARADISE PALMS ON BRISTO SQUARE

We don’t really have a lot of obvious, eye-catching headliners exactly, although you should recognise a good few of those names from various gigs and blog posts over the last year or two, but generally I’m kind of just hoping you’ll be up for just taking my word for it and chancing your arm with these shows. There’s a playlist of all the bands at the bottom of the page to help you make up your mind.

Oddly enough, despite a dozen bands playing at four different shows over the course of a month, I could happily have booked half as many gigs again – there are really just that many fantastic bands playing this kind of shrugged-shoulder guitar music at the moment.  There are often bits of slacker, psyche, lo-fi, punk and surf in there, as well as art- and of course dingus rock. I have no idea what dingus rock actually is, but James from Passion Pusher called his music that and I fucking love the term, so there you go. I know it when I hear it.

Here’s the full lineup:

Wednesday 6th May: Halfrican – Dune Witch Trails – Wendell Borton

Wednesday 13th May: Passion Pusher – DTHPDL – Breakfast Muff

Wednesday 20th May: Spinning Coin – Filth Spector – Andrew R Burns & the Tropicanas

Wednesday 27th May: Strop – Psychic Soviets – alansmithee

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Chump

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.

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Record Store Day 2015 at Voxbox

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This Saturday (18th April) me and some pals will be going round to VoxBox in Stockbridge for beers and records and live music. People who run record labels will be there, as will lots of musicians, promoters, Darren who runs the shop, and a lot of people who just plain love music. (And, erm, free beer. People who love that too.)

In short, everyone who is involved in the art of music will be getting together and celebrating this thing we all do. As the record industry struggles for an identity it is this interaction that will keep it all together, I think, and recent initiatives like Record Store Day, the Independent Label Markets and Independent Venue Week are a really important way of cementing that.

Spotify can do what it likes, no-one cares what Jay-fucking-Z thinks, and people who love music will continue to write it, record it, make it, sell it and buy it. That’s what Record Store Day is good for, and that’s what I like about it. And the live music – either in the shop itself or over the road in The Last Word – will be as follows:

12:00 Supermoon
12:45 The Holy Ghosts
13:30 Tuff Love
14:15 Miracle Strip
15:00 Gerry Cinnamon
15:45 Delta Mainline
16:30 Randolph’s Leap
17:15 Garden Of Elks

Funnily enough though, VoxBox won’t actually be stocking any Record Store Day exclusive releases. In fact I haven’t even bothered looking up the RSD list, and in all honesty I don’t really care. I don’t think VoxBox is the only good record shop in the city of course, and there will be others which do have the limited stuff, but Darren isn’t doing it this year.

I’ve explained why I like Record Store Day and for all it’s easy to be attracted to the shiny baubles, it’s not really the releases which do it for me. In fact, if you look at the list of labels represented in that poster above I think only one of them is actually doing a proper RSD release. This may sound weird, but the day itself is suffering something of an identity crisis at the moment.

There has been a lot written about the state of Record Store Day recently, and a couple of labels are doing a sort of semi-boycott which led to a rather spirited response from the organisers themselves, and everyone getting a bit hot under the collar and blah blah blah, all the usual pish.

I have some sympathy for both sides of this actually, and in fact the whole spat reminds me rather a lot of my own inner debate about Record Store Day, which I wrote about extensively about four years ago. It’s not quite this simple, but you can break the argument down into a few things: namely that in its favour Record Store Day is a huge boost in cash and promotional awareness for record shops, as well as encouraging interest in unusual releases.

On the negative side, releases from major labels, quite a lot of which are dubious reissues, apparently often pressed without permission, now completely overwhelm all the independent stuff. Apart from starving the indies out of any opportunity to benefit from RSD this also clogs up all the vinyl pressing plants to the extent that even if we aren’t doing anything for RSD our manufacturing lead times are fucked for months either side of it.

Then there are the eBay scalpers who buy things at (an already inflated) retail price and due to scarcity are able to sell them on for instant and considerable profit. These are not music fans, they are just exploitative little shits. Shops rarely get everything they order because of the scarcity, but still have to pay up front because there is no sale or return, meaning they have no idea what their bill is likely to be in advance.

So it’s contentious. I can see the drawbacks. I can’t be arsed doing a release myself, really, as much as I enjoyed our Beer vs. Records project. And actually I can see why Darren can’t be bothered pissing about with all the uncertainties of stocking the releases. Some of my label-running pals say they can sell out a whole pressing of something in a single day, in which case I get it, but we can’t really do that. And every shop you speak to will tell you that the influx of cash is massively important for them.

So I get it. I can see the benefits. But I don’t think you have to succumb to all the frantic mentalism to get a lot out of the day. After all, it’s just supposed to remind you of the importance of independent record shops and their role in the music community, and to encourage you to support them. A deranged frenzy of exclusive releases isn’t really necessary to achieve that.

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Nic Rue’s Cyanotypes and the Napier Photo Collective

Moth Cyanotypes from nic rue on Vimeo.

You all know Nic Rue, right? She’s the awesome photographer who does a lot of our Toad Session photography and all the photos for the Split 12″ series (123) we’ve been releasing over the last couple of years. Well she’s coming to the end of her degree course and has been doing some absolutely gorgeous work with cyanotypes, which you can see in the video above.

Moths fulfil a similar pollenation role in nature as bees and butterflies, and they are apparently as endangered as both of those as well at the moment, and for much the same reasons. I have to confess I had no idea that this was the case, but raising that awareness is one of the central points of Nic’s project.

The group she’s part of – the Napier Photo Collective – are currently raising a very modest sum of money to help them exhibit at the Free Range Gallery down in London. You know, the usual stuff like renting materials needed for the exhibition, transport and accommodation costs. All the crap which makes it so expensive for our bands to travel to London to play, basically.

You can contribute to this by going to their Indiegogo page and chipping in, and I hope you will because, well… nice people doing good things.

Napier Collective @ Free Range 2015: IndieGogo Campaign Video from Jo McClure on Vimeo.

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Garden of Elks – A Distorted Sigh Out Now

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Garden of Elks themselves call this ‘thrash-pop’ and I really can’t think of anything better, to be honest. In the words of Whisperin’ and Hollerin’ it’s “ten ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-them’ tunes that sound like the missing link between The Ramones and Sonic Youth”.

Or inbetween Arcade Fire and Iggy Pop if you look at the playlist on KEXP the other day.

Whatever you call it, this is pop music which is intense, exuberant and aggressive and, as all good pop music should be, absolutely hummable as fuck. It’s out on vinyl and cassette, and can be found in Monorail and LoveMusic in Glasgow and in VoxBox and Coda here in Edinburgh. If you want to see more pictures of how pretty it is, like the one above, then go here.

The band will be headlining the Bongo Club Stage at our label showcase at the Hidden Door Festival this year (although that’s a secret for now, so sssh), as well playing Power Lunches in London on the 29th April, and we’re working on a few other festivals for them as well. In the meantime though, if you can’t enjoy this stuff as much as the kids in the video below, you must just hate fun.

Garden of Elks – SWAP from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.