Song, by Toad

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Toadcast #306 – The Crumbscast

tag This is called the Crumbscast for no better reasons than that I like the name and that it starts with a song called Crumbs, the new single by Jonnie Common. Given I’ve had to try and think up unique names for all of these bastard things anything which sounds good and has at least a tenuous link to the topic at hand will do.

I’ve not done a podcast for ages actually, but the last one was the one just before the independence referendum, and I still feel so utterly let down and disappointed with how that went that I’ve been unable to really talk about it since. On you go, Westminster, you’re doing a decent enough job really – at least a better one than we could ever hope to do on our own. Is that really the message we just delivered to the world? Yes, yes I think it is, at least to some degree. How sad.

So you see, probably a good thing that I waited at least a couple of weeks for the worst of the depressed bitterness to wear off. I almost get dragged into it at the start of the podcast, but like a champ I manage to break free and deliver an hour (and a little bit) of the usual awesome music that no-one’s really heard of because the world is WRONG about music. Sorry.

Toadcast #306 – The Crumbscast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

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01. Jonnie Common – Crumbs (00.22)
02. Tired Tape Machine – Your Ghost (07.30)
03. Passion Pusher – BLT (17.18)
04. Allison Crutchfield – Supermoon (22.22)
05. Sun Kil Moon – War On Drugs (31.01)
06. Velvet Morning – Green Whale (40.31)
07. 808s and Greatest Hits – Great Western featuring A. Fantastic Reprise (48.44)
08. Memory in Plant – Rainy Veins (54.09)
09. H. Hawkline – Black Domino Box (58.01)
10. Wallflower – Ambien (1.03.02)

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Eaten By Television – Psychotic Wish Fulfilment

ebt This is cracking. The email I was sent tipped a hat to Roy Orbison and Bryan Ferry, but there’s plenty of wonky lo-fi arty style to this as well. And cracking tunes.

The weird juxtaposition of louche croonery and sketchy, dreaminess isn’t exactly new, I suppose. Mac DeMarco was the first band I heard to crack something like the mainstream with some vaguely similar concoction, but I wouldn’t really compare this stuff. Just that it has a similar sense of something ultra-stylish accidentally turning up on a deserted suburban subway station in the middle of the night.

It’s arch, for sure. Songs like Katy Perry Dream Trip and That Creepy Face is Only For You hint more than a little at a kind of knowingly-raised eyebrow, but that kind of deliberate smart-arsery is entirely forgivable if the band aren’t trying to mask incompetence or basic laziness behind a mask of cool unconcern, which these guys do not seem to be doing.

The riffs can be Orbisony, and the vocal delivery has the aforementioned Orbison/Ferry stuff in there, and that’s most evident on opener To Emma, but the rest of this is a swirling miasma of guitars, groggy atmospherics and clacking drum machines. It may not do pop hooks or obviously melody lines all that much, but if you have a couple of listens it starts to stick with you pretty immediately.

The whole EP can be heard (and purchased) on their Bandcamp page, along with older material I have yet to really delve into, so I suggest you pop over there and have a poke around.

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Crumbs: New Jonnie Common Single

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It is indeed New Jonnie Common Single Day here at Song, by Toad Records, with the second song from his belting new album Trapped in Amber now being officially set loose upon the internet. The album is being released on Halloween this year, and we’ll be doing a small run of launch shows in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow on the 13th-15th November and are looking at a label Christmas Party down in London in early December as well.

You can pre-order the album on vinyl or CD here. The CD version comes with an entire alternate version of the album, and if you pre-order the vinyl you’ll get a download card for this version as well.

This tune is a classic example of Jonnie’s way with a lyric: even though not all of it makes immediate sense, there’s a sort of playful warmth there. The Books were actually cited as a possible comparison on CMU the other day, and I have to confess that although I had never really thought of it, the similarity is definitely there. Which is ace, because I fucking love The Books.

Anyhow, I think think we’ve now served up the most obviously cheerful pop moments on the album, so be aware that the rest of it is both melancholy and downright weird at times, but if this and Shark can’t tempt you to buy this record, frankly nothing will. Great songs, the pair of ‘em.

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Water World – WWII

ww2 I’ve  been a while waiting to review this album, and I think part of that is a lack of access to the medium which allowed me to get so thoroughly into the band’s previous, brilliant album Water Bird.

The tape player in my car is broken, so unlike the last album, which seemed to spend an age going round and round and round on the way to work, this one is forever getting played while I’m sitting at my desk working. And I tend to lost concentration.

You could call that a criticism of the album, I suppose, and suggest that a great record would cut through whatever you were doing, but it really isn’t the case. Working is great for casual listening, but not for actually figuring out it something is good or not.

Having said that, over weeks of listening to this regularly when I got the chance, an album which didn’t really grab me at first has slowly filtered in and I am now really enjoying this.

As with the last one, I am genuinely unsure quite what makes this stand out from all the lo-fi guitar pop out there, but it does, once it’s sunk in properly. And I suppose it goes back to the old friends of riffs and melody. This is just pop music, and despite a rather scruffy exterior, it’s really good.

Cream Soda, the instrumental Sneaky Pete, Enough… there are loads of songs on here I just find myself humming along to, and with a pop record that’s about as much as you can ask for. Another great release by Life Dunk International – get it on CD, tape or download here.

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Emily Edrosa – Animal

I have to confess that when I first saw the subject line of this email I thought ‘oh fuck, another tediously earnest singer-songwriter’ and very nearly just deleted it unread. Still, no matter how judgemental I am, I do have a policy of trying to listen to absolutely everything which gets sent through, so I clicked on the video link despite my misgivings and figured I’d give it a go.

At first I thought it must be playing too fast, I have to confess. The rhythm is just weird, and stays weird throughout the song actually, never really seeming to fit with the rest of the tune. It’s great though, pacy and reckless and that mismatch between the rhythm section and the relatively laconic delivery of the vocals is absolutely brilliant when you get your head round it.

This is part of an EP, apparently, so we can look forward to more in the very near future I would hope. And this is why I try and listen to everything, no matter what I think of the email: my tendency to make snap judgements may be vigorous, but it clearly isn’t very accurate.

Bandcamp page is here.

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11th October: Independent Label Market Edinburgh

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The Indepdendent Label Market comes to Edinburgh next week as part of the Pleasance Sessions, a week long celebration of music and fine beer and various other good things (are there any other good things, beyond those two?) which takes place at the Pleasance.

The Label Market will be taking place in the Cabaret Bar, the Och!toberfest in the Courtyard and the music upstairs in the Pleasance Theatre.

I love the Pleasance Sessions, actually, because one of my biggest grouses about music in Edinburgh is how easy it is to find all these amazing venues in August for the fucking Festival, but somehow when the actual living Edinburgh arts community need them during the rest of the year, that goodwill vanishes into thin air and we’re left relying on one or two stalwart heroes to give us a place to play.

Well Rae and her team have done a great job of opening up the various Edinburgh University spaces for use as venues for the rest of the population to enjoy, and I think that’s an absolutely fantastic thing. So come along to the Pleasance Sessions and the label market and encourage this sort of thing to continue to happen.

Because you know what Edinburgh’s like: we complain, someone tries something, we only half-heartedly pay attention, and then we lose it. So we complain. And thus the cycle continues.

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Nostalgic Wandering in Manchester

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I am in Manchester at the moment, visiting my Granddad, who has lived in the same house in Withington since before I was born. I’ve lived here myself on two occasions, and for some reason the last one particularly comes back in waves when I walk around this part of the city, despite being back around the turn of the millennium.

I’ve said dozens of times before that my relationship with Manchester, where my mum’s family are all from, was always a bit ropey simply because I lived here during a couple of the most difficult parts of my life and for some reason it’s always coloured my relationship with the place.

That changed a few years ago when I started to come down here regularly for music events, and met some brilliant, inspirational people in doing so. Now I really look forward to coming down to Manchester, and think of it as one of my favourite places in the UK, but for some reason wandering around Withington always brings back that strange period of limbo after I graduated from university when my life was perhaps as sensitive to small nudges in one direction or another as it has ever been. Read the rest of this entry »

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Frankie Cosmos – Zentropy

frankiec I can’t remember who introduced me to Frankie Cosmos first, but I think it might have been Phil from PAWS. As I have said a million times before, keep an eye on your favourite bands’ social media feeds as their recommendations will often be far better than we self-appointed guardians of good taste.

I am a long way from an expert on her output, but I think this is Frankie Cosmos’ first recording with a band, and whilst that might be a slight culture shock for long-term fans of her work, but for us neophytes it sounds absolutely great.

You get a lot of awkward, lo-fi introspection which seems prevalent in her other material (which I confess I have only skimmed so far), but then she seems to channel early Wave Pictures at other times, with a sort of ramshackle rock ‘n’ roll sound which, for all it feels about to fall to pieces at any point, has real force and strength.

Owen, below, is absolute stormer. The kind of impact you can suddenly make with an increase in instrumentation and numbers, but nevertheless still minimal and not in any way overdone or detrimental to the core charm of Frankie’s delivery.

Buses Splash With Rain comes next, and embraces a sort of rough, nineties-inspired guitar pop sound. It’s loose and charming, and perhaps shows how this album, for all its inward-facing interior monologue, retains a sense of lightness and affability. It’s not all entirely my cuppa, I guess, and perhaps Leonie isn’t really for me, but in general it is a (very) short, sharp splash of personal, personable lo-fi pop music.

You can find the CD and LP links and listen to the whole thing on her Bandcamp page. Zentropy is so short it’s in the same territory as The Leg and their 22-minute albums, but it’s ten songs long, so it counts. Besides, it’s well worth it, short or not.

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Brown Brogues – You Don’t Know

Brown Brogues – You Don’t Know from HAUS OF PINS on Vimeo.

I know I don’t usually carpet bomb you with posts about the same damn thing on absolutely every form of media I use, but well, this is just too splendid not to. This video is for a song from Brown Brogues‘ split Cassette Store Day release with Eternal Summers, and it is sheer, joyous genius.

The video absolutely sums up why I think Brown Brogues epitomise what DIY music should be. It’s simple and I would imagine easy enough to actually do (assuming you can find a primary school cavalier enough to let those two idiots anywhere near their pupils, that is), and it’s done in a pretty fast-and-loose, straightforward way too. There is nothing here that anyone else couldn’t do, it’s just that more often than not we don’t.

Any arse can make a video, these days.  Just as any arse can draw their own t-shirts, make their own artwork, dream up daft and weird ideas for playing gigs in weird spaces and in interesting ways. It all can be done, relatively cheaply too, but that’s not enough. You need ideas. You need a genuine personality. And you need to be prepared to persevere and make it work.

I love their music, of course, I suppose that goes without saying given the number of times I’ve mentioned them on the blog, but I really admire the way these lads go about their work too. Brown Brogues, we salute you, you great big mental geniuses you. For more of their stuff, have a look at our recent Toad Session with the band.

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Das Hobos – This is the Place

Considering I was raised in a German-speaking country, my relationship with music from Germany and Austria is actually pretty thin, although there are some interesting labels in Vienna these days for sure. Given the enthusiasm Germans seem to have for our releases on Song, by Toad Records I would have thought I would have found more stuff coming from that country that I really liked, but maybe I’ve just been lazy about digging it out.

I don’t tend to just copy and paste press releases, but it seems these guys are a bit less flowery and wheedling than their UK counterparts when it comes to writing this stuff, and this is pretty to the point:

“In Gute Hände (translated “in good hands”) is a young German vinyl and cassette label from Augsburg near Munich. We are trying to support regional and talented artists with their music. The idea is to provide a different feeling of music, music you can hold in your hands, with great and unique coverartworks.

“Since last friday 166 limited and unique vinyl are available at In Gute Hände. On September 5th Das Hobos released their new LP this is the place. Each cover is created by the artist James „Sus“ Sutherland during an exceptional event of painting and music performance.”

Watching the video above you can see how nicely they’ve executed this idea. The individually painted covers look amazing, and the music itself is really really good as well. It’s a sort of experimental pop, with a kind of rhythmically woozy ambient flavour to it – the kind of stuff which the chillout era of the early noughties was desperately crying out for – music that is laid back and relaxing, but still interesting and engaging.

You can buy a copy here, and they aren’t cheap, but you’re talking about an individual piece of hand-made artwork, which is a beautiful approach to releasing records. It’s something we’re looking at as well, as making short runs of really nice things appeals to me a lot more than what is effectively a bare-bones imitation of major label PR processes, which it’s all to easy to get sucked into.

Anyhow, this is a really good album. It is experimental, but not in an abrasive way, and ambient but not in a dull way, and I really recommend it. And have a look at other stuff the label is involved with too, as I’ve just had a listen to some stuff and it really is an eclectic collection of music.