Song, by Toad

Posts tagged birdhead


Er, Thursday’s GoNorth Showcase Tips

inverness Er, what? I hear you say. Tips from GoNorth? As in the GoNorth which took place on Wednesday and Thursday last fucking week?

Yes, that GoNorth. Basically, none of you really live in Inverness anyway, do you, so it’s not like you could go to the gigs in the first place. So the fact that the hangovers from the partying last week, the gig on the weekend and the inevitable results of a sunny day in Scotland means I am only posting this now presumably makes little difference – it’s basically just some music tips on the internet, one way or another, so who cares if they’re a week too late to actually see the gigs.

Cough. You all totally bought that excuse, didn’t you.

Good, then we shall proceed. On Thursday last week there was a bloggers’ showcase, curated by The Pop Cop, Peenko and myself so I suppose I’d better start there as you would bloody well hope I would like those bands, wouldn’t you.

Well the two I’d pick from our lineup would be two bands you’ve heard quite a bit about on here already: the surfy slacker pop of The Yawns, whose debut album made the Song, by Toad Top 20 albums for 2013, and the hyperactive, shouty guitar racket of Garden of Elks. The Elks have been playing an odd game of bass player top trumps with PAWS, and I’m not really sure who won, because the band sounded just as sharp and boisterous after the change as they did before it, so maybe it doesn’t really matter.

Apart from the *cough* obvious excellence of my own personal recommendations for the blogger lineup there were a couple of other right noisy bands who happened to clash with our stage times, but who I was determined to nip out to catch at least a bit of.

Both played one after another in what can best be described as the ‘cosy’ setting of the Market Bar, a place which is very much too small to be a venue, but nevertheless applied itself to the job with cheerful success. Birdhead are a sort of thunderous, two-headed Zack Galafinakis and were a mere day away from releasing their debut album when they played in Inverness. Their music is at times a bit too heavy for my personal taste, and at others, it’s ragingly, hypnotically awesome. And when they’re a yard ahead of you battering this stuff out straight at your face it’s even more impressive.

Pinact are a band I haven’t really written about as much as I should have on this site actually. I saw them at Sneaky’s for the first time about a year or so ago and they’re really good – sort of a cross between PAWS and Dolfinz I suppose, if you’re familiar with those bands. Or, to put it another way, slacker rock turned up loud enough that it broke my ears for two days afterwards and was played with such ferocity that the term ‘slacker’ seemed rather inappropriate.


Live in Edinburgh This Week – 3rd June 2013

 Of course we all know the one really important thing happening this week is the above gig: The Leg, Monoganon and the Sean Armstrong Experience at Henry’s Cellar Bar on Saturday. That’s because this is BAD FUN, of course, the kind of fun which doesn’t take place here because we have the super old Festival, where fat-tongued, Home Counties public schoolboys arse around for the overpriced entertainment of American tourists – you know, proper culture. No, BAD FUN is where it’s at, people, that’s what we want and of all the bad fun I can think, the deranged howling and tortured-but-infectious melodies of The Leg are pretty much top of the heap.

They’ll be joined by the awesome Monoganon, whose second album will be making an appearance on Fence Records sometime later this year (I think), and The Sean Armstrong Experience.

There is, of course, one more dose of Toadliness, but this only applies to those of you who will be at GoNorth in Inverness, where Peenko, The Pop Cop and myself will be hosting the Bloggers’ Showcase at Mad Hatters from half eight onwards, although as this is an Edinburgh listings page, I won’t go on about this, save to tell you that we’ll have Plum, The Yawns, Friends in America and Garden of Elks playing.

Meanwhile, back in Edinburgh, there are a couple of awesome gigs this week as well (*cough cough* besides BAD FUN of course).  Firstly, on Thursday the Edinburgh Carer’s Council present R.M. Hubbert, Adam Stafford and Esther Swift at the Electric Circus. As well as Hubby’s gorgeous flamenco and the looped experimental pop oddness of Adam Stafford, there will be an online auction on eBay which will become ‘live’ to coincide with the concert. Limited edition artwork has been donated by Jenny Soep along with signed DVDs, t-shirts and CDs from other artists including Adam Stafford, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Shirley Manson (Garbage), Beth Orton, Eddi Reader, Admiral Fallow, James Grant (Love and Money), Chris Thomson (Friends Again/The Bathers) and Leo Abrahams.

And finally, there are a couple more slice of general splendidness coming your way in Edinburgh this week. Firstly, tomorrow night – Tuesday – at the Liquid Room you can see the dreamy pop of Camera Obscura whose new album is out.. more or less now, I think, and at the Electric Circus we have North Atlantic Oscillation‘s shoegazey stuff as well.  And then there’s the Birdhead album launch at Sneaky Pete’s on Sunday. They’re a band I don’t mention enough on this site, actually, because I rather like what I’ve heard from them, even though that isn’t all that much. It’s fairly heavy stuff at times, but they have some good stuff, and I am looking forward to hearing their album.


Live in Edinburgh This Week – 11th February 2013

AnchormanGb110412 Don’t ask me why Ron Burgundy, it’s just because, alright? This really is just one of those days, a real blue Monday, and I have no idea why because the sun has been shining, the label is ticking over nicely, we have a fine Toad Session to publish this week, the gig on Saturday went really well, and basically, in short, things are just dandy.

Still, sometimes these things happen I guess. Maybe some Mongrels will cheer me up. Actually, as I’ve been going on about Archer for the last little while, Chris Devotion and the Expectations collared me on Twitter and told me about Frisky Dingo, which I think I might spend my evening watching.

Anyway, musically speaking this week there is some interesting stuff knocking around, although few marquee gigs, such as the Liquid Room or Cabaret Voltaire used to put on, before they gave up on music altogether.

Still, there’s one big shiny show this week, and that is Randolph’s Leap, Snowgoose and Jo Mango at the Queen’s Hall. I assume Randolph’s Leap will give it everything, with full brass section and so on, to accompany Adam Ross’s inspired lyrical meanderings.

In terms of other regular meat and potatoes gigs, Gallops are at the Electric Circus tonight and for a moment I thought they were being supported by Portishead and Birdsound, but it turned out to be Portasound and Birdhead which, er, isn’t bad by any means, but a little different to what I first thought.

Also, there will be Big Ned, Zed Penguin and the Rosy Crucifixion at the Wee Red Bar on Friday. This one might be a tad less hypnotic than the Gallops gig tonight at the Electric Circus, but the abstract noise elements probably have a thing or two in common here and there.

And finally, Paws will be playing the Wee Red as well, but on Sunday as part of their UK tour.  Do I need to tell you anymore about Paws? Probably not.  Here’s their Toad Session if you’re a bit late to the party.

Also, there are a couple of things which might interest music lovers, but which aren’t straightforward gigs.  Two instores are happening – Phil from Paws is playing an acoustic set at VoxBox on St. Stephen’s Street on Sunday, and Steve Adey is at Elvis Shakespeare on Leith Walk on Saturday.

And finally on Friday there is a feature documentary on composer John Fahey being screened at Summerhall.  And there you go, that seems to be about it, although doubtless I will have missed something really obvious because I always fucking do.


Live in Edinburgh This Week – 26th November 2012

 So, I’m back from Preston safe and sound, and looking forward to a wee jaunt to London for the Independent Label Market this weekend. It’s all go, here at Toad Hall.

Personally, I am not going to be in Edinburgh that much at all this week, and am popping through to Glasgow to see Sparrow and the Workshop at Nice ‘n’ Sleazy on Wednesday

Also, as Christmas approaches, and everycunt (yes, including Song, by Toad Records) seems to be arranging a Christmas party these days, I think calendars are about to start getting pretty full pretty quickly. This week is still a relatively relaxed affair, however, although the first of the Christmas Parties does show itself, with the awesome Papi Falso happening at Henry’s on Saturday.

As for gigs, however, well there’s a few knocking about. Chad Valley may be a bit too house for me, but I bet there are a good few of you out there pleased to know he’s playing at Sneaky Pete’s tomorrow night.

Again, it’s not my bag, but Tift Merritt (tonight) and Karine Polwart (Friday) are both at the Queen’s Hall this week, although they are perhaps respectively a touch country and a touch trad folk for my taste.

We have the Cancel the Astronauts album launch party at the Electric Circus on Friday, if you’re after a pure indiepop fix, and then two nights of raucous fun at the Wee Red Bar on the weekend. First up, on Saturday there is a four-band bill of Some Skeletons, A Fight You Can’t Win, Black International and Birdhead, and then on Sunday the Lovely Eggs are back in Edinburgh.


Friday is Gearing Up For BAD FUN!

Yes, that’s right, tomorrow is the first ever edition of Song, by Toad’s BAD FUN!  We have the awesome Onions travelling up from Manchester, as well as Edinburgh’s equally but very differently awesome Birdhead.  And then then awesome Retro Catz DJing until 1am.  And I really, really need to buy some more adjectives, don’t I.

For subsequent BAD FUNs, in October we’ve got Woodpecker Wooliams, Viking Moses and a secret local superground who I am temporarily naming the Ghost Toads (every hipster band name has ghost in it, right). And then in November, for my birthday gig, we have the most excellent LeThug, from Glasgow, and Easter travelling up from Manchester, as well as an excellent local surprise headliner who I will hopefully be able to confirm later in the week.

And then it’s the Christmas Party.  Yes, I’m thinking about that already.

But in the meantime I am looking out at the rain and desperately hoping large chunks of our living room ceiling don’t come crashing down.  Because that would be shit.

So, here is a video by the excellent Onions, and below are five silly questions to help you while away the hours between now and pub o’clock. Here at Toad Hall we will be getting ready to record Magic Eye for the next Song, by Toad Split 12″.  Plastic Animals and LeThug have already absolutely nailed it, so let’s see how Part 3 goes.

1. What is the longest you’ve put off obviously necessary house repairs?
2. How often do you get the house entirely to yourself?
3. Make a band recommendation for everyone.
4. Which incarnation of modern technology do you just not get?
5. And which do you embrace wholeheartedly?


Live in Edinburgh This Week – 24th September 2012

Christ, it’s suddenly Winter!  Never mind Autumn, it’s gone from being sunny and lovely on Saturday, to shitty and cold by yesterday.  Balls.  Ah well, as Billy Connolly (sort of) said, ‘what the fuck do you expect, you live in fucking Scotland for fuck’s sake’.

Anyhow, shitey weather aside, this week see the first of Song, by Toad’s BAD FUN nights, held downstairs at Henderson’s at St. John’s at the foot of Lothian Road. There will be bands, there will be DJs and there will be nice beer as well.  What more could you possibly ask? In fact, with Papi Falso, and a gig at the Wee Red, it’s all kicking off on Saturday night actually, although there is precious little before that.

That’s a good thing, though.  In this kind of weather you really just want a bottle of red wine, a good book, a duvet and a record player.  Now that is Top Fun.  Perhaps a tad lacking in the adrenaline-fuelled rush of certain other types of fun, but exactly what seems to fit when all you can hear is the fucking hurricane outside and rain lashing against the window panes.

Wednesday 26th Sept.: King Creosote & The Last Battle at the Dalkeith Arts Centre.

This, I believe, is going to be a stripped back acoustic set from both bands, held in a rather unusual venue.  I have to confess I think I like King Creosote best when his set is minimal – just acoustic guitar, a bit of accordion and vocals.  Amazing. I’d be tempted to get your tickets in advance for this one if I were you.

Saturday 29th Sept.: Song, by Toad’s BAD FUN with Onions & Birdhead at Henderson’s at St. John’s.

Yes, BAD FUN is finally here!  After threatening to do an all-night thing for a while, we have finally managed it. The Foxx introduced me to this rather awesome venue when they held their album launch there earlier in the year.  So we are returning to the vaults under St. John’s church (entrance at the foot of Lothian Road) for a night of band fun with the phenomenal Onions, who are a Manchester band I’ve wanted to get up to Edinburgh for a while.  They will be joined by the rather harsher Birdhead, who I saw for the first time at Sneaky Pete’s a little while ago and thought were awsome.  And once the bands are over, there will be drinking, as well as Toad vs. Toad and celebrity* DJs until 1am. All in all a top night, I think you’ll agree. Tickets are a fiver, and can be purchased here.

*Kind of.

Saturday 29th Sept.: Plastic Animals, The Scottish Enlightenment, Sex Hands & Zed Penguin at the Wee Red Bar.

This is an absolutely brilliant lineup, featuring the highly welcome return to gigging of the excellent Scottish Enlightenment, the highly welcome return to Edinburgh of the excellent Sex Hands, as well as two bands from the currently-recording second Song, by Toad Split 12″.  If you like your moody guitar music, and you wonder what I think you should be listening to, then go here.

Sex Hands – Chandler in a Box from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

Saturday 29th Sept.: Papi Falso at Henry’s Cellar Bar.

Quite simply the finest club night in Edinburgh, particularly if you want your club to have enjoyable music instead the usual doof-doof-doof garbage, and if you want to go there to drink and make merry, rather than dodge tonsil-wrestlers at every fucking corner.


Pinact, Birdhead, Paws & Eagulls – Live at Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, 31st August 2012

 This review is going to be rather more focussed on the support bands than the main acts, unfortunately, because I have to confess that I managed to get myself sufficiently well-oiled by the time PAWS and Eagulls came to the stage that pretty much all I have to say in retrospect is ‘Yeeeeeaaahh, awesome!’

To be fair, both bands are phenomenal live acts, and you have heard me bang on about PAWS often enough on this site. Eagulls are a different prospect, with the band setting up a cacophonous wall of noise, while the lead singer, unhindered by an instrument to play, prowls the stage and howls vitriolically through the microphone. It’s feels like a quasi-spiritual experience for him, and its hard not to get caught up in yourself.  And on Friday, that’s just what I did – terrifying, tinnitus-inducing bliss!

For those of you who listened to this week’s podcast (Which is everyone, right?  Right? Aww, come on people!) then what I have to say about the first two bands will sound relatively familiar, but I figured it was worth writing down as well.

First up are Pinact, a Glasgow band about whom I know absolutely nothing at all. On stage they sound like what you would get if you bisected a direct line between PAWS and Stonehaven’s rather excellent Dolfinz. Their recorded stuff, which you can hear on their Bandcamp page, suggests a rather smoother sound however, which I personally think could do with some of the fuzz of their aforementioned contemporaries.

With a band this early in their careers, however, it’s hard to tell if they want to sound that little bit smoother, or if that’s just what the engineer where they recorded their first material wanted, as young bands can be a little vulnerable to that sort of ‘help’.  Who knows, though, it may have been exactly what they intended.  Whatever the reason, I think I preferred the rougher edges of the live show, personally, and if that’s the direction they push in then I could end up liking them rather a lot.  If they push in the other, of course, I may like them less but they are likely to have a lot more success, so I suppose my liking for rough music needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Finally, the second support act Birdhead are a band I know about already, although before Friday I had yet to see them live. I declined to review an EP they sent me through a while back, but having seen them perform I freely confess I may have made a mistake ignoring that one.  Listening back to the one song on their Bandcamp page, I still feel there is something I preferred about the live show, frankly, although I’d be hard-pressed to tell you what it is. Again, maybe some dirt on the guitar and more emphasis of live drums over processed beats would bring it more in line with the show I enjoyed so much on Friday, but I am no producer, so that may be nonsense.

The presence of a laptop on stage gave the impression of the band essentially playing along to a pre-recorded backing track, but I have spoken to them about this since, and apparently it’s used more as a sampler than anything else. Either way, they were really good live – dark and broody and nicely epic without being overblown – and I will definitely be seeing them again.  And revisiting that EP I passed over earlier as well.  Shame on me.


Live in Edinburgh This Week – 13th August 2012

 So, despite the usual August bollocks and the tragic lack of the Retreat! Festival from our lives this year, it seems there’s really rather a lot of fun stuff happening in Edinburgh for those (like myself) who would prefer to hide from the Edinburgh Festival rather than embrace it.

Places like the Queen’s Hall seem to have taken a slightly surprising, yet very welcome interest in local music recently, so they have what looks like the highlight of the week to me, with the #UNRAVEL show tomorrow.  I will be driving Meursault through to Glasgow for their gig at Stereo on the same night, so I will be forced to miss it yet again, but the whole project looks absolutely fascinating to me.  Get along, if you can!

There are a shitload of videos in the post too, so to avoid slowing the whole page down, I am putting the listings after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »


Live in Edinburgh This Week – 3rd October 2011

It’s a relatively manageable week, this one.  It’s quiet enough, until Saturday, which has a couple of rather unfortunate clashes, but there are definitely some great gigs on.

Pick of the bunch would, for me, be the Mazes and Milk Maid show at Sneaky’s on Wednesday, but the Emily Scott album launch also looks rather promising, with the presence of extra strings for both herself and Yusuf Azak adding a bit of extra incentive.

Once again I seem to have managed to start the week with a little bit of a hangover, annoyingly, so I have been sitting here feeling groggy all day.  Balls.  Tomorrow will be different, as I keep telling myself.

Wednesday 5th October 2011: Mazes & Milk Maid at Sneaky Pete’s.

Having recorded a (rather fantastic, if I do say so myself) Toad Session with Milk Maid when they played up here in the Spring, I am really looking forward to seeing them again, along with Manchester compatriots and Fatcat label-mates Mazes.

Milk Maid – Not Me (Toad Session)

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Thursday 6th October 2011: Born to Be Wide music video seminar at the Electric Circus.

Born to Be Wide put on consistently interesting seminars designed to help out today’s DIY musician.  This month’s topic is music videos, and confirmed for the panel so far we have this lot: Aman Khullar – VPL, Scott Macdonald – KFM Records, David Weaver – Detour.

Friday 7th October 2011: Indie Funday Friday at Henry’s Cellar Bar with The Asps, Morris Major, Son of Portslade, Steven Borthwick & The Friendly Vibes.

Raising money for the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, this is the second Indie Funday Friday.  Morris Major played the very first Ides of Toad night in January this year, but I have to confess to not knowing all that much about the other bands.  That’s what those links are for of course, so you can decide for yourselves.

Morris Major – Seymour Grove

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Saturday 8th October 2011: Birdhead, Edinburgh School for the Deaf & Plastic Animals play Limbo at the Voodoo Rooms.

More Limbo jollies, this time with plenty of guitar noise. I will be extremely interested to see what people make of Edinburgh School for the Deaf, now that co-vocalist and guitarist Kieran has moved to London.  The last time I saw them play, he battered his head off the wall at Henry’s and played his guitar so loud his fingers bled. Is it too much to demand that his replacement do at least as much?

Edinburgh School for the Deaf – Love is Terminal

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Saturday 8th October 2011: Emily Scott album launch with Yusuf Azak & Lorraine McCauley at The Third Door.

I believe The Third Door is the venue which used to be Medina, just downstairs from Negociants on Bristo Square. It was never a bad space before, although the PA was horrible, but that is all changing apparently, with a new system, new decor, a new layout and a new name all slowly being sorted out. Both Emily and Yusuf will be playing with added strings, so this should be a lush, gorgeous gig.

Yusuf Azak – The Key Underground

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Saturday 8th October 2011: Papi Falso at Henry’s Cellar Bar.

Papi Falso isn’t a band, nor is it strictly a ‘club night’ per se, although I suppose it cleaves closer to the format of the latter than the former.  It is a bunch of interesting people with good taste in music playing records all evening, simple as that.  There is no obligation to make people dance or sing along, and the general guiding principle is, as far as I know (I’ve been drunk every time I’ve discussed it, sorry), eclecticism. Perfect, in other words, for those of us who love music, want to drink late and fucking hate night clubs.