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Toadcast #271 – The Saycast

posttagAfter writing about the SAY Award, I thought I might well do a podcast about it, given there are more than enough ace bands and ace records on that list, last year’s list and I assume next year’s list to make a couple of podcasts.

I play a couple of shocking, scandalous omissions from this and last year’s long- and shortlists, and stamp my little foot about them. I play a couple of tracks from bands who I reckon should be in with a very strong shout of making next year’s shortlist.  And I play a random tune by David Thomas Broughton because he, along with Rick Redbeard who I tip for next year’s shortlist, is playing a show in Edinburgh this week.  David on Thursday with Rachael Dadd and Ichi, and Rick on Saturday with the awesome Ian Humberstone.

And again, I try and remind people not to get too worked up about this kind of thing, because, well, if no-one agrees with you that something is excellent, it should hardly make you love it any the less, should it. And equally, being told that yes, you are right, this album is good, shouldn’t particularly improve your enjoyment of it should it. So these things are here to be bickered over and are good fun, as well as being fantastic for the artists who win them, but they aren’t of course to be taken too seriously.

Toadcast #271 – The SAYcast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #271 – The Saycast

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01. Meursault – Untitled (00.26)
02. PAWS – Bird Inside Birddcage, Ribcage Inside Bird (06.40)
03. Rick Redbeard – Any Way I Can (14.35)
04. David Thomas Broughton – River Lay (20.10)
05. Now Wakes the Sea – Propranolol (28.47)
06. RM Hubbert – Car Song (With Aidan Moffat and Alex Kapranos) (35.42)
07. Django Django – Love’s Dart (39.59)
08. King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Bats in the Attic (45.36)
09. Rob St. John – Stainforth Force (52.54)
10. The Pictish Trail – I Will Pour it Down (1.02.06)

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SAY Award 2013 Longlist

SAYaward The Scottish Album of the Year Award longlist has been announced, and there happens to be a little Song, by Toad Records interest this year, as Meursault have been nominated for Something For the Weakened. Now, of course, from my point of view they are the one and only justifiable winner of this award and if it goes to anyone else it will be a fix/swizz/further evidence of the Glasgow-centric, incestuous cliqueyness of the Scottish music industry (delete as appropriate).

I would also like to make it clear now that if it goes to someone who sold more records then the process is clearly just about rewarding commercial pop shite, rather than art, and if they just understood real music they would never have made such a terrible decision.  However, if it happens to be awarded to someone who has sold fewer records then it will simply prove that the panel only ever wanted to award it to their mates, are trying to be obscure just because they’re a bunch of sneering hipsters, and are snobbishly refusing to take notice of how many people loved this album.

Right, excuses all in? Good, we may proceed.

As well as Meursault there are a few albums on there I think would also thoroughly merit this award. Most notable amongst them would be PAWS and R.M. Hubbert, whose respective albums in 2012 are both huge favourites in Toad Hall. The Twilight Sad and Django Django also both made excellent records, so if it goes to any of those guys I will be delighted.

There are definitely a few on there I know nothing about, of course, and a good few I simply haven’t heard a note of yet, and I think this is a good thing. The relative diversity of last year’s list compared to most other Best Of lists out there suggested to me that it was relatively unbiased list, which was pleasingly broad in scope, and I’d say the same this year. It may make us less likely to win, but the breadth of the initial selection panel is a good decision, and although it risks excessive populism (Emeli Sandé and Calvin fucking Harris? You’re having a fucking laugh, surely) I do think it’s the best way to strike a sensible balance between respecting knowledge and expertise on one hand and simple, broad brush appeal on the other.

So good luck to everyone. The full longlist is at the bottom of the page, after four songs by the bands (other than Meursault of course) I would personally prefer to win.

Full list below:

Admiral Fallow – Tree Bursts In Snow
Auntie Flo – Future Rhythm Machine
Calvin Harris – 18 Months
Dam Mantle – Brothers Fowl
Django Django – Django Django
Duncan Chisholm – Affric
Emeli Sandé – Our Version of Events
Errors - Have Some Faith In Magic
Human Don’t Be Angry – Human Don’t Be Angry
Karine Polwart - Traces
Konrad Wiszniewski & Euan Stevenson – New Focus
Lau - Race The Loser
Meursault – Something For The Weakened
Miaoux Miaoux – Light of the North
Paul Buchanan – Mid Air
PAWS – Cokefloat!
RM Hubbert – Thirteen Lost & Found
Stanley Odd – Reject
The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know
The Unwinding Hours – Afterlives

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Song, by Toad Readers’ Awards

toadcup Apologies for my tardiness in publishing this, but we’ve had some family difficulties around these parts recently, which has rather disrupted the normally relentless efficiency with which this operation normally functions.

Anyhow, the annual Toad Cup has been awarded this year by our readers, to their favourite five albums of 2012, and here are the lucky winners.  It’s worth noting a couple of things first though, just out of interest.

Firstly, despite my considerable interest in what I suppose you could call hipster guitar music, there is very little of this sort of stuff on the list. And this even despite fantastic recent releases by the Sea Pinks, Cold Pumas and Sauna Youth, albums which I myself love.  Readers of Toad however, it seems, remain relatively unmoved.

Secondly, with one obvious exception, which needs a couple of caveats and to which we will come later, it seems there were no obvious standout albums this year. By this I mean that I am sure we all in our own heads know which ones were the standouts for us, but whereas last year was an obvious slug-out between Wells & Moffat, Creosote & Hopkins and Rob St. John, no such obvious confluence of everyone’s tastes has emerged in 2012 and the voting was much more spread out.

And thirdly, the Song, by Toad Records Exception Clause: the exception in terms of obvious favourites for the year has been Meursault.  Basically, they absolutely pissed this vote.  Now, of course, they have a massive home-field advantage on this blog, not least because more and more it is the blog which is an appendage of the label, rather than vice versa. Although having said that, Meursault apparently ran away with this year’s poll of Scottish Bloggers and Music Websites (The BAMS) too, so perhaps it’s a just a half-decent record, all told.

The same rather applies to The Leg’s album, whilst I think it is an obviously brilliant album, hardly received the sort of widespread awareness to appear on any list but this one. In the neatly economical words of Music to Die For: “There’s no middle ground : you’re either going to think this is the best thing ever, or total garbage.” Personally, I vote for the former. And so, it seems, do you. And favouritism or not, this is the first time we’ve ever had two Toad releases in the readers’ top five, I think, so perhaps I should stop making excuses and just give the bands some fucking credit, eh.

Anyhow, the Song, by Toad Readers’ Top Five Albums of 2012:

1. Meursault – Something For the Weakened
2. The Leg – An Eagle to Saturn
3. Sharon Van Etten – Tramp
=4. Django Django – Django Django
=4. The Walkmen – Heaven

Woo and indeed Hoo! Happy New Year everyone.

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Django Django – Django Django

The fact that this album is self-titled makes the headline for this post look like a bit of a joke, doesn’t it.  How many Djangos does one album title need, after all.

Anyhow, at the risk of repeating a little bit too much of this week’s podcast, these guys have been described in a few places, somewhat tenuously, as an Edinburgh band.  It’s a nice thought, but while they did indeed emerge, to the best of my knowledge, from the Edinburgh College of Art, I think they’re now based in London and have released their debut album on a French label, so I think it’s a bit of a stretch to refer to them as an Edinburgh band in any meaningful sense.

Add to that the fact their latest tour includes dates in Nottingham and fucking Norwich, but not Edinburgh, and I think we can say pretty conclusively that the band have moved on.  Which is a shame, because they’re very good, and given I had to miss their recent Sneaky Pete’s appearance I would really like to see them live again.

Funnily enough, I actually interviewed these guys at Homegame a couple of years ago, but an IT disaster meant that I couldn’t actually publish anything worthy of the name, unfortunately.  They were interesting people to talk to though, very thoughtful and considered, and they seemed remarkably focussed and together for a bunch of musicians.

Since then, when their first two singles made such a splash, they’ve been so very quiet that I have to confess I half wondered if they might have been stuttering a little, but it appears that this is very much not the case, as their debut album was released last week, and it’s bloody ace.

The most obvious comparison to the Djangos’ sound would be The Bees, who were briefly huge about seven or eight years ago, with a similar brand of rhythmic pop music which seemed to draw its influences from all over the place.  Speaking to the band during the Amazing Self-deleting Interview, I remember them referring to this as one of the great things about the internet era – the fact that bands no longer needed to draw their influences from such narrow fields, as absolutely anything and everything was out there waiting to be explored and absorbed.

From all these influences, Django Django make what is indisputably best described in no more a convoluted way than ‘pop music’.  As experimental as some of the sounds are, the result has a relentlessly danceable rhythm, and a sense of energetic playfulness which is impossible to ignore.

Interestingly enough, whilst they’ve included all four songs from their previous double A-side 7″s, all four songs have been relegated to the second half of the album, as if to make the statement that after a year or two of relative quiet, they are not just returning to flog the last gasps of credit from relatively old material, which I think is a good decision.

Having done that, however, I would suggest that they have slightly fallen into the trap of packing the album with pop songs, somewhat at the expense of the feel of the record as a whole. Whilst it’s good to release double A-side singles, rather than implying that really only one of the songs is worthwhile and the other will do, this approach doesn’t work as well on an album.

If I had a criticism of this it would be that every song on it sounds like an A-side, so by the end of the record it becomes a little wearying, and I think it could have done with a couple of more marked changes in pace, be they an instrumental here and there, or something a little more dreamy or melancholic, just to break the atmosphere a little and offset the relentless cheerfulness of the rest of the music.  Recent single Waveforms comes closest to fulfilling this function, but I don’t personally find the change quite significant enough to really break the mood and get me ready for the second half of the album.

Nevertheless, this is a highly enjoyable album of joyful, mischievous pop songs and very welcome return from one of the few bands around who actually make me feel like dancing. Dancing badly, I’ll grant you, but that’s still a significant achievement for a sulky old stick in the mud like myself.

Django Django – Storm

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Website | More mp3s | Buy from Rough Trade

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Toadcast #212 – The Tartan Shortcast

Ah, Tartan Shortbread, that most wonderful of sardonic Scottish put-downs.

For those unfamiliar with the term, this is the offhand dismissal used to describe the sort of mawkish, clichéd tourist tat which masquerades as Scottish heritage and culture for those with woefully little imagination.  Alternatively, I suppose you could say that Tartan Shortbread is a blanket term for Scottish heritage as a sort of motorway service station take on national identity.

Anyhow, given I work very much at the coalface of the DIY music world in Scotland, I find that I have been oddly unsupportive of a large number of Scottish bands who have emerged in the last couple of years to considerable enthusiasm from the Scottish music press, both professional and amateur.

For some reason, the recent bands who have shown some likelihood of cracking an audience wider than the relatively narrow confines of the five million or so people in Scotland itself just haven’t appealed to me, with a few notable exceptions.  However, sitting down to assemble the playlist for this week I noticed that there were something like seven of the ten songs which happened to be by Scottish bands.  Oh, I thought to myself, I appear to be Scottish again.  How nice.

Direct download: Toadcast #212 – The Tartan Shortcast

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01. Django Django – Default (00.17)
02. Andrew Bird – Eyeoneye (08.41)
03. Lower Dens – Brains (12.47)
04. Randolph’s Leap – Bile (26.17)
05. Clean George IV – XP Avenue (32.51)
06. Dumb Instrument – Reverse the Hearse (35.57)
07. The Occasional Flickers – When the Sky Looks so Grey (41.11)
08. R.M. Hubbert – Sunbeam Melt the Hour (with Marion Kenny & Hanna Tuulikki) (50.20)
09. The Twilight Sad – Don’t Move (55.49)
10. Brown Brogues – Anyone But You (62.04)

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Live in Edinburgh This Week – 21st November 2011

Well one thing’s for sure, live in Edinburgh this week will very much not be me.  I have a rather nasty flu/tonsillitis throat infection thingy (I’m not a doctor so I am not sure which, but you know the kind of thing I mean) and it means that swallowing is extraordinarily painful, even if it is gin.

I am not sure that soaking the paracetamol in alcohol particularly aids in its efficacy either, but as I said, I am not a doctor.

We, of course, have our next Ides of Toad gig on Sunday, when the awesome Withered Hand, Samantha Crain and Mike MacFarlane will be at Henry’s.  I should also point out that I am selling tickets to the Song, by Toad Christmas Party for a mere £8 at the moment, but that price will disappear sometime this afternoon, so if you want the cheap tickets better get ‘em now, otherwise it will cost you the (still extremely good value for money) sum of £10. Go here to get yourself sorted out for the finest carnival of Christmas piss-artistry to be had in Edinburgh.

However, until then, here is some stuff to keep you entertained in Edinburgh this week:

[Edit: fuck fuck fuck, I forgot that Alex Cornish has a full band plus strings show at Cabaret Voltaire on Thursday 24th.]

Monday 21st November 2011: Rozi Plain, Jamie Harrison & This is the Kit at the Electric Circus.

I am not sure if I am even going to end up getting this posted in time for you to scoot down to the Electric Circus and catch this, but if a Fence Records/Red Deer Club one-two isn’t enough enticement then umm… well, you deserve the X-Factor or whatever it is you end up doing instead.

Rozi Plain – The Lang Toun (James Yorkston Cover)

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Thursday 24th November 2011: Django Django, The Marvels & Snide Rhythms at Sneaky Pete’s.

Django Django were absolutely all over the radio about a year and a half ago, and they’ve been quietly recording their debut album ever since.  Judging from the songs we’ve heard so far, it should be very good indeed.  They are a little like Jonnie Common in the sense that the music they make may be rather experimental in terms of its constituent components, but the end result is pure pop (although I’d be tempted to say that the similarity ends there). This stuff even gets me wanting to dance.  Yes, you read that right, even me.

Django Django – Waveforms

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Saturday 26th November 2011: Lach’s Fort comes to Le Monde.

It’s a very, very odd place to do it, but when you’re looking to put on an event which is a little different to what a place is used to, then picking a surprising venue could just end up working in its favour.  Lach is bringing his New York night to Edinburgh, with film, esoteric DJing and live performances from Seafieldroad, Lee Patterson, Emily Scott, head BMX Bandit Duglas T. Stewart, comedian Chloe Phillip and more.

Sunday 27th November 2011: Withered Hand, Samantha Crain & Mike MacFarlane play the Ides of Toad at Henry’s Cellar Bar.

I am really looking forward to this.  Apart from the excellence, the humour and the pathos of Withered Hand, I am really looking to Sam Crain’s first Edinburgh gig.  I first me her at Pickathon in Portland in something like 2008, and we’ve pretty much had this gig in mind ever since.  He voice is amazing, and her songs are absolutely gorgeous.  Mike MacFarlane is a relative newcomer, but having seen him for the first time at the Antihoot this Summer I am really interested to see more.

Withered Hand – Providence

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Samantha Crain – We Are the Same

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Mike MacFarlane – Waltz

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Sunday 27th November 2011: Loch Lomond, The Last of Barrett’s Privateers & Pronto Mama at Sneaky Pete’s.

Loch Lomond’s new album is out now on Chemikal Underground, and having played here a couple of times, they are back with something approaching a full band (although like many bands I know and love, establishing what, exactly, their standard, full lineup is isn’t entirely straightforward). They’ll be joined by impressive Edinburgh folkies The Last of Barrett’s Privateers and Pronto Mama, about whom I have to confess to knowing more or less nothing, sorry.

Loch Lomond – Elephants & Little Girls (Toad Session)

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Toadcast #191 – The Fullcast

This is called the Fullcast for no better reason than that I tried to fit far too many songs onto the playlist.  I’d have used half the Palmist Records stable if possible, but eventually decided to settle for one single track.  There’s always next week.

I didn’t even make room for a song from the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah record, although to be fair I haven’t really listened to that enough to actually know what I think about it, so maybe that would have been hasty.

If anything this reminded me of the really early podcasts, when I tried to squish two hours of music into a single recording, and the things were just sprawling behemoths of wittering and tuneage.  I can’t say I regret the decision to trim it down to either ten songs or an hour.

Direct download: Toadcast #191 – The Fullcast

01. Beaters – Dark Haunter (00.22)
02. Body Wash – Cool Bike (06.34)
03. High Pop – For Jord (08.23)
04. Django Django – Waveforms (11.35)
05. Steven Malkmus & the Jicks – No One Is (As I Are Be) (17.31)
06. Milkshakes – Track 1 (24.57)
07. Kurt Vile – The Creature (27.37)
08. Ezra Furman & the Harpoons – Don’t Turn Your Back on Love (34.41)
09. Steel Phantoms – Bedouin (41.50)
10. Eagulls – Possessed (47.24)
11. Sands – Fares & Tolls (53.15)
12. U2 – Lemon (60.17)

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Toadcast #146 – Inspector Tapehead Toad Session

Videos: VimeoYouTube
Photos: Flickr
Audio: download for free below…

Every time a drum kit comes into our house I am kinda worried that the cafe downstairs is going to have a tantrum about the noise, but we’ve been lucky so far, and long may it continue.  More worrisome in this instance was probably Jonnie Common’s incredible box of tricks.

In a slight change to the usual lineup, my wee brother happened to be over from the States visiting when we recorded this, so he did the sound for us.  He has his own company over there, called Red Cottage Audio, and spends most of his time as the sound designer/recording engineer for the Boston Ballet, so I am not sure quite how he took the change from that to trying make a bunch of pop songs sound good in our living room. Still, it’s all about the results, and the results are fantastic.

The pictures are also especially good this time around.  Fee has contributed photos before – most notably to, I think, the Shenandoah Davis and Pictish Trail sessions – but this time she really has excelled herself.  I generally cut the photo sets down to about twenty pics, but in this case I really couldn’t manage any fewer than thirty, I liked them that much.  Head over to Flickr to see the set.

As per usual, all the Toad Session recordings are made available for free sharing/downloading/whatever, just after the full interview podcast, which is below, and as well as the main video at the top of the page, we have individual videos of every song as well (see a bit further down) as well, finally, as the full tracklisting for the podcast itself at the bottom of the page.

Oh, and this wouldn’t be a proper plug if I didn’t point out that Inspector Tapehead’s debut album, Duress Code, can now be purchased from Song, by Toad Records.

Toadcast #146 – Inspector Tapehead Toad Session

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Inspector Tapehead – Yarvil (Toad Session)

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Inspector Tapehead – WCMJ (Toad Session)

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Inspector Tapehead – A Fillet of Bozo (Toad Session)

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Inspector Tapehead – Pherenzil Tear (Toad Session)

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01. Inspector Tapehead – Yarvil (Toad Session) (05.37)
02. Adam Beattie & the Consultants – We’ll Wave From the Shore (15.23)
03. Jonnie Common – Photosynth (19.24)
04. Inspector Tapehead – WCMJ (Toad Session) (28.27)
05. Charlot Webster – Stay What You Are (40.40)
06. dBASS – Garden (44.35)
07. Inspector Tapehead – A Fillet of Bozo (Toad Session) (56.59)
08. Django Django – WOR (63.51)
09. Inspector Tapehead – Pherenzik Tear (Toad Session) (80.24)

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Toadcast #113 – The Anstercast

We’re in Anstruther this weekend for Homegame, and so we got incredibly pissed late at night and recorded a podcast for you all, just as a special extra Sunday Supplement.

This should give you a taste of our Homegame fun and, sadly, also an idea of just how much of a wreck we all make of ourselves in Fife once a year.
Honestly, this is my favourite festival in the fucking universe, possibly only equalled by Pickathon, which is incredibl e.

Toadcast #113 – The Anstercast

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01.Withered Hand – No Cigarettes (01.34)
02.Silver Columns – Yes and Dance (Silver Columns Remix) (08.31)
03.Findo Gask – Wrapped in Plastic (Live) (14.00)
04.Adem – Everything You Need (20.02)
05.Django Django – Love’s Dart (29.52)
06.FOUND – Freaky Freaky Chancer (33.37)
07.Cold Seeds – The Perfume of Mexican Birds (43.43)
08.Love.Stop.Repeat – The Ghost of What You Used to Be (50.52)
09.FOUND & eagleowl – Some R. Kelly Cover (58.52)

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Live in Edinburgh This Week – 8th March 2010

Basically, in terms of live music, this week revolves around two events: the (now sold out) Grizzly Bear show at the Queen’s Hall, and the Fencelicious Homegame Festival in Anstruther (final-ish running order announced here).

However, for those of you not coming out to Fife and unwilling to stump up twenty quid to see yet another band with Bear in their name, there is at least one gig  very much worth seeing in Edinburgh this week.

Before that, for those of you who missed it (which I presume includes everyone) I was invited to write a comment piece for the Scotsman this weekend, about what it would mean to small bands and labels to lose BBC 6Music.  The content will be pretty familiar to all of you from the post I wrote last week, which is how the article came about in the first place,

It’s on the site filed as a ‘Premium Article”, which makes me chuckle, so for those of you who don’t wish to sign in I have scanned the thing and you can read it here.  I suppose I am slightly not supposed to do that, but I don’t think I am being paid for the article itself, and I don’t think it’s doing much harm to let you see the thing if only so you can exclaim, like Mrs. Toad did on first seeing it: “Where the fuck did they get that awful picture?”  Bitch.

Friday 12th March 2010: The School, Allo Darlin’ & Django Django at the Wee Red Bar.

This is going to be a somewhat twee night of indie pop, with just a little darkness supplied by the Homegame-bound Django Django beforehand.  You owe it to yourself to have enormous amounts of fun at this gig if you aren’t going to Homegame, just to stick it to those of us who are.

Allo Darlin’ – Atlantic City

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