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Toadcast #273 – The Rustcast

mp3tag The Rustcast is of course dedicated to the Rust2Rome adventure we returned from last week. It’s not really about Rust2Rome per se, just that we went with a bunch of tapes, and all the tunes on this podcast come from those tapes.

In fact, these come from a relatively narrow selection of the tapes, because I took a few fairly downbeat tunes along and we never listened to them. I love listening to quiet music when I drive, but generally only at night, and there was no night driving on the trip, so those tapes tended to stay in the bottom of the box, unlistened.

In fact, you may not believe me, but there was plenty of time when we actually listened to nothing at all. We have no air-conditioning in the car and it was so hot we had to drive large chunks of the way with all the windows rolled down, and when the car picked up any speed at all the noise made it pretty much impossible to hear anything unless it was being played at uncomfortably loud volumes.

Nevertheless, there was plenty of music to be listened to and this is a collection of my favourite bits.

Toadcast #273 – The Rustcast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

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01. Eels – Rags to Rags (00.22)
02. Grandaddy – El Caminos in the West (06.29)
03. Liars – Scarecrows on a Killer Slant (12.33)
04. Grinderman – No Pussy Blues (16.59)
05. R.E.M. – Disturbance at the Heron House (24.59)
06. Majical Cloudz – Silver Rings (30.33)
07. Willie Nelson – I Gotta Get Drunk (40.07)
08. Nirvana – Love Buzz (41.37)
09. Quiet Americans – Summer House (47.17)
10. Bob Seger System – 2+2=? (53.16)


Friday Fives Are Going to Change

Yup, it’s time for a change around here. Basically, when I started the Friday Fives there wasn’t much around in the way of social media, so it was a good way of fannying about and wasting time on a Friday afternoon when, let’s face it, no-one wants to do any real work.

Since then there are way more effective ways of talking shite with your friends on the internet, and frankly, I think the Friday Fives, whilst still fun, have lost a bit of their liveliness, to be honest. So from now on I am simply going to provide five random bits of fluff from the bowels of the internet.  Links, video, new music, interesting articles… you know, five bits of random shit.

And then, you can either comment on them if you so choose, or bring your own links to the comments thread.  Anything will do – anything which caught your interest during the week and which you would like to share with everyone else.

1. New Star Trek Trailer (above).
This, frankly, looks fucking awesome.  Benedict Cucumberbatch is in fucking everything these days, but he looks like he’s having a right laugh in that trailer up there.  I am reeeeally looking forward to this.

2. Music news of the week: new Eels tune!
I was going to put this in the podcast this week actually, but my laptop won’t rip tunes from Soundcloud and I am still waiting on an mp3 from the PR lot.  The new Eels sounds really good actually – a lot more aggressive and eccentric. This is a big improvement on the relatively safe, gentler stuff on the last few albums.  I hope the new record lives up to it.

3. Article on the death of music blogs.
Well obviously I am never going to agree with all of this, and there are a lot of subtleties about the nature and function of music blogs which the writer seems to miss, but I will write a proper response next week, I think.  The bottom line of his argument is that with the likes of YouTube and that being used so extensively for music discovery, blogs simply ceased to be necessary.

4. Lone Udinese fan in the away end in game vs. Sampdoria.
I love that the Sampdoria fans started out booing him, and then slowly softened, and finally decided to take him out for dinner, despite the fact that their team lost.  Football fans can be awesome sometimes!

5. Song of the week: Flume – Star Eyes.
I put this on the podcast this week, and I really like it: dark, thick and sluggish.  No idea how I’ll take a whole album of this, but this one tune is awesome.  Apparently the album came out at the end of November. Whoops – behind as usual!

Seen anything fun this week? Share it in the comments…


Toadcast #251 – The Darkcast

Winter has been slow to arrive this year, but it certainly feels like it’s here now. The last few days have been pretty cold, but more importantly when you live this far North, it’s getting fucking dark. It’s not something I dislike, actually.  We may not get much real cold in Edinburgh, nor indeed very much which anyone else would describe as Summer, but Edinburgh is at a surprisingly high latitude and during the Winter months it really is dark around these parts.

So there I was sitting at my desk at four in the afternoon and it was already really rather fucking dingy outside, and in the absence of an obvious theme it seemed about as relevant as anything else I could have come up with.  And let’s face it, without that this is just a mish mash of new stuff which has been piling into my inbox over the last little while, and where’s the fun in that, eh? Well? Where?

Direct download: Toadcast #251 – The Darkcast

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01. Temples – Shelter Song (00.21)
02. Eels – Peach Blossom (06.54)
03. PVT – Shiver (13.01)
04. Milk and Biscuits – White Noise (16.49)
05. Murals – Eyes of Loves (24.32)
06. Lady Lazarus – Lapsarian (31.44)
07. Garden of Elks – This Morning We Are Astronauts (38.47)
08. Palms – Cold (41.07)
09. These Brittle Bones – Anchor Bleed (48.11)
10. Qurious – Gold (55.16)


Toadcast #242 – The Retrocast

Given how little time I’ve had to do anything recently, I certainly haven’t been able to make time for new music.  So this means that this week’s podcast is a little backward-facing really, looking at some of the 80s and 90s music I was into at the time – not the most famous stuff, just some of the stuff I personally liked the best, of course.

Back when I was at Uni in the 90s, when 80s music was utterly reviled, I remember making a tape of 80s music I thought was good, and really, really enjoying it.  Had I made a similar tape for the 90s a few years back, when they too were taking their turn at the bottom of the pile, then bands like Arnold, The Delgados (although they straddled the 90s and the 00s), Yo La Tengo, Eels and Clem Snide would have been right in there.

I can’t quite bring myself to do the same for the early 2000s just yet, but they too will inevitably be hated in their turn. If you doubt me, just mention The Killers, Razorlight, The Ordinary Boys, Hard-fi or The Libertines to any self-respecting music snob!

Direct download: Toadcast #242 – The Retrocast

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01. Morrissey – You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side (00.57)
02. Yo La Tengo – Big Day Coming (10.20)
03. The Delgados – Pull the Wires From the Wall (19.17)
04. LeThug – Lux (25.03)
05. Magic Eye – Holy Male (30.25)
06. Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – From the Hip (35.27)
07. Eels – Not Ready Yet (42.04)
08. Clem Snide – 1989 (46.35)
09. Arnold – Fleas Don’t Fly (52.09)
10. Hazy & the J’s – It’s Fantasy Man (57.47)


Friday Feels the Need to Set Human Beings on Fire

 News International (I do not need to tell you) is one of the most repellent organisations in the world, but this whole business might just end up working out to their advantage, in a twist of supremely Machiavellian achievement.

NI decided to close the News of the World a long time ago, as you can see from this Guardian article detailing the plans being set in place to deal with its disappearance, dating from weeks ago. The URL was registered before any of this even kicked off.

As much of a right wing, darkie-hating, shit stain of a wank rag that the NotW has always been, this might turn out to be a masterstroke by the Murdoch empire. They have been caught out in some of the most disgraceful acts of both illegality and moral offence in the history of the press, and they have managed to actually turn it to their advantage.

They close the NotW to show how serious they are about this sort of legal transgression, they reduce their market share of the UK press, and as a result they might just manage to persuade people that they are neither a monopoly concern, nor a dangerous blight on political discourse, and in doing so secure the kind of domination over the UK press and hence UK political debate which could turn us into the next United States – forever having to pander to the latest reactionary retard wheeled out on Fox News to agitate the bigots and the racists.

Because let’s face it, NI are not weakened by this event, they are consolidated. The Sun and the NotW basically catered to the same market: ignorant, unpleasant, narrow-minded racists. Closing one just strengthens the other, but if this PR stunt enables the BSkyB takeover to take place we will still be faced with one of the most conservative, racist, morally repellent organisations in the modern world owning a scarily large chunk of UK media.

Day-to-day journalists have all been fired (although given they work for the NotW in the first place I have no fucking sympathy), but the people who actually engineered and implemented all the craven, corrupt and utterly illegal actions we’ve learned about recently will all continue to work within Murdoch’s empire of sleaze.

In other words, what was potentially one of the greatest PR disasters in corporate history might just end up being turned into the kind of publicity stunt which turns the British media into a shameful mirror of the hatred, bigotry, and outright lies which is Fox News, by consolidating the power of a group of people who treat the world like their own fucking puppet show and care for nothing but insulating their own twisted version of reality to the point where a writer of dystopian science fiction simply couldn’t make this shit up.

Anyway, and breathe…

Here are your five questions for this week.

1. Your number one news media hate figure.
2. Compare someone in the news to a movie or cartoon villain.
3. Whose phone would you hack if you could?
4. Cameron and Murdoch is a predictable terrible twosome.  Pick a less predictable one.
5. What will your lunch be today?

This week’s five songs are from a tape called ‘Cheerful Choons, Innit’ which I found in the van recently.  I was living in Cambridge at the time, which was home to a surprising number of mockneys, hence the title.

Clem Snide – Ice Cube

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Lambchop – Up With People

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Eels – Jungle Telegraph

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The Pernice Brothers – Shaken

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Barry Adamson – Set the Controls for the Heart of the Pelvis (with Jarvis Cocker)

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Eels – Tomorrow Morning

I think it is fair to say that at the moment Eels really, really need editing.  I was reading a piece in Word Magazine this month about how, for all the label system and extremely narrow number of media outlets stifled the ability of a lot of good music to reach the ears of the public (that was very much not the emphasis of the writer, he seemed to have less appreciation of the strong negative aspects of this bottleneck), at least there was a very effective filter between the infinite number of bands in the world and the finite amount of time people chose to commit to music appreciation.

Nowadays, he argued, we have to be the editors ourselves.  Bands record and release anything and everything for no other reason than that they can, and we have to take personal responsibility for picking through it and separating the fragments of wheat from the avalanche of chaff.

Now, given the number of fine blogs and podcasts I myself enjoy I find his argument more than a little shaky, but there is a core of sense to his central point: when everything was more expensive and more complicated to do, people had to be damn sure they knew what they were doing before they went to all the effort of doing it.  This pressed artists to be sure that every note of their work was essential, and it pressed labels and producers to be damn certain that the work they released was as packed to the brim with quality as it possibly could be – it generated the creative conflicts without which it is actually very difficult to produce good art.

As the ‘head of a label’ (yes, that sounds as ridiculous to me as it does to you, but I don’t know the right term for ‘a bloke sat in his spare bedroom with a photocopier and an internet connection’) I never interfere with the artistic choices made by the artists I work with.  I’ve suggested changes to a piece of work no more than three times since I started doing this, twice that suggestion has been acted upon and once it was ignored – the right call on all three occasions, I think.

So I don’t really know how I would go about saying to a band ‘no, I don’t think that song needs to be on the album’ or ‘nah, I think it needs less instrumentation’ or anything like that.  I take the stance that I am not a musician and therefore my capacity to contribute is probably pretty marginal.

Now, imagine you are dealing with someone like Mark Oliver Everett – E, of Eels.  He has written a large number of my favourite songs of all time, and a good few of my favourite albums, and I am not alone there – it’s not like he has any need to prove anything to anyone anymore, and certainly not like he needs to justify his artistic choices to some jumped-up lackey at whatever record label he may chose to work with.

Nevertheless, his last three albums – Hombre Lobo, End Times and this one – were conceived, I believe, as a Triptych.  This is the Return of the Jedi of the three – the triumph over adversity.  The concept is lovely.  Quite a few of the songs are absolutely gorgeous.  But I have a nagging feeling that the whole business really could have been trimmed – and I mean brutally trimmed – and achieved a lot more impact.

There are a lot of songs on these three albums which we have very definitely heard before from Eels.  On this album alone Spectacular Girl and I Like the Way This is Going are the slightest reworkings of songs from Blinking Lights, and tracks like The Look You Give That Guy on End Times seems to be communicating something E has said so many times before that I really do wonder if it needed a whole new song for such an incremental change in sentiment.

I don’t know how you tell someone who has obviously achieved so much and shown time and again that he is one of the best songwriters of his generation that he really needs to be more unforgiving when it comes to deciding what does and does not merit a full commercial release.  These three albums could really easily have been whittled down to three EPs, maybe even all on one CD, and maybe a bonus CD of sketches – the songs which didn’t make the cut recorded in a simple acoustic session perhaps – and you would have had an album of highly concentrated Eels brilliance, along with some enigmatic sketches of songs to give you a glimpse into the thought process which goes into producing an album.

As it is, this feels like a glass of orange cordial which has been diluted with far, far too much water.  To return to the original point made by Word, perhaps if it still cost a shitload of money to record and release an album, some record executive would have forced this glut of material through a very strict funnel and turned it all into one album.

Whilst this would have been a great benefit to this record, I am not prepared to be so fickle as to wish for a return to the days when the making of music was so out of reach of all but the chosen few.  Where I do agree with Word, however, is that now we can record and release everything and there is no reason not to, we need to become just a little bit more savvy about what is an album release and what is a curious extra for the uber-fan.

Eels – That’s Not Her Way

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Eels – The Man

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Website | More mp3s | Buy direct from the band


Live in Edinburgh This Week – 23rd August 2010

Firstly, the flurry of posts yesterday, from my rather tardy podcast to radio show post, meant that my brother’s Sunday Supplement – a rant about classical music – was buried rather too fast, so please do go back and check it out if you have a little time to waste this afternoon.

Secondly, the Edge Festival goes bloody nuts this week, and if I listed all the gigs then I’d be here all day, and there really is no need for that, so you can have it in paragraph form instead: on Monday 23rd we have Field Music at Sneaky Pete’s and Bear in Heaven at Electric Circus (late).  Tuesday sees The Phantom Band at the Electric Circus, Wednesday Eels at the Picturehouse and Thursday Mark Lanegan at the Liquid Room (who have finally got a website worthy of the name).  Friday is quiet, and then on the weekend we have Harlem at Sneaky Pete’s on Saturday and Modest Mouse at the Picturehouse on Sunday.  All these things you can Google yourselves if you are interested, and there is more info on the Edge site, here.

When it comes to more homegrown things, however, there is still plenty on this week, a good deal at the reassuringly active Bristo Hall – a really nice space which doesn’t get used as often as it might.

Monday 23rd August 2010: Pet, The Leg, The Pineapple Chunks, Sara & the Snakes at the Bristo Hall.

This might well be a late one (11pm-3am) so check it out before you go or you’ll be totally fucking wasted by the time the first band comes on.  I haven’t heard much from the Chunks for a while, as I believe they’ve been recording, so it would be rather cool if there were some new material here to be enjoyed.  There’s quite some distance covered from Sara & the Snakes’ swampy, bluesy garage stuff, the Chunks’ ramshackle whateverthefuckitistheyplay, and the Leg, who are so good they makes themselves sick down themselves (or so I hear anyway, because I have yet to see them live, for shame).

The Pineapple Chunks – Art Storage

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Tuesday 24th August 2010: White Heath, French Wives, Fiction Faction (Formerly Casino Brag,) Sebastian Dangerfield, Washington Irving, and Foxgang at the Bristo Hall.

This is a big lineup selected by Foxgang for their Festival Special.  Given the reluctance of local promoters to do anything at all during the festival (and I have every sympathy – I do the same) it is good to see these guys putting on their own showcase.  Highlights for me would be the indie-pop of Sebastian Dangerfield, and Glaswegian indie pair Washington Irving and French Wives, from Instinctive Raccoon.

Sebastian Dangerfield – The Flood (Pt.1)

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Saturday 28th August 2010: Broken Records and Sparrow & the Workshop at the Liquid Room.

These are two of the original Song, by Toad bands, in a certain sense.  Both now have labels and albums and careers, dammit, and it’s weird.  With debut albums fairly well in the rearview mirror I would imagine that there will be a fair amount of new material on show here, although I know Broken Records don’t want to ruin the surprise for when their second album comes out later in the year.  Their new stuff sounds a lot more layered and guitary and a lot less folky than their earliest material, and I am deeply curious about the new record.

Broken Records – A Leaving Song

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Saturday 28th/Sunday 29th August 2010: Retreat Festival at Pilrig St. Paul’s church.

A free download sampler featuring a large number of the bands playing can be downloaded from here, if you’d like a bit of a preview.  Other than that, take it from me, this is going to be the highlight of the Edinburgh gig calendar, no exceptions – full details here, and I reckon you should probably buy tickets in advance (weekendSaturdaySunday) too as I doubt there will be too many left on the door.


Toadcast #136 – The Haarcast

Contrary to what you might suspect from my location this week and the steady stream of silly videos from Anstruther , this podcast is not anything to do with the Fence Collective or Haarfest.

Actually, apart from a few brief intrusions from my pile of audio cassettes (a lot of time in the van, you see) this is generally just the usual stream of music news and new bits and pieces from my inbox.

Actually, I am way behind my inbox at the moment, due to a week of holiday and now a week in Anstruther, and things aren’t likely to get any better either, what with… oh never mind, you hear enough of my whining as it is.  Tunes…

Direct download: Toadcast #136 – The Haarcast

01. Eels – Jungle Telegraph (02.32)
02. Les Shelleys – The World is Waiting for the Sunrise (07.22)
03. Broken Records – A Leaving Song (13.41)
04. Women – Heat Distraction (19.56)
05. Let’s Talk About Trees – Wood of Rassay (23.50)
06. The Tragically Hip – Fireworks (31.57)
07. Grant Lee Buffalo – Testimony (35.48)
08. Inspector Tapehead – Grooming (44.48)
09. Nice Purse – Heart Medley (50.52)
10. Bombadil – Barcelona (54.55)


Toadcast #134 – The Festicast

So, the Festival descendeth upon Edinburgh once more, and once more we are beset by London-based Home County Yahs braying their zany way through the city until finally someone snaps and sets fire to their stupid fucking stilts once and for all.

Actually, as I confess pretty sharpish, I am the classic Edinburgh Festival hypocrite, if I’m being honest with myself.  I love it as much as I loathe it and I enjoy moaning about it almost as much as I enjoy the Festival itself.

As a native you really do have to have the right attitude though.  If you come from outside just for the Festival then there’s little chance of you failing to take advantage of it, but if you live here the only way is to do it by extremes: either totally ignore it and stay as far away as you can, or just stop moaning, get stuck in, get pished and go to lots of shows.  I tend to prefer the latter option, but I’ll confess I don’t always do a good job of actually taking my own advice.

Direct download: Toadcast #134 – The Festicast

01. Thee Single Spy – OK Corral (02.53)
02. Lach – A Quiet Distance (11.50)
03. Bob Dylan – Man of Constant Sorrow (Live) (14.59)
04. Run On Sentence – Wide Open Sky (22.20)
05. Skeleton Bob – Findlove is a Housing Scheme (33.11)
06. Wounded Knee – Coffee Ballad (34.43)
07. The Delta Mirror – He Was Worse Than the Needle He Gave You (39.31)
08. Balkans – Georganne (45.50)
09. Modest Mouse – This Devil’s Workday (50.33)
10. Eels – I Put a Spell on You (58.36)


Toad and Ruth’s Toad and Ruth Show with Toad and Dylan, not Ruth

Tonight at 20:30 will see the return of my radio show to the airwaves of the student radio station in these parts; Fresh Air.  The station will be broadcasting through the Festival, and I myself have slots this evening, to kick things off, as well as Sunday 15th, 22nd and 29th (at the earlier time of 19:00-20:30) when Ruth will presumably be back.  The full schedule is (sort of) here.

We’re hoping to have live guests and stuff like that, and have Lach pencilled in for the 15th, to help publicise his Antihoot show, and have yet to line up anyone proper for the other two weekends yet.  We’ll hopefully get there though.

Anyhow, tonight Dylan will stand in for Ruth, and we will be previewing the Festival and talking pish about what music things are happening here throughout the month of August.

Listen Here – Live from 20:30BST

As ever, the tracklist will be updated live below and if you have any trouble with the feed you should be able to get rid of it by pausing and un-pausing the player.  Alternatively, you can find the station on iTunes as well, listed somewhere under college radio stations, I think.

1. Honeytrap – Little Johnny Winter
2. Mark Lanegan – Methamphetamine Blues
3. FOUND – Let Fidelity Break
4. Eels – Souljacker
5. Roky Erickson and Okkervil River – Goodbye Sweet Dreams
6. The Japanese War Effort – Summer Sun Skateboard
7. Arcade Fire – City With No Children
8. Inspector Tapehead – Yarvil
9. Yusuf Azak – Turn on the Long Wire
10. King Post Kitsch – Walking on Eggshells
11. Milk – Wilma, There’s Been a Fire!
12. Benni Hemm Hemm – Retaliate
13. Lach – I Want To Be With You

Night night!

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