Song, by Toad

Posts tagged garden of elks

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Garden of Elks – A Distorted Sigh Out Now

elks

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.

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Garden of Elks Album Launches Tomorrow and Sunday

ADistortedSighHiRes

Yep, that’s right, A Distorted Sigh by Garden of Elks is coming out soon – early April, actually – but the vinyl has arrived and I am collecting the tapes from Glasgow today so if you can catch them at their next couple of shows then you can get a copy slightly ahead of time (alternatively, you can order one from us online). They look and sound ace, too.

The lads are playing two dates with Broken Records this week, one at Summerhall in Edinburgh tomorrow and the other in Glasgow at Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’s on Sunday, so pop down if you want to see them.

Tomorrow is the first night of a series of gigs at Summerhall under the Nothing Ever Happens Here banner, something which is hopefully going to bring mid-level touring bands back to Edinburgh for the first time in what feels like years. It’s perfectly placed inbetween the smaller venues like Henry’s, Sneaky Pete’s and the Electric Circus which we’re actually relatively well-served with here, and the bigger places like the Queen’s Hall, who have to be a bit careful who they book because it’s a big venue and they have to be confident that they can draw enough people.

One of the key things I am hoping the press surrounding these nights will do is start to dispel the impression that Edinburgh isn’t well-served for music. As the name implies, it’s a popular perception, but in fact there is quite a lot going on in Edinburgh if only we could persuade people to come along to it and take a more regular interest. And hopefully some of this more well-publicised, high-profile stuff can encourage people to poke around and see what else is available, particularly if, as is the plan, a lot of the smaller bands playing these more underground nights get the chance to play more high-profile support slots at the Summerhall shows.

Anyhow, see you there tomorrow? Don’t let yourself down by making bad life choices.

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

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New Garden of Elks Single

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

The Garden of Elks debut album A Distorted Sigh is coming out on Song, by Toad Records in April, and this is the first single.

The video, like the song, cavorts joyously along for a couple of minutes and then packs it in – no fussing, no unnecessary embellishment, no fucking about. That’s pretty much what the album is like too, and that is why I love it.

We’re currently booking gigs around the UK for them to celebrate the release, and they’re playing Edinburgh and Glasgow with Broken Records for the Scottish launches. Pre-order the album on cassette or vinyl from here.

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Dearness – Accidental Gold

dearness  Ah, lo-fi tape releases. Hooray for the internet. Funny that something so ephemeral should have ended up encouraging something so very string-and-brown-paper, but it seems to have. If anything, I think the lack of actual need for a physical product has reminded a small group of people why they actually want one.

There are reasons this is a relatively small DIY release, I think, and two of the main ones are ‘other bands’. Ryan Drever also plays in PAWS and in Garden of Elks, whose debut album we will be releasing here at Song, by Toad Records in a couple of months, and I guess that almost automatically means he has to limit the amount of energy he puts into his own stuff.

It’s good though, if somewhat unassuming. On first listen I thought no more than ‘oh, this is decent’, but repeated listens have significantly improved that somewhat lazy first impression. There are elements of meandering bedroom lo-fi here, with songs so unfocussed that they feel like the very most slack of the slacker end of the spectrum. Less that halfway into Accidental Gold you find Frank Devereaux, which is distant, muffled and minimal. Then you get into Stationary Waves and it feels like everything is kind of grinding to a premature halt.

That song is basically just a long, rambling monologue over the top of a background of incidental music that feels like the EP is drowning in its own fuzz and mumble. But then it suddenly springs into life, with what is basically just a big old riffy pop song, called It’s OK, You’re Fine.

Second-last seems like an odd place to put what is closest to your ‘big pop song’, but it throws everything which has gone before it into sharp relief. Closer Nobody Knows (What the Fuck They’re Talking About) is upbeat again, with what sounds like distorted fragments of TV or radio broadcasts interspersed with classic, direct, fuzzy indie rock. It’s nasty, but it has real drive and pace and is a great way to end everything.

As I said, this sudden burst of energy changes how everything before it feels, and what seemed like a weird, distracted meander suddenly turns out to be a really well-assembled collection of rough and ready songs – enough pop to be fairly instantly engaging and enough experimental nastiness to be really interesting. I don’t love Roads + Rails particularly – I am not sure the way it’s sung particularly suits Ryan’s voice – but that’s a pretty small gripe because for the most part this is really good. And there are only a couple left too, so get one quick if you want one.

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Toadcast #312 – The Resolvecast

tag So, with the first podcast of the year I suppose I should be doing New Year’s Resolutions, right? I guess I do have some, sort of, for a change.

Firstly, I didn’t exactly keep on top of the label admin well enough last year – particularly the accounts – so that really does need to improve.

We’re doing gigs again this year, partly because it seems to help with the general awareness of the label and partly because no-one in Edinburgh seems to be putting on the kind of gigs I want to go to. Actually, that’s less of a resolution really, and more of an announcement, isn’t it.

And thirdly, we have to suck less at PR. I’ve got a few plans for this, but mostly we just have to do a better job of getting label artists covered in the bigger online magazines in particular. It’s heavy work, PR stuff, but if you can’t do PR then you aren’t really a label so it has to be done.

Also, we have a playlist on Soundcloud of all the new bands we’re working with this year.

Toadcast #312 – The Resolvecast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #312 – The Resolvecast

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01. The Muppets – Movin’ Right Along (00.00)
02. Garden of Elks – This Morning We Are Astronauts (02.47)
03. Le Thug – Basketball Land (10.07)
04. Krill – Sick Dogs (For Ian) (18.49)
05. Body Cheetah – I’m There (22.17)
06. Jane Weaver – The Electric Mountain (31.26)
07. Rob Cantor – Shia LeBeouf (37.13)
08. Lush Purr – Horses on Morphine (41.07)
09. Supermoon – Klopfgeist (47.56)
10. Numbers Are Futile – Vice Over Reason (55.55)
11. digitalanalogue – Café Royal (1.01.03)
12. The Golden Toadstools – Silly Savage (1.07.51)

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Happy Christmas: Song, by Toad’s MAGIC BEANZ!

Welcome to Song, by Toad’s MAGIC BEANZ! This is a wee sampler of six new band’s we’ll be working with this year – a complete rejuvenation of the label, in many ways. We’ll be releasing stuff by our more established collaborators of course, but 2015 will be dominated by the new people.

Free mp3 download (right-click, save as)

In February we have Le Thug‘s six-song vinyl EP Place Is – electronic-infused shoegaze with gorgeous, dreamy vocals.

Then in April the debut album by Garden of Elks, called A Distorted Sigh, which is all short, sharp, punchy as fuck indie rock songs. Picking the singles from this was a bit of a challenge as they’re pretty much all singles.

Ian Turnbull from Broken Records has his own album coming out too: Be Embraced, You Millions! – a beautiful collection of instrumental drone and detail, out as limited run vinyl under the name of digitalanalogue in March.

Then in May we have Greco-Portuguese newcomers Numbers Are Futile, whose hypnotic, percussive album of thrumming electronica is called Sunlight on Black Horizon.

We’re still waiting on a final mix, so we don’t have a release date, but either early Summer or mid-Autumn will see Edinburgh’s sludgey, shoegazey indie rockers Plastic Animals release their debut album Pictures From the Blackout.

And finally, in February we’ll be recording some more stuff with Passion Pusher, whose Couch King EP we released in November 2014 on cassette.

So 2015 will be all about the new kids at Song, by Toad, but don’t worry, Adam Stafford has a new record on the way, we have a Split 10″ with Rob St. John and Woodpigeon and Meursault have disintegrated and been re-born again as Supermoon, and Jonnie Common has all sorts of ideas too, so we won’t be unrecognisable, just with a youthful spring in our collective step.

Enjoy, and have a fantastic New Year yourselves.

Cheers,
Matthew

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Garden of Elks Sign to Song, by Toad Records

A Distorted Sigh Hi Res

Yup, it gives me great pleasure to formally announce the first of our new bands for 2015 (there will be a couple – keep an eye out for your Christmas present on the 25th): Garden of Elks.

Because the first tracks they ever recorded were done by a friend of mine I think it’s fair to say that I’m one of the band’s earliest supporters, but that doesn’t matter for shit if you don’t follow through on your enthusiasm, does it? NO, so we’ve just reached an agreement to release their debut album next year, and I am really excited about it.

Admittedly ‘signing’ to this label is rather over-stating what happens. I send an email saying ‘fuck it, let’s do this’ and the band either say ‘hooray’ or ‘piss off’ and that’s about as formal as it ever gets, but however it happens we have ten tracks of short, sharp indie rock on vinyl or cassette coming your way in Spring 2015.

And to make things even better, they’re playing our Christmas party on Saturday 20th (yes, THIS SATURDAY!) at Henry’s. So come on down, get pished, and laugh at me as I stumble about the place.

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Upcoming Toad Gigs

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After a wee break and a couple of house shows, we actually have quite a lot of gigs coming up in the next little while, and that’s without even having thought about our New Year’s House Gig yet.

Obviously you are morally obliged to come to absolutely all of these shows and if you don’t attend each and every one I will secretly suspect that our friendship is based upon nothing more than a tissue of lies and pity. And if you can’t manage all of them then, erm, well one would be nice if you’re up for it. Please. They will be great shows, I promise.

couchking

Passion Pusher EP launch shows:

This Saturday 8th Nov – Voxbox, Edinburgh
With Sean Armstrong (The Yawns)
Sunday 9th Nov – Flying Duck, Glasgow
With FROTH, Herbert Powell Youngstrr Joey

These shows may have been a little hastily arranged, but they mark two important events: our first formal release with Passion Pusher, and our first ever cassette release.  James calls his genre ‘dingus rock’ which I have to confess I rather like, and I suppose you could throw slacker and lo-fi in there too, but those terms get applied to fucking everything these days. Slop rock maybe, because it has that sort of feel to it where you’re not sure if he would perhaps rather be playing computer games rather than singing the songs, but the end results happen to turn out brilliantly anyway.

Jonnie Common Album Launch Digiflyer

Jonnie Common album launch shows:

Thursday 13th Nov – Downstairs, Aberdeen
Friday 14th Nov – Pilrig St. Paul’s, Edinburgh
Saturday 15th Nov – Glad Café, Glasgow

Jonnie’s album may be mired in manufacturing delays (sorry everyone) but we will have copies on CD in time for the album launches. Jonnie just recorded a session with Vic Galloway (including an absolutely awesome John Cooper Clarke cover) which you can listen to here. In Aberdeen he will be joined by Christ and Colin Austin, and the Edinburgh and Glasgow shows will be with Wolf and poet Ross Sutherland.

ToadGig2014 1 digiflyer

My fucking birthday!

Wednesday 19th Nov – Henry’s, Edinburgh
The Pictish Trail, Two White Cranes & Owen McAulay

Quite why I have volunteered to work on my own fucking birthday I don’t know, but when Roxy from Two White Cranes got in touch asking about gigs in Edinburgh on the 18th or 19th of November I thought why the fuck not, let’s have a laugh and see some great bands. And I haven’t seen Johnny Pictish play solo for bloody ages either, and he is, despite being head of Song, by Toad Records’ most deadly rival, fucking ace at music.

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Song, by Toad Christmas Parties:

Wednesday 3rd Dec – Total Refreshment Centre, London
Jonnie Common, Plastic Animals & Numbers Are Futile

Saturday 20th Dec – Henry’s, Edinburgh
Plastic Animals, Garden of Elks & erm, some other things.

We have two Christmas parties planned for this year, one down in London and one our traditional Edinburgh drunken train-wreck. London will be a bit of a label showcase, with a van-full of muppets heading down from the North to bring actual music and culture to our impoverished cousins in the South. Young Fathers won the Mercury, right? So England will be looking to Scotland for cultural leadership from now on, right?

In Edinburgh we shall have various friends doing weird and silly songs for a bit, and then some Proper Guitar Bands, and finally Irregular Owl Movements and Mrs. Toad DJ sets. God fucking help us.

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Pale Imitation Festival 2014

Pale Imitation 2014 digiflyer

Well brace yourselves, here we go: the full lineup for the Pale Imitation Festival 2014 has been finalised and can now be announced, tickets can be bought, and giddy excitement can commence. It’s a cheap and cheerful festival of Scottish music, held at Henry’s Cellar Bar over the course of August.

Conceived initially as a way to keep the fun, family-friendly DIY spirit of the awesome Retreat Festival alive, I think for me it’s sort of evolved into something different. I like the Edinburgh Festival, I really do. Or at least I try. There’s lots of awesome stuff happening, but there is also a massive, stifling avalanche of over-priced, imported rubbish which smothers everything in the city and dominates the press and makes it almost impossible to do anything at all in music except sit back for six weeks and wait for it to be over. And being a bloody-minded little shit, I don’t accept that.

Music used to be really well served during the Edinburgh Festival, but now it seems that small local enterprises doggedly trying to support Scottish music are pretty much the only ones giving it any kind of foothold at all. The Queen’s Hall and The Electric Circus have some great stuff on in August, and then there is us: a reasonably-priced, month-long celebration of local music, held in one of Edinburgh’s stalwart underground venues. A fiver per gig, and a season ticket available for only £25, as well as a separate, showcase gig at the Queen’s Hall which will be the last ever Meursault show.

The full lineup is below, and tickets can be bought here, except for the Meursault/Plastic Animals Queen’s Hall show which can be bought directly from the Queen’s Hall. Season tickets are here, and they entitle you to attend all the Henry’s gigs (the QH one is separate) – meaning you could get nine gigs for the price of five, which is pretty amazing. Do try and get there by 8pm though, so we know whether to hold you a place or not at the busy shows.

Sat 2nd Aug - Adam Stafford, Le Thug & Duchess
SAY Award-shortlisted Adam Stafford is currently working on a new album, and his experimental, looped guitar pop songs will be complemented by the hazey washes of Le Thug and newcomers Duchess.

Thu 7th Aug - The Leg, Now Wakes the Sea +1 TBC
Screaming pop mentalists The Leg headline the second night, with support from the phenomenal, if a little wonky, Now Wakes the Sea, plus another band to be confirmed.

Sat 9th Aug - The Yawns, Sharptooth & alansmithee
The Yawns play a lazy brand of sloppy guitar pop, and made one of the sleeper albums of the year a wee while back. They are joined by the slightly more aggressive Sharptooth and Livingstone newcomers alansmithee.

Wed 13th Aug - Meursault & Plastic Animals – Queen’s Hall
The centre-piece of the Pale Imitation Festival this year is the last ever Meursault show, at the Queen’s Hall. That’s right, your last ever chance to see the current band play live, and they will be joined by pals and label-mates Plastic Animals.

Thu 14th Aug - Deathcats, Garden of Elks & Passion Pusher
Surfy, guitar loons Deathcats released their debut album this year, and it is every bit as hugely enjoyable and sloppily noisy as you would have expected. Abrasive shouters Garden of Elks and Edinburgh’s most hapless guitar pop star in the making comprise the rest of the bill.

Sat 16th Aug - Jonnie Common, Jesus H. Foxx & Andrew R. Burns
Jonnie Common is a maverick genius, who makes experimental music sound like the most accessible of pop songs, and he’ll be joined by the recently resuscitated Phoenix H. Foxx, and Chillwave revivalist Andrew R. Burns. Jonnie really needs to start using his middle initial, to fit on this bill properly.

Thu 21th Aug - Rick Redbeard, Siobhan Wilson (Ella the Bird) & Kitchen Cynics
If Rick Redbeard would stop buggering about being famous with the Phantom Band, I think he could be one of Scotland’s most loved singer-songwriters. He’d be one of mine, certainly, and after only recently discovering his stuff, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear myself saying the same of The Kitchen Cynics. Siobhan Wilson has just started to perform under the name Ella the Bird, but her gorgeous voice and songwriting remain very much the same.

Sat 23rd Aug - LAW, Numbers are Futile & Wozniak
LAW has been one of the breakthrough sensations of recent years. Based in Edinburgh, and collaborating with members of Young Fathers, her music is dark but danceable, and actually reminds me of an Edinburgh pop singer of a few years back – anyone remember Helicopter Girl? No? Just me, then. On the bill with LAW are the hypnotic, rhythm popsters Numbers are Futile and messy shoegazers Wozniak.

There will be a big old after-party after this show, with Lost Map DJs and, erm, well hopefully I won’t be allowed anywhere near the decks at all.

Thu 28th Aug - eagleowl, Ian Humberstone & Smackvan
Eagleowl are Edinburgh’s most glacial post-anti-drumcore, kraut-folk band, and will be joined by the gorgeously intimate croon of Ian Humberstone and warm miserablism of Smackvan.

Sat 30th Aug - PAWS, Halfrican & Et tu Brute!!!
Our favourite pop-punk band PAWS proved they had rather more strings to their bow than just awesomely hummable guitar tunes with their fantastic second album, released at the beginning of the year.  They are pals of ours, they almost signed to our label, and they’re the most prolific accumulators of parking tickets on the Toad Van, so they seemed like a perfect choice for the closing party of this year’s Pale Imitation Festival. Joined by short-shorts-wearing Halfrican and the intense battering of Et tu Brute!!!, it’s going to a lively last show. And then I will get some fucking sleep.

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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.