Song, by Toad

Posts tagged joanna gruesome

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Song, by Toad’s Top Albums of 2013 11-20

cup 1-5 / 6-10 / 11-20

It has been, I must say, an absolutely phenomenal year for great albums this year. Really, really great.

Even before February was over I had some records I knew would end up being favourites. Yo La Tengo were back Nick Cave was brewing something, and there had already been some fantastic surprises.

So that’s a good thing, but the other good thing is that I seem to come across as less of an anti-big-label snob this year. Last year the biggest labels represented in my top twenty were Fatcat and Chemikal Underground, and the rest were tiny labels or self-releases.

Those tiny releases are still here, of course, but despite the disappointments of The National and Kurt Vile, the bigger labels are a little better represented this year. We have Nick Cave and Yo La Tengo, and might have had The Flaming Lips too, had I spent more time listening to their album, which I really like the sound of so far.

There are also some of the bigger indies represented as well, and in general the whole list just looks a lot more balanced than last year. Not that I have changed my mind about last year, but it did look a bit like I was being intentionally obscure, which I wasn’t.

Anyhow, without further ado, here is the first half of this year’s top twenty, below the jump to stop all the embedded song players from slowing the whole page down completely. Read the rest of this entry »

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Toadcast #277 – The Ribcast

tag It’s, erm, okay to make fun of old people injuring themselves isn’t it? I mean on the internet, not in real life of course, that would be barbaric. But on the internet this shit is okay, right? I mean, we even let the Daily fucking Mail on here, we can’t be that picky.

I only ask because the reason this is called the Ribcast is in salute to my cantankerous old father, who managed to fall off a ladder the other day and break a couple of ribs. This, like most rib injuries, has proven to not be all that dangerous, so all we have is a bad tempered old man in lots of pain, unable to laugh, roll over in bed, cough or – heaven forbid – sneeze!

I’ve cracked ribs myself, before, although never broken them, and it really is an incredibly painful injury. Coughing and laughing are everyday occurrences, but holy shit you fucking notice them when this happens to you. Sneezes are terrifying, because holy crapsticks they fucking hurt! But as long as it’s not life-threatening then pain is quite funny, right?

Toadcast #277 – The Ribcast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #277 – The Ribcast

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01. The Leg – Chicken Slippers (00.24)
02. Trips and Falls – Destruction is Always More Exciting (07.03)
03. Monoganon – Arc of the Tuna Fish (15.35)
04. Joanna Gruesome – Lemonade Grrrl (24.24)
05. Brown Brogues – Baby, it’s Alright (26.34)
06. David Wax Museum – All Sense of Time (33.35)
07. Belgian Fog – You Drive Me to Madness (37.47)
08. Fascinator – Girl I Want You (41.55)
09. Pool Whales – What Was Her Name (50.27)
10. Honeyblood – Bud (55.51)
11. Willard Grant Conspiracy – Incident at Mono Lake (1.02.53)

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Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister

jogro Having seen so many try and fail, I always wait with slightly bated breath whenever bands known for a handful of thrilling pop songs release a full album.

To get this over with quickly: no such worries here, this is fucking brilliant.

I was introduced to Joanna Gruesome by our pals Jake at Basement Fever, and I would love to refer to them as Toad Session alumni, but theirs remains the only Toad Session we have so far managed to fuck up.

The vocal tracks were just too full of snare and cymbals to get a decent mix out of them, and it’s something I’ve been both a little ashamed of and rather irritated by ever since, as every other aspect of the recordings came out really well and they were so nearly salvageable.  Try as we might we never managed it though, and the files still sit on my hard-drive, taunting me.

In the hands of a more competent engineer, however, the band sound ferocious. They bash through their snarling guitar-pop tunes with some gusto at the best of times, and the UK’s current king of making great recordings of garage bands, whilst still keeping the energy and lo-fi character intact, has done another stellar job with this album.

Obviously, the tunes also have to be great, and these are. Instead of casting off their past, the band have taken the opportunity to re-record some of their existing favourites. Tunes like Sugarcrush, Madison, Candy and Lemonade Grrl have been around for a while now, but with new recordings and with Alanna McArdle taking on a more prominent role they are given fresh life, and sound fantastic.

McArdle – who releases her own rather brilliant stuff as Ides – wasn’t actually in the band when we met them a couple of years ago, but her role is such that Pitchfork described Owen, who was the lead singer two years ago, as ‘occasionally joining her on vocals’.

Her voice works really well for the band, musically. Their style is very retro-inspired, and at various times could be loosely described as indie, slacker, twee or grunge, and her flat, dispassionate delivery flits comfortably across those genres, managing to sound at once like an isolated outsider and occasionally like a more vulnerable soul hiding behind barbs and bile.

Given this album is being released on Slumberland in the US and Fortuna Pop over here, the band have done really well for themselves in the couple of years since we met them last, and I’m really pleased for them. From the miasma of bands you meet with interesting songs, promising singles and so on, it’s always interesting to see who will manage to raise themselves out of the grubby basement venues and make a more lasting impact.

With their combination of energetic and fashionably nasty-sounding stuff, and a shitload of irrepressible pop tunes, who knows, these guys could do rather well. I hope so.

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New Albums Coming From Joanna Gruesome and The Black Tambourines

sugarcrush  In today’s piece of exciting news, two bands you’ve heard us go on about a fair bit on this site have their debut albums due for release pretty soon, and I am most excited. Well, I say ‘news’, but these announcements were made weeks and weeks ago, but you know me, I may get round to mentioning the fall of the Berlin Wall next week finally, but I don’t want to rush things.

We actually met both Black Tambourines and Joanna Gruesome at the same time a couple of years ago when they toured with our pals Dolfinz and ended up playing a Toad night at Henry’s. We recorded sessions with them the next day, and whilst the Black Tambourines one turned out really well, the Joanna Gruesome one was the only Toad Session we’ve ever been unable to publish. Simply, the vocals were just too quiet, and because we record everything live, there was nothing we could do in the mix to make them heard over the sound of the snare drum. I tried, Rory tried, and my brother tried and none of us could really get anything decent out of it unfortunately.

Oddly enough, a proper recording of one of the tunes they played at our session has ended up being the first tune the band used to promote their new album. It’s coming out on Fortuna Pop in the UK and Slumberland in the US, so either they have someone very canny indeed working for them, or they have managed to impress a lot of very cool people, because those are two awesome labels. And most bands struggle to get just the one.

Unlike some bands, they’ve stuck with a lot of their cracking early tunes, although I assume they’ll be re-recorded versions of them. Glancing down the tracklisting I know for a fact that a good handful of these tunes are brilliant, so I am really looking forward to hearing the rest of ‘em when my pre-order arrives.

tambos The Black Tambourines album, oddly enough, almost ended up being on Song, by Toad Records before the band (in the nicest way possible) told us that they actually wanted to stick with Art is Hard, the label who have nurtured them from the start, and who were increasingly confident that they had developed to the point that they could handle an album release by that point. We’re big fans of AiH of course, and we only offered to do the album ourselves because we didn’t think they really released albums at that stage, but of course it made perfect sense for the Tambos to stick with them if they could.

Anyhow, anyone who heard their Toad Session interview knows that the band are irredeemable fiddlers and so I suppose it’s no surprise that the album itself would take nearly two years to see the light of day (pre-order here), but I am hoping it will be well worth the wait.

What did surprise me, however, was the nature of the tune they and the label chose to publicise the release. Far from their usual boisterous, punky surf-pop, this tune is delivered at much more of a stroll than anything I’ve heard them do before. It’s light and breezy and with the exception of the vocal treatment sounds pretty much unlike any tune I know by the band. Those little ‘woo-oo’s in particular are a bit surprising, coming from this lot.

Having said that, we know they have a way with an infectious pop tune, so I like the idea that they’re mixing in some different stuff, to keep the album interesting. It’s intriguing in general, actually, and I am really curious to hear the record.

The Black Tambourines – School Level (Toad Session) from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

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Toadcast #229 – The Republicast

 It’s Jubi-fucking-lee weekend, so whilst we are all engaging in various levels of plotting against the Royal Family, we’re probably also resentfully grateful for a couple of days off.  Although given we’ve had this fucking pantomime and that grotesque carnival of obsequiousness and vulgarity of a Royal Wedding, surely we wouldn’t have to be pillaging old people’s pensions if we’d just made the fuckers pay for it all themselves, and kept the people’s money in the people’s coffers.

Mind you, given that their hands are permanently in the fucking public purse anyway, the idea of ‘their money’ and ‘our money’ is a little blurred.  Burn the fucking lot of them I say.  Burn them alive and do it in public.

Why?  Because having done away with inherited rule, we now have another stratum of unelected persons running countries, in the form of the pornographically super-rich.  Burning the Royal Family alive might just serve as a warning to the bankers that we like the people who run the country to actually be fucking accountable, thank you very much.

Direct download: Toadcast #229 – The Republicast

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01. Chumbawamba – Farewell to the Crown (00.)
02. Playlounge – Conor, Oh Burst! (07.41)
03. Joanna Gruesome – Tugboat (Galaxie 500 cover) (Toad Session) (09.25)
04. Piano Magic – The Slightest of Threads (16.43)
05. The Thlyds – I Fucked the Queen (22.12)
06. Silver Jews – Secret Knowledge of Back Roads (25.05)
07. Easter – Begin Again (30.54)
08. Onions – Louise Louise (36.52)
09. North American War – Geraniums on a Spit (42.16)
10. The Grand Gestures – There’s No Place Like Home (47.22)
11. Sonny & the Sunsets – I See the Void (53.09)
12. Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen (58.10)

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Live in Edinburgh This Week – 12th December 2011

Well if there’s any shit going down in Edinburgh this week I am not going to be there to enjoy it.  Not out of shame at having just used the term ‘shit going down’ as if I was a teenager in the nineties, but because my gigfuns will be happening in London and Glasgow this week.

Tomorrow I am in London to see Rob St. John and Neil from Meursault play at the Vortex, and then on Thursday I’ll be in Glasgow for the Fence Records Christmas party.  And funnily enough, with Detour, Frightened Rabbit and Jill O’Sullivan coming through to Edinburgh on the same night as the latter, it seems the two cities will be swapping musical populations for a week.

Then on Sunday we have a gig by three of the most promising lo-fi garage rock bands I’ve come across this year – Dolfinz, Joanna Gruesome and The Black Tambourines.  This will be a bit messy, but also really fucking loud and (mostly) tuneful!

Anyhow, I have a pile of things to tell you about this week, including something rather good on tonight, assuming you can get down to Leith in time…

[Edit:  balls, just going through my emails and realised I missed this: Plastic Animals, Trapped Mice and Supermarionation at the Wee Red Bar on Thursday 15th Dec. - sorry!]

Monday 12th Dec: Taperecorder, Hailey Beavis & Dusty Cut at the Shebeen Bar.

The Shebeen is in what used to be the Old Dock bar down near Commercial Quay in Leith, and this is the first of a series of nights of free music, which promises good things.  Leith has needed something like this since the Leith Tape Club went quiet at the start of the year.  Taperecorder also sound really interesting too, like either an indie, an experimental or a techno band, depending on what moment of what song you happen to catch.

Taperecorder – Gravel Mountain

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Friday 16th Dec: Papi Falso at Henry’s Cellar Bar.

Papi Falso is the perfect club for people who aren’t that into clubs.  The music is fucking awesome, and you can either go nuts on the dancefloor or lean at the bar and have a pint.  Guess which one I tend to favour?

Saturday 17th Dec: Kid Canaveral‘s Christmas Baubles at Summerhall.

This is another all-day Christmas shindig, with performances from the Canaverals themselves, eagleowl, Slow Club, Josie Long, Sweet Baboo and a pile of others, and is being held in pretty much Edinburgh’s most charismatic new venue: Summerhall. I’ll be there. You’ll spot me easily because I’ll be the really drunk one.

Kid Canaveral – And Another Thing!!

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Saturday 17th Dec: Fuzzy Star, The Oates Field & The Occasional Flickers at Sneaky Pete’s.

With Kid Canaveral already sold out, this is a fine alternative for those too slow to get tickets.  Fuzzy Star were excellent at the Ides of Toad earlier in the year, although I suspect this is likely to be a full band set, fleshing out the awkward acoustic introspection with a somewhat fuller sound.  The Oates Field make a cracking racket, and the Occasional Flickers do swoonsome indie-pop as well as anyone in Edinburgh.

The Oates Field – Nae Luck

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Sunday 18th Dec: Doflinz, Joanna Gruesome & The Black Tambourines play The Ides of Toad at Henry’s Cellar Bar.

I am really looking forward to this one.  All three bands play rough and ready, lo-fi garage stuff, but still keep enough tunes in there that you aren’t just battered with a racket.  This should be messy and loud though, and might well be my final gig of the year.

Dolfinz – Coral Reefer

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Joanna Gruesome – Madison

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The Black Tambourines – Bad Days

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Friday Five: Favourite Songs of the Year

 Okay, angry mob of the Toad readership, do your very worst.  Today, as promised, is the day we vote on our five favourite songs of the year so there will be no foolish questions as per usual, but what there will be is the chance for you to write down your favourite songs, in no particular order, and I will count them up and find out which songs the readers of Toad have enjoyed the most this year.

There aren’t any real rules, although the song should have been released in 2011.  And also, just to help me count, I’d appreciate it if you could write in in the form Artist – Song Title please.  Other than that, umm… well, do your worst, I suppose.

And, as per usual, El, Brian and myself will be live on Fresh Air Radio from about half three in the afternoon.  We have special guests this week, but they were invited by El and I have no idea who they are, what they do or why they are there.  I guess I will find out when I get there.

Live on Fresh Air Radio from 3:30pm UK time – listen here.

Now, to get you in the mood for voting for your top five songs, here’s a quick recap of last year’s winners, as well as a link to the thread itself where the voting took place.

1. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio

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2. eagleowl – No Conjunction

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=3. Meursault – What You Don’t Have

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=3. Broken Records – You Know You’re Not Dead

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=3. Foals – Spanish Sahara

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And the playlist for this week’s show shall appear live below, as we play the songs:

1. Whirling Pig Dervish – Bawjaws
2. The Cure – The Love Cats
3. King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – John Taylor’s Month Away
4. Ringo Deathstarr – Do It Every Time
5. Twin Shadow – Slow
6. Hooray for Earth – True Loves
7. DZ Deathrays – Teeth
8. Joanna Gruesome – Lemonade Grrl
9. Class Actress – Weekend
10. Shirley Ellis – The Clapping Song
11. Blondie – Hanging on the Telephone
12. Rob St. John – Sargasso Sea
13. Foals – Spanish Sahara
14. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
15. Diana Ross – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

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Joanna Gruesome – EP

 This is rough, chaotic and bristling with cheerful energy. There are elements of all the usual lo-fi garage stuff that you’ve heard me discuss at length, with shades of early Britpop, albeit from back when that genre was still heavily indebted to C86 indie, and before it turned to shit.  And it is, of course, slathered in feedback, fuzz and distortion.

At its best it’s also just… well, reckless, I suppose. The pace, and the deadpan female vocals remind be a little of The Just Joans in some ways, but Joanna Gruesome themselves clatter along like they’re making it up on the spot and fear the whole thing might fall apart if they slow down.  It’s not all like that, but the best bits are!

You can download this whole EP for whatever you choose to pay by going to their Bandcamp page, and I recommend doing so, because it is absolutely full of good bits.  Pantry Girl mightn’t do it for me particularly, but the drumming on Lemonade Grrl is brilliant, the classically-indie riffs of Madison and Candy are terrific.

They seem to be a bit of a fusion between early nineties US indie and mid eighties UK indie actually, with the choruses reminding me of the latter, and the sudden snarls of the guitar the former.  When they slow it down there’s an awful lot of shoegaze in there too, such as the excellent Candy.  It’s a good mix, and delivered in some style.  As introductions to a new, very promising band go, this EP is very much the business.

And if you want to see them play, they’ll be up here with The Black Tambourines and Dolfinz, playing and Ides of Toad gig at Henry’s Cellar Bar on Sunday 18th December.

Joanna Gruesome – Lemonade Grrl

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Toadcast #203 – The Lardcast

Bleerch, bleurgh…  I feel completely disgusting. I had a really good sleep last night, but that translated into a day spent wasting my time fannying about and just lolling in that way that seems like a good idea at the time, but invariably ends up making you feel completely disgusting by the end.

Also, to make matters worse, we ordered pizza, which is something we hardly ever do and something which we absolutely always regret.  So here we sit on a Friday evening feeling bloated and slightly soiled and wondering whether at this time of the night there’s any point really trying to redeem the day, and perhaps it’s best just to forget it and wait for tomorrow.  Bleuch.

Direct download: Toadcast #203 – The Lardcast

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01. Joanna Gruesome – Madison (00.27)
02. The Mutton Birds – Anchor Me (06.36)
03. Monster Island – Pilot Whales (14.42)
04. Former Bullies – It Might Be Okay (17.36)
05. Video Thrills – Our Plush Selection (21.05)
06. The Jesus & Mary Chain – Some Candy Talking (Peel Session) (25.16)
07. Bottle of Evil – I Can See Your Face (31.20)
08. The Black Tambourines – White Album (39.37)
09. Dolfinz – Teenage Doom (42.47)
10. The Ramones – Psycho Therapy (48.50)
11. Samoan Punks – Everyday (51.42)
12. Waiters – Black Stuff (59.27)

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Some Ides of Toad Updates

I keep fretting about over-pimping my commercial enterprises on this blog, but I really should just stop worrying.  Putting on live shows is not much more than an extension of me insisting on telling you what sort of music to listen to, so really there’s not much difference between haranguing you about your buying habits and haranguing you about what you do in your free time really, is there.

So, after a fantastic gig with The Last Battle, Dad Rocks! and Shoes and Socks Off, and a brilliant day in Anstruther with Hott Toadzzz! it’s probably time to give you a wee nudge about our last five gigs of 2011.  Yes, you heard that right, five more still to come before that Post Alcoholic Stress Disorder sleep prescription taken by all Scots on the 1st and 2nd of January every year.

For those of you who want tickets in advance, which would be nice, you can get them at Avalanche Records on the Grassmarket or online from Brown Paper Tickets.

Saturday 19th November 2011: Gummy Stumps, Weird Era & Battery Face at the Wee Red Bar.

This will be a noisy one, and it also just happens to be my birthday so I warn you, I will be getting fucking shitfaced.  Weird Era are travelling up from Manchester, and will be joined by Gummy Stumps, who I thought were amazing at Retreat! this year, and Battery Face, who I was introduced to by Alastair from the excellent Deathpodal.

Weird Era – Summer Heights

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Sunday 27th November 2011: Withered Hand (solo), Samantha Crain & Mike MacFarlane at Henry’s Cellar Bar.

Samantha Crain was originally introduced to me by Campfires and Battlefields, and I interviewed her at Pickathon back in 2008, back when I was embarrassingly new to interviewing. Since then she’s continued to release amazing stuff, and is finally able to make it to Edinburgh for a gig.  She’ll be joined by local favourite Withered Hand, and the fella who caught my, umm, ear the most at this year’s Antihoot – Mike MacFarlane.

Samantha Crain – We Are the Same

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Mike MacFarlane – Waltz

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Saturday 10th December 2011: Song, by Toad Records Christmas Party at the St. Stephens Centre.

I don’t have to tell you that this will just be a big, warm and fuzzy celebration of another year of sweary fun and generally releasing commercially inviable and eye-wateringly amazing records. Take that, music! Oh, and it will be both BYOB and child friendly, although I suspect the latter part will become progressively less true as the night goes on and I get more and more plastered.

Sunday 18th December 2011: The Black Tambourines, Joanna Gruesome & Dolfinz at Henry’s Cellar Bar.

This will be loud and messy and awesome. Three young bands who make a racket and write bloody great pop songs. It’s on a Sunday, I know, but let’s face absolutely no-one is going to be doing any serious work that week are they?

The Black Tambourines – A Lot of Friends

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Joanna Gruesome – Sugarcrush

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Dolfinz – Coral Reefer

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Saturday 31st December 2011: Song, by Toad New Year’s House Gig at umm… our house.

We don’t have tickets available for this yet, and the lineup is unconfirmed, but well, I just thought I’d let you know that it would be happening. We’ll get two sets of live music, wander into Inverleith Park with some champagne to watch the fireworks, and then get drunk and play loud music until the last person gives in.