Song, by Toad

Posts tagged jonnie common

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The Making of Kitchen Sync – Nearly Sold Out

The launch nights for Kitchen Sync, Jonnie Common’s new instrumental album of found sounds from his kitchen released on a set of fridge magnets – no seriously, have a look here, they’re nearly sold out! – were bafflingly fantastic.

I say bafflingly because they were primarily composed of Jonnie giving what was essentially a Powerpoint presentation about how he actually made the album, complete with basic explanations of things like side-chain compression and the pitch-shifting of sampled wave forms. Having explained the process and source of the sounds for each song, he then played along with it, although inevitably a lot had to be pre-recorded samples.

And somehow, it was absolutely fascinating. I salute you, Mr. Common, I have no idea how you pulled this whole ridiculous idea off, but it’s absolutely bloody brilliant.

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Song, by Toad Records at Easter Indie Label Market, London

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Hello folks, we are coming back down to London once more, to peddle our wares at the Independent Label Market which is taking place on Saturday 2nd April at Old Spitalfields Market.

We’ve some awesome new stuff for you as well. Apart from the somewhat sullying sight of me getting steadily drunker over the course of the day, and access to our entire back catalogue from almost eight years of releases, you will also have your first chance to pick up the new Adam Stafford album Taser Revelations (“a tour de force brimming with confidence and invention from an artist at the top of his game” – Is This Music?) as well as the new David Thomas Broughton triple vinyl Crippling Lack (“The fact this album exists at all is testament to the inherent brilliance at the heart of humankind.” – Collective Zine) and Jonnie Common’s new experimental instrumental album Kitchen Sync, which is released on a set of four unique fridge magnets*.

Adam Stafford – Phantom Billions from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

*’Unique’ is quite literal in this case – he hand made them all and no two are the same.

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Jonnie Common – Kitchen Sync

Kitchen Sync by Jonnie Common is a brand new instrumental album composed entirely of the sounds of Jonnie ‘playing his kitchen’. And of course it’s released on a set of four hand-pressed, hand-packed kitchen magnets. Artisanal, organic, locally sourced kitchen magnets I assume. Jonnie made them all himself from the pages of an old cookbook and they are all unique, each one using the accompanying image to a different recipe.

The official release date is the 9th May, but you can pre-order one here for now, or pick one up from our stall at the Independent Label Market in London next weekend, from either of the two launch shows which are coming up in early April, or from LoveMusic in Glasgow or VoxBox in Edinburgh on Record Store Day if you prefer.

Kitchen Sync launch shows:
Saturday 2nd April – Glasgow, The Glad Café with BEAM and GB Thomson – tickets
Saturday 9th April – Edinburgh, The Happiness Hotel – tickets using the awkwardly-pasted PayPal button below. The venue is our warehouse down in Leith, and it’s BYOB, but I’ll email you the exact address closer to the time.

Sold out now, sorry.

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Coming Up On Song, by Toad Records in 2016

What do we have going on at Song, by Toad Records in 2016? The short answer is lots. Lots and lots. Seriously. Fucking lots.

In fact, pretty much the only reason I am writing this down is so that I at least have the whole damn thing in one place. And you know what, as I write this Le Thug have just sent me some really, really good new songs too.

FEB: Plastic AnimalsPictures From the Blackout Shoegazey, krauty indie rock, out on vinyl a few weeks ago.

MAR: Adam StaffordTaser Revelations Intense, electrified alt-pop is what Adam calls it. It’s his third album, his second with us, and is out in a couple of weeks on CD or white vinyl. We also have an awesome video for Phantom Billions in the works too, which we should hopefully be coughing up to the world in about two or three weeks.

APR: David Thomas Broughton – Crippling Lack A triple-vinyl record, with each volume released on a different label around the world, each one month apart. This is a sprawling experimental folk epic featuring collaborations with Beth Orton, Aidan Moffat, Sam Amidon and Luke Drozd, all recorded whilst David was living out in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Seriously, everything I have said there is true. Promise.) We’ll have the first song to share with you very soon.

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APR: DTHPL – The Future Indie rock with a bit of synth and a nice, nasty undercurrent to it, out on tape in late April.

MAY: Jonnie Common – Kitchen Sync An instrumental, experimental album composed entirely of found sounds from Jonnie’s kitchen. Released on a set of fridge magnets. Yup, seriously.

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JUNE: Split 12″ Vol.4, featuring Supermoon, Viking Moses, Virgin of the Birds and digitalanalogue We’ll be having a launch night in May with three of the four bands, and if you want to hear one of the Supermoon songs from the record then look no further than the Independent Music Podcast from a few weeks back.

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SEP: Modern Studies – Swell to Great Something of a supergroup, made up of Emily Scott, Rob St. John, Pete Harvey and Joe Smillie, and what a fucking gorgeous album they have made. This’ll be on CD and vinyl.

OCT: Lush Purr We’re collaborating with Electropapknit Records in Glasgow to put out a cassette of awesome new stuff by Lush Purr: nice, gravelly, laid-back, lo-fi guitar tunes. We’re still talking about this one so it’s not 100% confirmed yet, but I really like the music and would love to be able to work with Gav.

OCT: Virgin of the Birds – Secret Kids A new album by our suave, sophisticated poet laureate of the Pacific Northwest.

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NOV: Split 12″ Vol.5, featuring Eskimeaux, Furnsss, Beach Moon/Peach Moon and Small Wonder This is the Split 12″ I recorded with my brother and in collaboration with Gold Flake Paint while Mrs. Toad and I were out in New York at the tail end of 2015. It’s fucking amazing.

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DEC: REST, dammit, I will be having a fucking rest!

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This Week’s Pale Imitation Festival Goings On

Whilst I am currently off getting locked up in Romania for speeding offences (in a 1992 Volvo estate – is it even possible to speed in one of these? – apparently so) The Pale Imitation Festival thunders wonderfully onwards.

If you want to see the Rust2Romania updates check out my Tumblr, but this page is about music, and that means two absolutely fucking brilliant gigs at Henry’s Cellar Bar this week, to which you should all very much go.

Firstly, on Thursday 13th we have an indie rock night (do the kids still call it that, they probably don’t, do they) with two of Aberdeen’s finest – Min Diesel and Wendell Borton – joining awesome Glaswegian newcomers Spinning Coin.

And then on Saturday 15th we have the fantastic Save As Collective, with Jonnie Common, River of Slime, Glamour Muscle and MC Almond Milk bringing a collection of music which treads on pretty much all toes from pop to hip hop to electronica to experimental to just plain mental.

They will be fucking great shows, only a fiver in, and all at Henry’s Cellar Bar, starting at 7:30pm. Be there or be sq.. no, sorry, I won’t go there, that’s awful. Please come. Will that do the trick? Advance tickets can be found here.

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Pale Imitation Festival 2015

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Hello folks, it’s well past time to announce the third annual Pale Imitation Festival. Remember T on the Fringe? The Edge Festival? Retreat? Well this isn’t nearly as good as any of those. But this is Edinburgh, where fun and culture are strongly frowned upon, so we are just going to have to make do.

All tickets, including the super-bargainacious season ticket, which gets you into all gigs, can be bought here, unless you just want individual tickets to see Supermoon and Rob St. John at Summerhall in which case this is the page you want. All the other gigs will be at Henry’s Cellar Bar as per usual – one of the key engine rooms of the Edinburgh live music scene for years, and now with extra added nice beer! I know! Amazing!

Once again, this is a fantastic celebration of the best underground music Scotland has to offer. There are established Toad favourites, plenty of Song, by Toad Records bands, a flash night out at Summerhall, plenty of new bands never to play the festival before, and we close on the 29th with a showcase of one of my favourite Scottish labels, Night School, and then a late night party with music and dancing.

In a massive show of endurance and sugar, the glorious Kitchen Disco will be DJing every single night of the festival as well, bringing you awesome tunes and delicious cakes (the latter of which will generally be tenuously related to the bands on the bill through some dreadful pun or other, but will taste amazing whatever they’re called).

It’s going to be fucking awesome, people, get your damn tickets!

Saturday 1st August – Numbers Are Futile, Beam, DTHPDL

Thursday 6th – Garden of Elks, Bat Bike, Passion Pusher

Saturday 8th – Sharptooth, Lush Purr, Breakfast Muff

Thursday 13th – Spinning Coin, Min Diesel, Dune Witch Trails

Saturday 15th – Save As Collective (featuring Jonnie Common, Glamour Muscle, River of Slime & MC Almond Milk)

Thursday 20th – eagleowl, Now Wakes the Sea, Faith Eliott

Saturday 22nd – Adam Stafford, Wolf, Tryptamines

Thursday 27th (at Summerhall) – Supermoon & Rob St. John

Saturday 29th – Happy Meals, Apostille, Clip Art

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Jonnie Common – Binary 101

Jonnie Common – ‘Binary 101’ (Official) from Jonnie Common on Vimeo.

It’s been a good wee spell for Jonnie Common. In the wake of his excellent 6Music session with Tom Robinson (starts just over half an hour into this show, if you want to listen back), he’s been playing a series of dates around the country in places like Manchester, Cardiff (Sunday) and, this Saturday, The Shacklewell Arms in London with Song, by Toad label-mates Le Thug.

To accompany the tour this week we released Binary 101, the third single from his latest album Trapped in Amber, released to a pretty splendid reception on Halloween last year. It’s from the slightly odder end of the spectrum, as far as the album is concerned. We tried to stick to ‘the pop songs’ for the first couple of singles, and this is a little odder, although I say a bit too much, no matter how strange the noises are which Jonnie uses, the end result is pretty much always really approachable.

There’s also a b-side, Binary 202, which I think started out as a reworking of Binary 101, and was initially even just called ‘extended mix’, but ended up moving so far away from the original source material that it turned into a separate song in its own right. Enjoy! And pop along to some of these shows if you get the chance.

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Jonnie Common and Le Thug in London on the 21st March

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Yep, along with our pals at Postcards, we are having a bit of a Song, by Toad Records night down in London on Saturday 21st March. Jonnie Common and Le Thug are making the trip down South to play at the Shacklewell Arms in Dalston.

You all know both bands pretty well by now I would imagine (and there are two awesome videos at the bottom of the page in case you don’t) but the short, short version is ‘idiosyncratic electronic pop music’ and ‘dreamy, electronic shoegaze’ respectively.

I’ve said this a lot recently, but getting Scottish bands out of Scotland is surprisingly hard. The supportiveness of the local audience is fantastic, but for a band from Scotland to really make headway I tend to think that getting down to London as often as possible is pretty key. Depending on where you draw the line around it, London has three times the population of Scotland, for starters, but just the petrol to drive down there in the van is upwards of £200.

So for those of you in London, or with friends down there, please do try and encourage people to come along to this. It would be great to see you, and you will get to see two awesome bands who might not make it down South all that often.

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Song, by Toad Records’ Year in Review

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Phew, fucking hell, nearly there! Another year comes careering to an end, with little in the sense of control, planning or even semi-coherence to sellotape it all together.

One thing, though, it’s been a fucking great year. Not a single other label out there has come close to matching the kind of stuff we’ve put out in 2014 as far as I am concerned. And alright, that statement might sound delusional or just plain arrogant to you, but music is all about personal taste and I am supposed to think that, am I not? There’s no point starting a label if you aren’t going to release your own favourite music, and if you thought that was already being done then you wouldn’t have the motivation to start in the first place, would you.

There’s a Soundcloud playlist at the bottom of the page if you want to check for yourselves.

People say that time flies, and it does, I suppose, but January 2014 seems like a very long way away indeed. There were normal records to be planned of course, but before we could get into that we had to record and release what turned out to be Meursault’s last album: The Organ Grinder’s Monkey.

That was my first real brush with crowd-funding, and I think it went really well. Getting people to vote on the songs worked nicely, and we ended up with a record which had broken even before it was even released. It made me wonder rather seriously about why we can’t manage this the rest of the time, but I suppose the project itself had a few uniquely suitable aspects which can’t really be reproduced.

It was financially successful of course, but oddly enough we couldn’t get anyone to fucking review the thing, despite Meursault being one of our most widely-covered bands for every one of their other releases. Maybe it was because it was mostly covers, maybe because it was crowd-funded, or maybe because it was released (and hence old news) almost before we even knew ourselves what kind of album it was going to be, but honestly it made the music press look particularly stupid in my eyes.

It’s one thing when magazines decide to only review this or that kind of release, but the internet was supposed to free us from that kind of pointless nonsense, and yet all the big online magazines seem to be drifting into mimicking the established press, and I really don’t think that is either a good thing, or in any way necessary, really.

Anyhow, as badly as we’ve fared with the press this year you do find yourself developing a rather acute appreciated of the people who have actually supported you.  As well as some of the online and print publications who have continued to be so supportive, we’ve had amazing results with the radio this year too.

Farewell, Bastard Mountain was the first sign that things might not be so predictable in terms of what appealed to radio shows. 6Music put five minute instrumental drone track Drone Armatrading on heavy rotation, and Palisade (a gorgeous track, but downbeat as fuck and loooong) did really well too.

These radio results finally cemented in my head the idea what we really have to stop second-guessing what radio will actually want and just send them our favourite stuff. Received wisdom is that you’re supposed to only really send them three-minute pop songs with hummable riffs and an obvious chorus, but this year has pretty much shown that to be utter bollocks so from now on that approach is going out the window. We’ll put out the songs we think best represent why we love an album, and balls if they’re the sensible choice or not.

Considering our struggles with press recently, I have to confess I was a little nervous about releasing the Virgin of the Birds album Winter Seeds in May. Given Jon lives in Seattle, which makes it impossible to try and build grassroots support never mind persuade the jittery hipsters of the internet to write about the album, I thought it could be really heavy going but actually the response was fantastic. We got some great reviews, and Charlie Ashcroft and Dani Charlton at Amazing Radio got right behind the record too, so the whole thing felt like it went really well.

Here at Song, by Toad Records we have something of a knack for releasing albums by bands who subsequently either cease to exist or just go so quiet that they might as well have ceased to exist, which is a surefire way to complete financial ruin. We have such a nose for that kind of project that it even works with festivals too. Our third Split 12″ was released in June, at a time designed to coincide with the Insider Festival, where the record itself was actually recorded the previous year. Except there was no Insider Festival this year.

Still, despite it ending up looking slightly orphaned, it is still a gorgeous record with some wonderfully odd moments, and actually served as a perfect precursor to to the David Thomas Broughton and Jonnie Common albums we released later in the year. That wasn’t particularly the plan when we set out our release schedule, but it did work out rather nicely in the end.

There was a brief interruption to the planned schedule with the second Pale Imitation Festival in August. It went fantastically again, although I have to question my wisdom in starting the damn thing. The idea was to fight back at the fact that the Edinburgh Festival more or less forces us to cease operations during August because we have no chance of being heard over the din, but the Pale Imitation Festival is such hard work that it actually ends up being more disruptive than just having to take a month off so, er… yes, I am a fool. What of it?

And far from having August off, actually during all the Pale Imitation stuff I ended having to work in all the press for Sliding the Same Way, the collaborative album by David Thomas Broughton and the Juice Vocal Ensemble. A bit like Bastard Mountain, this is another semi-improvised record which is primarily in the ‘alt-folk’ bracket I suppose but which is so tinged with oddness that the genre becomes irrelevant, it’s the personality of the album which dominates.

Jonnie Common’s Trapped in Amber is similar, in that sense. Nominally it is experimental electronic pop, I suppose, but his personality is so stamped all over the album that it is this which becomes its defining characteristic.

It’s part of the frustration of being a small label with pretty limited resources I suppose, but with both of these last two records I felt that I didn’t really do a good enough job with the PR.  I contacted all the right people of course, and I did it in plenty of time, but given the coverage both artists have had in the past and the quality of the records in question I feel like I should have got them way more coverage than I did.

In both cases the reception was great, and the radio play more than compensated for a lack of written press – and radio listeners actually buy records too, whereas I have never seen any link between sales and written reviews – but I can’t help but feel this is something I seriously need to look at next year because I don’t think the label is really cutting the mustard in that sense at the moment. Of course it doesn’t help when all the supposedly alternative publications are wasting both their and our time covering mainstream pop acts, but we still need to improve, I think.

And so finally, here we are, more or less at the end of the year, with just time for one last release: the Couch King EP by the erratic, prolific, unpredictable and occasionally inspired Passion Pusher. He may be all over the place at times, but there is some great stuff in amongst the madness and I really hope he can harness it in the future, because I love some of the stuff he does.

Couch King was also our first tape release, which I am hoping will be significant. Mrs. Toad and I moved in May, to a house with a small warehouse on the grounds, and in the New Year we are going to turn it into an informal recording studio. That will hopefully allow us to do more Split 12″s and Toad Sessions, and to encourage more projects like Farewell, Bastard Mountain and The Organ Grinder’s Monkey – loose, creative projects which are nevertheless quite intense, but hugely exciting and rewarding to be involved with.

I’m already working on a number of really exciting releases for next year, and you’ll all be getting a Christmas present on the 25th which will introduce you to some of our new projects, but for now I think I am going to take it a bit easy and relax for a few days.  I’ll do my end of year album list, and put my feet up with Mrs. Toad, who quite bafflingly continues to encourage all this.

It’s been an incredible year, and I am both really proud of what our existing comrades have achieved, and proud of the people who liked what we were doing enough to want to join us. Song, by Toad Records represents an amazing group of really interesting, creative people and I think next year I want to do more to emphasise that, just amongst ourselves as much as anything else. I might not be all that great at actually running the label all the time, but in being a part of it you are associating yourself with some properly amazing people.

And when we move back into our now-refurbished living room later this week I might just put on our records from this year one after another, drink too much gin, and reflect that yes, the world really is wrong about music.

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Aberdeen Label Market

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Do you live in Aberdeen? Do you give a shit – even a teeny-tiny little shit – about the records we release here at Song, by Toad Records? Of course you do. So come down to the Lemon Tree on Saturday 15th, where we and several of our other label pals will be setting up shop with our latest releases and probably spending so much money on other people’s records that the whole thing ends up seeming a bit silly, but hey ho, records and fun, you can’t argue with that.

And trivial nonsense aside, since the demise of One Up, I don’t think Aberdeen has actually had a decent record shop, although in my ignorance I could be doing someone a grave disservice here, making this kind of event even more important. I’ve said before that we don’t really make much money doing these label markets, once you take all the travel into account, as well as the amount we tend to spend on booze and other people’s records, but I still think they’re really important.

Mostly, I think it’s the type of fan who comes along which makes it important. I think you have to be pretty dedicated and pretty knowledgeable about your music to even realise these things take place (normal people don’t really follow the announcements of tiny indie labels), so the people you tend to meet at these events tend to be the most important fans, really: the ones who come back time and again, who know every artist on a label even if they don’t unconditionally love them all, and the people for whom their love of weird, under the radar music is really important. And I think it’s important that we keep a good connection with folk like that, because ultimately they are the same as us, and their dedication keeps small labels alive.

As for us, we’ll have a couple of new releases for sale: the new Passion Pusher tape and the CD version (not the vinyl yet, sorry) of the new Jonnie Common record Trapped in Amber. Please do come along and say hello. And do remember that Jonnie’s Aberdeen album launch is actually this Thursday at Downstairs with Christ and Colin Austin.