Song, by Toad

Posts tagged lab coast

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The Great Escape 2013: Lab Coast

lab coast These guys are another of the bands I tipped when I wrote my Ones to Watch post for The Great Escape this year. And, a little like Glass Animals before them, I found them good live, but no better than that, which was a little disappointing.

Recorded, their tunes are strong and hummable, and the laid back stylishness of their guitar sound has a certain retro swagger to it which I really like.  They are an unhurried, confident-sounding band though, and a little like Glass Animals again, I suspect that what makes their recordings so enjoyable to listen to might be the thing which took the shine off the live performance for me a little. Simply put, the laid back, slightly disinterested nature which so appeals to me on record seemed to rob the performance of the kind of charisma which makes a good live show.

You don’t have to ramp everything up to ten to address this of course, and I am not saying that they should have just played faster and louder, but there was a lack of intensity and engagement in the performance, or so it seemed to me, and suddenly what was stylish and laid back just felt a bit flat. They still write eminently hummable tunes of course, and please don’t get the impression that I didn’t enjoy their set, because I did, I just kept waiting for it all to click into place for me, which it never did.

It would have helped, of course, if I had a better knowledge of the band’s back catalogue. I heard about them because of their CMYK 7″ series release with the brilliant Faux Discx, but they have an extensive back catalogue of tape and split 7″ releases, some of which contain some absolutely cracking pop tunes – like this and this for example – and I have to confess I am not as familiar with it all as I could be, which often doesn’t help when you’re at a live show. Neither does being with restless companions, I suppose, so maybe I should just put this down as one of those occasions where you just don’t quite click with a band and move on. I still like their records though, so maybe I should go back through those a little more carefully before seeing them play live again.

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The Great Escape 2013

2013-05-15 19.22.03 Hello again from Brighton. Ian and I are down at the Great Escape again this year, and will be joined later in the week by Mrs. Toad.

I like The Great Escape. Brighton is an awesome place to be, which is important if you’re going to try and lure Mrs. Toad to a music festival.

In some ways I prefer it to SXSW, because they don’t really focus on big-name headliners here, meaning that it really is all about new music and up and coming bands. At least, that makes it more fun for me personally, anyway, because that’s generally the kind of bands I am excited to see.

Anyhow, this year The Hype Machine asked me for five picks of bands to see at the Great Escape this year, and I thought I would pass them on before the chaos begins…

Glass Animals – I don’t like to play the ‘heard it here first’ card, but I genuinely wrote about these guys miles before pretty much anyone else. Not sure what else to call this, apart from muffled disco.

Temples – A touch of one-song syndrome here. Shelter Song was absolutely brilliant, but I am not so sure about their new tune (below). Time to go and see them live and find out for sure, I think.

Eagulls – Ian and I saw them on the end of Brighton pier last year and they were brilliant. Epic, nasty guitar rock and a lead singer who prowls the stage like he’s looking for a fight.

Lab Coast – These guys are eminently hipster-friendly, as you might guess from noting that they are signed to the effortlessly cool Faux Discx. It’s stylish, laid back, lo-fi guitar music, and very good it is too.

Mac DeMarco – This stuff is rather stylish too, but in a very different way to Lab Coast. Mac DeMarco also play hipster guitar music, but in more of a lounge-style, laid back, ‘I will have sex with your daughter’ kind of a way.

And just because the last two were rather unimaginative – you know full well already that I like these two bands, after all – here’s a band whose manager got in touch with me when I registered, to promote the band. Generally I sniff at that – not for any good reason of course, it’s just a rather dumb reflex – but this lot actually sound rather good, and I think I will go and see them. Meet Keebo:

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Vans, Tapes and Young People in Bands

 This split 12″ sees us working with the youngest folk who have released on the label since, umm, well I suppose Rob St. John actually. This is no problem of course – you don’t run a record label if you’re afraid of people younger than you – but nothing makes you feel like everyone’s dad more than when the bands get into the Toad Van and all sit in the back.  Thanks Dolfinz.

Only Matt from Paws decided he was grown up enough to go for the front seat.  And I’m quite glad of this actually, because he is a fine and sensible navigator.  And I assume he’s just grateful not to be the one driving for a chance.

Anyway, you’d think driving bands about the place would make it tricky to talk much about music, but actually we’ve been ploughing through the tapes, so I thought I’d pass on a couple of the good ‘uns while I wait to meet everyone to drive up for the Manchester leg of the tour.  Incidentally, whilst writing this I am sitting in a Turkish cafe listening to Michael Bolton and Cat Stevens and Christ-knows what else.

Apostille: this stuff makes an appearance on Comfortable on a Tightrope’s Birthday Tapes series, and I bought the tape itself down in Manchester at sounds from the other city.  In terms of build and overall shape the songs are quite epic, but in terms of actual aesthetic they are scrappy and messy.  Very nice indeed.

Hut: this is a tape I bought from Hooded Fang at the Great Escape in Brighton earlier this year, and I think it’s a side-project from one of the guys in the band.  The tape itself is out on Daps Records (free sampler here) and is really, really good. It’s pretty lo-fi, inevitably, but still full of sharp pop songs with plenty of pace and vim.  Pretty much the best of the bunch on the way down South, I think.

Niilo Smeds: I am going to keep going on about this guy until you lot start to agree with me. I reviewed his album a while back, but you can also get a six-song cassette from his Bandcamp page which contains slightly rougher, less disciplined versions of some of the songs on his album, and it’s absolutely brilliant.  Gentle acoustic music a lot of the time, prone to digressions into noise and dischord, but never less than lovely.

Lab Coast: These guys are a Calgary band, and you know they’re good because they’ve released with two of the coolest record labels around at the moment: this tape on Night People (at the top of the cassettes section – you have to scroll down a bit) and a split 7″ on Faux Discx. For the most part they make really nice, laid back guitar pop with just enough fuzz to make it fashionable (are you noticing a little bit of a theme here?), but on the second side of this particular they go a bit mental and deliver an entire side of conceptual noise music.  I’ll be honest, it ain’t that good, well not to my taste anyway, but the juxtaposition with the disciplined pop of the other side of the tape is brilliant.

Right, that’s all for now. Back on the road with a van full of fuckwits.

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Yellow and Magenta Split 7″s on Faux Discx

There are a couple of cracking singles being released soon on Brighton’s Faux Discx record label, and I reckon those of you who collect such things will be very much interested in snapping up a copy.

This is part of a series of split 7″ releases called the CMYK series (after the way colours are specified for print – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and K, which stands for black for some reason).  The previous one, Cyan, which included Cold Pumas and Male Bonding, has already sold out (the inconsiderate bastard) but the next two – namely Magenta and Yellow – are available to pre-order now.

The four bands on these singles are Friendo, Lab Coast (Y), and Ale Mania and Sauna Youth (M).

Yellow has actually ended up as a bit of a Canadian takeover, with both bands hailing, I believe, from Calgary.  They also both purvey a rather fuzzy, dreamy take on guitar pop, and of the two singles I suppose you’d say this one holds together with the most consistency, although that’s hardly the role of a split 7″ of course.

LAB COAST – Astronaut Like Me by Faux Discx

Magenta, on the other hand, is a little less consistent of character, with Ale Mania’s contribution sounding like an odd take on eighties synth-pop, mixed with a bit fey indie guitar stuff.

Sauna Youth just make fine, fuzzy, garagey guitar music, complete with a yobbish vocal inflection which seems to dip its toes equally in the waters of punk’s ‘yeah, fuck off’ attitude and indie’s ‘yeah, so what’ sulk.

Of the four songs I’ve downloaded so far (there are actually four songs per release, but you only get to download two when you pre-order the vinyl) I reckon Astronaut Like Me by Lab Coast might be my personal pick of the four, closely followed by the part raucous, part utterly indifferent Backgrounds by Sauna Youth.

SAUNA YOUTH – Backgrounds by Faux Discx

I am always impressed with these kinds of projects.  With a bit more confidence and a bit more money it’s something I’d love to do more of at Song, by Toad Records actually, but as a collector of vinyl, these little series and oddities really are like crack to me. It’s the kind of stuff which is pretty much guaranteed to hook a passionate fan (if they happen to have a turntable), and which frequently feels just a little bit wrong when the big labels try and do it – although that could just be my inverse-snobbery kicking in.

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Toadcast #185 – The Weddingcast

We nearly missed our anniversary again this year, but fortunately caught the fucker just in time.  We were heading off to Leith to get some scran and I was sitting at the bus stop thinking about how it was nearly August and then asked one of those stupid questions you ask when something is really obvious, but actually so obvious you become unsure of it:

“It’s July, right?”
“Yes, of course it is.”
“That means it must be nearly…” (hastily fishes in pocket for phone) “Fuck!  It’s our anniversary.  Today!

When your wife forgets the thing entirely as well I guess it makes no difference, so instead of going to see something daft at the pictures, we went to a fishy place, had a seafood platter and bottle of champagne, before going for (a couple too many) cocktails at The Raconteur round the corner from our house.

Five years married.  Oh how happy we looked.  That didn’t last*.

Direct download: Toadcast #185 – The Weddingcast

01. Mazes – Summer Hits (00.22)
02. Frightened Rabbit – Fuck This Place (feat. Tracyanne Campbell) (05.49)
03. CD/EX – Tell the Girl (12.13)
04. Lab Coast – Astronaut Like Me (18.11)
05. Sauna Youth – Backgrounds (20.31)
06. Hookworms – Teen Dreams (26.52)
07. R.E.M. – Swan Swan H (Athens Demo) (41.33)
08. Admiral Radley – All Fucked on Beer (44.24)
09. Dolfinz – Coral Reefer (51.17)
10. Tom Waits – All the World is Green (59.01)

*Of course it fucking did, don’t be silly.  We’re the happiest fucking couple I know, despite spending 90% of our time together swearing at one another!

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Toadcast #165 – The Torrentcast

Fucking hell, it’s been battering it down for the last few days – ‘torrent’ial, see, nothing to do with the naughty internets!  We’ve had snow in the morning and pishing rain for the rest of the day – fucking rotten.  Combine this with our worryingly leaky roof and honestly, it’s a bit of a surprise I am not in a worse mood.

As it is, however, I feel relatively chirpy.  There is footie tonight, and I will sit up late with some wine and make mixtapes for… well, for no obvious reason whatsoever I have to confess, apart from the fact that I am getting fed up of being embarrassed by the music taste of my nineteen-year-old self whenever I randomly select a tape to play in the van.  Also, making tapes is a nice way to listen to vinyl singles which might otherwise be neglected.

Direct download: Toadcast #165 – The Torrentcast

01. David Thomas Broughton – Ain’t Got No Sole (00.29)
02. Lab Coast – Really Realise (06.54)
03. M.J. Hibbett & the Validators – The Gay Train (17.49)
04. Bonnie Prince Billy & the Cairo Gang – Island Brothers (24.19)
05. Bob Dylan & the Rolling Thunder Revue – Romance in Durango (29.12)
06. Dolfish – Your Love is Bummin’ Me Out (35.56)
07. Daniel Knox – Ghost Song (39.59)
08. The Honorable Worm – Behind the invisible hedges, into the unimaginable fields… (43.29)
09. Elbow – Lippy Kids (52.37)
10. Honeydrum – Those Babes (63.17)