Song, by Toad

Posts tagged neil pennycook


Song, by Toad Records’ 5th Birthday

5thBirthday Digiflyer London

5th Birthday Party Shows:

Thursday 19th December – London, at the Sebright Arms with Neil Pennycook (Meursault) solo, The Leg, Rob St. John and Animal Magic Tricks. (tickets)

Saturday 21st December – Edinburgh, at Henry’s Cellar Bar, with PAWsault, Tom Collins Shatner and assorted label friends and guests. (tickets)

Song, by Toad itself turns ten next year, and in the first few years a friend of mine in London suggested I consider starting a record label. I laughed at him and told him that honestly I had no desire whatsoever to get involved in that sort of madness. And then, of course, eighteen months or so later, that’s exactly what I did.

It’s been a total fucking rollercoaster, to be honest. So many amazingly brilliant moments, and in all honesty, some really frustrating ones as well.

It’s quite fun disagreeing with people about music when you’re just talking about it, even as a blogger, but as a label if you disagree with the world it results in releases which no-one writes about and no-one buys, which can be pretty depressing in all honesty.

Having said that, when things do well and the world suddenly realises how awesome a band is who you’ve loved for ages, then it’s absolutely brilliant. Packed venues, surprise radio play, great write-ups, talking to someone successful in the music industry who surprises you by being well aware of what you do… there are a million tiny triumphs in this business as much as there as a million tiny disappointments.

Even when I did overcome my common sense and actually start releasing records I certainly never imagined it would usurp my day job, let alone do so so fast, but I’ve been full time for over three years now and for all I still haven’t really figured out how to make any fucking money, I don’t regret the decision for a second.

And yes, here we are, five years later. We’re actually going to be releasing a birthday box set of five 12″ vinyl to celebrate, but more of that later. For now, just come to the gigs, please! I promise they will be fun.


Eef Barzelay is Coming to Scotland

Clem_Snide_056 Dammit if Scotland was this cool all the time, even I would be on my internet soapbox demanding independence and insisting that hating the English and wanting independence is absolutely not the same thing as wanting independence because of hating the English. Definitely not. Promise.

Basically, if Eef Barzelay wanted to play here more often I’d be happy to rebuild Hadrian’s fucking Wall myself, frankly. I discovered his music when Clem Snide released their second album, Your Favourite Music (a fairly literal title, in my case) over ten years ago, and I have pretty much been a bit of a fanboy ever since.

Inevitably you ebb and flow a little, particularly with someone who releases this much stuff, but across such a big back catalogue of Clem Snide work and three solo releases Barzelay has released three or four of my ‘favourite albums ever’ (an admittedly long list) and probably over a dozen of my favourite songs.

Anyhow, he will be playing two Song, by Toad gigs in Scotland early next month, joined by solo sets from Meursault‘s Neil Pennycook and Chris Otepka from the Heligoats. Monday the 14th of October is the Glasgow show, at the Partick Bowling Club (don’t ask me – it was Adam Stafford’s recommendation) and then on Tuesday 15th the same lineup will be at the Voodoo Rooms, in the Speakeasy. All tickets can be found here, and venues are sub-100 capacity, so move fast.

The gigs are going to be fucking great, and I have to confess I am suffering from a little bit of giddy child syndrome about working with Eef. I can’t think of any other songwriter who can be as caustic, as cutting and yet as gentle and sad as he can. And in fact I might go as far to say he might be my favourite lyricist of all time. That might be a tough case to argue, because there are a lot of great lyricists out there, but even as I think about it now it would be a difficult statement to contradict.

Clem Snide and Eef’s music can be bought by subscription these days – probably a wise move for someone who is more a cult concern than a mainstream wannabe – something to which you can sign up here. The latest Clem Snide album is called Songs For Mary, and I’ve embedded it below, but you can buy the album here. It sounds dismissive to say that it’s typical Clem Snide, but it is, and by now you know full well that I think that’s a very good thing. They’ve lapsed into a consistent style now, and it’s stylistically pretty much indistinguishable from the last few they’ve done, but that really doesn’t matter when the songs are still so strong, and still so affecting.

I don’t know about you fuckers, but I am really excited about these shows. You should come along, you really should.

“If you’ve never seen a bullfight, guess who always wins.”


Live Stream: Song, by Toad New Year’s House Gig

As per last year we shall once again be streaming the Song, by Toad New Year’s House Gig live for those of you who are either at home sick or in a different time zone and hence grateful of the entertainment.

Again, as the player slows the whole page down I’ll put it below the break, so just click through and you’ll be able to see Kev from River of Slime play a short set around 10pm, Neil from Meursault play solo acoustic from about 10:45pm and then another half hour set (or so) from Kev at about half past midnight. Do say hello in the chat thingy too, so I know you’re there. I may have to type very quietly, but I will respond! Live stream player below the jump… Read the rest of this entry »


Song, by Toad New Year’s House Gig

Aaaaaaand another year rolls around, and we find ourselves once again at New Year’s Eve.  Or approaching it anyway.

And this time we have something a little different for you, an idea which was suggested to me the day that Kev from River of Slime (and FOUND) played a set in our front room which we streamed for Social Media Week.  There were three or four of us watching that evening, but it was pretty obvious there should have been more, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to put that right.

Kev will play a short set early in the night, then Neil from Meursault will play some songs just before the bells, we’ll all walk out into Inverleith Park* where you get a pretty good view of the fireworks, and then we’ll come back for some more River of Slime and then, er… well, fuck knows, frankly.  Tickets are only a fiver and very, very limited in number inevitably, so pick ’em up quick.

All the money goes straight to the bands so there are no guesties, although Kev and Neil are welcome to fund your ticket out of their cut if you can persuade them to do so.

Sold out now, sorry.

*This is not obligatory of course, particularly if the weather is pish.


Live in Edinburgh This Week – 22nd August 2011

It’s the Gigpocalypse! Gigmageddon! A gigantic week-long party of musical funz! The final kick in the balls your exhausted, fading liver can’t quite handle before it gives up the ghost and implodes altogether.

After a pretty lacklustre musical showing thus far, the Edinburgh Festival finally earns its spurs this week with what can only be described as the inevitable descent of total and utter carnage.

Lach’s one-man show is back on (after illness) at Cabaret Voltaire, free every night this week at 8:45pm, and of course the Antihoot will be on every night this week except Tuesday from midnight to 3am in the Gilded Balloon.

Then there’s also the next two Toad at the Circus gigs, firstly an acoustic strummer affair, and then on Friday a thumping racket.  I will be DJing at these gigs, but don’t let that put you off, they might still be quite fun.

As well as conventional gigs, Avalanche Records have a full list of really rather excellent in-stores this week too, featuring the likes of Emily Scott and Edinburgh School for the Deaf – full details here. Oh, and of course the week finally stumbles to an alcoholic close with the return of the fantabulous Retreat Festival.  It will be awesome, and my liver will be begging for mercy long before the end.

Tuesday 23rd August 2011: Ulrich Schnauss & Jonnie Common at the Electric Circus.

This will be a carnival of electro loveliness.  I know less about Mr. Schnauss, but Jonnie’s album is pretty damn close to being the best Scottish album of the year, for my money.

Jonnie Common – Summer is For Going Places

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Wednesday 24th August 2011: Neil Pennycook, Benjamin Shaw & John Egdell at the Electric Circus.

It’ll be an all-acoustic affair for our third Toad at the Circus gig.  Apart from Meursault’s Neil Pennycook performing solo, we have the amazing Benjamin Shaw coming up from London and the equally excellent John Egdell from Newcastle.

Benjamin Shaw – 12,000 Sentinels

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Wednesday 24th August 2011: Sebadoh at Cabaret Voltaire.

This is a bit straightforward isn’t it.  Sebadoh are lo-fi indie rock legends (to paint with the broadest of brushes) and they are playing in Edinburgh.  I think this might be sold out though, so there might be little point listing it but umm… it’s Sebadoh, y’know.

Sebadoh – Nothing Like You

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Thursday 25th August 2011: Withered Hand, eagleowl, Woodpigeon (solo) & Meursault (solo) at the Queen’s Hall.

Something of an Edinburgh all-stars gig this one.  If you aren’t from here and want to know why those of us in Edinburgh have been so excited by our homegrown music scene recently, then this and Retreat are the ones to show you.

Withered Hand – Religious Songs

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Thursday 25th August 2011: Willy Mason at Cabaret Voltaire.

Willy Mason has sort of slipped off the critical radar since the pop smash (relatively speaking of course) of Oxygen back in about 2005 or so.  I saw him live back in London before moving up here actually, and it was absolutely brilliant.

Willy Mason – We Can Be Strong

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Friday 26th August 2011: Brown Brogues, Ghost Outfit & Rollor at the Electric Circus.

Let’s see the babbling hen sluts talk over this.  Fuck you, motherfuckers, tonight is going to be loud!  Brown Brogues are a clattering racket and according to The Pigeon Post Ghost Outfit are the best live band in Manchester at the moment.

Brown Brogues – Treet U Beta

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Friday 26th & Saturday 27th August 2011: Lach’s Antihoot Antifolk-off at the Gilded Balloon.

As the Antihoot has been taking place this year Lach and myself have been selecting, with the help of the audience, the favourite act of each night and we’re inviting them all back this weekend, where we’ll be recording the performances to release as The Best of the Antihoot on Song, by Toad Records.  It’ll also be a fantastic way to have a big fuck off party to celebrate the end of an awesome run at this year’s Festival which has, of course, seen me make my stand-up comedy debut.  But the less said about that the better.

Saturday 27th August 2011: The Machine Room, Land of Cakes & Plastic Animals at Sneaky Pete’s.

Continuing the excellence of their Festival booking, Sneaky Pete’s have three excellent new Edinburgh bands on on Saturday.   I’ll be at Retreat, but if it happens to sell out then this looks like an excellent alternative.

The Machine Room – Your Head on the Floor Next Door

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th August 2011: Retreat Festival at Pilrig St. Paul’s church.

There are a couple of events which define my musical calendar.  Most Fence events would pretty much be included in there, and the other would be Retreat.  The best bands in Edinburgh, fucking lovely people and the nicest atmosphere at any music even I’ve been to in the city.  Bart Owl is a hero. A sarcastic, ginger hero.


Toad at the Electric Circus in August

I don’t really need to add anything to the following, do I?  Apart from a big thanks to the Electric Circus for suggesting I put these nights on, thanks to all the bands for agreeing to play and umm… well, I hope to fuck you all turn up, eh!


Live Stream of Song, by Toad’s New Year House Gig 2010

The player for the live stream slows down the whole page massively, so I’ve put it below the fold so those of you who wish to can watch our house gig.  My guess is that Brits will be out on the piss, so mostly Americans wasting the last of their afternoon in the office or massively hungover Australians will be tuning in. Read the rest of this entry »


Live in Edinbleeeurgh This Week – 27th December 2010

I feel like an unwashed pair of old socks.  Not so much for the boozing, which was surprisingly restrained actually.  I suppose, to be fair, there’s only so much bevvy you can pour down a gullet already creaking with frightening levels of food.  And so it proved – I have generally been so full this weekend that I haven’t ended up getting all that pissed.

Anyway, listings first, let’s be properly efficient about this.  I have my own shit to pimp, after all, and let’s not forget that cynical self-promotion is the prime focus of this site.  There are only a couple of things on this week… well, sorry, scratch that.  If you are looking for entertainment in Edinburgh on New Year’s Eve of all nights, and you need me to point you towards it, then your Fun-O-Meter is in serious need of calibration.  Or replacement.  Or both.

However, if you are looking for proper, actual fun, of a musical bent then your options are a lot thinner.  There might possibly be some decent bands playing the official Princes St. Gardens Hogmanay thingy (I haven’t checked), but between the crowds and the weather there is absolutely no fucking way in the universe you should be contemplating that.  Honestly.  This is not Approved Fun, people, it is Bad Fun, and should be avoided.  There are a couple of interesting things happening this week though:

Wednesday 29th December 2010: Scars, TV21, Ballboy & Kid Canaveral at the Picturehouse.

On the topic of Approved Fun, anything Kid Canaveral do is very much Approved Fun as far as I am concerned.  I don’t do a best live band thing on Song, by Toad – there are really only so many lists I can be arsed making – but they would have been there or thereabouts had I done so.  Scars are a different proposition altogether: they were part of a thriving Edinburgh scene which seemed to simmer along around the time of the Shop Assistants, Josef K and Fire Engines.  This is their first gig in many, many years.

Ballboy – All the Records on the Radio are Shite

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Friday 31st December 2010: Song, by Toad New Year’s House Gig, with Jonnie Common, Neil Pennycook and Jamie Scott.

The grumbling and whingeing about large parties in the centre of town is the primary reason Mrs. Toad and I decided bollocks, why not have a gig in the house. Last year was the first one, and we enjoyed ourselves so much we have decided to make it a tradition, this year being graced by three gentlemen who are as likely to leave you scratching your heads as bawling your eyes out.  But in a good way, promise!  We’ll be getting a keg of Copper Cascade from Stewart’s and, if the weather’s at least passable, might well wander into Inverleith Park to watch the fireworks.  If we can be arsed. There’s a ticket link below too, because it would really help out if you bought your tickets in advance, just so’s we know how full the place is likely to be.

Sold out now, sorry.

So, splendid – hope to see you there.  And to leave you this week I have this little gem, as the selected highlight from all our lazy weekend of watching appalling films and doing, well, basically bugger all else.  Quite how people in the eighties thought this was macho I have no idea.  But it is a whole new world of buttock-clenchingly, teeth-grindingly, face-contortingly cringeworthy awesome.


Song, by Toad New Year’s House Gig 2010

Once again this New Year’s Eve Mrs. Toad and I shall be forgoing the dubious pleasure of stumbling about in the freezing cold city centre surrounded by other people’s sick, and will instead be having a glass or two of wine in the house, like we did last year.

Like last year there will be live music, and like last year you are all invited.  Jonnie Common (Inspector Tapehead), Neil Pennycook (Meursault) and Jamie Scott (Japanese War Effort) will be playing, and the set may well include some collaborative stuff, or just three solo sets, depending how effectively they get their shit together in between now and then.

We’ll get another keg, I think, because that was a great success at the Christmas Party.  Kegs tend to cost us around £1.80 per pint (70 pints, £130) so please come prepared to chip in if you fancy guzzling posh beer all night instead of cans of Tennent’s.  Also, we’d really appreciate if you could buy your tickets in advance, just so we have an idea of numbers.  All the money goes directly to the bands, so it is for a good cause.

Sold out now, sorry.

Many thanks – hope to see you there!


Some Song, by Toad Live News

In the new year Song, by Toad will be putting on more live shows.  In many ways this is in reaction to our friends Bart and Euan seeming to drop out of regular promotion, and the closure of far too many good venues in Edinburgh over the latter half of 2010.

So, after Euan spoke so consistently well of Colvin at the Wee Red Bar, I have had a word, and we have booked Saturday nights in January and February for Toad nights.  I think I am going to call them the Ides of Toad, simply because I am looking to pick a Saturday as close to the middle of the month as possible. The plan is to have a gig once a month at the Wee Red, except for June and December, when we will try and get the Caves and do something a bit shinier.

Also, we are doing a New Year’s House Gig once again this year, primarily because neither Mrs. Toad nor I can be even remotely arsed schlepping up to Princes Street in the pissing rain to watch some fucking fireworks surrounded by half of fucking Scotland.  Instead we will be in our house, and might traipse up to Inverleith Park to watch the fireworks for free, but only if the weather is good.  And there will be songs – many excellent, excellent songs.

So, by way of a preview of what we have coming up in the immediate future, here are the imminent Song, by Toad Live Stuff Listings:

Friday, 31st December 2010: Neil Pennycook, Jamie Scott & Jonnie Common at the Song, by Toad New Year’s House Gig.

Jamie, Jonnie and Neil are all working on a collaborative album at the moment, although I don’t know how much of this will be ready for a first viewing on New Year’s Eve.  In any case, these are three of the most creative musicians in Scotland, as far as I am concerned, and I am immensely looking forward to this one.  It will, as has become tradition for Toad House Gigs, be broadcast live on the web too.

Jonnie Common – Photosynth

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Saturday, 22nd January 2011: The Scottish Englightenment, Johnny Reb & Morris Major at the Wee Red Bar.

I haven’t exactly performed many scientific tests and so on, but I think The Scottish Enlightenment are probably my favourite Scottish band to emerge this year.  I know they’re a lot more than a year old, but it seems like 2010 was the year they got their shit in gear and suddenly produced a shedload of material to make everyone really sit up and take notice.  Johnny Reb have a pile of really promising songs, and will hopefully be one of the bands to really rekindle my love of basic guitar indie, and Morris Major are a new Edinburgh band who seem to have an awful lot of potential as well.  It’s a very guitary lineup, this on, but fuck it, it’s a bloody good lineup as well.

The Scottish Enlightenment – Little Sleep

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Saturday 19th February 2011: Rob St. John, Thirty Pounds of Bone +1 TBC at the Wee Red Bar.

Rob is currently working on his debut full-length, which is something I am hugely looking forward to.  30 Pounds of Bone released one of my favourite albums of 2010.  I could basically add a dancing monkey to this bill and it would still be fucking awesome. Actually…

Thirty Pounds of Bone – Crack Shandy in the Harbour

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.