Song, by Toad

Posts tagged niilo smeds

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Song, by Toad’s Top Albums of 2012: 6-10

Basic-Chicken-Loser-TrophyWell, after illness has kept me away from the internet for a few days, I am finally back to finish off this particular list.

I had my first ever bad oyster, would you believe.  Given the long and happy relationship I’ve had with oysters over the years, I feel personally offended – how dare you do this to me after I have so lovingly scarfed down hundreds and hundreds of your slippery, salty brethren? Have you no sense of gratitude?
Apparently not.

Anyhow, back to the list of the twenty albums I enjoyed the most over 2012.  There are some pretty obscure selections in there, but I promise I am not trying to be one of those ‘oh, I doubt you’d have heard of them’ hipsters, it’s just that, well I spend so much time exploring the smaller releases I genuinely haven’t spent anything like as much time with the more well-known stuff.  So it’s not a deliberate sneer, simply a result of there being a finite number of hours in the day.

Again, to stop the embeds slowing down the whole site, I have put the list after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Niilo Smeds – Helicopter Circles

 You know those albums where you pop them on in the background, fail to pay attention properly and then end up thinking you don’t like them for no better reason than that you weren’t really listening in the first place?  This was sort of the opposite.

In this case I had a friend round for a gin and tonic, and I was actually cooking at the time, so I just thought I’d throw on pretty much any old thing from my inbox, asking my friend not to blame me if it was shit, because it was straight out of my inbox and I didn’t really have any idea if it was going to be any good or not.

Not the most auspicious of circumstances in which to take your first listen of an album, you might think.   But unlike those records which get cruelly underestimated because people weren’t listening properly, this did the reverse: it managed to stand out as being good, despite the fact that we very clearly weren’t listening properly and pretty much only put in on as background music.  Despite that, after a couple of songs, I found myself thinking ‘hang on, this is really good’, and turning it up.

It’s not the sort of music to stand out, either, in the sense that it’s kind of slowish, the arrangements are fairly modest, and it doesn’t really resort to clever tricks to grab your attention.  There are a couple of mental moments, where the music seems to have a brief meltdown, and songs like the excellent Shining are just a bit odd in general, but those are pretty few and far between; for the most part this is middle of the road, nice sensible music.  And it’s really, really good.

Generally the music is simply enough assembled, unhurried acoustic pop songs backed with a little drums, bass and the occasional, usually quite basic keyboard parts. This simplicity and the generally casual atmosphere does lull you into a slightly false sense of security, and it takes ‘hang on, wait a minute, what did he say?’ realisations, such as that song titles like D.S.O.T.B. actually stand for ‘dog shit on the breeze’, to prod you into listening a little more closely.

The songs are brief, too, and the album moves along at a fair lick.  It’s one of those that despite its undemanding attitude rewards closer listens, as there are some really nicely turned lyrics.  And for some reason, despite the setup being pretty standard and the music seemingly content to abstain from anything too contentious, this album has real character.  While it can deliver relatively smooth acoustic pop numbers, it can also slow into more idiosyncratic, stumbling stuff which reminds me of some of the better loved and more awkward acoustic weirdos around at the moment.

It’s disarming, and may not grab you immediately, but I think this is a really good album, and one which I fear will end up being criminally underrated by the world at large.  Listen.  Listen closely.  And enjoy.

Niilo Smeds – Animal

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Niilo Smeds – I Don’t Need You

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Buy direct from Bandcamp

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Toadcast #224 – The Repeatcast

This is called the Repeatcast because I sometimes wonder that the constant flow of new music I fire into these podcasts might just passing you by.  I know I struggle to stay on top of things sometimes myself, so maybe you just listen when you can be bothered and sometimes things just go in one ear and out the other.

I’ve been considering doing an artist of the week thing, like Ted from Cloud Sounds where he plays two tracks from an artist one week (well, one month now that the show’s monthly) and then one from the same artist the next week as well, so there is a degree of reinforcement

Knowing me, I doubt I’ll ever get round to it, honestly, but you know, it seems like a good idea.  Or something vaguely like it seems like a good idea, because it would be a shame if all this music just vanished into the ether.  So this week we have a lot of repetition of bands already played on the podcasts, just to make sure you’re paying attention properly.  Like you should be.

Direct download: Toadcast #224 – The Repeatcast

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01. Easter – Damp Patch (00.21)
02. The Spyrals – Long Road Out (06.40)
03. Mac DeMarco – She’s Really All I Need (11.40)
04. Apostille – Journal (17.42)
05. Apostle of Hustle – National Anthem of Nowhere (28.26)
06. The Babies – My Name (35.46)
07. Islet – A Warrior Who Longs to Grow Herbs (41.17)
08. Niilo Smeds – Summer Air (45.26)
09. Kalle Mattson – Miles (51.35)
10. Slowcoaches – We’re So Heavy (58.19)

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Toadcast #221 – The Dutchcast

 The Dutchcast was named after football.  I was at the pub all day watching United play QPR and City getting done by Arsenal.  For some reason this reminded me of living in Holland, primarily because Arsenal have dropped off the pace in the Premier League a lot recently, but when I was in Holland it was the height of the Wenger vs. Ferguson clashes, so watching the team play again and actually caring about the result reminded me really strongly of a time when Arsenal actually mattered as a football club.  Harsh, but fair.

So yes, in my reminiscences of my time spent living in Holland I have popped in a couple of songs I was introduced to by pals when I lived out there, as well as a cracking track by Bettie Serveert, one of the most well-respected Dutch indie bands out there.

Added to that are a couple of new things from the internet, not least the new track from Owen Ashworth’s new project Advance Base, as well as a demo from our pal Tom Western, who recorded four gorgeous demos in our living room about a month ago.  These songs are awaiting a proper recording, but for now the demos themselves are lovely enough.

Direct download: Toadcast #221 – The Dutchcast

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01. Supergrass – Cheapskate (00.26)
02. Weeping Willows – Failing in Love (08.51)
03. Bettie Serveert – I’ll Keep it With Mine (12.45)
04. Tom Western – Green Broom (Demo) (19.52)
05. Advance Base – New Gospel (27.53)
06. Dennis Driscoll – Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow (33.06)
07. Niilo Smeds – Summer Air (37.46)
08. The Verve – Lucky Man (45.26)
09. Grandaddy – Summer Here Kids (52.41)
10. Symphonic Pictures – Feathers (59.35)

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