Song, by Toad

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Toadcast #293 – Adam Stafford Toad Session

Adam Stafford Toad Session from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

Video – Vimeo – YouTube
Photos – Flickr
Session tracks Soundcloud – zip download (right click – save as)
Interview podcast – mp3 – iTunes – Mixcloud (playlist at bottom of page)

Adam Stafford released his fantastic album Imaginary Walls Collapse on Song, by Toad Records early in 2013. You can buy a copy on vinyl here if you like, but it won’t tell you quite as much about Adam as I am hoping this session might.

Adam is a film-maker as well, and has a genuinely eclectic taste in music, of the sort that makes me feel really rather ashamed by my own tunnel vision. He made a rather fantastic mixtape for the excellent Gold Flake Paint a while back called Magnatory Baws Prolapse which (despite its rather rotten name) reminded me all too strongly of everything that is wrong with my own taste in music – as well as being brilliant to listen to, dammit!

This session was recorded by myself, with photos by the ever-awesome Nic Rue, with the filming done by Gavin White and Ian Greenhill and the videos all edited by Gavin.

 

Full interview podcast:

Toadcast #293 – Adam Stafford Toad Session by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Session tracks:

Session track videos

Podcast playlist:

01. Adam Stafford – Imaginary Walls Collapse (Toad Session) (00.22)
02. Y’all is Fantasy Island – High Hopes, Lost Love & Ruined Lives (15.07)
03. Colin Stetson – Judges (19.16)
04. Adam Stafford – Cold Seas (Toad Session) (29.11)
05. Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo – The Solitary Rabbit (39.27)
06. Siobhan Wilson – Te Petite Minette (42.43)
07. Adam Stafford – His Acres (Toad Session) (53.02)
08. PAWS – Violent Vicki Violet (1.08.20)
09. Toulemani Diabaté – Eylan Road (1.11.01)
10. Adam Stafford – Shot Down You Summer Wannabes (Toad Session) (1.28.32)

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ALBUM STREAM: The Toad Sessions

Toad Sessions 2

Toad Sessions 1

I think it’s fair to say that the Toad Sessions are one of the things we’ve done since starting this whole enterprise of which I am the most proud. I just, honestly, think they are way better than almost all other internet sessions. It’s not about our ‘one gimmick’, we ask the band about some of their favourite music, we do a nice big long interview with them,  we give them really nice recordings at the end of it – it feels to me like our sessions are more genuinely about the band than most others.

It feels more like a benefit to the band than most others out there too, and there’s none of this ‘hahaha, here’s a session from the back of a chip shop in Shoreditch – wahey!’ nonsense, which I have to confess I am starting to find really annoying.

Having said that, that appears to be pretty much my opinion and my opinion alone. The sessions and the accompanying videos are actually some of the least popular material we publish, judging by the stats. I tend to ignore stats anyway, however, so don’t worry they won’t be going away just because people don’t seem as interested as I would have expected. I hate people who point to stats when it comes to things like music. I think you should have some fucking courage in your creative convictions in this industry, and in a way I guess the Toad Sessions are one of the most obvious ways I try and do that.

You can see them all on their own dedicated site too, if you fancy a browse and still have some time to kill this Friday afternoon…

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Now THAT Was a Christmas Party

Photo by Michael Kim

Photo by Michael Kim

Happy Christmas Toadlings, I hope the year has been good to you. For once I am honestly being sincere, too, although you could be forgiven for hearing sarcasm in pretty much everything when reading this blog.

Mrs. Toad and I have slept in spectacularly and are wandering off to visit my folks in an hour or two, so we’re pretty relaxed at the moment, with Bette having beaten the UK transport chaos yesterday and got us down from Edinburgh to Brighton a full two or three hours faster than our scheduled flight would have done.  Good old Bette.

Anyhow, the pictures at the top and bottom of this post were taken by the splendid Michael Kim at our Christmas Party on Saturday night, so I thought I should share them, given he was a/ kind enough to donate his time and b/ took two such excellent pictures.

No-one ever, ever buys tickets to our shit in advance so inevitably I was a bit worried about attendance again on Saturday, although it turned out to be totally needless. It was busy, sweaty, raucous and brilliant fun, and it was finally what I would want from a label Christmas party.

You’d be forgiven for wondering what the fuck I am on about with that statement, given some of the awesome nights we’ve had in the past, but two in quick succession taught me what I didn’t want the Christmas party to be: namely The Queen Charlotte Rooms three years ago and the St. Stephen’s Centre the year after.

Don’t get me wrong, the venues were great, and the people running them were a genuine pleasure to deal with. Also, the shows themselves were absolutely fantastic too. The only problem was that those of us who are actually part of Song, by Toad Records ended up basically just working all night.

Because we tried to put the gigs on in somewhere a bit special, the venues in question weren’t real music venues, both myself and the bands spent hours cleaning up after the show, moving drum kits and amps, and often helping to load out the PA, either on the night or with horrendous hangovers the night after. Believe me, as fun as the show itself is, this kind of stuff takes the shine off it pretty fast.

I tried to change this last year at Summerhall by introducing the short sets at the beginning of the night, where all sorts of bands on the label and assorted pals came up and played really short, minimal, informal sets of about three songs or so, before the main gig kicked off.

The idea was to give the night something of a more informal feel, and allow bands on the label to turn up and play, without having to take it too seriously. Sort of a cross between a gig (for the punters) and an office party (for us). It still didn’t really work however, once loading out that damn PA and getting all the kit and the amps back was done and dusted. Carrying heavy things with a massive hangover and a thin film of sweat forming on your back ain’t fun, as you can imagine.

So this year I thought, fuck it, Edinburgh has Christmas Songwriters and Christmas Baubles if it wants a big show, let’s do something scruffy and messy this year, and do it mostly for the benefit of the folk on the label and the people who come to tons of our gigs and buy loads of releases and basically know our stuff inside out and who, rather than a showcase, would probably appreciate something a bit different from the usual Song, by Toad fare.

Doing it at Henry’s made perfect sense as well, because we’ve worked with them such a lot this year, and had some truly brilliant shows there – it kind of feels like the blog’s spiritual home in Edinburgh at this point.

And that was about it, I think I can safely say. Reuben Taylor’s piano set was amazing, Dan Mutch sang about screaming like an ocelot (Baboo!), and Yusuf Azak did a fucking great version of Gin & Juice, which was just about the most unexpected thing I could have, er, not expected.

As for my own set, Christ knows. I can tell you that it happened, that it sort of went according to whatever thin veil of a plan there was, and that Sam and Pete were fucking awesome, but apart from that I have no idea what on Earth it will have looked like to people in the venue. Baffling nonsense, probably, but it was awesome fun.

Zed Penguin, for possibly the first time, were probably the most sensible band in the whole lineup. Their new stuff is sounding pretty great too, I have to say, and I am really looking forward to hearing some new recordings.

And then, finally, PAWsault. For a band which hadn’t rehearsed together at all, not even during soundcheck, this was absolutely brilliant. The band itself was Ryan and Phil from PAWS with Neil and Sam from Meursault, because neither band could turn up in full, so they just decided to smoosh together what was left and hope for the best.

They tore through Flittin’ and William Henry Miller by Meursault, as well as Bloodline and Winners Don’t Bleed by PAWS, which even Ryan had never played before, and despite the lack of practise, the versions they produced were honestly fantastic.

Things got a bit messy during Fairytale of New York when two stage invaders none of us had ever seen before commandeered both the lyrics sheets and the microphones, but they were retrieved just as everything threatened to go to shit and the stumbling throng onstage managed to limp through to the end of the song with some vague semblance of giddy completion. At this point Pete and Reuben were literally playing the piano with their arses mind you, so just getting through to the last verse at all felt like a bit of an achievement.

The final squall of Jingle Bells ended up pretty much like a homoerotic punk rock equivalent of the That’s All Folks at the end of a Warner Brothers cartoon.

And that was it. Perfect.

It fell apart, gloriously, by the end, but only at the very end. I think we managed the right balance of everyone on the label getting shit-faced and celebrating, with some properly good tunes and a great gig. Alright, Gin and Juice, me doing ridiculous spoken word version of songs on the label, and PAWS and Meursault massacring one another’s tunes might only appeal to the more hardcore fans of the label, but that’s what a Christmas party is supposed to be!

And it was amazing. So a massive thank you to everyone who played and who came along, I had an absolute whale of a time, as you can probably tell. And also, seeing as we’ve just turned five, an extra thank you to anyone who has bought a record, come to a gig, mentioned us to a friend or, incredibly, agreed to release a record with us over the last five years. It’s been a fucking blast.

And wait until you see what we do in 2014. It’s already shaping up to be properly fucking awesome.

Photo by Michael Kim

Photo by Michael Kim

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Toadcast #281 – The Hatecast

Rethinking Government Assistance: David Cameron I am pretty pissed off at the moment. It’s not particularly obvious – in fact it tends to manifest itself more as a smouldering sulk than any sort of rage, but you may believe me, the anger is under there somewhere.

Y’see, in the music industry, you’re always supposed to maintain some sort of level of politeness – never burn any bridges, never lose your rag, you never know when you might need to be friends with someone. But you know what, bollocks to that. I spend so many hours of my life working on making things good – artwork, endlessly repetitive PR stuff, designing posters for gigs, trying to drum up some sort of interest in our gigs, our releases, our bands, and you know what – FUCK PEOPLE.

People are just fucking wrong about music. They approve of shite bands, they listen to garbage they’re too lazy to move beyond, they write about bands they already know are popular rather than ones which are new and might be interesting, and they generally just don’t give a shit and then pretend that it’s your fault for not grabbing their lazy, indifferent attention. So fuck people, fuck music, and fuck you. Welcome to this week’s podcast.

Toadcast #281 – The Hatecast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #281 – The Hatecast

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01. PAWS – Winners Don’t Bleed (Toad Session) (00.21)
02. Billy Bragg – Some Days I See the Point (08.19)
03. The Leg – Silver Dog (16.43)
04. Trips and Falls – You Should Really Get Yours (20.35)
05. Yusuf Azak – Swim (28.17)
06. Willard Grant Conspiracy – Early Hour (32.56)
07. Eef Barzelay – Well (44.47)
08. Brown Brogues – (48.42)
09. Meursault – William Henry Miller (Part 2) (Single Version) (54.21)
10. Trips and Falls – The Freedom of Homogeneity (1.00.15)
11. FOUND – Mullokian (Toad Session) (1.09.04)
12. The Leg – Celebrating Love (1.14.03)

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I am Going to This Tonight, and So Should You

If you think back to the days of MTV unplugged (alright, alright, if you’re old enough to think back to the days of MTV Unplugged) you’ll remember that getting the front man of a rock band to play an acoustic guitar can be a bit hit and miss. Nirvana’s performance was legendary, others were really good, but most were really boring.

This one, I am sure, will be good. Throughout their existence, PAWS have always been really good at putting up demos and ideas and fractions of bits and pieces they’re playing with for people to listen to. Songs appear in their sketch form and then demo form before ever being formally recorded, and the band like this – their take is that if you can watch the song develop then you are more likely to become attached to it yourself.

Also, because Phil is also a really strong lyricist, the acoustic format can work really well to emphasise the actual words. I remember first hearing the utterly ramshackle version of Bainz they posted a year or so ago. It’s brilliant, and so different to the band stuff. It actually sounds exactly like what it is: a song written and recorded in the middle of the night by someone who just can’t get to sleep.

And when your support comes from Rory ‘just make a fucking album for fuck’s sake’ Sutherland and the awesome Now Wakes the Sea, they you’re onto a winner. Rory makes instrumental looped music, and apart from inertia, I think one of the biggest reasons he hasn’t started to record anything yet is that he is a bit of a technician. It’s not like a band, where he could just rattle up to our house, play it all live, record the results and add a handful of overdubs later. He’d be working for ages assembling everything he needed, and he’s a bit of a perfectionist (or endless ditherer, I can’t tell the difference) as well, so it wouldn’t be a quick project.

He should still just fucking get on with it though.

And as one last inducement, here’s a brand new PAWS acoustic demo for you. See you at the Banshee Labyrinth tonight, then. Tickets here.

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Toadcast #271 – The Saycast

posttagAfter writing about the SAY Award, I thought I might well do a podcast about it, given there are more than enough ace bands and ace records on that list, last year’s list and I assume next year’s list to make a couple of podcasts.

I play a couple of shocking, scandalous omissions from this and last year’s long- and shortlists, and stamp my little foot about them. I play a couple of tracks from bands who I reckon should be in with a very strong shout of making next year’s shortlist.  And I play a random tune by David Thomas Broughton because he, along with Rick Redbeard who I tip for next year’s shortlist, is playing a show in Edinburgh this week.  David on Thursday with Rachael Dadd and Ichi, and Rick on Saturday with the awesome Ian Humberstone.

And again, I try and remind people not to get too worked up about this kind of thing, because, well, if no-one agrees with you that something is excellent, it should hardly make you love it any the less, should it. And equally, being told that yes, you are right, this album is good, shouldn’t particularly improve your enjoyment of it should it. So these things are here to be bickered over and are good fun, as well as being fantastic for the artists who win them, but they aren’t of course to be taken too seriously.

Toadcast #271 – The SAYcast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #271 – The Saycast

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01. Meursault – Untitled (00.26)
02. PAWS – Bird Inside Birddcage, Ribcage Inside Bird (06.40)
03. Rick Redbeard – Any Way I Can (14.35)
04. David Thomas Broughton – River Lay (20.10)
05. Now Wakes the Sea – Propranolol (28.47)
06. RM Hubbert – Car Song (With Aidan Moffat and Alex Kapranos) (35.42)
07. Django Django – Love’s Dart (39.59)
08. King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Bats in the Attic (45.36)
09. Rob St. John – Stainforth Force (52.54)
10. The Pictish Trail – I Will Pour it Down (1.02.06)

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SAY Award 2013 Longlist

SAYaward The Scottish Album of the Year Award longlist has been announced, and there happens to be a little Song, by Toad Records interest this year, as Meursault have been nominated for Something For the Weakened. Now, of course, from my point of view they are the one and only justifiable winner of this award and if it goes to anyone else it will be a fix/swizz/further evidence of the Glasgow-centric, incestuous cliqueyness of the Scottish music industry (delete as appropriate).

I would also like to make it clear now that if it goes to someone who sold more records then the process is clearly just about rewarding commercial pop shite, rather than art, and if they just understood real music they would never have made such a terrible decision.  However, if it happens to be awarded to someone who has sold fewer records then it will simply prove that the panel only ever wanted to award it to their mates, are trying to be obscure just because they’re a bunch of sneering hipsters, and are snobbishly refusing to take notice of how many people loved this album.

Right, excuses all in? Good, we may proceed.

As well as Meursault there are a few albums on there I think would also thoroughly merit this award. Most notable amongst them would be PAWS and R.M. Hubbert, whose respective albums in 2012 are both huge favourites in Toad Hall. The Twilight Sad and Django Django also both made excellent records, so if it goes to any of those guys I will be delighted.

There are definitely a few on there I know nothing about, of course, and a good few I simply haven’t heard a note of yet, and I think this is a good thing. The relative diversity of last year’s list compared to most other Best Of lists out there suggested to me that it was relatively unbiased list, which was pleasingly broad in scope, and I’d say the same this year. It may make us less likely to win, but the breadth of the initial selection panel is a good decision, and although it risks excessive populism (Emeli Sandé and Calvin fucking Harris? You’re having a fucking laugh, surely) I do think it’s the best way to strike a sensible balance between respecting knowledge and expertise on one hand and simple, broad brush appeal on the other.

So good luck to everyone. The full longlist is at the bottom of the page, after four songs by the bands (other than Meursault of course) I would personally prefer to win.

Full list below:

Admiral Fallow – Tree Bursts In Snow
Auntie Flo – Future Rhythm Machine
Calvin Harris – 18 Months
Dam Mantle – Brothers Fowl
Django Django – Django Django
Duncan Chisholm – Affric
Emeli Sandé – Our Version of Events
Errors - Have Some Faith In Magic
Human Don’t Be Angry – Human Don’t Be Angry
Karine Polwart - Traces
Konrad Wiszniewski & Euan Stevenson – New Focus
Lau - Race The Loser
Meursault – Something For The Weakened
Miaoux Miaoux – Light of the North
Paul Buchanan – Mid Air
PAWS – Cokefloat!
RM Hubbert – Thirteen Lost & Found
Stanley Odd – Reject
The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know
The Unwinding Hours – Afterlives

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Song, by Toad at SXSW 2013 – Day 3

A quick video diary of our time at the the SXSW festival 2013, featuring Cheetahs, Paws, Thee Oh Sees, Sky Ferreira, Youth Lagoon & Mac Demarco.

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Song, by Toad at SXSW 2013 – Day 1

A quick video diary of our time at the the SXSW festival 2013, featuring Holy Esque, Paws, Foxygen, Jim James, and Vic Galloway and Ally McCrae from the BBC.

The rest of the videos will be added to this playlist as they are completed.

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Toadcast #263 – The Tatcast

posttag Yes, another year, another total shambles of a podcast. Oddly enough, the one time this has been even vaguely together was the one year the BBC happened to show up to film it. How we managed to get it together for that one occasion I have no idea. Maybe the TV cameras scared us into behaving.

Anyhow, this year’s podcast is probably the biggest shambles since the very first SXSW podcast. We are joined, at various times, by Mrs. Toad, Young Ian, Pandy from Gerry Loves Records, Ben Soep, the managers of Tango in the Attic and We Were Promised Jetpacks, as well the BBC’s ultra-credible and in-no-way-inebriated Ally McCrae who definitely wasn’t still a total shambles from St. Mirren’s League Cup win earlier in the day. And that’s before the usual subjects as myself, Vic Galloway, Peej and Stuart from Creative Scotland.

We were a few Margaritas down already, and it only got worse during the podcast, honestly. I am not sure this tells you much about SXSW, but it sure gives you a pretty clear idea of what it does to people.

Toadcast #263 – The Tatcast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #263 – The Tatcast

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01. Paws – Sore Tummy (00.22)
02. Doe Paoro – Hallelujah (07.49)
03. Young Fathers – The Guide (20.21)
04. Tango in the Attic – Sellotape (23.52)
05. Sinkane – Runnin’ (30.47)
06. Reuben Dangoor – Being a Dickhead’s Cool (36.12)
07. Indians – Somewhere Else (43.30)
08. Thee Oh Sees – Carrion Crawler (48.41)
09. Ghostface Killer – The Mask (57.57)
10. Holy Esque – St. (1.08.57)
11. Dave Carroll – United Breaks Guitars (1.12.21)

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