Song, by Toad

Posts tagged paws

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Dearness – Accidental Gold

dearness  Ah, lo-fi tape releases. Hooray for the internet. Funny that something so ephemeral should have ended up encouraging something so very string-and-brown-paper, but it seems to have. If anything, I think the lack of actual need for a physical product has reminded a small group of people why they actually want one.

There are reasons this is a relatively small DIY release, I think, and two of the main ones are ‘other bands’. Ryan Drever also plays in PAWS and in Garden of Elks, whose debut album we will be releasing here at Song, by Toad Records in a couple of months, and I guess that almost automatically means he has to limit the amount of energy he puts into his own stuff.

It’s good though, if somewhat unassuming. On first listen I thought no more than ‘oh, this is decent’, but repeated listens have significantly improved that somewhat lazy first impression. There are elements of meandering bedroom lo-fi here, with songs so unfocussed that they feel like the very most slack of the slacker end of the spectrum. Less that halfway into Accidental Gold you find Frank Devereaux, which is distant, muffled and minimal. Then you get into Stationary Waves and it feels like everything is kind of grinding to a premature halt.

That song is basically just a long, rambling monologue over the top of a background of incidental music that feels like the EP is drowning in its own fuzz and mumble. But then it suddenly springs into life, with what is basically just a big old riffy pop song, called It’s OK, You’re Fine.

Second-last seems like an odd place to put what is closest to your ‘big pop song’, but it throws everything which has gone before it into sharp relief. Closer Nobody Knows (What the Fuck They’re Talking About) is upbeat again, with what sounds like distorted fragments of TV or radio broadcasts interspersed with classic, direct, fuzzy indie rock. It’s nasty, but it has real drive and pace and is a great way to end everything.

As I said, this sudden burst of energy changes how everything before it feels, and what seemed like a weird, distracted meander suddenly turns out to be a really well-assembled collection of rough and ready songs – enough pop to be fairly instantly engaging and enough experimental nastiness to be really interesting. I don’t love Roads + Rails particularly – I am not sure the way it’s sung particularly suits Ryan’s voice – but that’s a pretty small gripe because for the most part this is really good. And there are only a couple left too, so get one quick if you want one.

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Song, by Toad’s Albums of the Year 2014 6-10

trophy Welcome to the latest instalment in what must surely be the most hotly-anticipated of all of the end of year lists which thunder towards us as this time of year with all the unavoidable, wild-eyed hysteria of a flock of panicking sheep.

Actually, that’s maybe not fair, is it. Actually, I think I’ve probably missed the giddy peak of List Season by a good fortnight or so by this point, but I don’t mind that. I like to assemble this kind of thing in the shell-shocked quiet of the post-Christmas boozing, where as our initial wave of epic multi-day-hangovers starts to finally wane, it slowly starts to dawn on us that we’re about to have to do it all again at New Year’s.

Song, by Toad’s Best of 2014
1-5 | 6-10 | 11-20

Needless to say, this list is entirely objective and can be backed up with meticulous charts and graphs and is therefore the Definitive Truth of Music in 2014, and thou shalt hold no other lists before mine. Or something like that.

Alternatively, it might just turn out to be the random, incoherent bletherings of yet another keyboard warrior with too many opinions and too few people who give the tiniest fuck about them, but I’ll leave it up to you to choose which one.

6. Paws – Youth Culture Forever

It seems like a back-handed insult to their previous album to say that this represents a huge step forward for Paws. I loved their previous record, and we all knew they could write infectious yet affecting pop songs, but this is a fantastic album with all sorts of new directions on it – noise, drone, a bit of cello, some piano, plenty of nastiness and still the same knack for a singalong chorus. Cracking band, cracking album.

7. Malcolm Middleton and David Shrigley – Words and Music

It seems a bit unfair to rank this on a list of albums, because it feels kind of like it should be on a separate list all of its own. I don’t know how this will bear up over time, but the mix of horror, delight, fascination and just plain old bafflement which greeted my first listen to this deranged record of spoken-word charcoal-black absurdity was pretty much still there on the dozenth listen.

8. Myriam Gendron – Not So Deep as a Well

This is so, so simple. Just acoustic guitar with minimal embellishment and a beautiful, beautiful singing voice. It’s the kind of genre so well-populated that people can’t really bring anything new anymore, but albums like this nevertheless feel like wonderful new additions.

9. Adam Faucett – Blind Water Finds Blind Water

Half of this album could be my favourite record of the year. It’s a tad uneven, but while the classic Southern rock of Melanie is one of the best songs of the year, it’s the more contemplative tunes like Walking Home Late, Sparkman, Poet Song and Benton which make the middle bit of this album as good as anything else I’ve heard all year. Another one of those ‘why the fuck are they not more fucking famous’ moments.

10. Chad VanGaalen – Shrink Dust

CVG acolytes have said that this, whilst good, is not his best album. It’s the first one I’ve really got into though, so I don’t come with the baggage of allegiance to previous recordings and to me it sounds absolutely fucking great.

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Toadcast #303 – The Palercast

TAG So, a little over halfway through the Pale Imitation Festival, and here we are. There are still four gigs to go, with Rick Redbeard, LAW, eagleowl and PAWS headlining (tickets and full details here), and the gigs are only a fiver to get into, which in Edinburgh in August represents a monumental fucking bargain.

We also have a new single out on Song, by Toad Records, from David Thomas Broughton and Juice Vocal Ensemble‘s new collaborative album Sliding the Same Way which is now available for pre-order so I’ve popped that on the playlist as well, along with a Passion Pusher song from our first cassette release which is due in October or November or something like that.

Other than that, there are a couple of new Scottish singles, some live gig plugs and a couple of Song, by Toad recording alumni with some bits and pieces, so it’s all quite local music for local people this week. Phew. I am finding the Festival heavy going, I have to confess. Not that I’m not enjoying it, just that it does kind of wear you out, not least with all the drinking. Still, my Mum turns up on Sunday, so that should at least put the dampers on some of the worst carrying-on. Hopefully.

Toadcast #303 – The Palercast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

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01. Neon Waltz – Bare Wood Aisles (00.17)
02. Broken Records – So Long, So Late (06.37)
03. David Thomas Broughton & Juice Vocal Ensemble – In Service (12.41)
04. Numbers Are Futile – Justice is Light (and Blood) (18.37)
05. Sharron Kraus – When Father Hanged the Children (22.45)
06. Samantha Crain – Paint (30.50)
07. Sex Hands – Gay Marriage (36.07)
08. Ian Humberstone – House on the Hill (43.55)
09. PAWS – Poor Old Christopher Robin (Tape Demo) (46.11)
10. Passion Pusher – BLT (54.06)
11. eagleowl – Too Late in the Day (1.02.34)

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Toadcast #302 – The Palecast

tagWell as you can probably tell from the graphics and indeed also the title, this is going to just be one long plug for our August antics at the Pale Imitation Festival this year.

But, as you will hear me rattling on about, I suppose the label and the gigs are essentially the same as the blog really aren’t they, in that it’s basically just me having a massive tantrum that the entire world doesn’t completely agree with me about music. So in that sense plugging label releases and our live shows on here isn’t me compromising the integrity of the site, is it, it’s just an extension of the original purpose of the site in the first place isn’t it? ISN’T IT?

I hope so, anyway.

In any case, for those of you outside Edinburgh you can’t actually attend this festival but that won’t really matter because basically this is just a podcast full of absolutely fantastic Scottish bands, so for a change I am being Mr. Scotland tonight, although as you will hear, I’m not all that gracious about it!

Toadcast #302 – The Palecast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #302 – The Palecast

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01. Adam Stafford – Vanishing Tanks (00.22)
02. Le Thug – Paints (08.40)
03. Andrew R. Burns – Stinking Ship (16.19)
04. Sharptooth – Bonnie Blaze (19.22)
05. alansmithee – Snooze (26.07)
06. Deathcats – Danny Dyer (29.47)
07. Ian Humberstone – Ocean Paths to Palace (37.57)
08. LAW – Lilo (44.45)
09. Rick Redbeard – Dreams of the Trees (47.30)
10. Kitchen Cynics – When Father Hanged the Children (57.22)
11. Halfrican – I’m in L.U.V. (1.05.55)
12. PAWS – War Cry (1.07.04)

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Pale Imitation Festival 2014

Pale Imitation 2014 digiflyer

Well brace yourselves, here we go: the full lineup for the Pale Imitation Festival 2014 has been finalised and can now be announced, tickets can be bought, and giddy excitement can commence. It’s a cheap and cheerful festival of Scottish music, held at Henry’s Cellar Bar over the course of August.

Conceived initially as a way to keep the fun, family-friendly DIY spirit of the awesome Retreat Festival alive, I think for me it’s sort of evolved into something different. I like the Edinburgh Festival, I really do. Or at least I try. There’s lots of awesome stuff happening, but there is also a massive, stifling avalanche of over-priced, imported rubbish which smothers everything in the city and dominates the press and makes it almost impossible to do anything at all in music except sit back for six weeks and wait for it to be over. And being a bloody-minded little shit, I don’t accept that.

Music used to be really well served during the Edinburgh Festival, but now it seems that small local enterprises doggedly trying to support Scottish music are pretty much the only ones giving it any kind of foothold at all. The Queen’s Hall and The Electric Circus have some great stuff on in August, and then there is us: a reasonably-priced, month-long celebration of local music, held in one of Edinburgh’s stalwart underground venues. A fiver per gig, and a season ticket available for only £25, as well as a separate, showcase gig at the Queen’s Hall which will be the last ever Meursault show.

The full lineup is below, and tickets can be bought here, except for the Meursault/Plastic Animals Queen’s Hall show which can be bought directly from the Queen’s Hall. Season tickets are here, and they entitle you to attend all the Henry’s gigs (the QH one is separate) – meaning you could get nine gigs for the price of five, which is pretty amazing. Do try and get there by 8pm though, so we know whether to hold you a place or not at the busy shows.

Sat 2nd Aug – Adam Stafford, Le Thug & Duchess
SAY Award-shortlisted Adam Stafford is currently working on a new album, and his experimental, looped guitar pop songs will be complemented by the hazey washes of Le Thug and newcomers Duchess.

Thu 7th Aug – The Leg, Now Wakes the Sea +1 TBC
Screaming pop mentalists The Leg headline the second night, with support from the phenomenal, if a little wonky, Now Wakes the Sea, plus another band to be confirmed.

Sat 9th Aug – The Yawns, Sharptooth & alansmithee
The Yawns play a lazy brand of sloppy guitar pop, and made one of the sleeper albums of the year a wee while back. They are joined by the slightly more aggressive Sharptooth and Livingstone newcomers alansmithee.

Wed 13th Aug – Meursault & Plastic Animals – Queen’s Hall
The centre-piece of the Pale Imitation Festival this year is the last ever Meursault show, at the Queen’s Hall. That’s right, your last ever chance to see the current band play live, and they will be joined by pals and label-mates Plastic Animals.

Thu 14th Aug – Deathcats, Garden of Elks & Passion Pusher
Surfy, guitar loons Deathcats released their debut album this year, and it is every bit as hugely enjoyable and sloppily noisy as you would have expected. Abrasive shouters Garden of Elks and Edinburgh’s most hapless guitar pop star in the making comprise the rest of the bill.

Sat 16th Aug – Jonnie Common, Jesus H. Foxx & Andrew R. Burns
Jonnie Common is a maverick genius, who makes experimental music sound like the most accessible of pop songs, and he’ll be joined by the recently resuscitated Phoenix H. Foxx, and Chillwave revivalist Andrew R. Burns. Jonnie really needs to start using his middle initial, to fit on this bill properly.

Thu 21th Aug – Rick Redbeard, Siobhan Wilson (Ella the Bird) & Kitchen Cynics
If Rick Redbeard would stop buggering about being famous with the Phantom Band, I think he could be one of Scotland’s most loved singer-songwriters. He’d be one of mine, certainly, and after only recently discovering his stuff, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear myself saying the same of The Kitchen Cynics. Siobhan Wilson has just started to perform under the name Ella the Bird, but her gorgeous voice and songwriting remain very much the same.

Sat 23rd Aug – LAW, Numbers are Futile & Wozniak
LAW has been one of the breakthrough sensations of recent years. Based in Edinburgh, and collaborating with members of Young Fathers, her music is dark but danceable, and actually reminds me of an Edinburgh pop singer of a few years back – anyone remember Helicopter Girl? No? Just me, then. On the bill with LAW are the hypnotic, rhythm popsters Numbers are Futile and messy shoegazers Wozniak.

There will be a big old after-party after this show, with Lost Map DJs and, erm, well hopefully I won’t be allowed anywhere near the decks at all.

Thu 28th Aug – eagleowl, Ian Humberstone & Smackvan
Eagleowl are Edinburgh’s most glacial post-anti-drumcore, kraut-folk band, and will be joined by the gorgeously intimate croon of Ian Humberstone and warm miserablism of Smackvan.

Sat 30th Aug – PAWS, Halfrican & Et tu Brute!!!
Our favourite pop-punk band PAWS proved they had rather more strings to their bow than just awesomely hummable guitar tunes with their fantastic second album, released at the beginning of the year.  They are pals of ours, they almost signed to our label, and they’re the most prolific accumulators of parking tickets on the Toad Van, so they seemed like a perfect choice for the closing party of this year’s Pale Imitation Festival. Joined by short-shorts-wearing Halfrican and the intense battering of Et tu Brute!!!, it’s going to a lively last show. And then I will get some fucking sleep.

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The Pale Imitation Festival 2014 is Taking Shape

The-Wickerman-Nicolas-Cage I have to confess that when we first conceived the Pale Imitation Festival (like most of the stupid ideas we get involved with it was first suggested whilst sitting in the back garden with a lot of gin) I was prepared for it to be a bit of a damp squib.

I don’t mean that out of pessimism, though, more a sense of caution in the face of a pretty big undertaking.

The point of the Pale Imitation Festival is to offer a cheap, local antidote to all the over-priced, imported shite which dominates the Edinburgh Festival itself.

It went better than I ever imagined, I have to confess, and even the very worst show of the festival was only ‘very good’, and pretty much all the rest were bloody great.

Anyhow, this year we’ll be doing it all again – every Thursday and Saturday at Henry’s Cellar Bar during August we’ll be showcasing the very best of independent Scottish music. And there’s also a big shiny Queen’s Hall show thrown in as well, just to make things more interesting: Meursault and Plastic Animals on 13th August.

We’ve not booked the entirety of the lineup yet, but so far we have some truly awesome bands on there, such as SAY Award nominees Adam Stafford and Rick Redbeard, as well as future nominees LAW and PAWS. Here are some of the currently confirmed bands, but keep a look out for future announcements as the rest of the lineup gets finalised. And remember, our £25 season ticket will be available again too.

Confirmed so far: Adam Stafford – Le Thug – Meursault – Plastic Animals – Andrew R. Burns – LAW – Rick Redbeard – Ian Humberstone – PAWS – Halfrican

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Toadcast #300 – The Brazilcast

World Cup England and Italy Wow, our 300th podcast! But honestly, I celebrated the 200th and the 250th I think, so celebrating again, a mere fifty podcasts later, seems a bit hollow. So Yay Me! for sticking at it, and Yay You! for continuing to listen to this pish, but I guess I should really keep quiet now until number 500.

Also, OH WOW TEH WURLD CUPZ! Except for the fact that England are effectively out, by this stage, and so I suppose I should just appreciate the fact that now I get to pull for whoever plays the best football. So far I guess that might be Germany, Holland and Chile – at least they’re the only teams who have really convinced so far, in my opinion.

And finally, Woo Hoo, the first free-play podcast in ages. The last few have been strongly themed, so this is the first time in a while that I’ve been free to just sit down at the computer and pick whatever the fuck I want to play, which is fun. Enjoy!

Toadcast #300 – The Brazilcast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

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01. The Victorian English Gentleman’s Club – Ban the Gin (00.56)
02. Siobhan Wilson – Dear God (06.02)
03. David Thomas Broughton – Yorkshire Fog (14.39)
04. BRAAINZZ – Ode 2 Lil B (feat. Slide Show) (22.06)
05. Grace Joyner – Young Thing (23.33)
06. Jeff Finlin – Language of Love (30.57)
07. Broken Records – So Long, So Late (42.04)
08. PAWS – Erreur Humaine (45.40)
09. Wozniak – El Maresme (53.24)
10. Myriam Gendron – Threnody (1.02.13)

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PAWS – Youth Culture Forever

paws_fatcd129_cover Alright, this time, THIS TIME Paws’ album is bound to end up on the Scottish Album of the Year shortlist isn’t it? I mean, come on people, be sensible.

The disparity between the rest of the world’s taste and my own gets me down sometimes, but I think Paws might be the last band I really liked to come out of Scotland and actually achieve something. Their last album was great – joyous (assuming you didn’t listen to the words too closely) and exuberant, and a pretty accurate snapshot of the kind of energy, commitment and pop nous which made them such firm favourites up here, before relentless touring and the assistance of Fatcat Records introduced them to the rest of the world.

Oddly enough, for a band with such strong DIY instincts, their last album ended up sounding relatively polished. It worked just fine, but definitely emphasised the pop side of the band. This album is self-produced – a relatively bold decision, I suppose, for a fairly young band – and I have to confess I far prefer the sound. It’s denser and nastier and by the time the absolutely fucking awesome cello kicked in halfway through Alone I was pretty much punching the air with delight. In fact the whole van (I listened for the first time when on tour with one of our bands) pretty much all exchanged that ‘holy fuck, that is nasty‘ look in unison. But in a good way. A very good way.

As ‘difficult second albums’ go, in fact, this whole record pretty much laughs that whole cliché off as if the phrase had never been coined in the first place. Rather than difficult, this sounds like a band who have really worked out how they want to sound and gone about making a record of exactly that.

Oddly enough, though, I think that for all this is a better album than its predecessor Cokefloat, it may actually be a little less consistent. Tunes like Someone New and Give Up might be a bit lyrically obvious for my liking, and the trademark Paws arpeggiated chorus (whatever the technical term is) is perhaps a little too strong as well. That might actually be what makes these two of the standout pop songs on the album, but in personal terms they are possibly my least favourite.

To balance that, of course, there are some of the best songs Paws have written, not least the absolutely fantastic 1-2 which starts the album.That glee I experienced when I first heard the cello in Alone was matched when I heard Erreur Humaine as well. I’ve said it about Paws before, but it sounds quite a bit like the unfairly unremembered Marcy Playground. It’s followed by Tongues, a tune which is also relatively gentle by Paws standards, and between them they may not indicate revolution, but they definitely make it pretty clear that this is a band developing from their early material and pushing on into new territory.

When a band have a such a knack for sprightly pop tunes I am always keen to see them show that they can do more. Not that I underestimate the skill behind a good pop song of course, but if you can blend them with a bit more then you have a band with genuine longevity, and it looks like that’s what we’re seeing emerge here: a band with real depth and range.

The epic wig-out track seems to be becoming quite common amongst bands I like at the moment, and Youth Culture Forever ends with one: the rather excellent War Cry. It’s a proper beast of a song and ends with Paws doing what they do best – absolutely fucking going for it. After an album which brilliantly shows all the other strings they have to their bow, this song almost reads like and big fat fucking ‘I told you so’.

There’s something in the mentality of the band – although maybe just in Phil Taylor actually – which seems to be drawn disproportionately to the doubters and the obstacles of a musician’s life. For someone whose band is a pretty big success by comparison to most of their peers you still get the impression that just participating in the modern music industry is something they don’t really relish. What they do like, though, is making music, and by the time War Cry is over you get the impression that’s what is being said. Fuck all the other stuff, we’re a band, we make records and here is what we can do – stick that in your fucking pipe and smoke it.

After all the feelings of self-doubt and not particularly generous self-analysis expressed in the record it seems suitable to end it with something of a war cry. This is what we do, this is why we love it, and this is why I love them.

Paws play Glasgow tomorrow and the Wee Red Bar in Edinburgh on Saturday. If you can’t make it along to either of these shows you can buy your copy of the album here. You won’t regret it.

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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…