Song, by Toad

Posts tagged sean armstrong


Sean Armstrong and Keel Her

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 12.49.28 I’ve told you before, on numerous occasions, that I think Sean Armstrong is a talented wee fucker. Quite apart from his own stuff, his songwriting is a large part of both The Yawns and Spinning Coin, two fantastic bands themselves.

I first played Keel Her on a podcast over three years ago, and going back to Bandcamp I have to confess I had managed to lose track of quite how much stuff has made its way onto their page in the last couple of years.

Anyhow, the two have now collaborated on this tune, and I have no idea what the plans are for it or if there is more of this stuff, but I fucking hope so because this is bloody brilliant. Sean’s vocals are as elusive and distant as ever, but the duet anchors it all beautifully, and brings a lovely touch of warmth to the song.

It’s lo-fi, I suppose, but I suppose it sounds right like that – to me anyway. A simple drum machine, some guitar, a toy synth… it’s simple, but so effective. And that descending chorus bit is pure magic. Damaged pop, I suppose you could call it if you wanted a stupid invented genre, but it’s fucking ace.


Various Artists – David Cameron’s Eton Mess


Yep, this un-unseeable monstrosity will be out on 12″ vinyl in October. You’re welcome, universe!

Bands included are: Lush Purr, Sean Armstrong, Breakfast Muff, Dune Witch Trails, alansmithee, Youngstrr Joey, Spinning Coin, Chump, Passion Pusher, Andrew R. Burns and the Tropicanas, Psychic Soviets, Joyce Delaney, Wendell Borton, Froth, Dearness and Pennycress.

Every song is a fucking single.


Sean Armstrong

seanarmstrong Sean Armstrong is one of those people I tend to refer to as a ‘talented wee shite’. He’s erratic, I guess, and can be a little temperamental, but he’s still been involved in an awful lot of excellent stuff as well as his own self-releases, from The Yawns to Spinning Coin and Passion Pusher, and presumably a few others I am missing out.

He’s released a couple of things recently, a new album called Sevsevenson and very shortly afterwards this EP, called The Sweet Centre, and the latter in particular is gorgeous.

It’s a lot more contemplative and melancholy that a lot of his previous stuff, with wafty, high vocal slathered in reverb and delay to give it a dreamy quality, but when that is slowed down to fit with a really downtempo song it just sounds so very, very sad. With the Shivering Trees on The Sweet Centre is a classic example: just gorgeous, and horribly melancholy. And needless to say, I fucking love it for that.

The recording is lo-fi as fuck, but in this case I think that’s out of necessity rather than contrivance. Sean’s songs translate really well to more polished pop songs – see the aforementioned Spinning Coin and Yawns – but on these recordings you tend to get the framework rather than the embellishment.  Try the solo and band versions of Albany, for example:

There are weird moments all over the place: the SMASHSMASHSMASH in the middle of Juvenile on Sevsevenson for example. It can be a little baffling, but it’s just the nature of the beast. It’s all sort of sellotaped together, and you never know if you’re about to get a pop hit disguised as a scruffy throwaway or just a fragment of an idea which drifts off disconsolately into formlessness. The music seems to have the potential to veer into either at pretty much any point. Maybe that’s what makes it good.


Upcoming Toad Gigs


After a wee break and a couple of house shows, we actually have quite a lot of gigs coming up in the next little while, and that’s without even having thought about our New Year’s House Gig yet.

Obviously you are morally obliged to come to absolutely all of these shows and if you don’t attend each and every one I will secretly suspect that our friendship is based upon nothing more than a tissue of lies and pity. And if you can’t manage all of them then, erm, well one would be nice if you’re up for it. Please. They will be great shows, I promise.


Passion Pusher EP launch shows:

This Saturday 8th Nov – Voxbox, Edinburgh
With Sean Armstrong (The Yawns)
Sunday 9th Nov – Flying Duck, Glasgow
With FROTH, Herbert Powell Youngstrr Joey

These shows may have been a little hastily arranged, but they mark two important events: our first formal release with Passion Pusher, and our first ever cassette release.  James calls his genre ‘dingus rock’ which I have to confess I rather like, and I suppose you could throw slacker and lo-fi in there too, but those terms get applied to fucking everything these days. Slop rock maybe, because it has that sort of feel to it where you’re not sure if he would perhaps rather be playing computer games rather than singing the songs, but the end results happen to turn out brilliantly anyway.

Jonnie Common Album Launch Digiflyer

Jonnie Common album launch shows:

Thursday 13th Nov – Downstairs, Aberdeen
Friday 14th Nov – Pilrig St. Paul’s, Edinburgh
Saturday 15th Nov – Glad Café, Glasgow

Jonnie’s album may be mired in manufacturing delays (sorry everyone) but we will have copies on CD in time for the album launches. Jonnie just recorded a session with Vic Galloway (including an absolutely awesome John Cooper Clarke cover) which you can listen to here. In Aberdeen he will be joined by Christ and Colin Austin, and the Edinburgh and Glasgow shows will be with Wolf and poet Ross Sutherland.

ToadGig2014 1 digiflyer

My fucking birthday!

Wednesday 19th Nov – Henry’s, Edinburgh
The Pictish Trail, Two White Cranes & Owen McAulay

Quite why I have volunteered to work on my own fucking birthday I don’t know, but when Roxy from Two White Cranes got in touch asking about gigs in Edinburgh on the 18th or 19th of November I thought why the fuck not, let’s have a laugh and see some great bands. And I haven’t seen Johnny Pictish play solo for bloody ages either, and he is, despite being head of Song, by Toad Records’ most deadly rival, fucking ace at music.


Song, by Toad Christmas Parties:

Wednesday 3rd Dec – Total Refreshment Centre, London
Jonnie Common, Plastic Animals & Numbers Are Futile

Saturday 20th Dec – Henry’s, Edinburgh
Plastic Animals, Garden of Elks & erm, some other things.

We have two Christmas parties planned for this year, one down in London and one our traditional Edinburgh drunken train-wreck. London will be a bit of a label showcase, with a van-full of muppets heading down from the North to bring actual music and culture to our impoverished cousins in the South. Young Fathers won the Mercury, right? So England will be looking to Scotland for cultural leadership from now on, right?

In Edinburgh we shall have various friends doing weird and silly songs for a bit, and then some Proper Guitar Bands, and finally Irregular Owl Movements and Mrs. Toad DJ sets. God fucking help us.


Toadcast #292 – The Epicast

tag Epicast because this is indeed epic. A double-length podcast – well, almost – and all for the reason that I simply have to clear the decks a little. Next week I go away to the States for SXSW and after that I shall be driving Meursault on their first US tour.

With next week’s podcast being the Adam Stafford Toad Session, the week after that being our traditional SXSW one in Peej’s back yard, and fuck knows what I’ll manage whilst on tour, this means that anything not played this week will be both woefully out of date and quite possibly (shamefully) forgotten by the time I get back. Besides, my inbox will build up so much after a month in the States that I’ll be overwhelmed with new things by that point and barely able to process anything else.

So yes, an epic podcast, almost two hours long, but if you have the patience for both the length and my drunken rambling, then one which will reward you with some truly excellent new music. This really takes me back to the early days of the podcasts, back when I would get utterly obliterated and play songs for hours until I could barely speak.  Awful for the listener, I imagine, but kind of nostalgic for me.

Toadcast #292 – The Epicast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #292 – The Epicast

Subscribe to the Toadcasts on Mixcloud

Subscribe to the Toadcasts on iTunes

01. Panda Kid – A Long Long Summer (00.26)
02. Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams (06.47)
03. David Thomas Broughton – Problems (17.44)
04. Tissø Lake – Carnival (20.56)
05. The B-52s – Rock Lobster (27.44)
06. alansmithee – Half Measured Man (38.22)
07. Passion Pusher – Life in Transit (44.12)
08. iLLshORE – All Night (45.54)
09. Benjamin Shaw – Goodbye, Kagoul World (52.32)
10. Keel Her – Go (1.01.24)
11. Fear of Men – Luna (1.03.50)
12. Jargon Party – Lucy Melanie (1.10.32)
13. Miserable – Bell Jar (1.14.56)
14. Le Thug – Paints (1.22.17)
15. Magic Eye – Bollywood (1.26.55)
16. Sean Armstrong – Bright Review (1.33.03)
17. Glaciers – Cryptomeria (1.36.02)
18. Passenger Peru – Dirt Nap (1.45.31)


Toadcast #279 – The Yawns Toad Session

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

This session was recorded back in March, so once again I find myself apologising to the band for taking so long over it. I blame Beer vs. Records, Sparrow and the Workshop and the Pale Imitation Festival for taking such a lot of time and work that I ended up distracted. The same old disorganised shite as usually happens, in other words.

The Yawns emerged late last year when they released their debut album as a pay-what-you-want download to pretty much no fanfare at all. Slowly but surely, however, word seemed to spread around the internet and it turned out that a lot of people were really into the record. I was released on tape by one label, then vinyl by another and actually ended up doing better than loads of stuff people put all their time and energy into promoting.

I loved it too, of course, so I asked them to play in Edinburgh in January, and then I enjoyed the show so much a Toad Session ensued. And this is it.

Many thanks to the team once again – Gavin, Rory, Matthew and Ian who helped with the filming, Rory who took the photos, Neil who recorded it and Mrs. Toad who made AWESOME brownies! And, I suppose, to the cats, for not massively disrupting everything like they usually do.  Puss-tards.

Toadcast #279 – The Yawns Toad Session by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

The Yawns – Diamond (Toad Session)

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.

The Yawns – Jean Thumb (Toad Session)

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.

The Yawns – Romeo Done (Toad Session)

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.

The Yawns – Butterfleyes (Toad Session)

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.

01. The Yawns – Diamond (Toad Session) (00.17)
02. Sean Armstrong – Dying in the Garden (08.50)
03. Battery Face – Cider Says (10.23)
04. The Yawns – Jean Thumb (Toad Session) (16.41)
05. Dolfinz – Yeah Right (23.51)
06. The Side Pony – Repeat and More (26.27)
07. The Yawns – Rome Done (Toad Session) (32.44)
08. Mac DeMarco – Stars Keep On Calling My Name (36.34)
09. The Clean – Getting Older (39.01)
10. The Yawns – Butterfleyes (Toad Session) (47.17)


Sean Armstrong – Generation Scum

 I’ve been meaning to write about this for quite a long time, but I’ve been sort of unsure as to what exactly to write. In all honesty, I am not sure that the album itself really knows what it wants to be either, which doesn’t really help matters.

Released on PAWS’ Cath Records, this is a sprawling, messy collection of twenty-three songs, few of which are more than a minute or two long.  It feels less like it was an album released with a particular goal or concept in mind, and more like a bunch of songs which were recorded and made available in the hope that the very act of doing so might tell the writer what they are. Maybe even in the hope that if he was able to listen to what it was that he did, he might be able to figure out why he was doing it.

Even the first couple of tracks go from lo-fi indie, to bare-bones synth pop, to a frantic instrumental which borders on computer game music without being bleepy enough to be chiptunes, and then a dreamy acoustic number.  By the end of these songs barely six minutes have elapsed, and you’re still no closer to really understanding quite what it is that you’re listening to.

So it’s a mess, in many ways, and sort of an aimless mess at that, but I still find this album – if that’s what we should be calling it – a really compelling listen.

In some ways the uncertain meandering – Dying in the Garden could almost be a lost demo for Across the Universe, just as another example – makes this a lively, rather baffling listen which constantly has you looking up at the stereo thinking ‘what now?’

And in other ways, I actually quite like the uncertainty of identity.  It’s like Armstrong has been as generous as he can with his inner thought process, accepted that he isn’t sure where he’s going and very kindly invited us to come along on the journey to see if he can figure it out.

And there are enough ideas here that for all it sounds a bit unsure of its own identity, it’s not a record which seems like it has simply been lazily slapped out onto the internet for shits and giggles.  Twenty-three two-minute songs may give the impression of a lot of unfinished ideas, which I suppose you could take for laziness, but that’s not really how it feels to me.

Despite the fact that the songs could be described as sounding unfinished, depending on what you were expecting in the first place, each ninety second package seems to have integrity.  It contains its idea, expresses it in a way that gives it space, but no over-indulgence and then simply moves on.

So you can see how this review was a challenge to write, and why I shied away from it for a while.  I am still not entirely sure what it is I am listening to here, but the songs are varied, generally excellent, and that sense of trying to grasp the ever-elusive essence of the album just seems to make it all the more fascinating.  Odd.  But good. And available for free download over at Cath Records.

Sean Armstrong – Acid Bath

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.

Sean Armstrong – Dying in the Garden

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.