Song, by Toad

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Toadcast #262 – The Queuecast

posttag The Queuecast is the best I could come up with in an attempt to amalgamate the anticipation of heading off to SXSW on the weekend, with the inevitable queueing to get into stuff once there.

Actually, that’s not quite true. There’s so much going on at places like SXSW that really, if the thing you want to see has an annoying queue (and for me they are never anything other than annoying) outside it, then you can always walk five minutes down the road, walk straight in untroubled, and see something else equally brilliant instead.

Mrs. Toad is out there already, presumably having cocktails with young Ian who works at the label with me. In fact those two total fuckers are probably three or four margaritas down already, as you read this. Bastards. Anyhow, I get out on Saturday afternoon, and the gin will be flowing within moments, I promise you.

The upside of this SXSW fun, which will no doubt irritate the shit out of people back home, is that Toad Hall once again becomes a recording studio while we are away.  Both Rob St. John and Meursault will be making inroads into their next releases over the next fortnight, so hopefully the thought of that will calm your jealous rage at all the fun we are having in Texas.

Toadcast #262 – The Queuecast by Song, By Toad on Mixcloud

Direct download: Toadcast #262 – The Queuecast

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01. Mike Higbee – Secret Life (00.28)
02. Shift-Static – Estrella (10.03)
03. Vandaveer – Pretty Polly (15.51)
04. Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards – Sheets (19.32)
05. Brown Brogues – Anyone But You (25.07)
06. Kurt Vile – Wakin’ on a Pretty Day (32.02)
07. Breathe Out – Dead Friends (45.30)
08. Playlounge – Elephant (48.50)
09. Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood – Pentecostal (53.46)
10. New Fabian Society – Homily (1.00.22)

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Live in Edinburgh This Week – 6th March 2013

edinburgh-3 As you can probably tell from the shambles the blog has been this week, Mrs. Toad is away again. I always seem to have an inordinately hard time keeping my shit together when she’s not around, because her regular 9-5 schedule keeps me vaguely on the rails.

When she’s away, however, it all goes to shit. I don’t need to get up in the morning, why not watch one more episode of Breaking Bad or whatever. Then before you know it, it’s half seven in the morning, and my sleep cycle is more fucked than if I were jet-lagged.

Self-discipline has never been a quality I have much possessed, I have to confess. It’s only a sense of simmering competitive rage which keeps the label ticking over, not some fuzzy Protestant work ethic.

Anyhow, it’s late in the week, but not too late to have some giggenfuns so here are a couple of decent-looking things which are happening this week in Edinburgh.

Firstly, of course, our next BAD FUN is this Friday 8th March at Henry’s Cellar Bar.  Enigmatic electronic pop magician Jonnie Common returns to Edinburgh after an extended exile in the very far North, supported by beep-ninja River of Slime, and the Edinburgh debut of awesome Newcastle dream pop band Shift-Static. Fiver in, doors at half-seven.

Rather more urgently, tonight the Travelling Band bring their lush country pop to the Electric Circus, and then on Saturday Conquering Animal Sound launch their latest album of experimental electronic pop at the Voodoo Rooms, supported by Pumajaw and Plum. The new record, called On Floating Bodies, is out on Chemikal Underground in late March.

If your tastes are even more underground than that, then there are a couple of other gigs on the weekend which might also interest you.  One Friday we have what looks like a new, regular promoter (and god knows Edinburgh needs more of those) called The Sound Project putting on a four-band bill at the Wee Red Bar with The Creeping Ivies, Saint Max and the Fanatics, Universal Thee and Linse – broadly this is mostly ‘indie’ music, but veers from indie pop to swampy psych, acoustic pop and back, so there’s a really good variety.

And finally, on Saturday at Henry’s Cellar Bar we have three rather more gentle bands, in the form of Thank You So Nice, Arran Arctic and The Occasional Flickers. This is more in vein of acoustic pop – from fey to folky – but is actually a really good, if rather under the radar, lineup.

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Five For Friday – 22nd February 2013

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Image from here.

Morning all, and welcome back to the Friday Fives, where I supply you with five entertaining, thought-provoking or just plain silly things which I have happened across on the internet this week and you, in return, either simply read and chuckle or, if you have something, jump into the comments and share something cool you’ve found in the last seven days. Because let’s face it, it sure as fuck beats working on a Friday afternoon, that’s for sure.

1. Beat Delete

Whilst I would tend to defend blogs who offer up the odd song for free download, even unauthorised ones (assuming nothing was pre-release), full album download blogs have always been absolutely and obviously wrong. Except in one case: deleted back catalogue releases. If something is genuinely unavailable to purchase then no-one is making money off it anyway, and the only thing which happens when a blogger posts it, even for free, is that a potentially forgotten piece of work is kept alive in the hearts and minds of whoever happens to find it.

Beat Delete have another solution. They have a sort of Kickstarter approach, where people simply order out-of-print records and, once a certain threshold is reached, the label will re-press them – simple!  There isn’t much on there yet, but as you can see from their list of most-funded albums, some things are getting pretty close already.

2. Song of the Week – Estrella by Shift-Static

These fellows are a Newcastle band with a tiny hint of Edinburgh about them, and they will be playing our next BAD FUN night, so I thought I might take the opportunity to introduce their new song.

The BAD FUN in question is on Friday 8th March at Henry’s Cellar Bar, and stars River of Slime and Jonnie Common as well as these chaps. And it will be awesome.

3. This Government are a  Bunch of Cunts – and Also Idiots

It’s almost, barely excusable that we voted for the Tories.  After all, it had been so long since they were last in power that I think a lot of us, to a degree myself included, had forgotten what a bunch of vicious, parasitic vermin they really are. Having said that, as a country I think we need to be pretty fucking ashamed of ourselves at how easy they have managed to turn us against the poorest and most vulnerable members of society and make them scapegoats for the problems caused by the collapse of our economy which was actually caused by the Tories and their ilk in the first place.

Because if we can be certain about some things, it is these: benefit fraud did not cause the financial crisis, nor did excessive pensions for nurses and teachers, and nor did the cost of providing disability benefits. Nevertheless these are the things which are being vitriolically set upon, and towards which the ire of the public is being so disturbingly shoved, while the real perpetrators are presumably sneering at us in their gentlemen’s clubs and sniggering into their port and cigars.

And I don’t like to link to the Daily Mirror, but as well as being viciously immoral, the government’s recent move to get more disabled people into work – chiefly using a ‘Tip Ironside Out of his Wheelchair and See What He Does’ approach – is also proving to be worse than ineffective.  Well, as any public schoolboy will tell you, you have to pay top dollar if you want to attract the very best and brightest people. Twats.

“Of 9,500 people moved off disability benefits and on to the flagship Work Programme, just 20 have found a job lasting more than three months.”

“Just 3.6% of people taking part in Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s scheme found lasting jobs.  That compared with the 5% who would have done so anyway, according to estimates by his own department.”

4. Fucking Architecture Blogs on Tumblr, Man!

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Honestly, I just can’t get enough of these things.  Tumblr is like a deluxe version of Twitter in many ways, but one which lends itself to strongly visual media if just due to the extended amount you can actually do with a single post. Some of the architecture blogs on there are absolutely amazing, and although never an architecture student even in an armchair sense, I am absolutely addicted to them.

The image above is from Fuck Yeah, Brutalism! but there are loads more.  The one at the top of the page came from Previously Loved Places, and I also rather like Let’s Build a Home, Amadion and Architecture of Doom.

5. John Robb Deals With the Fucking Brits

I like this.  The link above takes you to John Robb‘s Open Letter to The Brits. It’s worth reading, both for its clear contempt for the vacuous circus the Brits seems to have turned into – 0r perhaps the circus it always was – and also for the hand-wringing which followed.  For all he clearly despises the Brits he doesn’t get drawn into the ‘Oh noes, musicks is ded!’ shrieking of many cultural commentators who have since had their say.  The celebrity entertainment end of the music industry has always been pointless, worthless, embarrassing shit designed for advertisers, but there’s no point getting it mixed up with actual music.  Sure, the two are related and do overlap slightly, but they are emphatically not the same, and we needn’t care too much, if at all, about what happens on the X-Factor, The Brits or any of that crap. It’s not for us or about us.

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Next BAD FUN: Jonnie Common, River of Slime & Shift-Static

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Our next BAD FUN takes place on Friday 8th March at Henry’s Cellar Bar and features well-established Toad favourite Jonnie Common, with support from FOUND’s beep-master general River of Slime and BAD FUN debutants, the Newcastle (somewhat tangentially) by way of Edinburgh Shift-Static.  Tickets can be found here, and of course it would be splendid to see you there, should you be so inclined.

Last Saturday’s gig was amazing fun, although The Black Tambourines managed not to smash the place to pieces this time, so I suppose it was relatively subdued by their standards.

Despite Jonnie’s recent exile in the very far North of the country, he has actually been surprisingly productive over the last few months.  The video above showcases both one of the songs from and also the making of JWC008, an EP which can only be purchased in badge form here, and he’s also just released a new single called Figurehead on the brilliant Red Deer Club Records.

Both bits of work are typical of Jonnie, as wistful as they are playful, as well as being eminently hummable. Between this, the infectious energy of River of Slime, and the intrigue of seeing a relative newcomer for the first time I think we have a fine night planned here, so hopefully I’ll see you there.

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Shift-Static – In Italics

 Hmmm, reading the email I was sent by Shift-Static, there is a definite emphasis on their Edinburgh associations which seems entirely absent from any of their other PR material.  So if they were trying to prey upon my nepotistic instincts then they, erm, probably had a point actually.

It’s hard to resist the idea that somewhere round the corner from you there exists a collection of talented fuckers making amazing music entirely out of the view of the world’s music chatterati, so despite the fact that this lot are clearly far more from Newcastle than they are from Edinburgh, I will confess I felt just that little bit more curious when opening this email than when opening many others.  Not least it’s unusual to hear about a band from Edinburgh who no-one’s told me about already.  Even if *cough* they’re really from Newcastle.

The other thing this lot have managed, which is really rather funny, is to make a total hypocrisy of my recent post decrying remixes. I know I joke about it, but this is where the local nepotism possibly did come into play after all.  Generally, finding sentences like ‘here is our amazing song and here is a remix of it’ sends me straight to the delete button, but in this case the combination of Shift-Static being a local band, of the email being nicely worded and the remix being attributed to Waskerley Way, who are a band I know and like, meant that I felt I really should listen.

And if they are reading, the poor fuckers in Shift-Static are probably wondering why I’ve got to the fourth paragraph of a writeup of their music without mentioning the slightest thing about it.  I apologise for this, but I suppose I just wanted to give you some sort of impression of what surfing my inbox every day is actually like.  Things get deleted so fast that even I myself am fascinated by what it is that nudges me to listen more closely to something.

Anyhow, now that I have (apologies to the band) finally got round to discussing the music, it’s not a thousand mile away from the LeThug stuff I wrote about last week.  It’s definitely electronic pop music, although there is perhaps a little more shimmering than shoegaze going on here.  In fact, for all Il-1 is glitchy and uncertain, by the time the second song – Thanks, Thugs -  kicks in, we are into the kind of territory which Goldfrapp and The Pet Shop Boys managed to straddle so successfully: that particular kind of electronic music which, whilst I assume it will please its core audience of electronic pop fans, will also thrill conservative and relatively narrow-minded indie kids like myself.

The remix mention came about because the band themselves highlighted both the original version of Sky Burial as well as the aforementioned remix of the same song, both of which take centre stage here as a one-two in the middle of the EP.

I’ll admit that the clean, clear female vocal delivery of the original, for all it is lovely, strays a little too far into the polished pop world for my own personal taste.  Not that far, because I still really like the song, but perhaps a little further than anything I am likely to end up truly loving.

The Waskerley Way remix, however, for all it doesn’t do much, just seems to add both enough haze and enough heft to get me to really love what really is a simple, excellent song.  By this point Saint Etienne are strongly evoked, or possibly even the briefly incredible Dubstar, and I find myself looking back wistfully to that period in the mid-nineties when I first started to explore electronic music.  This has a lot in common with a lot of the things I first took a chance on when trying to expand my listening palette from indie to broader sounds, back when I was a teenager.  Yes, it was that long ago.  Fuck off.

So whether they’re from Newcastle or Edinburgh, whether you’d call them electro-pop (shudder) or alternative-indie-elec.. oh alright, I’ll stop now.  Whatever you reckon this stuff is, it’s very, very good.  When the band got in touch their only sales patter was “I really think its in your ballpark”.  And they were right, it really is.

Shift-Static – Sky Burial (Waskerley Way Remix)

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Download for free from Bandcamp

 

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Toadcast #210 – The Slackercast

After reading Vic Galloway’s rather nice article in today’s Herald on the rise of bands in Scotland influenced by both grunge and lo-fi slacker indie rock.

Recording for our upcoming split 12″ with Manchester bands Waiters and Sex Hands has seen pals recommend I have a good listen to The Meat Puppets too, if that’s the kind of stuff I’m into – particularly if that’s the kind of guitar sound I am enjoying at the moment.

So that’s what this podcast is loosely about.  As I explain, despite growing up at the perfect time to have been into all this stuff the first time around, I ended up being only vaguely aware of it, due to being almost entirely insulated in the bubble of the international expat community in Vienna at the time, and hence only really having MTV to introduce me to new music, beyond what I happened across by accident in the record shops around town.  Which generally wasn’t Dinosaur Jr.

Direct download: Toadcast #210 – The Slackercast


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01. Nirvana – Love Buzz (Shocking Blue cover) (00.26)
02. Feel Right – She’s No Good (08.47)
03. Shudderpulps – Time (10.46)
04. Spectral Park – Colours (16.13)
05. Dinosaur Jr. – Repulsion (24.24)
06. Shift-Static – Sky Burial (Waskerley Way remix) (30.20)
07. The Meat Puppets – Lake of Fire (40.54)
08. Sparklehorse – My Yoke is Heavy (42.57)
09. Narrow Sparrow – Spooky Head (47.40)
10. The Magnetic Fields – Andrew in Drag (52.00)
11. Pavement – Spit on a Stranger (59.40)