BUT DON’T WORRY! After last week there will be no surprise eighties bonanza, just good old whinging indie pish, as you’ve probably come to expect these days.
After the radio show there will be a bite to eat, and then a slow slide into oblivion as I go from Collar Up, Sparrow & the Workshop and Meursault at Cabaret Voltaire to the Gerry Loves Records Christmas Party at the Banshee Labyrinth. It might get messy.
Also, yesterday I dropped off some Toad merch at a new Christmas popup shop on St Leonard’s Street, in the Studio 203 Gallery. If you’re heading out of town past the Pleasance, it’s a couple of hundred metres further out, opposite the Lismore Rugby Club, and there’s a map here, if that doesn’t ring any bells.
Normally an arts studio, I believe, the gallery is now full of all sorts of really nice handmade bits and pieces, as well as releases from some of Scotland’s best independent labels, in the music room through the back. Well worth a visit, I reckon.
Anyhow, in the meantime, delurk, come out of hiding, bother your arses and complete this Friday’s five stupid questions:
1. Have you put any thought into your top albums/songs/etc lists for 2011 yet?
2. At what date is Christmas officially allowed to start being mentioned, in your view?
3. Next film you’re likely to see.
4. Favourite thing to do with snow.
5. Artistic skill you would learn if you had the time/inclination/talent.
And again, as per usual, the playlist for the radio show will appear below once we go live at around half three this afternoon.
1. The Fall – Two Librans
2. Liars – Scissor
3. Deerhunter – Nothing Ever Happened
4. Washed Out – Eyes Be Closed
5. Collar Up – The Boatman
6. Spook School – Are You Who You Think You Are?
7. Jetskis – Moonlight Kawasaki Ride
8. Quiet Americans – Summer House
9. Dead Rabbits – Make Me Believe
10. Robin Grey – The Hackney Gentrification Song
11. Video Thrills – Sports Park USA
12. Trapped in Kansas – Happiness is an Allegory, Sadness a Story
Firstly, a big, big thank you to everyone who came out to see Withered Hand, Samantha Crain and Mike MacFarlane (who now goes by the name of Flash Jr.) last night. It was bloody amazing. I want to start a campaign to get more big bands to Henry’s to play a wee sweatbox gig with the crowd standing mere inches away from them.
Anyway, due to Thanksgiving dinner and parental visitation reasons, I didn’t get the chance to record the podcast this weekend, so I shall do it this afternoon, once I have posted this.
And God help our livers, there is a fuck of a lot going on this week in Edinburgh. Mind you, it’s the same next week too, so I guess we’re going to have to just batten down the hatches and wait for January! And I haven’t even done my end of year lists yet either.
I have to confess to knowing nothing about any of the bands on this bill bar Blank Canvas, who finished on the shortlist for this year’s Radar Prize. They play a very promising interpretation of the eighties indie sound, more as channeled via Bloc Party, and are well worth checking out. By the Fire by Blank Canvas
You should all know how impressed I am with Adam Stafford’s solo stuff by now, but Loch Awe are sounding very promising at the moment too. A new song of theirs sort of mooched its way onto the internet recently, and it’s absolutely fucking lovely. And done with the kind of restraint and subtlety I tend (perhaps a little unfairly) not to associate with relatively young bands.
After another excellent series of seminars, this is I believe the last one of the year for the Born to Be Wide team. This time around they’ll be concentrating on making the best use of studio time, from preparation before you go in there, to how to best make use of your time once you’re up and running.
As far as I am aware, tickets for this are verrrrry nearly sold out, so go here now if you still haven’t got one. The lineup is a great big multi-headed fun beast, with Lady North, Paws, Trapped in Kansas, Field Mouse, The Japanese War Effort & that old stand-by ‘special guests’ on the bill. The gig also serves as a launch night for a Japanese War Effort/Field Mouse split tape, which I can tell you has me all sorts of excited. The Japanese War Effort actually forced me to buy my first tape player in years by putting Snowbird on cassette. I had a whole stereo system, and then this one big shiny silver machine just to play that one album. And it was worth it!
This will be a fine, loud end of year blowout, as well as the chance to see new band Collar Up play, which will be rather intriguing. Meursault are, I believe, going into hibernation in the new year, as we get ready for the release of their third album which will be out in (roughly) May 2012.
Pop fun to end the week, with excellent Edinburgh newcomers The Spook School joined on the bill by Calypso Brown, who is another artist I saw for the first time at this year’s Antihoot. Pet have had to pull out, so the Beardmeister will be working frantically this week to find someone to step in and fill their shoes.
Lach’s famous New York open mic night the Antihoot is responsible for launching the careers of many of the bands people who read this site love the most. He is, in fact, the man responsible for terms like anti-folk and the movement it represents.
I have to confess I find this kind of odd. The term is something which has been so ingrained in my musical vocabulary ever since I started writing about music that the idea of it having been invented so recently seems really rather odd.
I always kind of knew I was into anti-folk as well, because the rinky-dinky super traditional stuff has never really attracted me that much, so even before I knew the term I was drawn to bands like The Pogues and Bob Dylan (and even to a degree people like Woody Guthrie and Billy Bragg) who would take traditional formats and give them a good beating before they sent them out there. In fact, Dylan’s own struggles with the New York folk establishment rather mirror those of Lach, so the concept of anti-folk has been around for a while, even if the coherent, more unified movement which gave rise to the likes of Jeffrey Lewis and Kimya Dawson did not.
Most of the Edinburgh alt-folkies I know speak of the original anti-folk movement with a kind of hushed reverence, so I guess it’s no surprise that most of them are making an appearance at some point during the Antihoot’s three week Edinburgh run.
On the first night we had a couple of Toad Records favourites down; Yusuf Azak and Neil Pennycook from Meursault. I’ve seen both of these guys perform like this many times however, so the happiest surprise of the night was actually Finn from Trapped in Kansas. He hunched over his guitar and sang in an oddly nasal voice, but his was the genuine ‘Oh, hello, what’s this?’ moment for me on the opening night, particularly as I had no idea who he was until he mentioned his band halfway through his set.
Invariably in the midst of a Festival best known for its stand up comedy there were a few in the crowd who, by one in the morning, had optimistically decided that they too were funny, funny guys. Lach himself, as compere, did a good job of keeping them quiet, but the bands dealt with it well too. Most satisfyingly, I heard a couple of the performers talking about getting their mates down on a regular basis so that there was always a hardcore presence of people who were there to enjoy the music.
One thing, however, which became increasingly obvious as the night wore on was this: when the bands were good, the shushing didn’t have to last beyond the first thirty seconds of the song because the most talented musicians, irrespective of genre, were consistently able to keep the crowd’s attention. This, I suppose, is the double-edged sword of the open mic night.
I also thought the show benefitted from the format: eight minutes or two songs, whichever came first. It meant that if someone was shit, they were off too quickly to become tiresome. That alone makes it worth going along, particularly if one or two people you know are likely to be playing, because there were a lot of good performers there who I’ve never heard a whisper of before.
This is one of those weeks where I think that I really haven’t got much on, but then I look at every single evening and they all look jammed full of jobs to do. Gripe whinge piss moan etc etc etc…
Anyhow, as well as various other little crappy jobs, I have to collect our two Pioneer amps from the amp repair shop, which is good news. We keep on burning these fuckers out by playing things far too loud, and so we’ve been without music in our house for the last week, apart from a shitey pair of speakers we plug into the computer. These, whilst just about serviceable in an emergency, do not, frankly, cut the mustard, so I am delighted to be fetching the big bastard noisy ones again so we can turn shit up nice and loud once more.
Ours aren’t particularly expensive either, but apparently people go crazy for this Pioneer Silver stuff. There are collectors and all sorts, and we saw a couple of very nice ones indeed changing hands on eBay for hunnerts of pounds. One to stay well clear of whilst drunk, I think it’s safe to say.
The Dum Dum Girls play slightly lo-fi indie pop, with an emphasis on the pop. There are lots of ahh-ahh choruses and things like that, and the guitars are nice and growly. Jesus H. Foxx are also coming out of hiding for this one, which will be a nice treat for us all!
Gerry Loves Records win at vinyl. Their last release, apart from being a pleasure to listen to, is also a pleasure to own. They put real thought into the packaging of the thing and make the whole object something you really, really want to own. This is their second release, and given how the label go about their business I really, really hope it all goes well for them.
This kind of cross-media stuff doesn’t happen nearly enough around here, but then I suppose a straightforward gig with three bands and some beer is a lot simpler to slap together, whereas this kind of thing requires a little more thought, I guess. Elements is, I think, a film put together by Sleepysoul productions using a combination of their own images and work by Heidi Kuisma and Neil Milton (who are We Sink Ships), but I couldn’t swear to it. Whatever it is though, it sounds like a really good evening, not least because whatever the film is the two bands involved are really good.
The Festival is a bit mental in its own right, but this year it is also rather annoyingly commandeering the Bowery for six weeks to pimp shitty bottles of Magners to punters and in doing so depriving us of one of the best places to go to see live music in the city. Bastards.
Anyhow, before closing up until September, there Ruth and Jane are having one last big piss-up which happens to coincide with a Toad Night. We’ve got an hour of open(ish)-mic beforehand, with some splendid people booked, and then we have Glasgow’s extraordinary Yusuf Azak and a somewhat pared-back set from Found. I am expecting a splendid night, honestly.
Also, the dress code is floral, but don’t worry, because I will be bringing along some blooms and will pin a couple to anyone who can’t find anything flowery to wear themselves. Any anyone who moans will be mocked for being a curmudgeonly old fuddy-duddy. Make an effort people, and let’s send Ruth and Jane off on holiday in some style.
This show starts at 10pm and is preceded by a Sneaky Pete’s night, including a live show from Sleepy Sun and a couple of others. For me though I have to confess that the real highlight will be the chance to see There Will Be Fireworks for the first time. They’ve been tipped by an awful lot of people, and I am still waiting for their album to make its way to my front doorstep, so I am looking forward to this one a great deal.
And for those of you not planning on attending the Toad party on Saturday (which fucking well better be NO-ONE!) there is this rather promising looking alternative at the Wee Red Bar, including Trapped in Kansas, a post-rocky band I’ve been hearing quite a bit about lately.