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Friday, May 27, 2016Modern Studies Sign to Song, by Toad Records

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This hasn’t been the most closely guarded of secrets, but it’s probably time to make it official: we’ll be releasing the Modern Studies album in September. And it’s fucking awesome.

We have the first single from the album coming out on Monday. It will be premiering on the excellent Gold Flake Paint, so I won’t ruin the surprise by posting it here, but to paraphrase Frank N. Furter, it’s nice to build a little sense of antici … pation.

I’ve known most of these guys for ages actually, and people who know the label may well recognise a couple of familiar faces up there in that picture, namely Rob St. John and Pete Harvey (The Leg). Well Joe on the left runs the Glad Café in Glasgow and is in a number of bands you might well know too, and Emily was actually one of the very first local acts I ever saw in Edinburgh when I first started writing the blog.

I went down to Out of the Bedroom, one of our most enduring open mic nights, with a friend who was running it at the time, and I saw Emily play solo and loved it. Her performance was one of the key things in making me realise that although the bigger bands never seemed to come through Edinburgh, there was plenty of talent in the underground scene if you took the time to look. Funnily enough Rob was actually another of the people who I first heard of around the same time and also had a big influence in drawing me into the local scene. But yep, I’ve known Emily for ages but this is my first chance to actually work with her, which is awesome.

The band themselves describe their music as Arts und Krafts Werk, which adds to Song, by Toad Records’ proud tradition of making up the silliest genres in the entire music industry. More sensibly, they also use the term chamber pop, which I suppose might make more sense to you. It’s lush, gorgeous acoustic pop music, short and sweet and unusually for us, an album which feels like it absolutely packed with singles. The release date is September the 12th, and you can pre-order from our Bandcamp page. And keep an eye out for that single on Monday. It’s a belter.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016David Thomas Broughton – River (feat. Sam Amidon)

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Our release of David Thomas Broughton’s epic masterpiece Crippling Lack moves to Volume 2 this month, which comes out on French label NoizeMaker Records. We’ve sold our entire allocation now, so European fans should order from the NoizeMaker Bandcamp page, whereas North Americans should head to Paper Garden Records, who are Brooklyn-based.

Crippling Lack Vol.2 introduces itself with a new single, the flighty and gorgeous River, which features gorgeous work by Sam Amidon* on fiddle:

After this gorgeous tune Volume 2, the heart of the album in many ways, is subsequently dominated by two sprawling epics which are both around a quarter of an hour long. Concrete Statement and I Close My Eyes are full of gorgeous moments, but they decompose almost entirely over their course, leaving only the barest skeleton of their structure left.

These threads will be gathered up and rewoven later, but you’re in the heart of the storm with this record and the tension at the heart of I Close My Eyes between the two most hypnotically-repeated lyrics seems to embody the dichotomy at the core of the whole album. As “I close my eyes and it all goes wrong” slowly cedes ground to “I know I have potential” you can almost hear the emotional trajectory of the album finally arresting its downward spiral and locating the shred of succour and self-belief it needs to drag itself back from the abyss.

David gave an interview with The List recently: “The record is about discomfort and trying to reconcile conflicting elements of the human condition to eventually come to terms with the awkwardness of life.”

Well this is the bit where stuff gets uncomfortable. Don’t worry though, Volume 3 is on the way and it will start to make sense of all of this. Promise.

And in the meantime, here’s a video for Dots, which is on Volume 1:

*Just as an aside, I remember one of our first ever Toad Sessions was recorded with Sam Amidon back in 2009 and one of the things we talked about was his tour with David and how much he loved his music. I was a recent convert as well, and it was a nice wee chat, but I have to confess I never dreamed for a second at that point that we would end up all collaborating on an album release in seven years’ time. Sigh, nostalgia, how time flies, you never know where life will take you, etc etc etc…

Tuesday, May 17, 2016The Making of Kitchen Sync – Nearly Sold Out

The launch nights for Kitchen Sync, Jonnie Common’s new instrumental album of found sounds from his kitchen released on a set of fridge magnets – no seriously, have a look here, they’re nearly sold out! – were bafflingly fantastic.

I say bafflingly because they were primarily composed of Jonnie giving what was essentially a Powerpoint presentation about how he actually made the album, complete with basic explanations of things like side-chain compression and the pitch-shifting of sampled wave forms. Having explained the process and source of the sounds for each song, he then played along with it, although inevitably a lot had to be pre-recorded samples.

And somehow, it was absolutely fascinating. I salute you, Mr. Common, I have no idea how you pulled this whole ridiculous idea off, but it’s absolutely bloody brilliant.

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