Album Review – Meursault

Meursault – ‘I Will Kill Again.’ (Song, By Toad Records)

In 2014, Neil Pennycook announced that he was retiring Meursault and bowed out with a final performance at Edinburgh Queen’s Hall. Despite releasing a cassette under the name Super Moon, towards the end of last year a six-track EP Simple Is Good heralded the return of the Meursault name – and now the release of the fourth album, I Will Kill Again.

First of all, that album title. It’s not that Pennycook has changed direction with something akin to Slayer’s Reign In Blood. It’s the punchline to one of comedian Josie Long’s jokes. (Well, that’s that cleared up.) Musically it continues the journey begun with the debut Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues back in 2008. The band were once described as epic lo-fi. They’re less lo-fi these days, but that gorgeous epic melancholia that seduced all who heard it still soars.

The first track to be released as a single ‘Klopfgeist’ sets the tone for the album. There’s something about Pennycook’s voice and songwriting that could make even singing your shopping list heartbreaking yet simultaneously life-affirming. With the sung refrain of ‘Like Sinatra, Sinatra, Sinatra’ it seduces you, commanding your attention. An earlier version of this appeared on the aforementioned Super Moon release, but this version is far superior.

The idea of things being ‘clever’ in rock music often arouses suspicion (possibly a decades-long hangover from the worst excesses of the prog-rock era) – but Meursault can pull this off without ever seeming self-indulgent. This is perhaps most clear on the title track. At moments almost ambient and other times a soaring cacophony, over the six minutes play time there’s an ascending and descending scale, radio samples, backing vocals, a church organ and it all comes together.

Like the best albums, this is one that reveals itself upon repeated listens, even some of the effects that can seem a little irritating on first hearing make more sense when heard more frequently within the wider context of the record. There is no justice in this world (frequent perusal of the media will confirm this) but Meursault have made their most accessible album yet, without compromising what made them so special in the first place. It would be great to think that not only will this make end of year lists, but take them to the next level commercially speaking.

****1/2

I Will Kill Again is released by Song, By Toad Records on February 27. The album will be launched at Edinburgh’s Summerhall on February 25.

The album can be pre-ordered here.

 

 

 

The return of Meursault (part 2)

Meursault will release their long-awaited fourth album on February 27. Entitled I Will Kill Again, the first track to be unveiled is ‘Klopfgeist.’ (That’s German for ‘Poltergeist’, apparently)…The album launch takes place at Edinburgh’s Summerhall on February 25.

The video for the song can be seen below:

 

The album can be ordered via the Song, By Toad Records Bandcamp.

The return of Meursault

Having seemingly called it a day a couple of years ago (after what was an excellent ‘farewell’ gig at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall), Neil Pennycook and Meursault have returned, with a new EP, some videos and an album very soon…

At the end of last year, they returned with a new six-track EP, from which the title track ‘Simple Is Good’ made no.15 in my annual Festive 50 (and yes, my end of year albums list will appear, finally, very soon). Due to the general exhaustion around these parts, not a lot was getting written at that point (not helped by a poor internet connection) but the EP is very good indeed and the band have just unveiled a new video for the track ‘By Gaslight.’ The new album, scarily entitled I Will Kill Again is due in February. And it’s coming out on their old and always spiritual home Song, By Toad Records.

 

Album Review – Plastic Animals

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Plastic Animals -‘Pictures From The Blackout.’ (Song, By Toad Records)

Well, no-one could accuse Plastic Animals of rushing things. It’s been a number of years since their debut EP A Dark Spring, and finally we get their debut album Pictures From The Blackout. Signed to Edinburgh’s Song, By Toad Records, a label who have put out much fine stuff over the best part of a decade now, it’s important that they found a label who understood what they were doing and gave them time to develop (as opposed to some coked-up London twat sitting their stroking his hipster beard and wondering where the singles were).

So yes, the reality is that Plastic Animals will come under the heading of those artists who take their time (see also: eagleowl, Blue Nile, Stone Roses), rather than those who work at a terrifying rate (see: The Fall, Ty Segall). But the reality is that it has been worth it. In a world drowning with indie by numbers bands devoid of charisma (no wonder so many people fall for ‘pop’ music, which is a whole lot more fun), Plastic Animals show that indie rock does still have some tricks up its sleeve. So while they describe themselves as being ‘atmospheric sludge rock’, there’s hints of shoegazing at its most dreamy, krautrock at its most rocky and least formulaic and most importantly of all, actual, y’know, songs. Each successive play of this album has shown this to be an album I would be pleased to have bought, as the waves of noise, psychedelica and everything else, that kick in right from album opener ‘Ghosts’ and by track three ‘Colophon’ seem to be bringing in a wave of melancholia – and that’s not just the Sunday afternoon slump kicking in.

A debut album for the band to be proud of, then.

…Oh, and how much do I like this album? Put it this way: even though I was sent a copy to review, I’ll be buying a physical copy out of my own pocket. That good.

****

Pictures From The Blackout is released on Song, By Toad Records on February 8, 2016

Getting ready for August in Edinburgh

edinburgh-fringe-festival-3

As you are probably aware, Edinburgh is host during August to an unbelievable amount of music, comedy, theatre etc.. under the heading of the Edinburgh International Festival and the even bigger Fringe festival.

Many, many wonderful things will be taking place – but if you fancied checking out the local music scene (and why wouldn’t you?) then you should be checking out the Pale Imitation Festival put together by Matthew Young, AKA Song, By Toad.

All the gigs, bar one, take place at Henry’s Cellar Bar on Morrison St, just off Lothian Rd, except for the Supermoon and Rob St. John one, which takes place at Summerhall (a block away from the south-east end of the Meadows). A number of the acts I have featured on this here blog over the years (including eagleowl, who topped the 17 Seconds Festive Fifty back in 2010),

Saturday 1st August – Numbers Are Futile, Beam, DTHPDL
Thursday 6th – Garden of Elks, Bat Bike, Passion Pusher
Saturday 8th – Sharptooth, Lush Purr, Breakfast Muff
Thursday 13th – Spinning Coin, Min Diesel, Dune Witch Trails
Saturday 15th – Save As Collective (featuring Jonnie Common, Glamour Muscle, River of Slime & MC Almond Milk)
Thursday 20th – eagleowl, Now Wakes the Sea, Faith Eliott
Saturday 22nd – Adam Stafford, Wolf, Tryptamines
Thursday 27th (at Summerhall) – Supermoon & Rob St. John
Saturday 29th – Happy Meals, Apostille, Clip Art

All the gigs start at half seven and are £5, with a season ticket available for £25. As Toad puts it ‘As the cherry on the top, the awesome Kitchen Disco will be DJing and providing free cakes for everyone on each and every night.’

You can get tickets online here

And Matthew has even put together this very handy playlist of all the bands playing.

What are you waiting for?

17 Seconds Christmas Posts 2014 part 5

I’ve long featured releases from my friend Matthew Young’s Song, By Toad label on this blog, and today’s Christmas posting comes from David Thomas Broughton and Juice. Taken from their album Sliding The Same Way comes the rather fine ‘Unshaven Boozer.’ You can stream AND download for free from the top of the page. You really should.

Song, By Toad managed to show that there were people who COULD turn a blog into a label, and as well as the David Thomas Broughton record, amongst their fine releases this year was the second Jonnie Common album Trapped In Amber, from which the fine ‘ODB’ made this year’s 17 Seconds Festive 50.

Presenting…Naked

Naked band

Another signing to the excellent Song, By Toad record label, Naked are an Edinburgh-based three piece consisting of Aggie, Alexander and Grant. According to the small blurb in the email “They met on the small Island of Fårö on the south-eastern coast of Sweden. Their music is a mix of sculptured guitar dissonance, R&B beats and traditional Gotlander vocals. Naked is about sound, pure and defenceless.”

Their debut single ‘Lie Follows Lie’ is out on July 22 on 7″ vinyl. I think it sounds rather fantastic, and they sound quite different from a lot of the other Song, By toad labelmates (this is meant as a compliment to all concerned).

There are a couple of launch nights: Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s (July 6 – yes! tonight! act, then!!) and July 18 at Old Blue Last, London.

The return of…Sparrow and the Workshop

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I’ve featured Sparrow and the Workshop in times past, they’ve made my Festive Fifty and it’s great to report that ahead of their third album, they are releasing their new single via 17 Seconds Pals Song, By Toad!

They’re picking up radio play for this, too, which always feels nice when it’s a) bands you like b) people you’ve championed and c )coming out on a friendly record label. They’ve always been good, and they’ve evolved, less folky than the sound on their first two records, if this track’s anything to go by…

It’s called ‘Shock Shock’ and it’s out on Song, By Toad Records on March 11:

Not only that, but Song, By Toad records have released a sampler for 2013 of what they’re up to. And it is lip-smackingly good…

The return of Yusuf Azak

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I’ve long supported and, frankly, been pretty envious of the Song, By Toad label and Blog. Mr. Toad works pretty hard on it, and he’s been responsible for birthing some awesome records, and for what it’s worth I have tried to cover as much of it as possible on here.

Back in 2010, I very much enjoyed the debut from Yusuf Azak, Turn On The Long Wire. It featured some gorgeous low-key moments, and picked up some nice reviews. Now, two years later, his next record Go Native is almost with us.

It’ll be released on November 12, and it’s seemingly (on the basis of what I have heard so far) an even more gorgeous and more accessible and stripped down record than his debut. In the words of Head Toad, Matthew Young ‘Yusuf tends to keep himself to himself, only to emerge with a finished album from time to time, so I doubt we’ll ever be able to make him all that famous, but this is a truly gorgeous record and I am delighted he wants to release it with us.’ Can’t say any more than that, really. I would have loved to post ‘Swim’ but ‘Smile Tactics’ is doing the rounds as a free download/single (is there much of a difference between them these days?) and it’s pretty lovely too.

New from Meursault…

meursault-dull-spark

I’ve long supported Meursault via the blog and, of course, their label, Song, By Toad Records. Meursault released their third album, Something For The Weakened a couple of months ago. The second single from the album ‘Dull Spark’ was one of the tracks I picked up on in the review -and like most great singles, it is:

a)available to buy on 7″
b)has a b-side which makes it worth buying the package
c)has a rather cool video.

Now, I’m not going to go and buy the 7″ for you, but you can watch the geometrical (from about 04:00 in) video and then stream the single.

‘Dull Spark’ is released on Song, By Toad Records on September 24.