sparrows vs. toads;
The annual label sampler from Edinburgh-based Song, by Toad is always worth the money. Obviously, considering that it’s free, but label boss Matthew Young has consistently proven himself one of the finest curators of independent music in Scotland and beyond. That I suspect being referred to as a “curator” makes him want to punch things is a mere bonus from this post.
This year’s selection is particularly strong. The sampler features tracks from established label acts who I love including Meursault, Rob St. John, Yusuf Azak (note to self: write up that interview from December at some point in the next few weeks) and Li’l Daggers. However the highlights for me are from two acts new to the label, if not to fans of Scottish music and readers of LYG.
It emerged over Christmas that Adam Stafford, former Y’All Is Fantasy Island frontman and eccentrically brilliant solo artist, would be releasing his next album on Song, By Toad. At the time I thought it was a perfect combination, and Imaginary Walls Collapse will appear in June in conjunction with Vancouver’s Kingfisher Bluez. Stafford’s “Vanishing Tanks” was one of my favourite songs of 2012 so there was much riding on the first piece of new material. Thankfully “Sound of Fear Evaporating”, a collaboration with the angelically-voiced Siobhan Wilson, is almost as incredible.
Sparrow and the Workshop have been releasing unmissable music pretty much since their inception, and the band will be releasing two singles on Song, By Toad in the run-up to their third album. Jill O’Sullivan’s voice has hinted at something far more ferocious than the gentler, folky influences that underpinned the band’s earlier work and “Shock Shock”, which will be released as a single in March, abandons all pretence at Sunday-afternoon listening to live up to the name.
The sampler also previews the label’s next split 12″, which features eight songs from bands including our pals Plastic Animals and will be released for Record Store Day in April. Different songs by the same bands will also be released as download codes on a four-pack of beer from Scottish microbrewery Barney’s, with the Beer vs. Records challenge running to see whether physical product and or transient alcoholic satisfaction will sell 250 copies first. Temperance vs. the temporary, if you will.
Download: Song, By Toad Records 2013 label sampler.
This post was edited to correct my misconception that the same songs would be released in both formats on Beer vs. Records.