Plastic Animals spent two painstaking years perfecting their debut album, a collection of tracks flavored with shoegaze and krautrock. Some of the longest and most impenetrable tracks on the record are amongst the album’s standout songs and serve as perfect examples of the band’s interpretation of their “atmospheric punk rock sludge”.
Drummer James and guitarist Ben are Scottish, bassist Dave is from Northern Ireland, keys player Jean Michael is French and vocalist Mario is Peruvian. The bands that the five have in common tend to appeal as much for the atmosphere they create as well as their sound. Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Deerhunter, Radiohead, Grandaddy, My Bloody Valentine and Broadcast are all favourites. According to Mario “anything that sounds melancholic and comforting”.
With Mario’s background in film making it’s unsurprising that Plastic Animals like to mix their music with a visual aspect. Mario says, “I find it more interesting. I like putting together visuals for our gigs where possible using found footage. Sort of a-la Adam Curtis. That man can do no wrong.”
Pictures From the Balckout is released on February 8th 2016.
All songs PRS registered, written by Mario Cruzado.
Jan 29th – Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh, UK
Mario Cruzado: guitar/vox
Ben Slade: guitar
Jean Michel Morin: keys
Dave Wark: bass
James Lynch: drums
About Song, By Toad
Song, by Toad Records is one of Scotland’s most determinedly unfocused and willfully idiosyncratic institutions.
Matthew Young, the label’s founder started out with a blog back in 2004. Song, by Toad quickly grew to be one of the most influential British new music blogs within the year, and the site quickly evolved, adding weekly podcasts and live sessions – recorded live in Young’s Edinburgh living room. Session alumni include Mumford & Sons, Sam Amidon, Josh T Pearson, Joanna Gruesome, Paws and Clem Snide’s Eef Barzelay.
Soon regular gig promotion, which happens under the banner of BAD FUN, was added to the mix and by the end of 2008 the success of the sessions, particularly the recording, and the futility of shouting about music on the internet led to the foundation of a record label. Song, by Toad Records’ first release was the underground success ‘Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues’ by Meursault, an album The Skinny named in its top twenty best Scottish albums of the decade.
Since then the label has gone from strength to strength, albeit by heading off on one weird tangent after another. There are regular releases from some of the UK’s most determined iconoclasts, such as David Thomas Broughton, Rob St. John, Adam Stafford and Jonnie Common, more conventional album fare from Sparrow and the Workshop and Meursault. There are also long-running label projects, such as the Split 12″ series (all recorded in Young’s living room) and the collaborative Magpie Series, where a collection of disparate musicians such as King Creosote and various musicians from the label come together for a week to improvise a record based on existing songs, which is then released under a one-off project name.
Since moving back to Leith in 2014 the label has acquired a warehouse studio called The Happiness Hotel (it’s a Muppets reference) which it will be using to expand the sessions and to encourage the artists on the label to take more chances, explore more odd collaborations, concept albums, experiments and just generally create a sort of creative engine room. A lot of these will be released on the low-key cassette series Tadpole Records, and others on Song, by Toad Records itself, while yet others will simply be given away for free on the internet.
So who knows what the future holds for the label, apart from the almost inevitable over-work and too many ideas. This year already sees Edinburgh band Plastic Animals releasing their debut album, a new record from Adam Stafford, and a trans-continental triple-vinyl release with David Thomas Broughton, as well as three different Split 12″s on the go, including Viking Moses, Willard Grant Conspiracy, Micah P Hinson, a couple of label bands, and a whole Split 12″ recorded in New York’s National Opera Centre by Matthew Young’s brother Ben, during the three months the label briefly relocated to Red Hook in Brooklyn at the end of 2015.