Order Of The Toad are a Three-Piece Indie Alternative Psych/Pop Band from Glasgow, due to release their second album in the autumn.
For this new song the title refers to the herb Lady’s Mantle or Alchemilla Mollis – it allegedly has good anti-inflammatory powers and also according to a gardener friend of the band “…the drops are supposed to have all sorts of magical properties including turning ordinary metals into gold..”.
That is another contribution to the mythology of the song; it is a track that taps into that late 60s period of psychedelia when a song could draw on baroque or medieval instrumentation in its influences, take a lyrical idea from Tolkein, nature or hallucination, end up at Number 2 in the charts and it all seem perfectly normal.
Like Syd Barrett’s early Pink Floyd contributions there is often an inbuilt timelessness too.
‘Lady’s Mantle’ moves along at a spirited pace, driven by the pulsing rhythm of acoustic guitar that throws some flamenco flourishes and lines into the mix too. The vocal tour de force is from Gemma Fleet (also of The Wharves), sounding like solo, multivoice and harmony all at once. The song is a neat balance of sinister and pop and has that addictive but slightly unnerving quality of the best psyche sounds (as does the accompanying video, which appears to feature a singing orange…)
A welcome and wistful mix of melancholy and fun on the new album from Glasgow indie song-crafters The Just Joans, maintaining the high standard since their formation in 2005. Before you even listen to the songs the titles tell a story…
1. Hey Ho, Let’s Not Go A burst of brass is used to counteract the ennui as we become more reluctant to make the effort to have a night out when ‘…I’d rather get a takeaway…I’d rather get an early night….’. There is still a regret in the playout, ‘…when we were young we took the bus to town…’
2. Who Does Susan Think She Is? This one rolls along nicely and as in many of the tracks it is a wistful tale of life moving on and the inevitable leavings behind. Great piano solo!
3. Wee Guys (Bobby’s Got A Punctured Lung) A pre-released single; an instrumentally upbeat and succinct commentary on some of the probable mundane reasons for knife crime.
4. Dear Diary, I Died Again Today Katie Pope delivers a touching vocal performance, backed by a string quartet and featuring the memorable couplet ‘…a comment so inept, Frank Spencer would have wept…’
5. My Undying Love For You Is Beginning To Die Definitely one of many highlight of the album, lo-fi synth and percussion for David Pope’s sad reminiscence ‘….once upon a time long gone you held me in your thrall…but now I find I’m less inclined to bother much at all….’. It sort of resolves with the twist of ‘…perhaps that’s why you left two years ago with your new beau…’
6. When Nietzsche Calls A sombre mood pervades this one, but the affecting vocal and distant strings still wins you over.
7. The Older I Get, The More I Don’t Know Opening with ‘…the past has passed me…..the future’s ghastly….’ the song sounds more optimistic than it should be as the driving rhythm section pushes it along.
8. The One I Loathe The Least Lyrically, musically and in the vocal performances this is another big highlight. All together now! ‘….when everyone’s subhuman scum…it’s hard to find some peace…thank heavens I found you…the one I loathe the least…’
9. Another Doomed Relationship Sounding like an early poppy Depeche Mode single the synths are back for this mini-masterpiece, the narrator knowing that even as ‘…we dream of true love…but the outcome’s the same…..’ that still ‘…. we cling on by our fingertips…’ and ultimately ‘…it’s the hope that kills you…’
10. Holiday Acknowledging the musical influence of Blur in the lyric for this song, this one really hits the sad reality ‘…two weeks in the sun but then you come back and it’s all the same…and you’ve got twelve months to count down again…’
11. People I Once Knew The strange compulsion to retread the past that started with website ‘FriendsReunited’ set to a sinister clock ticking beat ‘….I’m quite content with my life and how it went…so, why do they call to me? that strange menagerie…’
12. Like Yesterday Again A dark coda to the album; lyrically sparse with lush but lo-fi orchestration ‘…in this room there’s no view…all there is are memories of you…’. A thoughtful ending to a brilliant album.
A new EP from Glasgow five-piece Hairband, formed in 2016 from members of many existing bands on the local DIY/Indie scene.
1. Bee Beginning with voices buzzing (of course) the band then set up a sparse rolling groove with angular spiky guitar (sharing an alternative universe with fellow residents Television, Gang Of Four and more recently Shopping). The dual vocal lines interweave smoothly with reassurance for the threatened species ‘….honey, I promise it’s gonna be alright….’
2. Bubble Sword The jazzy bass leads this track, not sure what the lyrical message is but the riff rocks along with conviction.
3. Flying Atmospheric, impressionistic piece ‘….thank you gravity for all you’ve done for me but don’t let me go….’, you can lose yourself in this one as the guitars combine, the bass has that insistent tone again and the drumming is nicely forward in the mix.
4. White Teeth Supergrass may have the most famous passing dental musical references in ‘It’s Alright’ but this is a whole song about them ‘….your teeth glisten in the sun….so white…very, very clean…’, as a way of conjuring up a lingering memory of a current or lost relationship? It is my favourite track; with a rock-solid bass, ringing guitar line and haunting vocals.
5. Sassy Moon The longest track on the EP, a steadily building, unrelenting brew featuring many of the elements from the previous tracks. Solo vocal lines are punctuated by the chorus ‘…how do you feel, how do you feel about the moon…’ then as a surprise the song begins to speed up and enters another level.
The whole EP has a sharp as-live sound, with a sparkling uncluttered production…