Toad Flake Paint
November 15, 2016 saw the release of a very special 12” compilation via ‘Toad Flake Paint’. This compilation of four New York artists and ten songs is the fruits of the coming together of prolific as fuck Scottish label Song, by Toad (headed up by Matthew Young) and the influential NYC blog ‘Gold Flake Paint’ started up by Tom.
With the release of this record, this coming together of like minds, despite the geography, has produced a gorgeous collection of songs by artists that i personally had never heard of, but definitely want to hear more of!!
Matthew knew that collaborating with Tom “made perfect sense… given his own affinity with many of the bands I love from that part of the world”. And this collection really does highlight and showcase the kind of talent in NYC at the moment.
If there is a common thread connecting these ten songs then it is the link to the ever flourishing ‘anti-folk’ scene that has been a part of NYC for nearly twenty years now. The tracks on offer show a great debt to bands such as Joie/ Dead Blonde Girlfriend, Kimya Dawson and Adam Green. On top of this, you get a real feel of the influence of lo-fi bands such as Guided by Voices and Sebadoh. The tracks are big on ideas, but often don’t let the cost or size of production get in the way of expressing the final product
Ok, on to the music and the 12” starts with ‘Beach Moon/Peach Moon’ and “Firefly Stars”. The gentle otherworldly vocals draw you in to their world and take you on an often tumultuous journey taking in the atmospheric noise and cacophonic build ups mixed with ‘phoned’ in vocals that soothe. The lovely follow up “Surmjoolk” by ‘Furnsss’ is one of the stand out tracks for me. The quiet, gentle guitar and high reverb vocals are combined with stabbing echoy drum beats and an absolutely gorgeous piano accompaniment. Brilliant stuff.
‘Eskimeaux’ are up next with the catchy and playful tune “What the Fuck?” Tribal drums, a folky feel, lo-fi loveliness and 1.47 of attitude. The line “what the fuck is a kiss anyway?” never sounded so good. Next up is the sublime artist ‘Small Wonder’ with “Lost at Highway”. Vocals are high in the mix and accompany a gentle, minimalist piano arrangement. And that is it. Just wonderfully simple, yet beautifully sung with a passion and verve that many artists these days only wish for. Just absolutely fab stuff.
As the 12” progresses, the talent and quality of the bands on offer here is just outstanding. And not only the song writing, but the production values too. ‘Eskimeaux’s track “Sparrow” is yet another 2.04 of ethereal loveliness with minimalist electronica accompaniment. ‘Small Wonder’s track “I Dream of Springsteen” is yet again another standout track on this compilation. A gorgeous tune with a chord progression that seems to have been lovingly appropriated from ‘John Mellencamps’ “Jack and Diane” 80’s classic. But by christ Small Wonder’s voice is so beautiful. He has a voice that could sing the telephone directory no problem.
Another ‘Eskimeaux’ track “That’s Okay” and we are on to ‘Beach Moon/Peach Moon’ and “Party in the back seat”. Phoned in vocals tease the teenage lust of unrequited love? It’s a catchy tune though! The last two tracks on this epic and creative masterpiece of song writing is ‘Furnsss’ epically titled “Cogitation on American Spring 1975, or what am I going to be when I grow up?” that celebrates this band’s lo-fi cleverness with wordplay and grungy distorted guitars and gentle noise. It’s an intense, all encompassing 7+ minutes that takes one on several aural journeys that eventually climax in a gorgeous cacophony of noise. Finally, ‘Small Wonder’ finishes off this 12” opus with the anti-folk classic “Only Sixteen”. Again, this song is just an absolutely classic anti-folk track and a brilliant end to this compilation.
This compilation is both a measure of the success that collaboration can get you, and also the results of the calibre of the collaborators involved. These ten tracks across the four bands is a sobering testament to the power of independent music making within monetary constraints.
Here’s to Song, by Toad and Gold Flake paint and long may they prosper and make compilations as goods as this!