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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Toadies

Play.Rock.Music

Review by Larry Toering

The Toadies are finally back with an album that for once in too long now, begins and ends with a fresh pallete of an abstract, yet amazingly fresh version of their sound laid down in the studio. This is both immediately recognizable and cunningly alternative to their credit. This disc might surprise with not only a couple controversial moves, like the video for “Summer of the Strange,” but with some approaches in the music that are hard not to notice, yet go so naturally applied. They gain everything and lose absolutely nothing in such a risk. It's a miracle that they get away with such a smooth yet edgy reinvention. These tracks are all well done with a slight pop leaning to just the right ones, and the right heaviness to balance out a great comeback effort. This album is nothing short of superb in every way.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Rattler's Revival

Right away there is a bizarre mixture to everything that results in Primus meeting Devo, to be as descriptive as possible. If Primus were ever to reach a pop sensibility, this is perhaps what it would sound like, and that is a good thing. This opener is boiling with gritty perfection! The attempt to lose nothing and gaining plenty at the same time are accomplished through just the right touch of  elusive magic. It could be the fuzzy effects but that is something they have always had. Whatever it is, their charismatic spirit is not only intact, but it's progressively updated to the maximum.

Get Low

This goes automatically into more of a classic Toadies feel, and maintains that familiarity throughout. If this isn't one of the best tracks on offer, then what's to come must be truly over the top, because this is awesome, and every bit as good as "Possum Kingdom" any day. Great stuff is on display every second of the way, and this is an instant addition to their best over the years.

Summer Of The Strange
Not indicative of what's shown in the promo video, one either gets a better or worse perspective here, depending on if they've seen it or not. To describe the song is a much better idea, as it does follow good reasoning for a single. It also hits home with me on the subject matter within the audio capacity. Once again, no time is wasted in coming up with more classic hooks and modern abstract Toadies structure to a magical degree. I love this, and hope it goes a long way in summing up its intentions. Talk about killer, this band has nailed reinvention with a relevancy and vibrancy unmatched by others.
Magic Bullet
This is either more progressively or commercially accomplished. It has some fantastic guitar work. I suppose it could almost sound a little like things did back around 1998 or so, yet it has some kind of lighthearted thing going. This would have to lean away from the classic and more on the contemporary, to cut a long story short in describing the content. So far, this is the most departed from classic Toadies and the biggest blend of new and old stylings.
Beside You

This does stay the same course but with a huge chorus in the classic Toadies vein. There is only one word as they get it one hundred percent right, “awesome!” 

Animals
Another lighthearted number that also manages to pick up with another big chorus, this is a great little playful tune to keep things flowing positively. More great stuff indeed, it's just so hard not to like this. More fantastic guitar work keeps this rocker all together.
Sunshine
The classic Toadies sound is all over this track, but the song itself is all over the place with the best elements to be found in their favorites. They deliver it with passion and conviction. This is probably the heaviest sounding track on offer.
Laments of a Good Man
This is a humorously delivered little number that isn't just funny, it's true for so many people. I love the back and forth hooks, as it only goes to show in describing struggle. This is still another complex but simple example of what's changed and what hasn't about this band. It's all here as the songs go by so effortlessly.
Epic Castles
This is awesome, somewhere between the Talking Heads, Split Enz, Oingo Boingo and Toadies. I like this whole disc, and this is probably my pick, but only by an edge or so.
We Burned The City Down
This has a real psychobilly factor to it, which I suppose is there in the Toadies sound a bit, as they hail from Texas. It just comes on stronger here, as where elsewhere it's more of a Primus thing. This is rather like Reverend Horton Heat meets Primus on steroids.
The Appeal
In closing, this band once again surprises with a killer semi-acoustic ballad. In doing so they pull off what is probably the least expected of them here. This is a beautiful song to say the least, with a perfect pace. This has a very mid  70s touch to it, mixed with a soft early 90s appeal, as well. It seems like every flavor is to be found in their sound, including country. I think the title is somehow fitting in the same way it means as it feels. Not only does Todd Lewis pull off a fine performance, but everyone mixes brilliantly here, as they do throughout. This is a truly remarkable closer to a fantastic album.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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