Remember this band?… It seemed like the Toadies ruled the air waves back in the mid 90’s, after the release of Rubberneck in 1994. One song off that album, “Possum Kingdom,” has even achieved somewhat cult status in recent years with new generations. Every song on that album was great, and then they just disappeared. Interscope records put the kabosh on their follow up album “Feeler,” which finally saw the light of day in 2010.
One of the things I always liked the most about the Toadies was the dark undertones in their music. I have frequently heard the Toadies called “alt-rock,” but they really defy most labels. Part grunge, part heavy drinking bar band, part west Texas/ZZ Top boogie, there is a lot to like about this band.
Well, the band from Fort Worth, Texas is back again. This time with Play.Rock.Music. The band has said in interviews that they felt more freedom recording this record than any other, that’s good news for us, as the Toadies are best when they are unbridled and doing what they do best.
The album starts out with “Rattler’s Revival,” a great rockin’ opener that made me very optimistic about the rest of the tracks. I was further rewarded with the next song, “Low.” This is my favorite on the album, a loud guitar rocker that makes you want to push the pedal down while your driving. This song has pumping guitar and rock steady drumming that goes back and forth from bass line only breaks, to dual guitar down strumming. Songs on the album like “Magic Bullet” and “Epic Castles” keep the tempo and energy up.
“Summer of the Strange” has that dark feel, and is all about losing control/hold. Lots of whining guitar and rumbling bass lines throughout.
The closest you get to “Possum Kingdom” on this release would have to be “Beside You.” A creepy song that says even though “you don’t really know me,” that “I’ll always be closer than you know.”
“Sunshine” is a twisted ballad, and another track that takes you back to Rubberneck, this time reminding me very much of “I Burn.” A slower tempo song with a rumbling bass line that builds into Vaden Todd Lewis’s trademark singing/screaming. The whole song keeps building and pulling back, like the New York Dolls classic “Frankenstein.”
The song “Animals” is another classic sounding Toadies tune, about our primal human urge. It’s another rocker that repeats “Tonight we’re just two animals.” Lots of tempo switches and a booming chorus.
“Laments of a Good Man” is a less serious song that is filled with jerky guitar and call and response versus. The chorus switches into a Rollins Band type slow, driving groove… “It’s so hard to be a man, to be a good man.”
Another style stand out is “We Burned the City Down.” This track is a full blown Texas blues/boogie track, complete with slide guitar. The theme is a nihilistic commentary current living, “no longer slaves to modern ways” we burned the city down…
The album ends with the slowest song (the only slow song… ) on the album, “The Appeal.” At over six minutes, it’s also the longest on the album. This track features some chorus effect guitar, and a bluesy backbeat. But don’t worry, there are some good build ups, but it never goes over the top like the rest of the album. You almost need the rest by the time you get to this track.