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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Toadies bring "new" album material to Pittsburgh

Album Review: Toadies

In lieu of being able to attend the Toadies show this Friday (9/17) at the Altar Bar, we humbly offer a review of
Feeler, their latest release. If you're looking for a good rock n' roll show in Pittsburgh, the Toadies will certainly deliver, as evidenced by when we caught them at Lollapalooza in 2008.

Overall, this effort from the Texas trio lacked the cohesive feel of a traditional album, but the album itself came to be in a very nontraditional way. Originally planned as their sophomore release, Feeler never saw the light of day thanks to record label difficulties; a few tracks made it onto 2001's Hell Below/Stars Above, though, which became the Toadies' "official" second album. The now EP-length Feeler grew into a 9-track LP by adding several songs which, up until now, were only performed live by the group. So yeah, the album seems a little pieced together for good reason.

Toadies music is simple. No synths, no vocoders, no string quartet for the sensitive ballad…just guitar, bass, and drums rocking out. In some ways, though, Feeler got a bit too simple for us. It's a short album of short tracks--the longest clocks in at 3:52 and several don't even make it to the three-minute mark. For that reason, certain songs felt as though they didn't really have time to develop lyrically or musically, with choruses often only containing a few catch words repeated over and over.

On the other hand, the Toadies aren't afraid to run away from predictable musical formulas--dissonant chords and atonal guitar solos add a level of complexity and create an eerie mood to good effect. In fact, those deliberate weird, twisting notes start sounding quite pleasing (and refreshingly different) after a few listens to Feeler.

The most notable tracks were:

"Waterfall," with its rolling 3/4 time beat creating a sense of urgency as frontman Todd Lewis explains "now is the time/the time is now."
"Dead Boy," a simple but catchy morbid punk anthem.
"Mine," a creepy stalker love song that's so wrong it's right.
"Joey Let's Go," a more sensitive song. The pleading lyrics try to convince a friend to get over a girl, saying "it was over before it began."

Feeler will more than likely remain an under-the-radar CD for rabid fans to add to their collections, and even its best tracks may not get picked up for radio play. But in a way, this album seems to have been more of an act of self-gratification after all the initial struggles the band endured in order to make its release a reality. We'll give them a pat on the back, but next time we expect a little more from the Toadies.

Grade: C-

1 comment:

Scott said...

I wish I had caught some of their Lolla set!