The Toadies' "Play. Rock. Music."
- Article by: Justin Guinn / Erin Manning
- Posted: 07/30/2012
Having little knowledge of the Toadies aside from a CD made by an ex-girlfriend featuring “Possum Kingdom,” I dove aimlessly into Play.Rock.Music. (7/31/12, Kirkland Records), the band’s fifth full-length album. Instead of the expected mid-90s grunge and overstated themes, loud guitar distortion gives a solid knock on the door, exposing the Toadies’ roots and reminding listeners that they’re still pretty kick-ass.
Album opener “Rattles Revival” is a groovy jam with distant vocals and driving rhythm guitar. It’s well put together, sparking curiosity as to what comes next on the album. This happens to be “Summer of the Strange,” the album’s first single (released in May on iTunes, along with “Rattles Revival”), which starts out with a gripping bass line that carries the drum rhythm before the guitar rolls in to vocals asking, “Give me back control.” Though a great song by itself, it is best enjoyed with its mind-fuck of a music video, of which guitarist and singer Vaden Todd Lewis summarized as, “Nudity, guns, explosions, Leatherface, a zombie – please,” in his recent interview with Brite Revolution.
“Magic Bullet” is an album standout featuring catchy, albeit grim lyrics, as well as a nice guitar solo, which serves to prepare listeners for the album love song, “Beside You.” These four songs, along with a hard Texas blues jam about human animality called “Animals,” are pretty much the only ones worth listening to. The other songs utilize an overwhelming amount of distortion and yelling that lasts until the two closing songs, which are unlike any other on the album in the best possible way.
“We Burned the City Down” clocks in at just under three minutes with an acoustic intro and lyrics demanding that -- you guessed it -- we burn the city down. Then the band picks up and Texas slips in with some Lone Star State-inspired guitar work that makes for a welcoming change in feel from the caterwauling of the previous songs.
The other standout, (which also happens to be the closer), “The Appeal,” is the most well-thought-out track on the album. The band truly finds a groove on this one, creating a smooth song flow up and down the progression, with harmonious guitar and bass work throughout. Lyrics like, “I wish I could tell you, the way that I feel / I know that I failed you, so I make my appeal,” are revealing, taking over six minutes-which-might-as-well-be-12 to allow the listener plenty of time to get lost. It’s one of those songs conjured to address whatever may be shaking your mind at the time -- truly a beauty. Its placement as album closer puts a great final note on Play.Rock.Music. leaving a lot of hope for the Toadies’ next batch of new material.