Review Summary: The most self-explanatory album title ever?
Although many people might only know the Texas rock band Toadies because of their smash hit Possum Kingdom (that *** is still awesome mind you), but the band has continued to live on. Although Toadies took a five year break, they reformed in 2006. In 2012 Toadies dropped their latest record Play.Rock.Music.
Toadies has always been more rock n' roll oriented than the Seattle bands that they're often lumped in, and it's no different here. The opening track Rattler's Revival is a straight-ahead rock n' roll swing with Todd Lewis sneering over the groove with lyrics about being a snake (Not kidding). There's hand-claps before the second verse, and the chorus doesn't come until 1:30 in. The guitar riff is absolutely infectious. However, starting with Get Low, things get sonically darker as the bass makes it's first major appearance.
Doni Blair's bass is very prominent on Play.Rock.Music, as it serves as the sonic backbone on many songs for the verses before the guitars come crashing in. Summer Of The Strange lumbers along on a lull before building up to the chorus, where things suddenly fade down and return to the bass line-led verses. Beside You on the other hand is almost a ballad as a simple clean guitar carries it into the verse, where the bass rumbles along under Todd's voice. But, like most of the songs on Play.Rock.Music, the guitars come to play in the chorus. The Appeal is both the longest song and the most restrained, as has a very psychedelic feeling and quiet verses.
Speaking of Todd Lewis, he's been the one real constant over the years in Toadies. As band members have come and go, he's always stood in the center. Toadies are obviously his band now, and on Play.Rock.Music. his voice is out front. His voice is more raw than polished, and there's a certain sneer to it at times. But, he can carry a tune with decent results. Todd's lyrics on Play.Rock.Music run the gamut from vaguely religious rambling (Rattler's Revival) to mid-life crises (Laments Of A Good Man) to sex (Animals) to lamenting modernization (We Burned The City Down). Nothing super mind-blowing here, but solid nonetheless.
Clark Vogeler provides decent riffing, and when the songs calls for it, a guitar solo or two. Mark Reznicek is a solid drummer. He won't dazzle you with speed or crazy fills, but he along with Doni Blair provide a solid backing groove for the guitars to bash around on top of.
Animals & We Burned The City Down are both very bluesy, with the former being led along by slide-guitar lines and the latter featuring prominent acoustic guitar lines. However, the song that follows Animals is easily the best song on Play.Rock.Music. Sunshine features a very subdued verse with a quiet bass line and vocals from Lewis that are almost whispered at points. The guitars very quietly creep in and suddenly shimmer in the pre-chorus, until they return to crunching in the chorus. The entire song has a very dark vibe, and it would be a great single.
Play.Rock.Music is the sixth full-length album by Toadies, and it shows that they are still a very solid, functioning band. Is Play.Rock.Music the most self-explanatory album title ever? Maybe. On album #6, Toadies keep on truckin' and playing their brand of rock music.