They say you should never judge a book by its cover. Yet, with the latest full length effort by Ft. Worth based Toadies, it is okay to make an exception to the rule. For those looking for the Toadies to change up their LOUDsoftLOUD sound by adding dub step bass bombs and vocals rich in auto-tune, you will be greatly disappointed. Instead, it is everything you would crave from a Toadies record in the year 2012. When not struggling with the complexity of relationships, the struggle for sanity in America today is being thoroughly examined.
The album kicks off with Rattler’s Revival, a call to arms to start fresh and cast away what is choking us as a collective people. The attack upon what is defined as normal doesn’t end with Rattle’s Revival. The album’s first single, Summer of the Strange, further pushes the envelope for what is considered normal by sinking into the listeners subconscious with a hypnotizing bass line and crunchy guitar licks. Summer of the Strange feels like an acid trip on the hottest day of the year, which is a mighty impressive accomplishment for a rock and roll song that clocks in under the five minute mark.
The philosophies of the “majority” of America go on trial from time to time on Play.Rock.Music. Laments of a Good Man is reminiscent of Primus both musically and lyrically. As the instrumentation shifts between bouncy bass lines and sludgy guitars, vocalist Vaden Todd Lewis shares the plight of the All-American father who struggles between the carnal instinct of the male species and trying to be the ideal God fearing husband and father. We Burned The City Down feels a lot like a camp fire sing along as cowboy inspired acoustic twang backs lyrics of escaping the evils of big cities for a much simpler way of life.
While the songs that examine our ideas at this particular moment in time are moving, it’s the relationship themed songs that bring home the gold for Play.Rock.Music. The road tested ode to fucking entitled Animals mashes ZZ Top inspired riffs with Marilyn Manson-esque chants of “hey.” Once Toadies fans take in the record, there is zero doubt that fans will join in when the group performs this out on the road. Sunshine reeks of sexy desperation as Lewis sings lines like “Sunshine stay awhile with me and I will be your man. No one can make you feel like I can…I will give up anything to hold you” over a sea of swirling guitars. Arguably his strongest vocal effort to date, Lewis makes you feel what he feels taking these songs from solid jams to great gems.
Beside You is 4 minutes of sonic perfection. The slow building guitar melodies mix with creepy lyrics promising to never leave another’s side long after the relationship has gone sour. Play.Rock.Music. eventually winds down with the six minute opus The Appeal. Not yet ready to accept that love has come to an end, it is next to impossible not to feel your own heart break even if you have never had that experience in your life as Lewis soulfully sings “I will wait patiently and expect no reply. I’ve got my answer already I see it in your eye. So I’ll just give you my love if you return in kind. I just hope that’s enough for you and that we have a little more time.”
Play.Rock.Music. won’t move a million units and chances are you won’t hear any of the songs on your local radio station. Those facts do not prevent it from being the latest outstanding effort from another unfortunate victim of major label miss-management. Play.Rock.Music. is a rare case where the advertising is not false. It’s 40 minutes of unapologetic rock and roll songs as only the Toadies can bring it.
Reviews published prior to February 23, 2015 used a 1-5 star rating system.