Some albums make more of an impression than others, no matter how much you like the artist or band. It’s just natural.
Sometimes this comes down to timing. Maybe you weren’t mentally in the same place the band was, so the album doesn’t resonate. Maybe you loved the previous album so much that the next album suffers from a kind of whiplash. It can’t possibly measure up to the awesomeness of its predecessor. Maybe you didn’t know about it until years later, and you’ve already moved on to their new material.
Sometimes its just a matter of logistics. In my case, this happens a lot. I’ll get a new album, give it a couple of spins in the CD player, on the turntable or listen to it exclusively in its digital form once or twice. Then, it gets filed into the larger collection, with its only opportunity for air is to be randomly selected by whatever algorithm determines that within the various music players at my disposal. Many albums have suffered this fate, and that’s the lucky ones. I consume music in such a way that some albums do not pass go and do not collect $200 and go straight to random.
Toadies second (technically third, but that’s a complicated story that you can get off of their Wikipedia page) album, Hell Below/Stars Above, suffered that kind of fate. I was a fan of Rubberneck back in the Nineties when everyone was a fan of Rubberneck, or more accurately, a fan of Possum Kingdom. I didn’t really think about Toadies again until No Deliverance came out in 2008. A couple years later, Feeler, the would-be follow up to Rubberneck was released, and I picked that up, too. And that’s about the time I found out about this album. In just two short years I had so much new Toadies that this album suffered for being third to my particular party. I bought it at a used record store, ripped it to my hard drive, synced it to my mp3 player of choice, and it was after that literally lost in “shuffle all.”
But this week, the shuffle has been greatly reduced and focused. It’s been all Toadies and nothing but Toadies, so I’m forced to spend time with albums that are new to me like The Lower Side of Uptown, albums that I’ve overplayed like Play.Rock.Music (can’t help it, I really liked it when it came out and it was part of a road trip soundtrack for me one Thanksgiving), albums that I wasn’t thrilled with but still enjoy like Feeler (it may have been different if it had come out in 1998 like it was supposed to) and albums that I had obviously not payed enough attention to like Hell Below/Stars Above.
It has been the odd revelation all week. I would hear a song that I was unfamiliar with, but thought was really awesome, and I’d look to see what album it was from. Every time, it was this album. It happened first when I heard Jigsaw Girl, not off of this album, but the re-worked version on Heretics. I immediately had to check out the original, and was not disappointed. Later in the week, Doll Skin came on while I was driving home from getting dinner. I had to play it two more times before I got home because I was so blown away by it. Little Sin came on earlier today when I was running errands. Right now, I’m listening to Pressed Against the Sky (I’m ashamed to say, probably for the first time) and I’m loving it. And then there’s the title track, which is like no other Toadies song but is phenomenal (and features some guy you may have heard of on piano named Elliott Smith). It sounds like it came out of a rock opera that that I desperately want to see.
I find it surprising that an album that’s almost twenty years old, that I’ve personally owned for almost half that time, can still surprise and enthrall me. I’m hoping that trend continues over the course of the countdown. Undoubtedly there are more albums that got lost over the years that contain hidden gems for me to discover. If not, at least this was a fun way to start.