This being Toadies week and all, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to listen to the new album. I’m no music critic, so I’ll keep my thoughts brief on it.
I’ve enjoyed every successive Toadies album. It’s not always a building enjoyment. Sometimes I find their previous works better. For example, I like Feeler, but nowhere near as much as I enjoyed Rubberneck or No Deliverance. After Play.Rock.Music, I was excited for Heretics, but even though the Blondie cover was well worth it, and I enjoyed the reworkings of a lot of their classic songs, I was terribly worried that it was foreshadowing a new direction for a band I fell in love with due to intense vocals and heavy, grindy guitars. Maybe age was starting to catch up to them. I mean, no one can actually rock forever. At a certain point you get a bit tired.
So I approached The Lower Side of Uptown with some measure of apprehension. I didn’t not like Heretics, but I was really hoping it was an aberration or side trip rather than a vector. I should have known I had nothing to worry about.
The new album is back to the Toadies feel I know and love. Songs like When I Die, Echo and Mama Take Me Home are exactly what I want them to be. It’s the same feel as earlier albums without sounding like overplayed copies of them. The bonus is the excellent cover of I Put a Spell on You, which is one of my favorite Nina Simone songs (full disclosure, I know it’s not originally by Nina Simone, but hers is the version I knew best).
In short, I doubt this will convert anyone new to Toadies, but longtime fans will be very happy.