Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No Deliverance

So inspired by the review in today's Quick (now you see why i hate it? cost me $16) that likened it more to Rubberneck than to their other records, I picked up a copy of the new Toadies record "No Deliverance" this afternoon. No, I didn't just pick up a copy, I actually bought a copy after T-bone guilted me into my ethical obligation, namely that you don't pirate local music. Fine. So i stopped into Good Records and have spent the afternoon listening to it as I worked.

I've been through it about three times now. It's good, but I wouldn't say great. If memory serves, and it's going to have to because I'm too lazy to do actual research (although you're welcome to correct me), when Rubberneck came out it did so to little fanfare. In fact, the record was considered a flop sales-wise until some radio station in Florida picked it up and put 'Possum Kingdom' in regular rotation. A few months after that it caught on and slowly got national airplay, eventually resulting in the record going platinum a couple years after release.

The reason I wrote all that was to convey this point: Rubberneck was so damn good that it couldn't be held down. It wasn't a seminal record in the way Nirvana's Nevermind or Mudhoney's Superfuzz Bigmuff spawned an entire genre of music but I don't think you could do any sort of credible collection of '90s rock music, especially post-grunge, and not include 'Possum Kingdom' and mention of Rubberneck. It was that good.

So for me to pick up No Deliverance and expect anything close to that, well, it was foolish. I had my expectations simply set too high. Which isn't to say this is a bad record, because it most certainly is not, and in fact it does have some qualities reminiscent of Rubberneck. Gone are a lot of the effects and polish that were on Hell Below, Stars Above with the band returning to a more raw sound with just basic distortion. The records do sound similar. The songs are good, not great, but they've got some catch to them and they're guitar driven. Which is almost an insult to the fantastic drumming Mark Reznicek does on the record, and it's not meant to be. I think it's his best work to date.

I think my biggest complaint, and others may very well disagree, is the way Todd (now apparently Vayden Todd for some reason) screams through the entirety of several of the songs. I like his scream, but with the Burden Brothers (and probably from live shows) he picked up this penchant for screaming through the entirety of songs, instead of singing and using the scream for effect (think: "Do you wanna die?" in 'Possum Kingdom' or the climax of 'Away'). It just makes the songs sound forced, and more than anything it makes them just run together. For what it's worth, Dave Grohl has started doing the same thing with the Foo Fighters, and it's turned me off of them as well.

In short, I will say this. If you like the Toadies, you will like this record. If you're lukewarm on them, you will probably be lukewarm on this. Compared to the crap that passes for mainstream radio these days (and you kids get off my lawn!), it's really good and I could totally see seventeen year old me loving this record. Twenty-six year old me thinks it's good and has some good tracks (I dig 'So Long Lovey Eyes' and 'I Am A Man Of Stone') and was worth the listen, but it's not going to change my life.

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