Toadies: Feeler

[Kirtland Records]

Aug 31, 2010 at 2:06 pm

The music industry works in mysterious ways, which is the nice way of saying that it must be hard for it to walk around with its head shoved up its ass. The latest example is the “new” Toadies album, Feeler.

To recap, the Toadies roared out of Texas in 1994 with the platinum-selling Rubberneck, a Southwestern version of Nirvana and Weezer that combined smart lyrics, voluminous dissonance and Hard Rock anthemics. Inexplicably, Interscope — the geniuses that had banked plenty with Rubberneck — nixed the band’s demoed-and-recorded 1997 sophomore album. As a result, the Toadies didn’t record another album until 2001’s Hell Below/Stars Above and then broke up a scant five months into the album’s tour. After floating around in a variety of roles (vocalist/guitarist Todd Lewis in the Burden Brothers, drummer Mark Reznicek in Eleven Hundred Springs, guitarist Clark Vogeler as a film editor), the Toadies finally reassembled to craft 2008’s No Deliverance, which spawned an Active Rock radio hit with the title track.

With the relative success of No Deliverance and the band’s subsequent tours, the Toadies get both validation and vindication with the release of Feeler, the album that should have followed Rubberneck. Taking the best songs from the Feeler sessions (bar those that wound up on Hell Below) and adding in a pair of vintage unrecorded tracks, the quartet (now featuring Hagfish bassist Doni Blair) took the songs into the studio and re-recorded them for this nine-track mini-album. Clearly, the rerecording means that you don’t actually hear what the label heard nearly a decade and a half ago, but it’s hard to imagine Interscope’s rejection of Feeler based on the songs themselves.

“Waterfall” has the same chugging urgency and swaggering swing that marked Everclear’s early brilliance, “Dead Boy” bristles with infectious Punk energy and Pop melodicism and wouldn’t sound out of place in a Foo Fighters or Queens of the Stone Age set, and “City of Hate” has the quirky feel of Kurt Cobain fronting Wall of Voodoo.

Who can say what might have transpired if the Toadies had been allowed to present Feeler to their considerable audience in 1998 as they intended. But there’s no disputing that it makes for a kickass release here in 2010.