Review: Toadies – No Deliverance [2008]

By Peter O’Brien

They come from the water of the possum kingdom, near Tyler, TX. It is a place with Hell below and stars above, pressed against the sky, only accessible by a plane crash. They are THE TOADIES and they have finally resurfaced with a new album, No Deliverance, out now on Kirtland Records.

It’s been seven years since their last album, 2001’s Hell Below, Stars Above, which itself was a seven year follow up to their debut album, 1994’s Rubberneck. That time was not spent in vain. In 1997 the band wrote and recorded an album, Feeler, which their record label at the time [Interscope] rejected for release in 1998. In 2001, following the “Hell Below” tour, the band broke up only to reunite in 2005, this time without bassist Lisa Umbarger. During that time front man Todd Lewis began working with The Burden Brothers releasing two albums, Buried in Your Black Heart [2003] and Mercy [2006]. It wasn’t until a string of reunion shows and mini-tours in 2006 & 2007 that speculation of new Toadies material began to circulate the internet. The buzz paid off in the form of No Deliverance.

To listen to the album you would think it was recorded within a year or two of the bands previous endeavors. That is not to say that the music is dated, far from it. The Toadies have a very distinguished sound that seems to become more and more defined with not only each album but also each song on the album. Lyrically No Deliverance falls right into Lewis’ wonderland of broken-hearted observations. An element that when coupled with the high energy of their music presents a relatable song that is equally enjoyable, without being overly emotional.

Leading off the ten song collection is “So Long Lovely Eyes,” a high-energy number that is reminiscent of other Toadies classics such as “Mister Love” and “Plane Crash.” The title track, “No Deliverance,” is an example of the bands growth within their realm of musicianship. Its muddy sounding vocals accompany the low-key riff of the verse beautifully and peak perfectly with the music during the chorus.

It’s the songs that the band wrote together that really shine on this recording. Seven of the ten songs are credited solely to Lewis, but there are three mixed in the middle that are full band collaborations. The first of these songs, “I Am a Man of Stone,” begins with what sounds like a country western guitar lick that quickly gets lost in a punishing riff that drives the tone of the song. It’s one of those songs that paces itself lyrically, but does not lose the momentum musically. It is followed directly with “Song I Hate,” which starts off with an almost crying guitar riff that lays over the rhythm supremely. This song really showcases the bands ability to arrange music and structure a song that sounds so natural it could have been picked off a tree. The third collaboration is “Hell In High Water,” an up tempo number that will call you back again and again so your feet can keep tapping.

The album rounds out with a very bluesy tune, “Don’t Go My Way,” and “One More,” which echoes the story telling style of songwriting utilized in “Possum Kingdom” and “Tyler” from 1994’s Rubberneck.

Overall the album is very impressive and refreshing. To see a band transcend time and avoid the pitfalls of commercialism is inspiring. The Toadies are a true testament to the idealism and integrity of musicians and it’s great to see them sustain and flourish in the post-corporate record label world. No Deliverance really delivers – and not just musically.

B+

The Toadies are Vaden Todd Lewis [Lead Vocals & Guitar], Mark Reznicek [Drums], Clark Vogeler [Guitar], and Doni Blair [Bass].

Read more reviews by Peter O’Brien here

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