Portland’s punky power pop underdogs the Toads release their second EP of 2017 with “It’s for You”, out December 15 with an all ages show at Clinton Street Theater (click here for FB event).
The band’s last EP, “Time”, recorded in 2016 at the outset of a notoriously snowy Portland winter, found them in a moody foxhole, facing the imminent departure of drummer Mitch Gonzales and turning in a unusually contemplative set of songs that ended, nonetheless, with the upbeat resolution to “Keep On Keepin’ On”.
“It’s for You”, then, could be seen as the Toads fully recovered, locked in with new drummer Dylan Valentine and offering up a fiery, defiant blast of 90’s-inspired pop/punk/indie rock. Recorded to analog tape by Hadrian Kindt (Fire Nuns, Prison Dress, Dim Wit), “It’s for You” shows a power trio honed by more than 100 local shows—raw, direct, and dead serious about their craft.
“It’s for You” opens with guitarist Matt Kane’s “Landline”, enumerating modern anxieties—“What if I lose my cell phone?”—over a speedy, melodic track that seems a lot less worried than the lyrics. Bassist Matt Dinaro’s mini-suite “Never a Good Time” follows, portraying love as a con artist and homewrecker over a galloping hardcore beat, before he surrenders in a crashing breakdown. This track gives way to the swaggering, shade-throwing “You Don’t Deserve Me”, a 6/8 stomp in the Weezer mold, and the slacker anthem “I’m Sorry”, whose fed-up narrator protests, “I’m not gonna kill myself to win.” The title track, “It’s for You”, ends the EP on an unusual note for the band, with a bright riff and angular post-punk beat, and lyrics lamenting a lack of faith in the capitalist creed of “carpe diem”: “Why can’t I love every minute that I have?”
The EP release show closes out a banner year for the three-year-old band; 2017 saw the self-managed, still-unsigned Toads embarking on two mini-tours in Oregon and Washington— eight dates marking their first major excursions out of the Rose City. The band released a single, "Portland, OR", and two EPs, took fake bloody press photos with local music maven Heather Hanson, gained their first writeup in the venerable alt-weekly Willamette Week, and performed for the first time at key Portland venues like the Know, Rontoms, the Hawthorne Theater, and Bunk Bar.
"It's for You" doesn't just refer to the title of one of its songs. "Matt Kane has the song 'Landline', where he wonders what he might do if he lost his cell phone," says Matt Dinaro. "So I was thinking about phones as a theme, and it just so happened that where I work, they were updating the phone system, and they had all these discarded old landline phones they were going to recycle, just sitting there in the hallway in a laundry bin. And that seemed like a perfect cover image. And I thought of "It's for you" as something people used to say when they answered the home phone. But nobody says that anymore because everyone has their own phone, so these days it's always for you. So it seemed like a good theme, because we're often pegged as a retro, 90's band, and we even recorded this time on an old Tascam machine that hasn't been produced since like 1985."
PRAISE FOR THE TOADS:
"Nineties rock revivalism tends to tilt toward the grungy end of things, which is understandable—Hole was awesome, and Nirvana shirts still look great. But Portland band the Toads, which celebrates the release of its new Time EP tonight, is bold enough to summon the spirits of less-revered deities like Gin Blossoms and Matthew Sweet, artists who wrote great songs but were untethered to trends or scenes. They were very good, and so are the Toads, who merge classic power-pop and ‘80s college rock so skillfully it makes one long for the days when movies were mere pretexts for Proclaimers songs." --Willamette Week, 7/19/2017
"Time still operates the same pop-punk plane The Toads usually skirt on, but with a slight twist. It's not just delightfully punky tunes anymore, but also an incorporation of more of a 90's alternative feel to the tracks. At times, Time even touches on a Beatles-esque '60s pop quality, like on the track 'Alien Gene.'" --The Deli Portland, 8/18/2017
"The album kicks off with killer riffs that show off Matt Kane’s tasty guitar wizardry and closes with an anthem of positive vibes, Keep On Keepin’ On. This country-pop-rock album pretty much captures the essence of Portland Summer 2017 and begs the question that so many people are asking “why aren’t these guys huge yet?” Thanks guys! Keep on keepin’ on! You are making people happy!" --Portland Notes, 8/3/2017
The Toads "It's for You" EP Electronic Press Kit
EP cover. Click for hi-res
Photo 1 by Heather Hanson. Click for hi-res
Photo 2 by Heather Hanson. Click for hi-res