AN EVENING OF CLEVER POWER-POP HEADLINED BY PDX-VIA-BOSTON TRIO WITH NEW LP 'THE COMPLEAT TOADS'
$10 advance / $10 day of show
The Toads are a three piece power pop trio based on Portland, OR. Ranging in tone from 90's alternative to Beatles pop to punk to doom metal, primary songwriters Matt K. and Matt D. create catchy, humorous, harmonized tunes that stick in the ear, at turns snarky and sincere but always memorable, performed with high energy and high volume.
Transplants from Boston, singer-guitarist Matt K. and singer-bassist Matt D., joined originally by singer-drummer Mitch Gonzales (Jackson Boone, Wave Action,) formed in the Spring of 2015 and quickly established themselves as a band addicted to live shows, with over 100 performances in Portland within their first two and a half years as a band, plus a full length album, three EPs and three music videos showcasing their campy, antic comic style. This frenetic activity, along with their humor, chops, and rapid-fire live sets, have helped the Toads gain ever more visibility in the city's garage rock underground.
2016 was a busy year for the Toads. Their music was featured on Tender Loving Empire's 9th annual "Friends and Friends of Friends" compilation, played at a Blazers game and on X-Ray FM, and written up on Next Northwest and other blogs. The Toads also performed a full live set for KPSU's Live Fridays in January, and held a video release party with MOD Pizza. Mitch Gonzales left the band in November, and the Matts brought Kings & Vagabonds drummer Dylan Valentine onto the throne.
In 2017, the Toads appeared live on Portland Radio Project and Freefrom Portland, and sat down for an extended interview on the Haute Garbage Podcast, and in August, they were the musical guests on the live chat show Who's the Ross.
The band released their first single of 2017, "Portland, OR" and followed with a six song EP, "Time", following on July 23, released via their debut performance at the hip local venue Rontoms. The sextet of tunes earned them their first acknowledgement from local alt-weekly Willamette Week. Their second EP of the year, "It's for You", dropped in December, finding praise in Vortex, the Deli, Portland Notes, and other publications.
The Toads embarked on their first tour, of Oregon, in March 2017, and did a second tour of Washington State, in September, eschewing Western college towns like Olympia and Bellingham for less-trodden territory in the Eastern part of the state, where they were well-received, landing an interview session on Thin Air Radio in Spokane and getting featured in a full-page interview in the Tri-Cities alt-monthly Tumbleweird.
In March 2018 the band embarks on its most ambitious tour yet, the 15-day "Fools' Tour", barreling into (and hopefully put of) the state of California, landing back in Portland on April Fools' Day, just in time for a party celebrating their third anniversary as a live band. The band is also working on a tape release through Dazzleships Records: "The Compleat Toads" will gather together all 33 of their studio recordings in one place, serving as the ideal one-stop introduction to the band's hooky, snarky brand of distorted, old school pop.
Whatever they do, the Toads maintain their mission of leading all to the Church of Rock N Roll, where they will preside for eternity over the altar. Praise be to the Toads, Matt, Matt and Dylan, amen.
The Minders are a band closely associated with The Elephant Six Collective. Started by Martyn Leaper in Denver, Colorado in 1996, the band's original members included Leaper on guitars and vocals, Rebecca Cole, on drums, Jeff Almond on guitar, and Marc Willhite on bass.
Leaper formed the Minders in Denver along with Robert Schneider and Hilarie Sidney from The Apples in Stereo Together they recorded Paper Plane EP in Athens, Georgia. Leaper recorded the "Come On & Hear 7" in Denver, Colorado, allegedly one of the fastest selling Elephant 6 releases in history. At this time, Leaper began attempting to form a more permanent band after releasing "Paper Plane" on 7".
With a permanent lineup set, the band was able to release Rocket 58 as an EP and sign to spinART Records, who released their first album Hooray for Tuesday in 1998. Touring and the release of some other singles ensued, and the band split, with Leaper and Cole moving from Denver to Portland, OR and recruiting future Jicks bassist Joanna Bolme. The minor upheaval resulted in the eventual release of Cul-De-Sacs And Dead Ends, a compilation of singles and b-sides.
Bolme left the Minders shortly after the release of the band's second proper album, Golden Street, in 2001. Almond and Willhite regrouped with the band in time to release their third album in 2002, The Future's Always Perfect. In the spring of 2008, Cole left the band. In 2016, The Minders released Into the River on Space Cassette.
Like drawing a perfect circle, making a good power-pop record is a task that seems easy but becomes nearly impossible when put into practice. So many have aimed for simple and landed on trite; aimed for timeless and landed on toothless; aimed for sweet and landed on creepy. This is precisely why most power-pop albums are not necessarily graded for breaking new ground, but rather, for how competently they fit within the genre’s pre-established formula. Beloved, the debut album from Portland, OR songwriter Mo Troper, indeed recalls some important figures from the past. Over the course of its thirteen tracks, you will find the blushing-schoolboy narratives from the first two Big Star records, the denim-clad rock bravado of Teenage Fanclub, and the lo-fi spontaneity of '90s Robert Pollard. And while these reference points might account for some of the album’s initial thrill, *Beloved *seeks to do more than just impress you with its immaculate Works Cited page.
In fact, it’s almost impressive how much Troper is able to wring not only out of his genre’s limitations but also his stunted lyrical inspiration. Nearly all his songs are planted firmly within either accusatory pop-punk juvenilia (“You’re just another human being/But you’re the only one who’s cool enough to be a casualty/Of everything”) or starry-eyed high school fantasy (“Do you want to kiss me?/Do you ever say my name out loud?”). The latter lyric—from “After the Movies,” the album’s obvious highpoint—is a lot more successful territory for Troper, whose voice is significantly more attractive beneath that song’s cozy distortion than amid the awkward open-mic dryness of “Somebody Special.” On an album that, at its best, sounds like an unearthed live bootleg from an obscure Titan Records band, moments like these can’t help but feel like the local openers coming back to play one more song: you can practically hear the audience hightailing it to the bathroom within the first fifteen seconds. Same goes for eight-minute slow burner “The Biggest” and its acoustic coda, “Teeth,” both of which seem to exist solely for the purpose of pushing the album’s runtime past the thirty-minute mark.
As spotty as the album is, Troper’s gifts are undeniable. “Judy Garland” employs a lyrical conceit not unlike Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” before breaking into a similarly infectious “Ooh ooh ooh” refrain, ensuring the song takes a permanent place in your head. On “Star Wars,” Troper plays up his loner persona (“All my friends want to get drunk again/I just want to stay home and stare at my phone”) before admitting squarely, “All my friends are total fucking bros.” It’s one of the album’s funnier moments, not to mention one that plants his material firmly in the present, as opposed to the unremembered golden age his melodies and production occasionally recall. Plus, it’s nice for once to hear him slightly implicate himself in his trademark, snot-nosed pwnage.
It’s hard to say just how long Troper’s keen melodic sensibility can counterbalance his lyrics’ occasionally mean-spirited adolescent tone; it will be interesting to see whether or not he will be able to pass the ultimate test for power-pop artists—the dreaded sophomore album. Still, in a genre often criticized for its timidity, Troper gets points for confidence. Not to mention, it’s easy to ignore what he’s actually saying in songs like “After the Movies” and “Paint,” in which nearly every couplet feels effortlessly like a hook. While Troper is not the first person to do what he’s doing, he is the first in a long time who can convince you—for the length of a few perfect moments—that no one’s ever done it better. If he’s half as interested in taking advice as he is in giving it, he’s well on his way to earning the authority that these songs seem obsessed with obtaining. Sam Sodomsky, Pitchfork.