By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
His latest album--ear X-tacy 2, the sequel to his surprisingly popular 1994 album--features a grab bag of styles, including a stab at industrial ("Is This What You Want?") that is either a hilarious parody or desperately bad. We like to think that it's a parody, given Timmons' three Local Musician of the Year trophies. The rest of the album is one long guitar solo, broken up every so often by Timmons' vocals. It really doesn't matter what genre he tackles--his signature fretboard work means that the result ends up sounding like an Andy Timmons song. He may be a great guitar player, but he's no bluesman. We've got the pictures of him jamming with Kip Winger to prove it.
Nominated for: Best Act Overall
If I never want to hear "Possum Kingdom" again, imagine how it feels to be Todd Lewis or Lisa Umbarger or Mark Reznicek--cranking out that same song night after week after month after year, hauling it out like it was "Stairway to Heaven" or some other golden oldie from another decade though it's only (only!) seven or so years old. Better to be a one-hit wonder than a none-hit blunder, but still...enough is enough. And don't think the Toadies, including recent add-on Clark Vogeler as guitarist, don't know it too: Just a few weeks ago, after a year and a half of preparation and pondering, the band finished its second (second!) full-length album for Interscope; after recording for three months in Austin with Butthole Surfers guitarist Paul Leary, they have the disc all but in the can, awaiting mixing in June for a release date sometime in the...fall...winter...next year? "We want it out in the fall," says Reznicek. "The sooner, the better." (Christ, you'd think they were Boston.)
The Second Album is a most curious beast, actually--so much unlike the platinum-selling Rubberneck and the 1993 EP Pleather and the demo cassette Velvet that it might as well be by a different band. Perhaps it's the subtraction of Darrel Herbert (gone to the tomorrowpeople) and the addition of Vogeler--a classic-rock fetishist who perfected his guitar-hero, foot-on-the-monitor moves during his days with the mighty Funland band--but suddenly, the Toadies' trademark chicken-fried punk has evolved into a far different shade of boogie. The album, or at least the unmixed and unmastered version that landed in our laps, begins with a subdued jolt; the main instrument for the first few minutes is, of all things, an organ--proof that sooner or later, everybody brings in keyboards to flesh out the rock.
Lewis' voice throughout is less a scream than a hysterical mutter, and the twin-guitar boogie-rock attack that marked older Toadies songs, not to mention the band's contributions to such soundtracks as Basquiat and The Crow: City of Angels, is no longer the main attraction but a sideshow--the cream filling instead of the whole dessert. The rock is there, but the album builds to a slow burn instead of beginning on fire: The third song ("Push That Hand Away," perhaps?) recalls "I Come From the Water" but with a more relaxed attack; it's classic-rock with a metal-pop twist, guitar solos and layered punk-rock choirs chanting the choruses. "Dead Boy" is maximum rock and roll, arena rock made for the clubs; and one song even contains an overt nod to "The Twist," with an added "son of a bitch" for superior Toadies effect.
At first listen, I didn't much care for the record--but then it struck me that it was simply because the band's "new" sound wasn't familiar, comfortable; too often we like our bands to remake yesterday's records even as we wonder why they don't evolve (pop fans are the most hypocritical in all the land). Local radio, eager to "break" a band they ignored for years, ruined Rubberneck for me and my three friends--Redbeard probably thinks the record's called Possum Kingdom--but the fact is, the record's also four-plus years old and contains songs that date to the band's inception. The Toadies have grown more in two years than in the six years before that, and it's something we could all get a little more than used to.
Nominated for: New Act
When volume becomes noise and rock becomes yesterday's fashion, most musicians give up and fade away; they don't quite know how to turn their youthful obsessions into adult passions, and so they give them up completely--or die trying. Mike Gibson spent much of his youth in Brutal Juice; they accrued, over the course of a few years, a mighty reputation as the loudest band on the block--punks who thrashed to a (literal) trash-can beat, screaming bloody murder until their promise threatened to destroy them. Brutal Juice was performance art masquerading as rock and roll band; few who attended their New Year's Eve gig a few years ago will ever forget how some of the band members shattered a trash-bag pinata on stage and watched as decayed road kill spilled to the floor.
But somewhere along the way, not long after Interscope released the band's major-label debut and then proceeded to sell them by the dozens, Gibson decided he had had enough of making noise. He wanted to write songs, to give structure to the chaos that had been Brutal Juice's calling card for perhaps too long. When the band finally imploded in February 1997, he took a batch of songs written during a Brutal Juice tour; rounded up departed Toadies guitarist Darrel Herbert (fired from the band last year, and now found standing behind the bass), guitarist Jody Powerchurch (and what a great band name that'd be), keyboardist John Norris, and ex-BJ drummer Ben Burt; and formed the tomorrowpeople, so named for an old BBC series. (Burt is no longer with the band: He was recently asked to "sit out" from the current recording of the band's forthcoming Geffen Records debut, and he was offended enough--perhaps rightly so--to depart the band for good. "It was very unfortunate," says manager Shaun Edwardes.)