Sunday, December 5, 2010

Because Something in Me Felt So Compelled

Ten Things for Which I’m Thankful -- In Concern of John Rzeznik

10) Agreeing to be on the soundtrack for a rather meh film about my favorite Man-in-Tights. Had you not, I’d have had another year without your band's music in my life, and I might be writing this for Alexakis’ birthday instead.

9) Not being an asshole. Sure, we all have our moments, but in every interview, television or radio, at every awards show, and at all concerts, that I am aware of, you’re just a class-act (for the most part, some drunkenness, irreverence, and sardonic wit excluded), even when it’s obvious you’re under the weather or just plain tired. It’s always nice when someone you look up to is, well, genuinely nice.

8) Fulfilling one of my long term dreams of this combination: your band’s music + ice skating. Really, I was giddy for months from when I heard the news about Improv-Ice to when I saw it. And, yes, it was everything I hoped it would be.

7) Performing at the 2000 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. It gave me a slightly-more-mature reason to cling to my childhood a little bit longer: “But, the Dolls will be on it!”

6) Playing in Houston on three separate occasions in roughly one year’s time. In fact, that alone might be one of the irrational reasons as to why Gutterflower is one of my Top Three albums. Seriously, though, whenever I whine about not seeing y’all in Houston often enough, I take a breath, remember that year, and smile.

5) Always being there, or somewhere in some speaker, when I needed you. Because, yeah, I’ve needed you, and I’m always thankful you’re there.

4) Agreeing to do those songs for Treasure Planet. Sure, you probably did it with your nieces in mind, or you were happy with whatever Disney was offering, or you just liked how they were re-vamping Treasure Island. Whatever the reason, your music in that movie helped me to seal the door shut, somewhat, on my childhood. At the age of 15, it was the last animated movie (with the exception of Wall-E, which was just because everyone said we had to see it…) I saw with a group of friends at the cinema. Thanks for being a part of that.

3) Allowing that intro of that one song to exist. Really, if it didn’t I would have been too over-hyped and distracted by Extra Pale to calm down long enough to pay attention. Had I stayed in that over-excited state and just glossed over what song came after…God only knows. Well, I wouldn’t have a b(l)ack balloon, now would I?

2) Putting your arm around me and tugging me away from a major distraction so my second shot at it wouldn’t be quite a disaster. Really, the photo from the first time is gone, and all I’ve got is your name. Also, thank you for smiling, so it’d be “a good one.”

1) Putting your arm around me and tugging me away from security, so that I could stay in the picture. Oh, and for getting my goodle back after it was taken, after you had smiled and signed it. You made a wide-eyed, quiet girl in Texas feel like she was the most important little fan ever. Thank you for doing that and for effortlessly making all the other fans over the years feel that way, too.

Happy birthday, Mr. “Weznik”.
(Oh, and thanks for not giving me a look when I called you that.)

Monday, May 3, 2010


Okay, so it's been quite a while since Tonic's released a new album of material, so long, in fact, that in the interim front man Emerson Hart had released his own solo effort, Cigarettes and Gasoline, back in 2007. For whatever reasons, the band, since that time, has regrouped. More importantly, they've also recorded and released a fourth LP, which is simply called: Tonic. Am I a fan of self-titled releases? Not really, especially when it's NOT a band's first album, but.... Well, this could very well be a revival, so I'll take the bait and go with it. Let's see... Is Tonic still as wonderful as I remember?...

Album: Tonic
Artist: Tonic
Released: 2010
Label: 429 Records

Track One: Release Me
Okay, this is the song they've chosen as the opening single for the album. I've been told it's been released to radio, but I haven't heard it yet, even on the two stations here in Houston that would be most likely to play it -- Mix 96.5 and 103.7, the Adult Alternative station, which is the only station that's openly promoting Tonic's semi-Houston tour stop in support of The Bangles, which is a WTF pairing if there ever was one, in my opinion... Anyway.... Let's push play.
Okay, jangly guitar... Emerson kicks in soon... There's a slight twang to his voice... OHHH.... This band ALWAYS delivers on choruses... And, this is definitely no exception... The sound picks up; especially the ROCK to it, and the lyrics even seem... more complex, too, in an odd, inexplicable way... Whenever Emerson holds out a note, it's just gruff and lovely and gritty and real... God, I've forgotten how moving he is.... And, what a wonderful cyclical ending... Not some cheesy or trite distortion-end...
...This song should be doing better...

Track Two: Daffod
Okay, not to be confused with Goo Goo Doll's Iris, Everclear's Sunflowers, or Tonic's own Roses... And, I'm done being snitty... :-)
Ohhhhhh... I like the country-feel to this one... So much!!.... And, oh, when Emerson says "here" and "clear"... Oh, just perfect... (Random Gooey tangent: He and Johnny need to hook up...) Oh, the bridge is nice... "I will not fall....." This is so damn catchy... This is really wonderful, and it just makes me think that, as I've said before... If Goo was from, I don't know, Nashville instead of Buffalo... this! is what they'd've been... And, yeah, that's a compliment.
Overall, I'd have to say the singing is more complex than in Release Me, and I totally dig this one.
4/5 (possibly 5/5 depending on mood...)

Track Three: I Want It to Be
Okay, this sounds like it's going to be a ballad.... and, yeah, I heard little 30-second snippets of all these songs way back, weeks ago, but I flat out don't remember... So, let's go...
Oh, I love this simplicity... And there's this subtle scratchiness coming up... OH WOW, powerful chorus. DO I HEAR BELLS? I do. I think I do!! Oh, wow. Oh, and some rumbly bass guitar... And, some lovely imagery in the lyrics... Everything sounds powerful and meaningful, without sounding too bombastic... Let's see how they handle the bridge.... Oh, wow, Emerson's hitting some HIGH NOTES.... OMG THE BACKING IS WONDERFUL.... Oh, wow.... Bells and backing.. Sounds like angels' chorus, and I am not kidding.

Track Four: Send a Message
I'm not sure how IWitB is going to be topped, or if it will, but I'll stay open-minded the best I can...
Oooh.... Nice guitar.... Though, I'm not quite... digging the lyrics yet.... There's a funk to this one... It actually kinda makes me think of latter Better than Ezra.... UNTIL!!! it gets to the chorus, then it's all Tonic. Oooh, nice reference to a past album, there, Emerson... I dig the verses and I dig the chorus, but it's almost jarring put together... So, I'm not sure about this one... Like, I can see myself skipping it, unless I just wanna listen to the whole album...

Track Five: Bigger than Both
Crunchy, echo-y guitar, some heavy bass... A nice, driven beat... Some synth'd distortion... I'm diggin'... A lot... I like bass-heavy pieces, which probably doesn't surprise anyone... This has a nice head-bobbing beat... There's some really well-crafted lyrics... OHHH WOW, THE PRE-CHORUS LEAD-IN... I love it! This is pretty rockin'! I'm so in heart... This is good. This is really good... I'm totally into this one.

Track Six: Nothing Is Everything
Emerson, John called... He wants his non-sensical dichotomies back... That said...
Oh, sounds like another balllllaaaad.... *swwwwoooon* Off to a bit of a slow start... Oh, there we go... Wow, it instantly makes me think of Love A Diamond, also by them... I like it; it seems very heartfelt, but it's almost too low-key for me... oddly, just like LaD... The chorus, I think, is easily my favorite part... And, well, the bridge is lovely... I guess it's just the verses that are falling flat for me...

Track Seven: Feel It Now
Hmm... Okay, let's see if we get a rocker...
Okay! Back to jangly pop-rock... kind of grindy, too... It's a little hectic... Well, hectic for Tonic.... This is just a jumbly, happy little song... Fun, but I doubt it's one I'll purposefully seek out on repeated listens... Unless I need a mood-boost....

Track Eight: Where Do I Fit
Ooohhhhhhhhhhh................................................... I like this.
It's a tad bit darker.... There seems to have some heavy strings attached... Oh, wow.... It all builds to a pretty solid and strong chorus that actually isn't too jarring or distracting from the somewhat simple verses... Like, that overall heaviness is still apparent.... I dig this... OH, GUITAR SOLO?! YESSSSS. Oh, I'm done for.

Track Nine: Resolve
Simple...... Whispery voice... Ohhh, simple lyrics..... But... so.... oh, wow.... Lyrically... It makes me think of his Green Hills Race for California, which I really love.... Oh, and the piano -- THE PIANO!.... ohhhh man... ohhh, no..... THE TEARS, Y'ALL, THEY'RE COMIN'... *sniffle* This is really effective.... OH LORD THE REST OF THE MUSIC'S KICKED IN.... OMG, THIS COULD BE BECOME IF BECOME HADN'T FUCKING SUCKED.... Oh, man... This is really great...

Track Ten: Precious Little Bird
Okay, going from what I remember from the 30-second snippets... I'm either gonna really enjoy or really NOT enjoy this one...
So far so good....... Love the thumpy-ness to it.... OH-OHOH!! Oh, I love it!!! OH YEAH THIS IS FUN AND AWESOME... I can just see some awesome crowd jamming to this one, like woah....

Track Eleven: Torn to Pieces
OH I LOVE THIS MUSIC!!!! It contrasts so well with Emerson's clear voice.... This is Americana rock done really well.... In fact... In my heart of hearts.... This is the sort of rock I *sometimes* wish other bands I really love would make...

Track Twelve: She Goes Down
Of course, let's end on a somber note....
The drawwwwlll on the guitar.... is nice.... Okay... I'm not digging this one... Which is a shame... to end on a low-note...

And that's that: a fine re-acquaintance with my #3 band... which, I hope, continues in this vein...
if i opened up my heart strings could you show me how to heal them