The Record Lounge: Preview – Toadies “Feeler”

Originally posted on Facebook 06/24/2010

So after 13 or so years in development, writing, playing, tweaking, recording, and finally scrapping, the mythical Feeler album is on its way. Almost parallel with Chinese Democracy in its position with fans, Toadies fans probably never thought they would see this day.

Feeler is the missing link between Rubberneck and Hell Below/Stars Above. I’ve always felt that had this record seen the light of day, the Toadies story would have been almost unrecognizably different. As evidenced with much of Feeler, the growth presented was leaps and bound in the terms of songwriting. Not only would there have NOT been a 7 year gap between Rubberneck and Hell Below/Stars Above, but Hell Below/Stars Above would have made much more sense in the grand scheme of things. To the listener, there was a definite developmental gap.

The material for the original Feeler album, the first written with new member Clark Vogeler, was very strong. The original “Push the Hand”, with its jazzy breakdown guitar tradeoff, “Your Day” with opening pinch-harmonics, the slow reservation of “Little Fish” and “Joey, Let’s Go” display an album of growth in the band. Burners like the one-two punch of “Suck Magic” into “Dead Boy Boogie”, “Pink”’s restraint, “Dollskin”’s gradual plod, set this album apart from the take no prisoners approach to the 1994 eponymous debut Rubberneck.

Some of these went on to find a home on 2001’s sophomore effort. “Push The Hand”, “What We Have We Steal”, and “Dollskin” had originally been slated for Feeler in some form (“What We Have We Steal” was originally titled “Best Of Three”). This leaves a large portion of the original Feeler to reinterpretation. (Feeler will be the first recordings with bassist Doni Blair.)

We all know the story. In a nutshell, the Toadies recorded Rubberneck’s follow-up in 1998 in Austin. From there they were unable to find anyone to mix the album in an appropriate time frame, and subsequently were rejected by Interscope. Then there was the Polygram/Universal merger, which froze assets for another 6 months. By the summer of 1999, the band was fed up and decided to rerecord, using newer material.

The Feeler we will experience soon is not the same Feeler that was recorded in 1998. This is a complete do-over of sorts. The label, Interscope owns the recordings of the songs, but the Toadies now own the songs themselves again, therefore having the ability to re-record and do whatever they want to do with the material.

But, what’s more exciting is the thought of unearthed songs coming to fruition. There were a few tracks that never saw Austin during the Feeler sessions, and therefore have been sitting around for up to 13 years, unused, except for being dusted off for the occasional live show. Songs such as “Sinker”, “Trust Game”, and “Send You To Heaven” are all fair game now.

Which brings us to the present. After all the time, myth, speculation, and desire, Feeler will be available at shows in 3 weeks (beginning with the 7/15 show). What album we’re given, as Toadies fans, is anyone’s guess. The prodigal son is coming home to take its rightful place in the chronological development of one of Texas’ favorite artists. And I highly doubt it will bring the disappointment of Chinese Democracy.

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~ by thesynaptic on August 8, 2010.

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