Toad the Wet Sprocket is out on the road again! Yes, you heard me right. If you remember them from the ’90s (or even if the name is brand-new to you) you should try and catch them on tour. I cannot begin to articulate into words the extent and the depth of my love for Toad The Wet Sprocket throughout my teen years, and let’s be honest – right up to today. They have definitely made a few of my desert island discs (but don’t ask me to pick which ones. Can I make a Toad mix to take along?).
I know the name of the band is silly (from Monty Python), but don’t let it stop you if you’ve never discovered this Santa Barbara foursome that has been making music together since their wee high-school days.
I gave them a spin the other day and they still sound as fresh and listenable and full-of-goodness as they ever did. Some of the really early stuff sounds kind of, well — late ’80s, but they were still in high school when they recorded that for the most part. It’s better than anything I made in high school, personally. All their mid-’90s stuff is very warm and rich-sounding pop, heavy on harmonies, with well-written lyrics often aching with vulnerability (as we all did in those years).
Oh, Matt Nathanson is opening a few of the West Coast shows.
July 13: Westbury, New York (North Fork Theater; w/Big Head Todd)
July 14: Hyannis, Mass. (Cape Cod Melody Tent; w/Big Head Todd)
July 15: Cohasset, Mass. (South Shore Music Circus; w/Big Head Todd)
July 16: Atlantic City, New Jersey (Borgata Music Box; w/Big Head Todd)
July 18: Cleveland, Ohio (Tower City Amphitheater; w/Big Head Todd)
July 19: Columbus, Ohio (Promowest Pavilion; w/Big Head Todd)
July 20: Cincinatti, Ohio (Moonlight Gardens; w/Glen Phillips solo)
July 21: St. Louis, Missouri (Live on the Landing; w/Big Head Todd)
July 22: Council Bluff, Iowa (Star Cove; w/Glen Phillips solo)
July 23: Kansas City, Missouri (Uptown Theater; with LUCE & Sister Hazel)
July 27: Santa Barbara, CA (Marjorie Luke Theater – Rape Crisis Center Benefit)
Aug. 9: Eagle, Idaho (Eagle Knoll Winery; w/Matt Nathanson)
Aug. 10: Spokane, Wash. (The Big Easy; w/Matt Nathanson)
Aug. 11: Veneta, Ore. (Secret House Vineyard; w/Big Head Todd)
Aug. 13: Arlington, Wash. (River Meadows Park; w/Big Head Todd)
Aug. 14: Seattle, Wash. (The Moore Theatre; w/Matt Nathanson)
Aug. 16: Saratoga, Calif. (Mountain Winery; w/Big Head Todd)
Aug. 17: Saratoga, Calif. (Mountain Winery; w/Big Head Todd)
Aug. 18: Reno, Nev. (Hawkins Amphitheater at Bartley Ranch)
Aug. 19: Santa Ana, Calif. (Galaxy Theatre; w/Matt Nathanson)
Aug. 21: Los Angeles, Calif. (Mayan Theatre; w/Matt Nathanson)
Aug. 22: Cabazon, Calif. (Key Club at Morongo; w/Matt Nathanson)
Aug. 23: San Diego, Calif. (Humphrey’s; w/Big Head Todd)
If you want to heed me and give them a shot (and oh, how you should), I’ve tried to narrow down a few of my favorite selections here from each of their albums. There is SO MUCH MORE than the radio hits “Walk On The Ocean” and “Fall Down”:
Liars Everywhere (melancholy little two minutes of perfection)
Jam (TTWS takes a shot at the same lyrical ground that Pearl Jam covered with “Daughter” – that is, if you can understand through the early-’90s-mumble)
Nightingale Song (tambourines & sublime harmonies, with fantastic lyrics like “We might be different but our hearts won’t lie“)
I Will Not Take These Things For Granted (“How can I hold the part of me that only you can carry?” A very simple and pure love song)
Crowing (This is a wonderful song, but now it makes me chuckle in a self-effacing way for the dozens of time I listened to it my sophomore year of high school over a certain high-drama relationship)
Windmills (A song that somehow perfectly captures its subject matter. I can see a hillside of windmills in my head whenever I hear this. “We go side by side, laugh until it’s right“)
IN LIGHT SYRUP (rarities/b-sides, 1995)
Brother (this is a phenomenal song, it is impossible to not smile when I hear this. One of the few few songs written about a brother that’s not lame or melodramatic)
Good Intentions (I think this one somehow ended up on the “Friends” soundtrack, sheer pop goodness)
Whatever I Fear (I had forgotten how much I liked this final release by Toad, this song is a great example)
Throw It All Away (a song to celebrate the simple joys in life; “Tear up the calendar you bought, throw the pieces to the sky . . . Confetti fallin’ down like rain, like a parade to usher in your life.”)
And yes: SOME FAVORITE TOAD SONGS IN A ZIP FILE.
Take a listen and let’s chat about Toad.
Toad the Wet Sprocket show from Sony Studios in 1995
from the Live Music Archive, in mp3 format.
Solo Glen Phillips show from Jammin’ Java in D.C., 8/30/05
from the Live Music Archive, in mp3 format.