Saturday, November 29, 2008
Album Review: Shiny Toy Guns - "Season of Poison"
Last year I discovered a great new band, Shiny Toy Guns. I had the pleasure of being not 6 feet away from them at a very intimate concert at The Windjammer last September, and I was instantly hooked. The music was great and they were really cool to their fans. I got to chat briefly with the band’s singer/guitarist Chad Petree and he was exceptionally approachable and amiable, despite being a bit under the weather and a tad road-weary.
Their debut cd, “We Are Pilots” quickly became the staple cd in my car’s player, replacing Depeche Mode’s “Playing the Angel”, and that’s really saying something. After playing like a billion shows worldwide, and having a slight change in band lineup after vocalist/keyboardist/bassist Carah Faye Charnow parted ways with STG and was replaced by Sisely Treasure, the band has finally unleashed their highly anticipated and eagerly awaited sophomore effort, “Season of Poison”. Hold tight, kids; this ain’t the Shiny Toy Guns you saw last year.
Over all, there’s a little less dancey synths and a lot more grinding guitar work. If you were worried that Treasure wouldn’t be able to fill Carah’s steel-toe boots, fear not. This chick has pipes, and attitude to spare. The sound has gone in a natural progression; it doesn’t sound reinvented or like a totally different band. There’s enough of the old STG to appeal to the original fans and enough new-skool to pull in the new fans. I’m a bit curious as to how they’ll sound live now, though, since Charnow handled certain bass and synth work on stage, and Treasure’s voice isn’t that dissimilar to hers that the vocals would sound dramatically different.
Season of Poison begins with “When Did The Storm End?”. It starts slow, with a long buildup of computer blips and some vocals from Chad, “..call my name and show me where I stand…”. Then Sisely breaks in with saucy, sassy vocals, and the song sorta goes schizo from there, alternately staccato Sisely and then soaring music and plaintively wailing Chad. It works, I promise you. It works very well. It ends somewhat abruptly, with the sound of a school bell and kids’ voices, segueing immediately into the second track, “Money For That”, a tasty blend of guitars and nostalgic reminiscences of younger days.
Track Three is “I Owe You a Love Song”, a really pleasant poppy tune that reminds me a lot of “Rainy Monday” from “We Are Pilots”. This has become one of my favorite tracks from the new album, with vocal duties swapping back & forth between Chad & Sisely quite nicely. “Ghost Town” is like a cheerleader-meets-hardcore track, with bratty vocals from Sisely over machinegun drums and Chad’s vocals on the chorus. “It Became a Lie On You” starts off with the sound of thunderstorms and processed robotic vocals, and moves into Chad’s vocals over Sisely’s. It reminds me a bit of “When They Came For Us” with the faintest hint of Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones”.
Track Six is “Ricochet!”, the first single released to radio. As I’ve stated before after first hearing it, I was reminded a lot of KMFDM mixed with a little Lords of Acid. It quickly grew on me and became a staple in my MP3 player’s rotation over the summer. “Season of Love” is a really sweet ballad, a softer song along the lines of “We Are Pilots”, and it segues into “Poison”, with another slow buildup into a sort of tribal-esque drum beat with processed vocals, gradually getting a bit faster but still maintaining an atmospheric feel.
“Blown Away” is another slow-starter that explodes around the 1:30 mark for a brief burst and then quiets down again, then does it all over again. “Turned To Real Life” is a good pop track, very New Order in the music, with Sisely’s vocals out front. I think this is being tapped as the second single. The final track, “Frozen Oceans” is utterly gorgeous. It’s an atmospheric track that soars at the crescendo and ends the album beautifully.
Does it sound different from what you’ve gotten used to? Yes. Is it less danceable than “We Are Pilots” ? Yes. Is it something that a die-hard STG fan will come to love despite that? Yes. Do I think you should get off your asses, get this album, and go see STG on tour at your nearest venue? Oh, hell yes.
Deploy, my minions. Go forth and spread the good word. Shiny Toy Guns are back with a vengeance.