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April 21st, 2009
Tuesday reviewsday: Two bands

Scene Reporter

We have, here, two more local recordings to review.

The Boxing Lesson
Wild Streaks and Windy Days

Wild Streaks and Windy Days is the first full-length album for Austin experimental rockers The Boxing Lesson. Initially formed in Los Angeles, the band’s frontman, Paul Waclawsky, relocated to Texas, where a new lineup assembled. The trio put out an EP entitled Songs in the Key of C in 2006. A lush psychedelic spaceship of rich synth and echoing guitar, the band consists of Waclawsky on vocals, guitars and triwave picogenerator, Jaylinn Davidson on synthesizers and vocals, and Jake Mitchell on drums and samples. After the completion and release of the album in 2008 Mitchell was sentenced to federal jail for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. Kevin Sparks currently serves as touring drummer for the band.

The first track, entitled, “Dark Side of the Moog,” commences with a deep melodic guitar interlude that sets a tone of out-of-this world ambience and spiritualized psychedelia. Waclawsky’s vocal tone sounds almost forewarning or intuitive of something bad to come. He advises the listener to “face your fear before you turn out the light, come in darkness, kiss your kids goodnight.” Before the minute long experimental sound outro, Waclawsky wallows in ghostly vibrato vocal, that “on the dark side you can sell your sins, on the dark side you will never win.”

The album’s fourth track, “Hopscotch & Sodapop,” is an awkward, over-poppy, out of character, complete 180 from the other tracks on the album. Apart from that being the only track I’d skip, the only possibility is that Hanson and The Boxing Lesson were being produced with the same computer and the two band’s tracks made an accidental switcharoo. “Hanging with the Wrong Crowd,” begins with a quick drum cymbal tapping and integrates with 8-bit computer game samples before bursting into a heavy rock guitar riff accompanied by harsh accusations towards a “loose girl” hanging with the wrong crowd: “you get around, everyone knows you get around.”

Another track, “The Art of Pushing Me Away,” is a soft stratospheric spacey jam that exudes a melancholy theme of rejection. The concluding track, “Wild Streaks and Windy Days,” which also shares the same title as the album, encompasses a music box sound is reminiscent of something David Bowie performed in the movie Labyrinth.

Wild Streaks and Windy Days is a blissful album perfect as a chill at home companion.

The Mad Science

The Mad Science is the first full length studio album for progressive fusion band Toast. Hailing from El Paso, Toast relocated to Austin in an attempt to expand its fan base and venue prospects. Consisting of James Pate on vocals, guitar and samples, Vincenzo Loechel on vocals and drums, and Russell Dobda on vocals, keyboards, and saxophone, Toast is notable for live improvisational performances. Guest musicians on the album are John Brown on bass and mandolin, Leah Zeger on violin, Tony Alexander on tenor saxophone, and Lea Dobda on trumpet. Appropriately, Toast is very similar and evocative of Los Angeles based jam band Particle.

The album is an experimental journey encompassing a multitude of schizophrenic tempo changes, unbridled improvisations and themes including politics and philosophy. The first track entitled “Twilight Mischief,” is a hushed instrumental jam charged with Afro-beat rhythms and sporadic guitar riffs. The almost seven-minute track allows the listener’s brain to wander through a world of melodic jazz progressions and unsullied rhythm. The third track, “FroSho,” begins with former president George W. Bush stating that the economy is in the “midst of a major financial crisis.”  A prevalent theme included on the track points blame on Wall Street for the financial collapse. Impetuous squalls of saxophone, busy percussion, whirling keyboards and vertiginous guitar digressions echo throughout this blame game of a track.

“The Dub,” embraces a world feel with its reggae influenced riffs and ambient guitar which dabbles and drifts into a funnel of drone effects. The track’s foundation is titular to the title of the song in that “dub” is a form of re-mixed reggae music. “The Joker” is a quick paced string ditty that differs from any other tracks on the album exemplifying the fact that Toast embraces a maniac diversity. The Mad Science is a conglomeration of rigorous talent, psychedelic euphoria and jam-tastic funk.

The album’s cover art is a myriad of layered guitars, flowers and trees atop of what appears to be surgeon dressed in a suit holding a martini glass or upside down Erlenmeyer flask. The light colors are almost translucent and create the layered effect. The foldout portion of leaflet includes the lyrics of several of the songs.

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