By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Toys That Kill
Screaming Naked in a Tree
Ah, the weight of expectations. It's bad enough when you're supposed to be a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen all the damn time, but then to live up to the greatness of your past glories on top of that? Total paralysis. Or—like Todd Congelliere and Sean Cole of Toys That Kill—you can just toddle along doing your own thing and let everyone else deal with it. Congelliere's old glories were as singer/guitarist and only start-to-finish member of beloved-by-weirdos South Bay slop punks F.Y.P, while Cole joined up in the latter half of F.Y.P's existence. After F.Y.P released a final album called Toys That Kill, the two formed the band Toys That Kill (got that?) with bassist Chachi and eventually drummer Jimmy and never played another F.Y.P song again.
Todd doesn't mind his old band pretty much always mentioned in the same breath as his new one. And he doesn't mind questions about his old career as a pro skater, which he gave up as he was starting F.Y.P: "The last contest they flew me out on I just ended up taking the Eurorail pass and going around by myself. Right when I got back I pretty much just quit. I guess if I'd stuck with it I'd probably be a millionaire now." (And plus there's dealing with pro skaters themselves: "Ninety-nine percent of them are just spoiled brats. It's hard to be around people like that 24 hours a day and not go insane!")
So there was F.Y.P, now there's Toys That Kill, and well over a decade since the early days, you can call these guys lifers. They've done all the stupid punk things ("My girlfriend broke up with me and I ended up getting naked in a tree and screaming out some diatribe I don't remember. Then this guy lit the tree on fire," says Cole) and they've grown as people but still thrash out sloppy poppy trash punk. Toys That Kill themselves have described their band as Cheap Trick playing F.Y.P songs, and that definitely covers the poppier bent of Toys meeting the snotty Chihuahua vocals of F.Y.P—with his high register delivery Congelliere can sound like a speeded-up Ozzy. But there are also the melodic Buzzcocks guitar lines and the occasional subtle nod to atonal Wire weirdness.
Maybe on paper it sounds like a punk rock history lesson, but it's not some bullshit costume party. Toys look like a bunch of nerds and not GBH because it's a lot more convenient, but it also works—consciously or not—as much of a manifesto as anything else they do. Says Congelliere: "I don't know why clothes have anything to do with any musical scene—well, maybe the scene part of it. I just don't think we go out of our way to look 'punk rock'. I don't really care to spend $400 on a punk uniform that's really uncomfortable and pretty much looks stupid." (Rex Reason)
Toys That Kill with the Red Onions, Shark Parts, and the Royal Pains at Alex's Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292. Fri., 8 pm. $7. 21+.
That Time of the Season
Even in the idiosyncrasy-embracing '60s, the Zombies stood apart as something strange. Their 1965 hits "Tell Her No" and "She's Not There" and their 1968 swan song "Time of the Season" had an autumnal, melancholy quality, further set apart by keyboardist Rod Argent's penchant for jazzy minor keys and singer Colin Blunstone's otherworldly alto, which sounded like a meadowlark lost in the fog. The band's hits weren't even the most of it: check out "Whenever You're Ready" or the entirety of the Odessey and Oracle album and you'll know that these Zombies were a soulfully somber bunch. Argent went on to the sometimes spectacular prog-rock band Argent, of "Hold Your Head Up" fame, and other projects. Blunstone sold insurance and made some solo albums. The two began performing together again in 2001, recorded a critically lauded album—Out of the Shadows—and have a band including former Argent and Kinks' bassist Jim Rodford, his son Steve Rodford on drums and Keith Airey on guitar. While they toured under their own names last year—and those who saw Argent and Blunstone's Coach House show are still in rapture over it—they have since reclaimed the Zombies name. And it's about time too: The original band scarcely played in the US, had already broken up when "Time of the Season" went to No. 1 in 1968, and the only Zombies most Americans ever saw were a bogus outfit—whose members were reported to have southern drawls—who cashed in on the defunct band's name. (Jim Washburn)