Pressing Concerns: The Toms, Nature’s Neighbor, Dancer, Sewage Farm

Welcome once again, friends, to Pressing Concerns. In what I’m going to go ahead and call an “eclectic one”, this time we’re looking at a reissue of The Toms’ self-titled debut album, a new full-length from Nature’s Neighbor, and new EPs from Dancer and Sewage Farm. You’ll love ’em!

If you’re looking for more new music, you can visit the site directory to see what else we’ve written about lately. If you’d like to support Rosy Overdrive, you can share this (or another) post, or donate here.

The Toms – The Toms (2023 Reissue)

Release date: March 10th
Record label: Feel It
Genre: Power pop
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Let’s Be Friends Again

The Toms’ 1979 self-titled album has rightfully earned its place as a power pop cult classic over the past forty years. Like many records in this vein, The Toms was entirely the work of one man–Tom Marolda wrote, recorded, and produced every note of the original twelve-track album. The Toms has, unsurprisingly, been reissued a few times on various formats with various extra material over the years–the latest version of the record comes out on Cincinnati garage rock imprint Feel It Records (which just makes sense), has been remastered, and is, I believe, the first ever double-vinyl edition of the album (containing the original album, several outtakes from the same sessions, and a few odds and ends).

The original version of The Toms hasn’t lost any luster whatsoever–the opening one-two punch of “Let’s Be Friends Again” and “You Must Have Crossed My Mind” are eternal-sounding pieces of power pop that rank among the finest examples of the genre, bar none. The hits don’t stop rolling out from that point on–the slithering “It’s Needless” and the frantic guitar explosion of “Other Boys Do” mark the rest of the first half, the insistent “I Did the Wrong Thing” kicks off the second side nearly as catchily as the first, and “The Flame” and “The Bear” deliver some of the album’s strongest hooks towards the end. 

The seven tracks from The Toms’ original sessions offer a sturdy appendix to the album proper. While it does feel like, on the whole, the strongest songs from this era were the ones to make it to the final record, these extra tracks are all strong pop tunes on their own terms, and any of them could’ve been slid onto the 1979 version of The Toms and fit perfectly well (the high-flying “You Put Me Up to This” and the mid-tempo, bittersweet “I Cannot Spot You” are my two favorites). The rest of the bonus tracks have intriguing moments as well–”Mixed Up Shook Up Girl” and “Talk to Me Girl/When Do Dreams Sleep?” find Marolda incorporating some Cars-y synth-y new wave influences while not losing the pop hooks. This issue of The Toms ends with Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits) singing a previously-unreleased cover of “The Flame”–I wouldn’t say it holds a candle to the original version, but it’s a nice way of punctuating in just what company The Toms finds itself in 2023. (Bandcamp link)

Nature’s Neighbor – The Glass Album

Release date: March 10th
Record label: Tai Duo Music
Genre: Indie folk
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital
Pull Track: Jeane

Mike Walker began making music as Nature’s Neighbor in the mid-2010s while he was living in Chicago, and the several records that he’s made under the name feature a wide ensemble of Windy City-area musicians (perhaps most prominently Seth Engel of Options and Mister Goblin, whose drumming and production work are on virtually every Nature’s Neighbor album). Since late 2021, Walker has been living in Kyoto, Japan and working as an English teacher, but right before he departed his longtime home, he recorded The Glass Album in Humboldt Park with Engel, Adrian Kobziar, and a host of guest musicians (some of which, like Engel and piano player Terrill Mast, have been Nature’s Neighbor regulars, while others, like violinist Macie Stewart of Finom, are new faces).  Nature’s Neighbor has been an ambitious project in the past, swinging from breezy indie folk to expansive, experimental kitchen-sink pop music, and The Glass Album doesn’t disappoint in this fashion–in fact, it leans particularly hard into eclecticism. 

“Jeane” kicks off the album with a strummed acoustic guitar and gives way to a pedal-steel-featuring (courtesy of Andrew Krull) country-folk tune, and Walker and company then follow it up with the light-R&B indie pop of “Sounds Like a Siren”, the alternatively lumbering and pondering spoken word rock of “Half Remembered Dreams”, and the string-heavy, slow-moving chamber pop of “Sweetbriar”. No two songs on The Glass Album are all that similar–Walker’s gentle vocals are the connecting thread, sweetening some of the louder moments like the surprisingly crunchy alt-rock of closing track “Michael & The Whale”, and sounding perfect while delivering the emotional wrecking ball of album centerpiece “Song for Bella”. The Glass Album is, by my count, the eighth or ninth Nature’s Neighbor album, and it’s remarkable that the project feels like it’s still searching, probing, and pushing itself forward at this stage. Perhaps it marks the finale of Walker’s “Chicago era”, but Nature’s Neighbor doesn’t come off as something that a mere long-distance relocation can end. (Bandcamp link)

Dancer – Dancer

Release date: February 10th
Record label: GoldMold
Genre: Post-punk, indie pop
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull Track: The Split

Glasgow’s Dancer are a new group, but the members’ other bands should be familiar to Rosy Overdrive readers. Featuring members of Order of the Toad, Nightshift, and Robert Sotelo, Dancer recorded their six-song debut EP in their home city over the winter, and it saw release last month via cassette on GoldMold Records. Dancer is a half-dozen tracks that straddle bright indie pop and sharp post-punk–I certainly hear traces of the members’ other bands on these songs, as well as fellow Glasgow band Life Without Buildings (whom Roberto Sotelo’s Andrew Doig cited when he emailed me about the record), but it takes its various building blocks to make a distinct “Dancer sound”.

The low-key “Disposable Vape” opens up the EP with several excellent Dancer hallmarks–shining, melodic guitar, a prominent, pointed rhythm section, sung-spoken vocals, and some vocal interjections that remind me of early XTC (or, yes, Life Without Buildings). In “Arch Nemesis” and “Ferret Fancier”, Dancer up the stakes to groovy, chugging post-punk, although the former has some chiming guitars in it as well. “The Split” is Dancer’s biggest pop moment, a glittering instrumental with vocals that, while not departing overly from the conversational speak-singing, take every right melodic turn for the track as well. The five-minute closing track “Telemark”, however, is truly the biggest left turn on the EP–a genuine ballad that feels downcast and melancholic, but is just as listenable as Dancer at their snappiest. (Bandcamp link)

Sewage Farm – Mould

Release date: March 10th
Record label: Safe Suburban Home
Genre: Fuzz rock, lo-fi indie rock
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull Track: Broken Bridge

York’s Sewage Farm are a trio made up of guitarist/vocalist Sam Forrest (who most notably fronts Manchester alt-rock group Nine Black Alps), bassist Danny Trew Barton (who plays in fellow Safe Suburban Home band Cowgirl), and drummer Danny Hirst. Although the members have their various other projects, Sewage Farm is far from a one-off endeavor–the band has released three full-length records since forming in 2015, and Mould is its second EP. Judging by their latest release’s five tracks, Sewage Farm are vintage, fuzzy indie rockers. Although their band name (as well as the title and artwork to Mould) conjure up images of scuzzy noise rock and roughed-up underground punk groups, Sewage Farm hew towards the tuneful side of the Our Band Could Be Your Life-core sound.

Sewage Farm come off as kind of like a fuzzier, more distorted version of fellow English indie punk revivalists Good Grief—opening track “Broken Bridge” in particular kicks Mould off with all the right kinds of Hüsker Dü and Dinosaur Jr.-inspired moves. “Cry” and “Strawberry Strawberry” keep the hooky lo-fi indie rock train rolling–the former is a bit more mid-tempo, but the chorus is as good as anything else on the EP, and the latter bounds infectiously. Sewage Farm mix it up a little bit with the swirling, lightly psychedelic riff around which they build “Cage”, but the song still fits in with the rest of the tracks–as does closing track “Starting Tomorrow”, which roars to a Sugar-esque wall of melodic sound to end Mould with one last loud pop statement. (Bandcamp link)

Also notable:

One thought on “Pressing Concerns: The Toms, Nature’s Neighbor, Dancer, Sewage Farm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: