Serendipitous Fun

Live at the BPL (BPL Records)
25%Toby

By Kevin Gibson

Ah, these kids today. They're making me think rock 'n' roll isn't dead.

This band, 25%Toby, which features former members of Polyphonic Spree, combines punk, garage and rockabilly in spitting out relentless two-minute blasts of banging, guitar-oriented joy. Imagine the Ramones went on vacation with the Stray Cats and ran into the MC5, and you're on the right track.

The fun gets going with "I Go Down," which might be a direct descendent of the aforementioned MC5's classic "Tonight." What I like best about 25%Toby is that they can put together complete songs like "Ready Slow" that sound like lost Rolling Stones tracks, and also go off on sloppy 45-second tangents like "My Baby's Clean" without making any apologies or excuses. They just do what they do.

"Skin Cancer" comes along with its power-pop jangle and hand-clapping camp, sounding like the Byrds stumbling into a bar filled with former members of the Jam and Teenage Fan Club. Immediately afterward, the musical couplet of "Kill Me" and "Kill Yourself" completely change things up in a brief piano-based aside, followed serendipitously by the punk anthem "Murder My Baby."

This album is so raw and unrefined and off-the-wall and weird that it may be one of the best things, like, ever. What I mean is, no major label I can think of would dare touch this record with a 10-foot pole; and the truth is, I can't think of a higher compliment to pay a band like 25%Toby.