The Toyes

The Toyes

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The debut from this Oregon-based reggae band shows lots of promise. It's got that slightly ragged, self-released sound about it, but all the necessary ingredients are there: intelligent, often funny lyrics, hooky melodies, ponderous basslines. The Toyes' signature tune seems to be the whimsical "Two Joints" ("I smoke two joints in times of peace/And two in times of war/I smoke two joints before I smoke two joints/And then I smoke two more"). It begins the program, and the album ends with two more versions, one in Spanish and one in French. In between there's a spectacular reggae version of "Freebird" and a hilarious sendup of the old novelty tune "Monster Mash," rewritten and dubbed (as it were) "Monster Hash." Among the fine originals are "Wake Up (And Smell the Java)" and "Late Night Bozos," which takes on Leno and Letterman. The bandleader is a guy named Mawg who can't seem to decide whether to fake a Jamaican accent (correct answer: don't), but who has a great voice and an incisive, smart-alecky sense of humor. The band kicks consistently and hard. Get these guys into a good studio and they'll make some major noise.

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