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The Toadies never planned to take a seven-year hiatus between their hit 1994 debut, Rubberneck, and its 2001 sequel, Hell Below/Stars Above. The band recorded a full album called Feeler in 1997, but Interscope rejected the album, pushing it deep into the vaults and having the group record a brand-new album, resulting in a long break that effectively stalled any momentum they had in their career. The Toadies finally started to get things rolling again as an independent act in 2008 when they attempted to release Feeler once again, but the label refused to sell them the rights to the record (there were some unsubstantiated suggestions that the master tapes had been lost), so the Toadies did the next best thing: they re-recorded the material and released it on their own. Now, the 2010 Feeler isn’t necessarily the same album that the 1997 Feeler is, and not just because a handful of songs that wound up on Hell Below are absent: the Toadies didn’t re-create, they simply play the songs. Without A-Bing the original recordings and this 2010 revival it’s impossible to know the subtle differences, but there’s a certain sense of accomplished musicianship that the Toadies lacked in the late ‘90s, an era in which the songs are otherwise rooted. There are no undeniable hooks along the lines of “Possum Kingdom,” but the ten songs -- clocking in at a crisp 28 minutes -- are sturdily constructed and would have by no means been an embarrassment if they had appeared in 1998…and even if it’s unlikely that they would have been commercial enough to be a hit, it would have been enough to keep the band’s career momentum going. As a record in 2010, the ten songs are an unapologetic throwback, not quite distinctive enough to suggest that a reevaluation of the band is in order, but certainly pleasing for fans -- and even if you’re not a fan, it’s hard not to be a little pleased that this forgotten chapter in the band’s history has been published.

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