Looking over his shoulder at Rubberneck, the Toadies' platinum-selling 1994 debut, drummer Mark Reznicekis reflective. "Hard to believe it's been 20 years," he says. "It seems like yesterday. But,at the same time,it was a lifetime ago."Thesongs on Rubberneckare fearless, literate and visceral. Their protagonists areperceived as anti-heroes: stalkers, serial killers and religious zealots (some are all three). Certainly, they're not your average, accessible radio fodder. Well, the Toadies weren't concerned about that. "We didn't even have singles in mind," Reznicek says. "Or the idea of even possibly getting on the radio. We didn't think that would ever happen." But "Possum Kingdom" remains a radio staple even today –and "Backslider" and "Tyler" still pop up. It's because raw expression makes for the most powerful art. The Toadies remainraw. Vaden Todd Lewis still sings as though he's on the precipice of insanity, clinging tenaciously but perhaps already plummeting. Lewis'sand Clark Vogeler's guitars rip and tear like thick fingernailsat supple flesh. Reznicek and bass player Doni Blair(who joined the band in 2008)fuel the fury with relentless, seething rhythm. When these sounds and those images and themesmix, the effect is pure adrenaline. The manic, chugging-choogling strains of Rubberneck's opening instrumental salvo"Mexican Hairless"run pell-mell into the equally breakneck "Mister Love," a backhanded plea for salvation. The pace slows, a little, for "Backslider," where a father drowns his nine-year-old son in deliverance. And then "Possum Kingdom," the Toadies' notoriously creepy megahit, slows things down again with a dangerous antihero's offer of a different salvation. In just these four songs, Rubberneckleaves the listener feeling fed. The songs are meaty, with much to chew on: images to parse, significances to consider, guitar riffs and drum parts to mime. It continues forseven more tracks –including fan favorites like "Tyler" and "I Come From The Water"–and leaves you satisfiedand alittle uncomfortable. It's the same with every spin of Rubberneck. That's why it endures. And it's why the Toadies, with their current label Kirtland Records, and the blessing of original label Interscope Records, are reissuing Rubberneck –remastered and beefed up with five unreleased tracks from the same era –for a new generation. Rubberneck's staying power breeds new fans to go along with the Toadies' early-adopters, whose faith never flagged even as the band struggled to release new music. When their would-besecond album languished on the label shelf, they circulated demos and bought tickets. Even whena different second album, 2001's Hell Below/Stars Above, faredpoorly and the Toadies brokeup, the fans' steadfast evangelismcontinued. "These are fans from when Rubberneckfirst
came out," Reznicek says. "They've turned their younger siblings, and their kids, on to us. We see them all the time –whole families wearing Toadies shirts. It's pretty cool."A one-off show in Dallas in 2006became a full-fledged reunion.The Toadies have since steadily built momentum.Athird album, No Deliverance, came in 2008and saw the band playing Lollapalooza. The heretofore-lostalbum, Feeler,finally materialized in 2010. Anew album, Play.Rock.Musiccame out in 2012. Tours followed each release. The band'sannual Dia de Los Toadies festival–at which the likes of Gary Clark Jr., Ben Kweller, Centro-matic, Sarah Jaffe, The Sword and Black Joe Lewishave appeared, grows each year.Todaythe Toadies –and their magnum opus –are stronger than ever. Rubberneck's new master makes it an even more striking listen. "Three of the five songs were actually recorded during same sessions," Reznicek says. In their customary position at the end of the original sequence, these tunes actually sound as though they're not bonuses. The loping "Run In With Dad," where titular fanatic catches his son fornicating, could fit right in between "Backslider" and "Possum Kingdom." Likewise "Stop It," which is actually a Pylon cover –it wouldn't be so out of place between "Tyler" and "Happyface." The instrumentalunfinished demo"Rockfish," (part of which was used to create "Waterfall" from Feeler) could make a nice bookend with "Mexican Hairless." The other rarities, Rubberneck-era live takes of "Possum Kingdom" and "Tyler" are snapshots of a band in original form. Of course, with 20 years and thousands of shows behind them, the Toadies sound even better. On the road in 2014, supported by the Supersuckers and Battleme, the Toadies will pay tribute to theirfans' supportby playing Rubberneck start-to-finish."I honestly cannot wait to get onstage in front of these fans and play the album front to back," says Vogeler. "I've been looking forward to it for years and, after this anniversary tour, I can't imagine that we'll ever do it again."Lewis is likewise stoked. "Performing these songs will never get old for me so long as I'm able to look out and see smiling, sweaty faces looking back," says Lewis. TheToadies will also have vinyl copies of Rubberneckat the merch table. It's a fitting celebration that the band can nowtoast with their new signaturebeer(brewed by fellow Texans as Martin House Brewing), aptly dubbed Rubberneck Red. And there's loads more to look forward to in 2014 –including a new album due this Fall. "It's gonna be our 'chill set' that we play on the first night of Dia de Los Toadies," says Reznicek. "Acoustic, stripped-down versions of our songs. Probably some new songs, some previously unreleased songs and some new covers." Recording is currently underway with Rob Schnapf, one of Rubberneck's original producers. And there'll be more where that came from. "[The Toadies] has been a hell of a lot of hard work," says Lewis, "but also a hell of a lot of fun. And it continues to be every time we take the stage."

Local H is known for their blistering live shows and for pioneering the two-man band set-up -- frontman Scott Lucas covers both guitar and bass through an extra pick up in his guitar and drummer Ryan Harding pounds out the rest of the sound. While they have earned praise in the past for their catalog of clever concept albums, Local H are forgoing a singular theme on their new album -- "Hey, Killer" (out 4/14/15 on G&P Records) -- turning out a non-stop blast of straight-up, hooky, guitar-heavy rock songs -- each one catchier than the last. The band's discography includes seven other studio albums, a live album, and a bunch of EPs. Harding joined Local H in 2013, after years spent playing in Minneapolis bands Left Brain Heart and Bruder, and fit right in. His first recording with Local H was a heavy, rocking reinterpretation of Lorde's 'Team,' title track of the EP released in 2014.
Local H's widely praised 1998 concept album "Pack Up the Cats" earned a spot in SPIN magazine's top 20 albums of that year. The band was named "Chicagoans of the Year" by the Chicago Tribune for their 2008 break-up album, "12 Angry Months," more than a decade after their breakthrough hit 'Bound for the Floor' ruled the Modern Rock charts. This April, Local H will celebrate the 25th anniversary of their first show.

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