9/07/2016

Stop Light Observations - Toogoodoo (Album Review)


Charleston band Stop Light Observations recently released their new album, Toogoodoo, and it's awesome. Filled with energy from start to finish, this album has got a blend of many different musical styles, but they all boil down to one main component: rock & roll. If you've been reading Extra Chill for any amount of time, you should know that rock & roll is what we're all about, so naturally we loved Toogoodoo.

One really interesting thing about Stop Light Observation's Toogoodoo is that instead of a recording studio, they recorded it at Toogoodoo Bluff, an old plantation house on the Toogoodoo river in Meggett, SC. According to their Myspace interview, this "was a very spiritual and delicate process that required a 100% creative team camaraderie." That makes sense, as the image of an old plantation house brings up all sorts of feels, in addition to the team camaraderie that comes from recording an album in general.

Before I found out about where it was recorded, I did notice that it sounded like a live album, which in my opinion is a huge plus, because there's nothing like hearing it live. The live sound comes not only from the environment in which is was recorded, but also from the fact that they recorded Toogoodoo as a full band, playing all the songs together instead of the modern way of playing one piece of each song at a time, and then pasting them together to create a coherent whole.

Toogoodoo Bluff - the house where SLO recorded the album
One obvious standout track for me is "Aquarius Apocalyptic", with so much energy and cryptic lyrics that at some points hint at the end of the world, but at other times have a really satirical "party" vibe to them. I kind of get the feeling that this song is sung from the Devil's perspective, but that may not have been the band's intention. Either way, it's a cool and intriguing song that deserves quite a few listens, and you can draw your own conclusions about its meaning. The album is obviously meant to be played at high volume, but this song works especially well when you crank it up really high.

Another song that I really dig for its energy is "Leroy". Being led into by "Dead", which is a short track that slowly builds up and basically serves as the into to "Leroy. The transition is so smooth that you might even think that they're the same song if you weren't paying attention to the change of tracks. The guitar in "Leroy" kind of reminds me of "Satin In A Coffin" by Modest Mouse, nice and twangy and building for a loud breakdown. The lyrics tell the tale of old Leroy, a shrimp boat drug smuggler, fishing and selling to regulars at the dock. Jacky and his gang got word of this and went to rob old Leroy, but he shot them down on the pier. Ain't nobody no match for old Leroy.

"50 Ways" is the last song on the album, and it's nothing short of soulful. With lyrics that mention many atrocities and tragedies that have befallen the human race, and more specifically the USA, over the past few decades, coupled with a positive message about banding together and moving this country forward in a positive direction. This song is the perfect way to end Toogoodoo on a positive note, because despite mentioning so many negative things there is the notion of being in this together, in control of our own destiny. Opening with a newscast recording from 9/11, "50 Ways" is striking and really gets you to listen to the lyrics, tying the album up and serving as a solid anchor on the end of a powerful record.

The songs I picked as favorites are by no means the only good ones on the album, they just happen to be the ones that stand out the most to me. I strongly recommend you listen to Toogoodoo in its entirety and decide for yourself which songs you like the best. That's why I've got a Spotify stream below. Check it out, and be sure to see Stop Light Observations performing live next chance you get!

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