Last year was supposed to be a good one for the Toadies. They had survived the Interscope Records roster purge; released their much-anticipated, long-delayed second effort, Hell Below/Stars Above; and front man/guitarist Todd Lewis was proclaiming that the Dallas band had hit its creative peak. But in just a few fateful months, the Toadies' world crumbled. The record flopped, Interscope stopped returning their phone calls, and founding bassist Lisa Umbarger quit the band. Lewis reluctantly pulled the plug on the Toadies in September and vowed to stay away from music for a while.
Well, so much for that. After a brief dotage that makes Celine Dion's "retirement" look lengthy, Lewis is back (with Izzy Stradlin's former drummer Taz Bentley) as one half of the Burden Brothers. Los Hermanos Burden specialize in melodic garage rock, as evidenced by their self-titled EP sampler. While Lewis wails like Chris Cornell on such make-no-mistake-where-they're-coming-from tracks such as "Hang Your Head" and "Buried in Your Black Heart" (which poses the timeless musical question "Why do I fall for you?"), chugging rhythm guitars and sharp lyrics punctuate more pop material like "Beautiful Night" and "Your Fault."
The Burden Brothers also have struck up an interesting deal with Dallas-based Last Beat Records. As soon as Lewis and Bentley create enough songs, they offer the material for sale/download on their Web site (www.burdenbrothersmusic.com). At year's end, all the tracks will be harvested for a single CD with limited-edition collectible goodies.
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The live band's current lineup also includes guitarists Josh Daugherty and Mike Rudnicki and bassist Mark Hughes, but Lewis stresses that this supporting cast will rotate both in the studio and on the stage. In any case, the Burden Brothers are off to an interesting start. And at least now Lewis won't have to pass his "retirement" days watching Jerry Springer and the trial du jour on Court TV.