:: THE TONIKS ::

REVIEWS

We had a listen to their new 'Jealousy' download:

“Jealousy” is a briskly galloping song, with a cheerfully buzzing lead guitar intro followed by a piping hot riff – then starchy percussion and lively optimistic vocals. The jousting gear-work (behind the sentiment) is the high pressure on/off feelings of love/hate from the protagonist “The only thing that comes between us … is this Jealousy”

The chorus is a merry-go-round of sumptuous colours, agreeable textures and rippling merriment.

A splendid Tonik for the January doldrums! Go pick it up!

I like Pop and power pop as much as the next guy and normally I will find one album which breaks into my top albums of any year, but 2013 was exceptional in that two bands not only broke through, but blew me away. The Toniks come at the genre from the production side like I have seldom heard.

Some of the songs on the album are arrangement masterpieces, pitting vocals and instruments against one another in a way I haven't really heard since the late and maybe even early sixties. Maybe you had to be there to understand what this is like compared to what it used to be. This album makes me glad that I was.

You can change that ago-old mantra of retail (location, location, location) and adapt it to music, thanks to The Toniks. In this case, it will read arrangement, arrangement, arrangement because the band's new album, Rise and Shine, proves what I have known most of my musical life: that arrangements in many cases can make a good album better and a better album great.

Arrangements used to be a bigger thing in the olden days. Arrangers got paid big bucks (well, better than just musician's wages) to lay out songs in their best forms. Bandleaders such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington and even Glenn Miller hired and nurtured their favorites, as did Arthur Fiedler, who made an excellent living off of the pop/classical arrangements of Leroy Anderson. Ever hear of Billy Strayhorn? If you've heard the Duke, you have more than likely heard his arranging expertise. Neal Hefti and Frank Foster? Basie. Some of the biggest names in music were arrangers as well as musicians--- Andre Previn, Johnny Mandel, Ennio Morricone, Roger Kellaway and Robert Russell Bennett, to name only a few. Bennett, by the way, was the arranger (and conductor) for one of my all-time favorite albums, Victory At Sea, a soundtrack for a TV series about the battle on the high seas during WWII. Without Bennett, I understand, the music would have been musical vignettes rather the sweeping and full orchestral pieces they were.

In the rock era, arranging duties have largely fallen to either the band/artist or the producer. Mostly, it has become a matter of ear rather than a creative process. It is sad, really, to see the music simplified to that point, but when you are dealing with maybe five players (plus occasional guests), perhaps it is not needed. Unless those players play in a band like The Toniks.

I knew these guys were class right off the bat when the first track on the MP3 player, Figure It Out, dragged me back to the late sixties pop reminiscent of October Country and The Blades of Grass and a handful of other groups who had that pop sensibility you only get from the recording studio, grand piano and strings and vocal harmonies stacked to the ceiling, reaching cinematic heights attained through a melding of sounds. Now, they have these amazing instruments which can emulate the massive sound of the orchestra and chorus called synthesizers. If you would have told me back then.....

Figure It Out is only the beginning here, sports fans. They have ten more beauties before this edition of the band's ongoing life continues. In total, eleven songs you need to hear and, if you are anything like me, immerse yourself in while awaiting the band's next effort which will be way too long in coming. Eleven songs which take you through Pop music's vaults like you won't believe. Like Simple Things, which is an arrangement masterpiece, the voices creating a choir effect I've only heard recently from the most excellent Soundcarriers, a band I cannot seem to get enough of, either. Wonderful Then utilizes faux strings to the max, the pop vocals rising on the chorus and the strings supporting the verse, an excellent one-two punch. Scapegoat steps into Research Turtles territory, rhythm guitar crunching out the beat with slightly Brit-Pop-sounding vocals--- very catchy. Rise and Shine strikes a 60's note of a different kind, light sunshine pop leaning more toward The Cowsills and maybe early Osmonds and very well done, indeed. Track after track, The Toniks nail pop down and give it a good thrashing. The final word? Rise and Shine should be in every pop-rocker's rock library, no exceptions.

I wish I could tell you that I found these guys on my own but that would be lying. One Bobby Gottesman brought them to my attention (he runs a site called I Can't Believe My Earz), hailing The Toniks' pop sensibilities as if they were the second coming of The Beatles. I hear things like that from people all the time, but Bobby is no PR man. Well, he doesn't do it for a living, anyway. Bobby is a music fan of huge proportions--- I mean, he loves it as much as do I--- so when he grabs onto something and does not let go, I pay attention. In the case of The Toniks, I am glad I did. I might have missed these guys altogether without Bobby's help. Check out his pages. He has more where this came from.

he debut album of the promising new band from Britain, The Toniks. "Rise & Shine" is like an endless sunny day, a well-crafted, catchy, bright pop album that gets stuck on repeat! A positive, energetic effort that glorifies the simple things in life. In "Rise & Shine" every song is remarkable and "screams" for radio airplay, so it's difficult to pick only one favourite, think of it as a "musical" pill you have to take every day in order to be happy and in a great mood.

Songs like the title track, "Won't let you down", "Simple things", the brilliant ballad "Figure it out", the supercatchy "Never real", "Secret's safe", the edgy "Scapegoat" and "Wonderful then" are only a few examples of how amazing this album is. Visit the band's official Facebook page for all the updates and news, and make sure you support and buy "Rise & Shine" here or via Amazon, Spotify, Reverbnation and of course iTunes!

Listening to Rise And Shine the debut album from UK popsters The Toniks you cannot help at times thinking this is a band which has the misfortune to have missed their time slot in music history. Certainly they have a potent place in the now as their album shows but with songs ripe with sixties melodic and pop sensibility which sits easily within the pop mischief of Herman’s Hermits and the Englishness of The Kinks, and a new wave soaked infectiousness which is a close cousin to bands such as The Farmers Boys and Jim Jiminee, you can only imagine the Guildford quintet would have found a potent place those eras. In a never ending torrent of new and existing bands all fighting for attention, real and online, any band is in for a greater struggle than ever to just cross the gaze of fans though with Rise And Shine, The Toniks have given themselves a definite fighting chance.

The brainchild of vocalist/bassist Mark Taylor and guitarist Jez Parish, The Toniks has been making a solid ascent for quite a while now; their infection loaded pop songs gripping ears and emotions. With the current line-up of guitarist Tom Yates, drummer Colin Marshall, and Jessica English on keys alongside Taylor and Parish in place since last year, the band has continued to draw acclaim for their strong live performances, which recently has seen the band playing across Europe and in Canada. Since forming they have also gained support from the likes of Graham Dominy (Eurythmics, Razorlight, Imelda May) who provided them with free studio time after hearing their music. It has all added to a slow but potent rise which the album can only increase as it sweeps across greater numbers.

The band is no stranger to this site, The Toniks a constant on the playlist of shows from our associates Audioburger.com for the 1235338_10151581120132610_2076276580_npast few years. This meant that the album faced expectations but it is fair to say it pushed them aside to emerge an even more vibrant and irrepressible encounter than imagined. Produced by Dominy alongside Taylor and Parish and released on Smile Records, Rise And Shine goes straight for the feet and passions with its title track. The song is total contagion, from the moment the opening soar of harmonies and keys behind the mellow tones of Taylor stroke the ear it teases with a seducing wantonness which explodes into one of the catchiest tunes heard this year. Bred from the seeds of sixties pop, the song romps and strolls with a massive smile in its melodies kissed by brass spawned sunspots. The eighties reference is most apt and virulent right away as the starter has voice in league with its stomp and like the best pop songs, becomes an old friend within moments.

The following Won’t Let You Down is much the same in its individual character, guitars and keys coaxing the imagination as they craft hooks and melodies which sparkle as they tempt. The backing vocals of English along with Parish make a great compliment to the delivery of Taylor, her voices especially soothing and one hopefully the band employ more ahead. More restrained than its predecessor but still a catchy saunter to capture the imagination it easily continues the pleasing start as does next up You and I and Simple Things. Like the first pair they are songs very familiar to us but each finding a new freshness and energy to their suasion and presence through the new recordings and re-workings brought by the band for the album. You and I is a bouncy incitement of respectfully jabbing beats and cheery guitar swipes tempered by darker bass tones. It has a harder rock core to its bewitchment but one which submits to the inventive and sultry flumes of brass as well as the continually persuasive melodic weaves which lie around the addiction causing hooks. Its successor comes with a slower croon to its presence as well as a gentle caress vocally and musically. The bass stands potently to the fore of the song, its steady heavy presence seemingly given preference upon the song and actually works well adding variety to the simple but wholly effective melodic colour which engages the imagination and lures another belt of hard to resist involvement from the body.

After passing the charms of Weather quickly the album settles into a steady enticing with Figure It Out and Never Real, both songs a spark to fill the appetite further though a shade below the standards set. Going back to the first of these three, Weather is another ridiculously ear catching invitation to participate with and enjoy slice of pop which most will drool over but it has never found a place here, it one of those irritants which niggles though it is simply down to personal taste alone. Of the other two, the first builds from emotive keys and expressive vocals into a more than decent ballad which grows and expands as it plays out its narrative and the second a satisfying rock pop breeze, both providing healthy appetising treats to mull over and return to before making way for another highlight.

Secret’s Safe also hits the rockier depths of the band, a blues whisper to the guitars equally egging on the thumping rhythms and hard hitting vocals, though Taylor has a voice where snarls never rear their head to be honest. There is an essence of The Jam and The Motors to the energetic and rampant charge of the song, a pop punk quality which sets it to the top of the release, well until, after the thoroughly enjoyable and infectious There You Go, the outstanding Scapegoat steps forward. The scuzziest track on the album with a punk breeding to its creativity, the track is a riveting blaze of rock ‘n’ roll with all the contagiousness the band can conjure reaping the heat of the blues kissed guitar flames on top of barbed melodic hooks. It is a magnificent track, The Tonik’s finest moment yet.

The closing Wonderful Then concludes the album with a classic pop song graced by mesmeric strings, the cello caresses especially delicious, and resourceful evocative keys behind stirring harmonies. It is a final reminder of the depths of the songwriting of Taylor and Parish and though you cannot talk of them in the same breath yet as Difford and Tilbrook there are some familiarities at times to the construct and melodic structures of songs.

Rise And Shine exceeded expectations to stand as one of the better real pop albums out this year. If The Toniks have yet to touch your ears their debut album is the perfect way to put that right.

It was May 2013, that I first “reviewed” The Toniks. I had stumbled upon this UK band while traversing the assorted music sites that I regularly search, looking for new music. At the time, they were working on completing their debut album and touring Europe and Canada. I did not get to see them on the Canadian leg of their tour, but I have been following them very closely after making contact with drummer, Colin Marshall.

And then, two days ago, thanks to Colin, I received my advance copy of the completed album, Rise And Shine. Produced by Graham Dominy and released on the Indie label Smile Records, the album contains ten tracks, six of which I had not heard before.

The title track has been re-mixed. With an almost acapella introduction and the addition of horns and strings, the song has taken on additional layers of pop poetry. The great trademark harmonies, wonderful hook and flawless drumming, had me wondering where the Go Go dancers were. “Won’t Let You Down” , brings subtle keyboards and a great use of harmonics. The catchy melody, augmented by hand clapping, make this one of the better tunes on the album. The slower tempo of “Figure It Out” maintains an almost ethereal atmosphere when the strings and harmonies are added. The arrangements are wonderfully done as the eternal question “how am I supposed to make you happy, now” is asked. “Weather“, an upbeat number, pokes fun at interpersonal relationships while demonstrating the vocal range of vocalist/bassist, Mark Taylor. A light guitar solo and amazing horns are impeccably placed within the dynamic melody. “Simple Things“, shines with its stand out harmonies and production techniques that appear at unsuspecting moments throughout the tune. ”Never Real“, more of a power pop song, has a grunge feeling but maintains its pop harmonies amid a subtle keyboard influence. The screaming guitar riffs of “Secret’s Safe” create a punk rock song out of a pop melody. toniks3The great drum shots and driving guitars of Jez Parish and Tom Yates give this song the sense of urgency the lyric conveys. “There You Go“, another venture into power pop, uses heavy guitar riffs to drive the melody and counter balance the harmonies. The 80′s feel of “Scapegoat” allows the band to play with production techniques. With great guitar riffs and a powerful bass line this tune is the darkest song on the album. My favorite track, “Wonderful Then” brings the band back to it classic pop sound. Jessica English‘s subtle keyboards drift throughout the great melody and trademark harmonies. The vocals are standout and the orchestral arrangements are magnificent. The song is a blast. Sort of Squeeze’s Pulling Mussells meets Badfinger’s No Matter What.

Rise And Shine is Pop perfection. Not a bad track on the album. It will make you dance. It will make you sing. Best of all, it will make you happy. The song writing is exquisite, with simple lyrics about life and love and human interactions that take one to a more innocent and simple place. These guys are amazingly talented. The music is insanely great The album is a wonderful time. Slated for a September release, Rise And Shine will be available on itunes and the band’s website.