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April 07

THE TOSSERSMICKEY AVALON

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Mickey Avalon
Mickey Avalon

Interscope

Without a doubt, one of the most feared phrases in a music writer’s world is “white rapper.” Basically, this means either another Vanilla Ice (eww…), or some kind of K-Fed-Timberlake-ian monstrosity that’s about as talented as a broken microphone. Of course, somebody in the music industry was smart (must-not-laugh) enough to start calling them all DJ’s instead, but that hardly makes up for the crappy music.

Like it or not, there is a simple universal rule that everyone should follow: Acting black does not make you black, so just stop it, you’re embarrassing yourself. There, feel better?

Not of course that their aren’t good white rappers: the Beastie Boys still rule, and even local phat-boy pseudo-rapsters Bacon Shoe can offer some lines that can make you smile.

Now straight from the ghetto streets of…Hollywood, California, we have Mickey Avalon (a k a Yeshe Perl) bringing his own spin on things, and the result could probably tear up more than a few dance floors.

Smartly, Mickey keeps it simple, using clever samples and synthesized drums to back his clever, almost Matisyahu-like vocals. His subjects are pretty standard drugs-hookers-hustlers stuff, but with far more humor and less swagger than others, a good example being “Roll the Dice”, which verbs out like ‘70’s techno-rap (in an effort to sound cool and create a signature saying, this pundit now offer “verbs out…”, which is quite meaningless and therefore perfect for most music writers).

The best thing about Mr. Avalon is that he seems to be serious about his music without taking it too seriously, which is rare in rappers (and a big reason why gansta-type rappers are getting so many media-caps busted in their ass right now. Apparently, nobody ever told them that being an asshole for so long will eventually piss even their fans off.). He flows well, has a good voice and mixes his tracks cleverly, although all the synth here does get a little annoying.

Still, Mickey’s got some “infectious grooves” (sorry)…uh, uh-that make you want to rock your feet to the hard-core beat! —Brandon Whitehead (posted 04/27/07)


The Tossers
Agony

Victory Records

Back when Mel Gibson was still cool and not quite so Nazi-ish, he made a pretty good movie Braveheart that had a scene that sums up the sons and daughters of the Emerald Isle pretty damn well. After sending in his conscripted Irish army against the Scotts, only to watch them promptly change sides in mid-charge, the English king simply replies “Irish…

Love ‘em or hate ‘em (and frankly they’re happy to hug you or slug you, as you please), the Irish represent the eternal rebels of humanity, refusing to back down in the face of impossible odds, defying all attempts to change them, all without spilling a drop of their drink. Irish music is at the heart of that rebellion, a manic-depressive barrage of drums, pipes and singers who race through poetic lyrics at a speed that often defies description.

The seven-member Chicago-based group The Tossers has always served that tradition with verve while adding a touch of some modern “Punk” energy, and their fifth album Agony continues to do so with exceptional skill. Led by the tremolo vocals of Tony Duggan (who also wrote most of the songs), Agony offers 17 tracks of primo stuff, from the racing first song “Never Enough” to the poignant “Not Alone.”

The violin and drum work (Rebecca and Bones, respectively) keep your foot tappin’, the tin flute of Tony’s brother Aaron (he once told this reviewer that it took him “about a day or so” to learn to play, and we all know the Irish never fib…) adds a perfect hint of ye old traditional Irish ballads.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Irish have always sung their songs of heartbreak and triumph, sorrow and laughter, to their own unique and ancient beat, and the world is a better place because of it.

Mr. Duggan says it best in the last track “Be”: You can be what you want to be/You can be whatever you see/Whatever in this world makes you happy/Don’t listen to them, listen to me.

Cheers on ya’, ya’ Tosser. —Brandon Whitehead (posted 04/13/07)


 
 
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