Friendo: Cold Toads
With their debut album, Friendo offers up a record that churns and swirls its way back to decades of yore. Drawing from the jangling tone of The Velvet Underground and the lo-fi sensibility of Sebadoh, Cold Toads sounds both dated and fresh at the same time. “Callers” captures the joy of being in a room with someone creating art as different voices elegantly blend together, giving the impression of singing together in an empty room for love of music. “Overseas” combines swirling guitars with abstract digital tones to straddle vintage and modern sensibilities, and “Hailey Oman” takes advantage of its retro sound to start and stop again like a stalled bootleg of a jam session. Fans of a DIY, indie sound will enjoy Friendo’s combination of creativity and simplicity, but for those of us spoiled by the digital era, there is something lacking in the quality of the album’s sound. Originally released on cassette, the quality is scratchy and distorted, making it often difficult to discern the lyrics being sung. This tone also punctuates just how out of tune the guitars are, and putting on headphones is a waste of time to try to get a clearer listen. Friendo is clearly comprised of talented musicians with a certain sound in mind, but it would be nice to get a better idea of what a live performance would be like without the distortion in the way.