TOY BOATS – DIAMOND TEETH
Before we get into this week’s review, I’d like to let you guys in on a world a lot of you may have never experienced before. The world of an 8 year old boy growing up in a working class family of Italian descent. Back in my little guy days, I used to spend a lot of time at my grandparent’s house, on account of my parents working pretty long hours. It wasn’t a bad thing though. My beautiful Grandmother was always cooking up some delicious, oily eats and making sure I didn’t make too much of a mess. She always had perfect hair and smelt like flowers, cigarettes and industrial strength hairspray. My grandfather would usually be found hanging out in his chair with his dog in their massive, heavily concreted backyard, full of plants and vegetables that he proudly grew, drinking wine that he made himself, and eating fresh bread that my Grandmother would buy from the shops that she’d walk around the corner to every few days, along with a few packets of Rothman’s cigarettes and the Italian newspaper. He’d tell me stories about driving trucks and working in the mountains when he was younger, and even though I could barely understand some of his broken English, I’d listen and soak up every single word. When I wasn’t playing in the backyard, stuffing my chubby face with oily Mediterranean treats, or watching my Grandfather brush crumbs from his exquisite grey moustache, I would spend a lot of time staring at the many trinkets and memorabilia of my grandparents’ past that filled their house. Old collectors plates, bottles of near-ancient liquors, my grandmothers treasured collection of spoons, old smoking pipes, war medals and if I remember correctly, there were a couple taxidermy birds. But the one thing that sticks out the most was this huge ship in a bottle that found its home on a shelf in the kitchen. It was placed in a spot where you couldn’t help but stare at it while you were eating your salami sandwiches. It was beautiful, but so frustrating to my 8 year old mind because no one would ever tell me how the fucking ship found itself in the god damn bottle. My grandparents have left this world now, and that house was sold a long time ago, but when I was asked to check out ‘Diamond Teeth’, the debut E.P from, Byron Bay’s “Toy Boats”, that ship automatically popped into my head for some reason, followed by a plethora of other memories, and that sense of nostalgia and coming of age is something that really sails through on this record.
Toy Boats is Hugo Costin-Neilson. He used to front a very solid hardcore band called Dead Ends, and now, flying solo, has made the transition into the world of more sombre, personal, acoustic based music. We’ve seen this happen before, where members of heavy, aggressive bands have the desire to branch out and do something different. We’ve seen it work brilliantly, We’ve also seen it fail miserably. Some make the transition to prove a point, some out of sheer restlessness, and some do it because they simply grow up and change. I don’t know Hugo, he doesn’t know me, but I can’t help but feel it was a contribution of all of these things that lead to the creation of his musical alter-ego Toy Boats. And if ‘Diamond Teeth’ is the proof, the transition was a pretty excellent decision made. Now with the backing of Resist Records, for whom this is a somewhat different kind of release to what we’d be used to from a label that have released some of the most proficient Australian Hardcore of our time, and armed with the beautifully crafted bunch of songs that make up the entirety of his debut E.P, Toy Boats is set for big, big things.
Diamond Teeth is a collection of tales that, even though were intended as personal stories, still come across as incredible relatable. Recorded with Sam Johnson at Melbourne’s Three Phase Studios, the record maintains a raw and honest sound, and strays away from any over the top production or anything that takes away from the songs themselves. The songs all bear a striking simplicity, and even though Hugo’s vocal range isn’t insanely broad, the melodies lace the record perfectly. These songs aren’t about pitch and key, but more so about getting across moods and thoughts, which have been captured exactly as they should be. Though at first listen it is a rather emotionally challenging listen, you will start to realise just how much hope and sincerity spills through the songs on Diamond Teeth, and just how far Toy Boats strays from self-pity and despair.
I wrestled with this one for the first few listens, I almost couldn’t tell if I totally and utterly loved it, or fiercely loathed it, but now after what could be a million repeated listens, I am totally taken aback by it. I can get delightfully lost in Diamond Teeth and not want to find my way back. This a truly jaw dropping and stunning first effort for Toy Boats, and needs to be heard by everyone!
‘Diamond Teeth’ is out now through Resist Records.
Rating: 26/28 Days