Toreador of Love (Sub Pop)
by Scott Hefflon
Toreador of Love is sub pop. Not necessarily the label or the restrictive stereotype sticker, but the feel is garage-honesty punky pop. Sub pop.
In Portland, OR, the underground still feels like underground. Unlike their Seattle neighbors that keep more of an eye on the major label contracts pouring in than on pricing generic cigarettes, thriftshop bargains, and inane TV shows. Not to mention the human element. Hazel writes about things, not introspective ambiguity. The boy/girl duets are fun and catchy, not puppy love quaint. They’re a four piece band: Three musical and one visual. Jody Bleyle whales on the drums and sings in a kinda eerie way. Peter Krebs plays the jangley, noisy guitar and sings. Brady Smith plays bass and sings and allowed himself be quoted as saying of The Almighty Sub Pop, “Actually, they’re bigger geeks than we are. They make us feel like lesser geeks…”
And then there’s Fred. Fred dances. Together, the three put out a smiling fun, upbeat and irreverent release. The four put on wild live shows and do benefits and other nice things. Their humor, insight, and sensitivity make Hazel a real pop band, not a glossy, formula spewing, Top 40 rehash. The slower, bare-bones material is much like early grunge, but the catchy uptempo punk/pop ditties get back to the garage and stomp around.