With summer upon us, many are looking for great summer jams and upbeat tones. For those who like breezy pop with a hints of blues, folk, and classic rockabilly, I’d strongly suggest checking out Toy Soldiers and Quiet Life. After hearing Toy Soldiers at CMJ last October, I’ve gotten to know Ron Gallo a bit better, preparing me for the sort of on-stage antics which make a Toy Soldiers show about more than the music. Catching these bands on a Tuesday at Mercury Lounge, the crowd was amicable and so were the bands, bringing fun to the whole room.
And then the music began. Quiet Life took the stage with a modest nonchalance that perfectly summed up their sound and personalities, diving into hits such as “No Surprise” and “Cave Country” with 1950’s piano flourishes like Islands’ “Hallways”, vocals with a cool grit akin to Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses), acoustic and slide guitars, and a roaring organ with folk tones like Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck In The Middle With You”. Quiet Life is the perfect to soundtrack for your summer road trips with its rolling expanse of relaxing sound that should join you on your treks across America.
When Toy Soldiers jumped on stage (literally), Ron’s bubbly nature got the crowd going right away as he cracked jokes before delving into “Tomorrow to Today” and “Heart in a Mousetrap”, two rousing rockabilly tracks from their latest album, The Maybe Boys. Not only do Toy Soldiers produce great funky grooves, but their music is layered with fun and relatable lyrics detailing everything from heartbreak and the difficulties of life to the hung-over mornings of myriad women. There’s even a song about a man in love with a street sweeper!
Through each song and joke, the crowd remained wholly entertained by roaring blues guitars akin to Buddy Guy and classic rockabilly keys. The band also performed a rousing cover of Harry Nilsson’s “Early in the Morning” and the first few stanzas of George Michael’s “Faith” to really mess with the crowd.