Many descriptive words come to mind when thinking about the new CD “Woodenball” from the pop/rock/Americana band Toughcats, and right at the top of the list (as trite and general as it may be) is “catchy.”

From beginning to end, the 10-song CD from the North Haven/Vinalhaven band has melodies and riffs that linger with the listener for hours. 

The lead/title track sets the mood with the sounds of someone rowing a rowboat, and the water creates the mood of relaxation, movement and continuity. It’s subtle, and that made me turn up the volume. Clever leveraging? Maybe, but it doesn’t really matter; the listener would more than likely turn it up anyway.

Immediately after the rowboat reverberations, a cheerful and poppy guitar lick comes right out of the blue, followed by lead singer Jake Greenlaw’s comforting and sultry voice: “Running to the Woodenball/ What a way to end a fall/ I don’t want to bend a knee/ When you are out to sea.”

I’m not sure what any of it means. But that seems to be a moot point, as the sonic quality and catchy melodies of each of the individual components within the song make for a feel-good, soothing vibe.

The 10 tracks are all very distinctive, yet fit together under an umbrella of similar resonance. The songs are never wordy: “Some Old Days are Gone” only has one line. I’m not sure how they got away with that in a three-minute song, but they did.

Sounding somewhat like The Connells and at times The Beatles or The Beach Boys, Toughcats hint at it all but stay true to their roots of who they are: An original act. 

“Woodenball” will be released as a physical CD on Tuesday then digitally in October, “to encourage people to think about supporting their local music store before heading to Amazon or iTunes.” This is a sentiment many local bands share, and it is a refreshing one.

So, kudos to Toughcats. You guys have achieved a level of musicality that most musicians aspire to rise to, and the sounds echoing from the top are clear as a clarion call, crisp as the autumn days descending upon us and absolutely, positively rolling in and rolling out, catchy.

Kristin DiCara-McClellan is a freelance writer.


filed under: