Tok's Gold Dollar Hen House Vol. 1: Review and Listen

Categories: Homespun

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Smack-dab in the middle of Tok's new five-song EP is a track called "I Want Rock and Roll." As if it were ever in question. This threesome, led by brothers Matt and Bryan Basler, has been responsible for some of the most guileless, unassumingly riff-tastic rock & roll for the better part of a decade, with minimal changes in approach or sound.

Bryan Basler's guitar is borne of a thousand KSHE Classics and even more time studying stoner rock's best axmen, and Matt Basler's steady and stately bass work is both buoyant and anchorlike. Declaring a desire for rock & roll is an afterthought with songs like these. Opener "Blow" sets the pace with a full-speed-ahead tempo and a few smart hairpin turns toward the end. For every instance of bombast on these recordings, there's a smart and well-placed nuance to match it. "The One You Need" adds a little filth and vitriol to the mix; it's a bit more bruising and menacing than the rest of the tracks, and Bryan's solos are tossed off with requisite swagger and what may or may not have a been a finger-tapping interlude.

And while it's easy to look to Tok for loud/fast/heavy rock & roll that doesn't take itself too seriously, the band can still throw a good curveball now and then. The EP closes with the dirge ballad "Sliding Into Misery," an unadorned acoustic that sounds like it was recorded directly to a sun-warped cassette tape. The song is either a piss-take on formulaic alt-country songs or merely a bizarre version of the same. Whatever the case, it's good to remember that while Tok normally does one thing really well over and over again, the brothers Basler can still subvert expectations.

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