LA Tool & Die
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LA Tool & Die

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With an eccentric band name, lyrics like, "Mountain lions and grizzly bears / May rip our flesh off, but we don't care / Cause we're in love," and an album rife with synth keys, Charlotte's L.A. Tool and Die could be accused of not taking itself too seriously.
While that accusation might be true, the songs that work the best on The Last Thorn of Summer. L.A. Tool and Die's second album, are the staid, sober ones. Tracks like "Waltz," "Brother Rest" and the standout "Well--A--Day" operate in an understated, muted tone that better fit guitarist/vocalist Lee Grutman's resonant voice -- a voice that fluctuates from "Nashville Skyline"--era Dylan to in--shower crooning (especially on the oddly--intoned "Good Things for You"). Underused background vocalist Emily Green provides a sweet addition to "Well--A--Day,"...

- Performer Magazine

Elements of '80s pop, classical elements and humor combine with indie rock to create a unique, refreshing sound. - Creative Loafing

There seems to be two different bands on LA Tool & Die's The Last Thorn of Summer. One is an irreverent cheeseball of sillyness that found a way to write one of the funniest send ups of our beloved Indie Rock genre in quite some time; the other is a beautiful, talented band that is part indie and part modern folk. It's a little distracting, but it seems to work out ok. The hilarious song "My Brother in Law (Won't Go To Your Show)" chronicles what happens to aging indie rockers as they get into their 30s and have ultimately lose touch with the scene in which they were once immersed. Line's like "he used to DJ college radio, but that was 13 fuckin' years ago" ring true to all of us who are getting old and unable to keep up with all the new releases (the whole reason I started this blog). This song includes references to the Silver Jews, Unicorns, Built to Spill, and I think I heard a Polvo in there along with a few others. This song alone is worth having this CD. But, it is not the only highlight. Songs like Well A Day and Ship to Shore are wonderful mid-tempo numbers. Matador has an amazing sound with an incredible new wave keyboard solo. And then...there is this voice on the album that would put any 70s Van Morrison-esque crooner to shame in both it's timbre and sincerity. The best example of this voice is on the ending track "Good Things For You". It starts off slow and builds to a thundering conclusion that makes me well up a little. This is really a great record. Maybe since I'm getting old it hits me differently than it would have when I was 20 and just wanted to rock. But, regardless, this is a fantastic effort and is worth your time.
- Viva Indie Rock

I've been intending to write a substantial review of the new record from LA Tool & Die, The Last Thorn of the Summer, for a while. I still intend to get to it, but I can no longer put off sharing one of the tracks. "My Brother In Law" is an ode to those folks we all know who are stuck on the music of their youth. They ignore the novel and innovative in favor of the comfortable and familiar; it's the sort of mindset that has fueled the classic rock radio industry for decades.

In "My Brother In Law" the culprit should be apparent. It features a former college radio DJ who is hung up on the music of his heyday, even ignoring the continued output of his former favorites. It's the closest thing to a novelty song on the record, but how can I not share something that references David Berman, Doug Martsch, and The Unicorns?
- Cable & Tweed

What you can expect from dyed-in-the-wool pop purists L.A. Tool and Die is absolute brilliance. These six lads from Charlotte, NC whimsically serve up a buffet of catchy tunes designed to make you forget about the fact that rock n' roll is taken all too seriously in current times. The opening track, "Jesus Saved Me at the Record Show" is a spoof on aspiring rockers who believe in some sort of divine manifestation the instant that they decide to form a band of supposedly loyal scenesters. The taunting lyrics mock those who attend shows with an agenda that involves more than simply enjoying themselves: Twee kittens, punkers, and Emo, too/I saved Elf Power and I'll save you." LA Tool and Die realize that making music is not about whether or not youre hip, and they urge the kids when Lee sings "Just get on stage and go make some noise."

-Nessim Halioua, Left Off The Dial
- Left Off The Dial

L.A. Tool and Die is a band that is doing it for the right reason which is have a good time. The fresh, sincere, upbeat tunes on Fashion for the Evildoer are brimming over with good vibes. The band's general direction may best be summed up by their appropriate cover of the Sparks tune "Eaten By The Monster of Love." L.A. Tool and Die is a lighthearted pop band with no interest in providing difficult or complex music. Instead, the band members provide music that is simple and direct. As a result, the album is an easy spin. The lyrics and the playing are obviously genuine and heartfelt. This, the fourtieth release (!) from Charlotte's AAJ Records, is a keeper. Cool cuts include "Jesus Saved Me at the Record Show," "Lucky For Me," and "Game Over." (Rating: 4+++)
- Baby Sue, June 2004

Fashion for the Evildoer walks a fine line between being refreshingly different and obnoxiously rebellious.
- Tastes Like Chicken, June 2004

What's innovative about L.A. Tool and Die is that they seamlessly combine classical music influence with traditional twee pop motifs. I don't think I've heard a band that sounds quite like them. Lyrically, they're probably one of the cutest, most sugary all-male bands that you'll ever hear. Perfect if you want some more sugar in your musical diet.
- Mundane Sounds, June 2004

Fans of LA Tool and Die might already recognize the A-side, “My Brother-in-law Won’t Go To Your Show,” as the anthem against those sneering, aging college rock fans from the late 1980s and early ‘90s who refuse to try anything new, desperately hanging on to the days when Pavement was still a band and Stephen Malkmus hadn’t put his own

face on an album cover (for shame!). But this version has a very slight difference from the The Last Thorn of Summer track, with this 7-inch song being radio friendly (“13 friggin’ years ago”). But the vintage indie rock references are still there, with the Built to Spill, Silver Jews and Polvo name-checks echoing the time that indie rock forgot, or at

least the time that indie rockers think time forgot. Which is why we all need reminding so often. But, LA Tool and Die laments, there’s plenty more out there to be had, even from the remnants of those past bands (“Doug Martsch still plays a damn fine show”) with minimal instrumentation (strumming electric guitar, old-school keyboards and

a bit of drumming), the lyrics are in the spotlight, with singer Lee Grutman’s voice deriding his ex-college DJ brother-in-law for refusing to be introduced to any new music, scoffing that “He’s just too old /To go to your show / Ya, he’s too old / For rock ‘n’ roll / But he is too young / Too young to die.”

The B-side, “1983 (The Year Cory Hart Exploded In My Pants)” opens with eerily-familiar Top-40 synths, falling somewhere between Spring Break 1998 and Van Halen’s 1982 Arena Tour. Strangely enough, it’s not a bad place to be, with the catchy

Springsteen-esque lyrics, “Little one in the dark / You hold me close you’re driving me crazy” repeated over and over with a typical ‘80s electric guitar (probably shaped like a V and lipstick red) shredding in the background. You can almost smell the Aqua Net. And yet, for all its ‘80s music references and the indie-ironic title, the song still comes

across as sincere and heartfelt as any Morrissey track.

-Leila Regan-Porter
- Performer Magazine


Fashion for the Evildoer CD 2004 #96 on the CMJ Charts!
The Last Thorn of Summer CD Feb 26, 2008
My Brother In Law Won't Go To Your Show 7" June 10, 2008



In 2004, we founded LA Tool & Die with two objectives in mind. 1) Have a good time. 2) Make goofy pop songs. Our first CD Fashion for the Evildoer is filled to the brim with fun songs about indie rock, falling in love, and video games! Fashion For the Evildoer went to #96 on the CMJ Music charts.

We took all of 2005 & 2006 off and sprung back to life in the middle of 2007 and are on a never ending quest to make every single audience we enounter have as much fun as they possibly can.

2008 We have shared the stage with everyone from Elf Power to Throw Me the Statue.