The Toothaches
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The Toothaches


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"The Toothaches - A Month of Sundays {8.5}"

There might be nothing more satisfying than stumbling across a band that is (a) really great and (b) undiscovered by most people. You feel like you’ve found a buried treasure and you don’t know if you should hide it away for yourself to enjoy or tell everyone you see on the street about it. Boston’s Toothaches are just such a jackpot, creating undeniably catchy pop songs that you can’t help but want to listen to over and over. Their debut EP, A Month of Sundays, is self-released, caringly crafted in the Jamaica Plain kitchen for their fans, and really, it is worth it to get this little gem.

Really, “the Toothaches” is an appropriate name for the band – to an extent. Indeed, they are rather sweet in the pop songs they write, however, with a name like the Toothaches, you might expect them to be overly saccharined. However, they seem to be keep it in check that you won’t be reaching for the phone to call your dentist. “It’s All Gonna Be OK” is a surprisingly subdued opening to the EP, evoking thoughts of another fabulous Boston pop band, Papas Fritas, along with “Hungover (and Over Again)” (I don’t know, maybe it is something in the water, but the pop bug seems to go another in the Hub). The Toothaches seem to have easily mastered the male-female call-and-response vocals, and listening to Zimmy and Monica trade lyrics on “More,” a love song for underdogs (to steal a line from Tanya Donelly) that has a whistle breakdown and a sparse arrangement that works unexpectedly well. “Kiss Me Sweetly” is a playful ukulele (?) driven song that reminds of fellow Boston popsters B for Brontosaurus and ends up as a real charmer, especially with downright cute lyrics like “I know it sounds Parcheesi but my battleship’s been sunk” (albeit the kissing noises might little overkill). “Wareham I” (I suppose you have to be from Massachusetts to get that title) is out of the same quiver.

You do have to give points to any band that decides that a cover of a Mariah Carey song is something to tackle on their debut EP, and likely explains to oddly R&B vocals that the band breaks out for the song. It might not be the best step the band takes, but if you wanted a counterpoint for the absolute gem that follows “Always Be My Baby”, then they found it. “Sophia” is one of those brilliant pop songs that you wonder how long before everyone will be humming it. Driven by xylophones, handclaps and downright cheerful “do do do” harmonies, the song is impossible to stop listening to – trust me, when it randomly came up on my iPod one day I went on to repeat it about 10 times before moving on. The Toothaches end the EP with “Everything,” a surprising turn that shows that the band has more depth than some of the bubblegum pop that precedes it, integrating violins and cellos with ease, creating a melancholy ballad that rounds out the disc nicely.

Sure, A Month of Sundays might be a little rough around the edges, but that probably works to the Toothaches advantage. You really feel like you’ve gotten your hands on something that is made by people who love what they’re doing rather than a studio-magicked conglomeration of musicians. The songs that fill the EP are playful and catchy without sounding amateurish, leaving you with nothing but a sweet taste in your mouth, which I suppose is exactly what the band wants anyway.
-Erik Gonzalez -

"Not to make this New Music Friday, but I love the Toothaches"

Submitted by Erik Gonzalez on November 16, 2007.

IgLiz's post on Murder Mystery made me want to point you to my new favorite band, the Toothaches. They hail from Jamaica Plain, MA (near Boston) and they have two hot glockenspeilogists! What is not to love? They say of their debut EP: "Each one is handmade in our kitchen, and comes with your very own mint leaf insert!"

Heck, they even cover Mariah Carey on it and played the New England Popfest.

Take a moment to enjoy the Toothaches and "Sophia" (which I currently have on repeat). -

"The Toothaches - Anti-Cute Pop"

The Toothaches aren’t cute. They’re definitely not sweet. They’re not twee-pop and they don’t cause cavities. Front-lads/ songwriters Rose Blakelock and Zimmy Ayer might have matching tooth tattoos on their forearms, but this ain’t no cutesy folk-pop thang. The Toothaches are a rock band.

A Month of Sundays, their first full length self-released last summer, is full of sunny, acoustic anthems and three-part slightly drunken harmonies. The album is, well, folky, catchy pop, and definitely the origin of their present - and somewhat unavoidable - stigma.

“We were working with what we had, which was a bunch of toy instruments,” Blakelock said. “We were trying to go more rock, but we can’t play drums! There were three of us trying to play six instruments at a time.”

The Toothaches began with a chance encounter between Ayer and Blakelock on Newbury Street in the summer of 2007. The story is, unfortunately for them, unbearably cute. Walking parallel across the street from each other, Blakelock responded to a series of claps Ayer made from behind. After discussing plans to take over the world, and toying with the idea of a 13-piece ensemble (“but not creepy like the Polyphonic Spree,” says Ayer), Blakelock and Ayer split ways, forgetting about each other for two months until a second chance encounter in the subway brought them back together. Ayer gave Blakelock a tape and they began writing music together. Blakelock met Monica Hubble, keyboards/ vocals/master arranger of covers, at a black bra lingerie party. Ayer worked with bassist Andrew Zizik at Bagel Rising. Drummer Johnny Jannetty is Zizik’s roommate at Emerson.

“Our whole band is six degrees of Kevin Bacon,” said Blakelock. For their next batch of songs, a second full length planned for sometime this fall, the Toothaches are ready to front the sound they’ve been pushing in their live shows over the last year; a type of folkhued dance rock that relies as much on distorted guitars as it does on glockenspiel and keyboard. Their recently released Sucker Punch split 7” is a pulsing teaser of their potential; the songs, “Lucky Ones” and “Sucker Punch,” are tight, catchy, and run circles around traditional pop song structure - bridges fade into choruses that should really be the verses, while their now characteristic four part harmonies are propelled by an explosive rhythm section and sharp, angular lead guitar.

“Zimmy told me about how the Toothaches were acoustic folk and I was like, well, wanna be a rock band?” Zizik said. “And that’s when we realized we could take over the world.”

Partly an attempt to hone their skills, partly to distance themselves from cutesy labels, and partly just to distance themselves, Blakelock, Ayer and Hubble are moving to Brooklyn in the fall, following what seems to be a Boston tradition (Zizik and Jannetty have a year left of school, so must stay behind).

“It’s time to start fresh, we’ve been in Boston for four years,” Blakelock said. “We’ll start with a new reputation, not cute or twee or pink - someone called us pink, I don’t even know what that means.”

The Toothaches are hoping that their transition to Brooklyn will act as something of a creative catalyst. “We’re going to be all freaked out and we’ll write more, and better,” Ayer said. “I feel stuck here, I need a change of scenery, I need to be scared shitless,” Blakelock said.

Added Ayer: “Cowabunga.”

-P. Nick Curran - Northeast Performer Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.