Toad the Wet Sprocket
Beginning as teens in Santa Barbara, Calif., Toad the Wet Sprocket crafted smart pop-rock that matured from humble beginnings. The band's first two albums -- including their mopey sophomore masterpiece, Pale -- were recorded on slim budgets and, often, live in the studio or living room. Successive, more mainstream-oriented work, including the chart singles "All I Want," "Walk on the Ocean," "Fall Down" and "Good Intentions" garnered them a wide, grassroots fan base throughout the early and mid-1990s. Much more than purveyors of radio hits, Toad's true allure was to be found in their emphatic live performances, as well as on several lesser-known album tracks -- for instance, the waltz-metered jangle of "Corporal Brown" and "Scenes from a Vinyl Recliner," the joyously melodic hooks of "In My Ear" and "Jam," and the acoustic warmth of "Windmills" and "I Think About." Toad's intangibly melancholic ideal, colored with Todd Nichols' shimmering guitar lines and shaded by Glen Phillips' note-perfect vocals, rendered songs that gracefully married pop's simplicity with dark introspection and shifting moods.