Toy Robots is a Chicago-based indie-jam rock band of seasoned musical veterans and just popped out the No Mans Land EP. This power three-piece consists of front man Andy Madden (lead vocals and guitar), Paul Duda (backing vocals and bass), and Stephan Kohnke (backing vocals and drums).
No Mans Land starts us off with the heavy-hitting Control. These dudes bring the crunchy funk early and drew me in with an alluring and ominous melody. Rhythmically, Control sets the tone for the entire EP with thick bass grooves, interesting stops, and drums fills any hard rock fan will adore.
Again is a full-force funk tune, complete with horns, an organ, and a juicy bass line. This feel good song shows off Madden’s abilities on guitar during a solo jam in which he trades the floor with Nasty Snacks‘ stellar sax player. For obvious reasons, this track was unlike any of the other work on this feature, but nonetheless was a fun piece to rock out to.
On & On & On has a classic rock vibe to it and builds on the powerful vocals of Madden really well. This head banger showcases a different type of guitar playing, with fuzzy power chords and multiple impressive solos that draw inspiration from metal, blues, and classic rock. The title On & On & On aptly describes the amount of “wow” moments I kept having as yet another solo was woven into the structure of this song again and again.
Stormy Weather opens with a vocal melody that drones on a little too long for my liking, but evolves into a ballad that provides some relief after the intense first three tracks Toy Robots throws our way. I’m a fan of the thoughtful vocal harmonization the band makes a centerpiece of this song and the subtle addition of the cello perfectly rounds everything out.
No Mans Land comes to a close with Shadow You, an emotional epic and their longest track to date at over 6 minutes. The bluesy intro jam puts all three band members undeniable talent on full display and will make for an incredible opportunity to rock out live. All things considered – the flowing bass line, the elegant guitar solos, the perfectly constructed beats, the catchy vocal melody and harmonies – this is the most well-constructed track on the entire EP, in my eyes.
This EP is extremely well produced, which makes sense when you take into account some of these recordings date back to 2016. Clearly these guys wanted to get these songs done right and they’ve certainly accomplished that here.
No Mans Land is an extremely playable EP from a trio of musical savants. These guys are some of the most talented rockers on the Chicago scene today and, with 60+ years of combined experience, some of the most seasoned veterans too. Every track here has something to offer from the dark opener Control, to the dance inducing Again, to the well-rounded closer Shadow You. These guys have a wide variety of influences and they aren’t afraid to show it.
Toy Robots has played some of Chicago’s top venues such as the House of Blues, the Cubby Bear, and Subterranean over the last year, but don’t currently have any shows lined up going forward. Keep an eye on dates as they add them via their social channels linked below or their website here!