Album review: 12 Stone Toddler’s ‘Idiolalia’

12 Stone Toddler

By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa

Album Review: 12 Stone Toddler’s Idiolalia–Release date October 5, 2018–Freshly Squeezed Music label

12 Stone Toddler “Idiolalia”

Rock At Night receives dozens of emails daily from aspiring bands and new labels.  Managing Editor Andrea Ramirez-Maciolek and I sift through the emails and give the tunes a whirl.  A video or tune needs to grab us within the first 30-60 seconds for consideration. I felt like we hit the jackpot when I came across the label Freshly Squeezed Music, located in Brighton, UK, that features vintage or retro-sounding music.  I’m sure you will be reading about some of their electro-swing bands like Swingrowers and Atom Smith in the near future.  The album that truly caught my interest is from a Brighton band called 12 Stone Toddler.  When I first listened to the song “My Machine”, I had a wonderful flashback to the 80s, when I had the pleasure of seeing Oingo Boingo.  The song gave my delicious goosebumps and thrilled me with its quirkiness and creepiness—so I knew I had to investigate this band.

Ben Jones of 12 Stone Toddler-Time for Heroes Photography

12 Stone Toddler is comprised of founding members Ben Jones (keys) and Chris Otero (bass/vocals), as well as new members Robin O’Keeffe (drums) and Helen Durden (guitar).  Actually, the band has been recording for over a decade. Their 13-song, third album Idiolalia was released on October 5, 2018 through the Freshly Squeezed Music label. There is 52 minutes of not only quirky, creepy, fun–but really is a tribute to fine songwriting and musicianship–creating a very full, and fleshed out sound for a four-piece band.

It is really difficult to pinpoint the genre of the music—there are theatrics, swing, rockabilly, carnival music, ska, reggae, all rolled up into an eclectic bowl of ear-loving fun. Songs like “My Machine” and “Give Me the Creeps” not only capture a carnival sound with organ riffs, but have the darkness of Oingo Boingo/Danny Elfman (“This is Halloween”), Nick Cave (“The Carny”), and The Kinks (“Wonderboy”).

Chris Otero of 12 Stone Toddler-Time For Heroes Photography

“Piranha” is a song in a similar vein, but is more upbeat, like Oingo Boingo meets Squeeze. Some of the songs on the album have a reggae or ska vibe (think ska minus the horns). Songs like “Mirror Ball”, “Heavy Sleeper”, “Dig A Hole”, and “Heaven Was Closed” sound like Motown combined with Madness, with their infectious singalong melodies and reggae organ and bass riffs.

But wait! There’s more! Just as soon as I was figuring out the genre, 12 Stone Toddler threw me for a loop with a swingin’, rockabilly or crooning tune like “Just Enough Rope”. “Nice Surprise”, a slow crooning, jazzy tune, changes tempo like a roller coaster ride, and develops into a harder prog rock sound groove as the song progresses.  “Runaway Train” would feel quite at home if played in a punk rock club, with its edge and hard-driving beat.

Helen Durden of 12 Stone Toddler- Time for Heroes Photography

Another stand-out song on the album is “The Borrowing Song” which features, again, the cool and creepy organ and reverb guitar strums. I closed my eyes and imagined this as a theme song in a Spaghetti Western film. Then, the song meandered into a whole different direction, by speeding up with a ska beat, and cooling down again.

Idiolalia is truly a musical journey that keeps you on your toes, with its variety of sounds—some are beautifully dissonant and even creepy—but always interesting and fresh. The songs are really unique , well-crafted and deliciously quirky, as Idiolalia is a really a gem of a find!


My Machine, Give Me the Creeps, Piranha, Mirror Ball, Just Enough Rope, Carried Away, Heavy Sleeper, Ride A Donkey, Runaway Train, Nice Surprise, Dig a Hole, The Borrowing Song, Heaven Was Closed,





Freshly Squeezed Music

12 Stone Toddler-Facebook

Chyrisse Tabone, Ph.D.
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