Los Angeles pop-rock trio Tonic's choice of Bob Rock as producer of their third disc is an odd one. Rock is a meat-and-potatoes studio man known for dialing up the thud quotient (see Metallica, the Cult, and especially, Ve... more »ruca Salt), while Tonic is noted for its sweeping power ballads. With the release of Head On Straight, they still are. Certainly, there are some jagged moments: "Liar" absolutely pounds and opener "Roses" growls, lyrically and musically. But there's unabashed emotion in tracks like "On Your Feet," "Ring," "Count on Me," the title track, and the gently rocking "Let Me Go." And then there's "Irish," a rousing, historic jig where guitars mimic bagpipes, Big Country-style, and singer Emerson Hart manages a credible Irish lilt. Perhaps Rock's Maui base proved irresistible, but really, this is more of the same stuff Tonic gave us with Lemon Parade and Sugar--sturdy, wide-eyed power-pop with lyrics reaching for something grander than "ooh baby baby." Let's hope Tonic feels they got their money's worth. --Kim Hughes« less
Los Angeles pop-rock trio Tonic's choice of Bob Rock as producer of their third disc is an odd one. Rock is a meat-and-potatoes studio man known for dialing up the thud quotient (see Metallica, the Cult, and especially, Veruca Salt), while Tonic is noted for its sweeping power ballads. With the release of Head On Straight, they still are. Certainly, there are some jagged moments: "Liar" absolutely pounds and opener "Roses" growls, lyrically and musically. But there's unabashed emotion in tracks like "On Your Feet," "Ring," "Count on Me," the title track, and the gently rocking "Let Me Go." And then there's "Irish," a rousing, historic jig where guitars mimic bagpipes, Big Country-style, and singer Emerson Hart manages a credible Irish lilt. Perhaps Rock's Maui base proved irresistible, but really, this is more of the same stuff Tonic gave us with Lemon Parade and Sugar--sturdy, wide-eyed power-pop with lyrics reaching for something grander than "ooh baby baby." Let's hope Tonic feels they got their money's worth. --Kim Hughes
Jessica T. (jessicatok) from LINCOLN, NE Reviewed on 4/23/2007...
I don't think I've actually ever listened through this CD more than once. "Take Me As I Am" was the radio hit, off Tonic's 3rd album.
David Waldo | Austin, TX United States | 02/23/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I bought Head on Straight the same way I bought Tonic's last two albums - without hearing any songs from the discs beforehand. It worked out wonderfully with Lemon Parade, and not too badly with Sugar. However, this CD... eh. I didn't really find anything to write home about.It's not that I have a problem with the songs themselves. In fact, I think there are some pretty good songs on this CD. As a whole album though, I just don't think it works, for the simple reason that almost all the songs follow the same pattern - cookie-cutter music behind lyrics that are almost always directed at a proverbial lost love. I'm tired of hearing about all the ways you screwed it up, dude! Just please, sing about something else! Where's the acoustic/electric balance found on Lemon Parade and, to a lesser extent, Sugar? Where's the positive tone found in "If You Could Only See", "Sugar", and "Stronger than Mine"? Where's the creative approach to dealing with a woman when you sang "I'm gonna burn callin' her name" in "Mountain"? Most of all, where's the self-esteem in your lyrics, which seems to be lacking pretty much throughout the album?I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I'm not impressed with the band's eventual progression from a creative acoustic/electric rock band to a stereotypical electric rock band. You may very well like this album, and that's fine. Try to listen to it before you buy it though."
Charles J. Hampton-snow | PETERSBURG, VA USA | 01/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"usually you buy a cd for one song and find that it is the only song you like on the cd. THAT is NOT this cd. i am new to "tonic" but this is one GREAT cd and while i do not love every song ,10 OUT OF 12 is not bad.if you're a fan of Train ,Matchbox 20 ,The Calling ,Lifehouse ,YOU WILL enjoy this cd."
Tonic is amazing, and their lyrics are so real...
benw1979 | Renton, WA | 09/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tonic. I've been in love since the first album, and this one did not disappoint me. All the songs are good, and four are spectacular.I like this band because of the lyrics. Emerson crafts the songs so well, that I am able to identify with his feelings on many of them, and the guitar riffs really pull me in.Let me say this: I am utterly amazed at how popular Tonic isn't. Why don't I hear them on the radio more? You don't know what you're missing. I felt really bad for them when their last album came out, and hopefully this album will be a breakthrough.I saw them in concert once with Third Eye Blind. 3EB had a very expensive setup, but they sucked, lead singer can't carry a tune. Tonic just walked on with their instruments, and totally rocked.These guys are amazing; buy the CD. You will not regret it, if you have any taste at all."
Matt Peterson | Little Rock, AR | 09/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Considering the lofty place that Tonic's two previous albums ("Lemon Parade" and "Sugar") hold in my music collection, it is safe to say that I was very excited about their newest release, "Head on Straight". So excited, in fact, that I made a trip at lunch to pick it up on the first day it became available.As the intro to "Roses" gradually pounded its way into my car stereo, I found myself smiling uncontrollably. My boys are back. In my excitement, I also unfortunately found myself exceeding the speed limit considerably. Tonic is definitely (still!) best described as "driving" rock. The things that I enjoyed about their earlier music are still present: the perfect blend of pop, hard rock, and folk influences with intelligent, emotion-rich lyrics. The harmonies of lead Emerson Hart, guitarist Jeff Russo, and bass player Dan Lavery are still there. In fact, Hart shows a bit more vocal range that on the previous two albums.Some songs that jumped out at me after a few trips through the CD -- "Roses", the opener, is awesome, reminding me a bit of "Casual Affair" (from the band's first album) in its power. "Take Me As I Am" is harder as well, catchy, rich, and is probably my favorite at this point. It is also the most "radio-friendly" track since "If You Could Only See" and I'll be surprised if it doesn't get considerable airplay. The title track is beautiful. "Liar" is angry, both lyrically and musically. Speaking of angry, "Irish" is an old...well, Irish tune about how the people of that country were, at one point in the past, forced to fight as mercenaries for England. This song will probably be familiar to those who have seen Tonic perform live, as they've played it at concerts for quite some time. As much as I like the song, I'm a little undecided as to whether it should have been included here. It worked so well as a crowd-pleaser...but I feel like a lot of the song's charm came from the improvisation and spontaneity of that atmosphere. Finally, I liked the closer, "Let Me Go", a lot...it has an introspective feel similar to "My Old Man" from "Lemon Parade". Well done on that one.In a nutshell, this album is a worthy successor to "Lemon Parade" and "Sugar". I suspect it will hook quite a few new fans, and will also satisfy those who, like me, have been fans for awhile and have been eagerly awaiting more.So why, you are probably wondering, only four stars? Why not five? While I feel that the songs themselves are all well-written, performed, and recorded, there isn't quite as much variety among the songs as there was on, say, "Lemon Parade", which took you from anger to longing to love to regret to resentment and back again. I also feel that, with this being their third album, the band could have tried to stretch themselves a bit more, musically speaking. They certainly have the talent to do so.As a whole, however, I enjoyed this album a lot and hopefully will (as with the previous two albums) continue to enjoy and appreciate it more each time I listen.Finally, I mentioned this in the review I wrote for one of the earlier albums, but I'll say it again: if you get the chance to see these guys live, DO IT. They put on a great show and are very fan-friendly (always willing to hang around afterwards for pictures, autographs, or just to talk with the fans)."
Take another shot, boy, I'm open!
Mashira | Higher Elevations, New York | 11/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though I could write a rather lengthy explaination as to why I like this album, I'll keep my praise brief. I enjoy every song on this CD, especially "Liar" because it sounds like a good kiss-off to a deceitful ex-lover. In short, whether the song is slow or fast, the music is highly enjoyable and if you like Tonic you'll be impressed with "Head On Straight"."