It’s appropriate that the debut album from Milwaukee band Toadskin should take its inspiration from the earth. Songs like “Sediment,” “Stems,” and “Witness In The Woods”—all from the new Outdoor Lore—point to a record grounded in the soil. They also point to a fledgling band poised to sprout and blossom.

“It’s our first full-length album and really our first foray into songwriting in general,” says Toadskin singer-guitarist Jeff VanDreel. “We messed around a lot with the songwriting process for this album, so each song was kind of written in a different way. We did really try to stick to a theme of nature and spirits throughout though. Having a theme to work with really helped us to figure out how to write songs as we were sort of feeling around in the dark.”

Not that Outdoor Lore plays like a rookie experiment. Grungy, sludgy, and more than a little stoner-y, it’s a solid slab of noisy punk rock. Opener “Sediment” sets the stage with buzzsaw guitars, bellowing vocals, and a scream-along chorus. “Stems” and “Bat Chatter” are early highlights, both remaining strangely toe-tapping despite all the noise. Things slow down and congeal on the lumbering “Out On The Boat” and the militant closer “Black Mold,” and songs like the clanging “Witness In The Woods” and the minute-long “Ice Age Trail”—a slightly funked-up reworking of a 2020 version—prove Outdoor Lore has plenty of tricks up its sleeve.

Recorded and mixed by Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street Recordings, and mastered by Justin Perkins at Mystery Room Mastering, Outdoor Lore is a promising debut from VanDreel, Trevor Broskowski (bass), and Logan Byrne (drums). It’s messy, it’s grimy, and it’s covered in dirt. From here, Toadskin can only continue to grow.

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.