Toybox: Stay Alive

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Artist: Toybox

Title: Stay Alive

Basics: High holy shit, Batman! It looks like YAFI finally got something that is neither countrified rock about make-believe bandits or pop punk from some plucky 17 year olds. What we have here is Toybox, a neat little three-piece that plays Japanese pop. The three members all hail from different parts of Tokyo, yet they managed to meet while attending classes at Arizona State University. The band members all met at a -- wait for it, wait for it -- Sum 41 concert! That being said, Stay Alive is actually rather pleasant and doesn't reek of stale pop punk like some other YAFI winners in the past.

Best Song: "Whatever You Need" is a jagged little offering that is quite ambitious for its 3+ minutes. Lead singer Yo is absolutely transcendent once he hits the bridge and chorus. This is offset by his scratchy, yearning singing style during the song's verses -- yet this dichotomy carries the song. You kind of have to hear the worst of Yo's singing to be rewarded with the best of it -- yet the latter is worth the effort.

Worst Song: "Knife" is some pretty standard pop punk fare. It employs a tried out guitar line and drumbeat and doesn't really cover any new ground. There is an inherent risk in playing pop punk, and that is simply sounding like the hordes of other bands playing the same shit you are. The really good bands, then, are the ones that can rise above and take those same guitar chords that everyone else is using and force listeners into thinking they've never heard them before.

Suggestions: Keep evolving as a band, even though visa issues have forced some former members to return to Tokyo (definitely a first for YAFI). 

Toybox did something that not much YAFI submitters have done -- they had a professional looking CD that, upon being entered into my computer, showed its song titles in Gracenote. I cannot stress enough how important this can be towards the listening pleasure of an album. Seeing "Set Me Free" and "Straight to Your Heart" show up instead of "Track 1" and "Track 7" is an immeasurable commodity.

Grade: B-

Bonus Fun Fact: J-pop extraordinaire Jonathan McNamara wrote a post for Toybox and their upcoming tour. This should come as a shock to no one.

If you're a musician from the Phoenix metro area and would like to have your music reviewed in You Asked For It (our first-come, first-served and often harsh record review column) please send it in an envelope marked "YAFI" to


Michael Lopez
You Asked For It
c/o Phoenix New Times
1201 E. Jefferson Street Phoenix , AZ 85002

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