"This eponymous album ranks among the most auspicious debuts I’ve heard so far this year." —Jeff Burger, No Depression, August 2015
"I’d tell Chris Toppin to move to Nashville and make a million bucks penning tunes for country starlets, but I’m too selfish — I want her songs and voice here in Boston. Not even Miranda Lambert would know what to do with such a scorching murder ballad (rave up?) as Love Love’s “Murderpedia.” With fellow singer and songwriter Jefferson Davis, Toppin mines rootsy rock ’n’ roll (from Nashville to Neil Young) on Love Love’s EP, out now. When not doing homicide centered songs, the pair and their backing band twang, pick and power chord their way through six strong tracks. Both have serious writing chops (as fans of past projects Ex-Girlfriends and Fuzzy know), but it’s when they tag team vocals that the EP shines brightest — spin “Maryland” first. —Jed Gottlieb, The Boston Globe, September 2014
"Sometimes Chris Toppin starts singing, and I disappear down the rabbit hole with her voice. She can whiskey rasp through an Americana ballad or fly her vocals high and pretty over a big brass section. To my delight, she does both on Love Love’s eponymous debut LP. “Love Love” marks the return of Toppin after a too-long, post-Fuzzy hiatus. She’s back with that voice and some ace tunes — murder ballad “Murderpedia,” classic country gem “Lost Battle.” But let’s not forget herLove Love partner, singer and crack songwriter Jefferson Davis Riordan. When the pair tag-team a sweet melody (such as “Big Backyard Moon” or “Winter Changes Everything”), the results are astounding." —Jed Gottlieb, May 2015
"They have the ability to transport you to a time before Twitter, Facebook, and the five second attention span—when you would just put an album on your record player and listen to the whole thing, a few times around." —Scott, 50thirdand3rd
“...stick in the sweet spot where twangy heartache and intelligent pop co-mingle.” —Noah Schaffer, The Arts Fuse
"It starts off simply enough with a basic guitar/bass/drums mix, and then slowly becomes more lush as extra instruments get added. It's an ideal blend of the mid 90s Boston scene and the contemporary country/folk revival." —If It's Too Loud...
"Boston band with JP ties, is debuting the video for their song “I Like You Weird” here on Jamaica Plain News. The tune’s a candidate for neighborhood anthem." —Chris Helms, Jamaica Plain News
"When an album is so rich in its delivery that you cannot help but fall in love with it on your first listen and then throw the day completely out of the window as you go through each track several times and discussing with anyone that will listen about the finer aspects of the story-telling and narrative structure that would put many novels to shame. " —Ian D. Hall, Liverpool Sound and Vision
"Big Backyard Moon" is pretty and I love it, but when the song kicks in, it gets even better, with a good country rock vibe. This is a song to make you feel good. And then suddenly the horns come in, taking the song up another notch. This is a wonderful song." —Michael Doherty's Music Log
"Reconstructed 90s Boston alt.crew comes back with the sound and fury of the time is in tact, even if tempered in to a folk rock kind of power chord Americana." —Midwest Record
"I was intensely curious on listening to the band's sound and finding things to marvel over that will hopefully lead to a lasting impression of the group." —Music Box Pete
"Love Love is the sound of two extremely talented singer-songwriters, joining together in life and music, to create songs that bring out the best in both artists. The set focused largely on the new release and the chemistry between bandmates was evident right from the start." —Ryan Doyon, Music Savage
“This release is truly sui generis (unique). Highly recommended.” —Francis DiMenno, The Noise
"LOVE LOVE is a terrific introduction to the vast talents of Chris Toppin. She has that instantly trustworthy voice that seems to deliver nothing but truisms that speak directly to the soul. Along with equally talented singer and songwriter Jefferson Davis Riordan, she swaps the vocals and points of view. It is a dream tag-team duo. —Greg Victor, Parcbench.
“Love Love makes a bold statement with folksy rock melodies, husky vocals and intricate storytelling. Their greatest strength lies in their songwriting.” —Kate Dennis-Skillings, Performer Magazine
"I tend to base my reviews on albums on whether or not I feel the need to skip any songs, if it caused any foot tapping/head nodding/general body response, and if I absolutely fell in love with it and wanted to play it on repeat. I most definitely did not skip any of the songs and was jamming out at my desk the entire time." —Audra Elizabeth Yenny, Red Dirt Report
"Singer-songwriters Chris Toppin and Jefferson Davis Riordan have established their credentials in various bands over the years. Perhaps that’s why their debut sounds so potent and fully-formed." —Mayer Danzig, Twangville
Recorded in Boston at Q Division and Squid Hell Studios, LOVE LOVE is the band’s first full-length studio album. LOVE LOVE fully represents the band’s musical and lyrical scope, with beautiful harmonies, complex arrangements, and engaging songwriting.
Formed in 2013, LOVE LOVE is the sound of two extremely talented singer-songwriters, joining together in life and music, to create songs that bring out the best in both artists. The debut is a lush, often darkly passionate mix of vocal-and-lyric-driven ’60s and ’70s-inspired rock, with two lead voices blending beautifully.
The core of LOVE LOVE is Chris Toppin on lead and backing vocals, acoustic and bass guitar; Jefferson Davis Riordan on lead and backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitar and drums, and Darren Ray on lead guitar. LOVE LOVE, the record also boasts many guest musicians from the rich Boston music scene and often adds a horn section and pedal steel to the mix.
Chris Toppin was co-founder of the 1990’s successful rock band, Fuzzy that were signed to Atlantic Records and toured extensively with The Lemonheads, Belly, and Dinosaur Jr. After taking a decade off to raise her children, Toppin rejoined the music scene while volunteering and becoming inspired by Girls Rock Camp Boston. “(They) gave me the courage to take the risk and leave my 9-5 job and start doing music again,” she said. “The past few years, I’ve had a transformation because of them. I owe them a lot.”
Toppin and Jefferson Davis Riordan (Evelyn Swoons, The Almightys) knew each other from singing back-up vocals and drumming, respectively, for others for years. She discovered that Riordan wrote and sang when he asked her to sing back up on one of his own songs. Fond of reflective love songs and murder ballads, Toppin and Riordan share songwriting credits for 13 of the 14 songs on the album.
A LOVE LOVE Story
After you spend a lifetime writing songs and playing in rock bands, and taking time out to raise a family, perhaps you should just be content indulging your “hobby” on weekends, occasionally pulling out your guitar from under the bed to entertain friends with well-worn classics or nostalgia-soaked pleasers. Maybe that’s what you’re supposed to do.
But Chris Toppin and Jefferson Davis Riordan just couldn’t do that. Not after meeting each other anyway. Realizing an immediate and extraordinary chemistry, the two friends and sometime bandmates set about writing some of the best material of their careers, working first in Chris’s basement and then, eventually, in their own studio. Along the way they became more than friends, and the band they created, LOVE LOVE, became the story of their own unfolding love: wonderful, turbulent, problematic, magical. They were both married (to other people) and they both had children. Initially they resisted, but as Chris likes to say, eventually, “the universe had its way,” and they were pulled into each other.
LOVE LOVE and its eponymous debut album is a lush, often darkly passionate mix of vocal-and-lyric-driven ’60s and ’70s-inspired rock, with two lead voices blending beautifully.
The band’s name reflects their musical inspirations, as well as the dualistic notion of love as both a saving grace and a dark passion. When pressed for style and genre, Toppin and Riordan say simply, “It’s rock.” But it is the undeniable blend of their two voices that distinguishes them. That, and their songwriting. “Both have serious writing chops,” writes Jed Gottlieb of The Boston Herald. Unlike many of their musical generation, Riordan and Toppin are not comfortable simply reeling in the years. Though fond of their youthful, angst-fueled days, they are comfortable in their own skins and are very happy producing a more mature and complex version of their alt/indie ethos. This is “not your father’s indie-rock,” writes Francis DiMenno of The Noise. Sitting nicely with acts like The Head and the Heart, The Lumineers, and Neil Young, LOVE LOVE also has an experimental side, as well as the determination to just write the best songs possible, whatever they may be. “Hits and risks, that’s our motto,” says Riordan.
They are fond of reflective love songs and murder ballads—“intricate storytelling…something for any listener,” writes Performer Magazine; “a captivating folk storytelling style,” says Twangville. But they also have a fun, playful side, as well as an undeniable desire to rock! The core of the band is Riordan and Toppin, along with their guitarist Darren Ray. This version of the group is dynamic in its own right. But when the full LOVE LOVE is unfolded (which includes a horn section and occasional pedal steel), the scope of their writing and arranging capacity is realized.
Before LOVE LOVE
From Baltimore, Jefferson has been a drummer, singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer for numerous groups in the Boston and New York areas for more than twenty years including Evelyn Swoons and Mouth Almighties.
In the 1980s Chris played bass guitar in the all-female band The Ex-Girlfriends, opening for acts like Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Ramones. In the 1990s she co-founded the indie rock band Fuzzy, who signed with Atlantic Records, released two critically acclaimed international albums and toured extensively with The Lemonheads, Belly, and Dinosaur Jr.
Despite all these accomplishments, however, Chris did not fully recognize her abilities until years later, after joining Girls Rock Campaign Boston (GRCB) as a voice, guitar, and songwriting instructor. The opportunity to impart her knowledge and love of music by working with an organization that builds self-esteem in girls through music education was ideal.
released October 16, 2015
All songs written by Riordan/Toppin
© 2015, LennyMOOsic, ASCAP
Except: “Bright Morning Stars,” trad.
Horn arrangements: Riordan/Gelb/Weller/Israel.
Produced by: LOVE LOVE
Additional production from: Dave Locke, Ed Valauskas, Eric Schmider, Matt Tahaney.
Executive Producers: Jefferson Davis Riordan & Chris Toppin
Cover painting: Brian Tracy
Design & logo: Nicole Anguish / Nicole Anguish Daykamp
Photography: Tony Sahadeo
Chris Toppin: lead & backing vocals, acoustic guitar, bass guitar tracks 3, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13.
Jefferson Davis Riordan: lead & backing vocals, electric & acoustic guitar, drums tracks 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13; keyboards & percussion.
Darren Ray: lead guitar
Jonathan Ulman: drums tracks 1, 4, 5, 6, 8.
Eric Schmider: bass guitar tracks 4, 5, 12; lead guitar track 11; rhythm guitar & backing vocals track 2.
Aaron Gelb: tenor sax tracks 3, 4, 7, 11.
Cale Israel: trombone tracks 3, 11.
Ezra Weller: trumpet tracks 3, 4, 7, 11.
Russell Chudnofsy: lead & slide guitar tracks 2, 12.
Winston Braman: bass guitar tracks 1, 6, 8.
Joe Klompus: bass guitar track 2.
Matt Tahaney: percussion tracks 4, 5.
Recorded & mixed at Q-Division Studios, Somerville, MA, Squid Hell Studios, Jamaica Plain, MA, & Zippah Studios, Brighton, MA, U.S.A. between October 2013 and April 2015.
Matt Tahaney: Recorded tracks 1, 6, 8 @ Q-Division.
Mixed tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13 @ Q-Division.
Dave Locke: Recorded tracks 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11 @ Squid Hell.
Archie Miller assisted with track 11.
Brian Charles: Recorded tracks 7, 13 @ Zippah.
Eric Schmider: Recorded track 12; overdubs tracks 2, 7, 10, 13 @ Squid Hell.
Dicky Spears: Recorded track 2 @ Squid Hell.
Mastered by Dave Locke.
Special thanks to Eric Schmider, Dave Locke, Dicky Spears, Ed Valauskas and everyone at Q-Division Studios, Charlie McEnerney, Tony Sahadeo, Adrian Bull, The Midway, & Billy Beard.
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