May 10, 2019
1. Down For the Count
2. Song to Make You Fall in Love With Me
3. No Reason
5. Picture of You
6. Funny Business
7. When I Awoke
8. Guts to Fly
10. Blessing Song
ABOUT THE RELEASE
In July 2016, Alex Toth was recovering from a broken foot and a broken heart, stuck in his fourth-floor apartment in Brooklyn with cast and crutches. This is where Tōth’s “achingly beautiful” debut album, Practice Magic and Seek Professional Help When Necessary, was born.
A few months earlier, Alex and his Rubblebucket cofounder and love of more than eleven years had “consciously uncoupled,” after a period of helping each other through devastating challenges—ovarian cancer and alcoholism, depression and crippling anxiety. It was a separation rooted in profound respect, marked by matching stick-and-poke tattoos, and followed by a continuing, fruitful creative partnership.
In the wake of the breakup, Alex—a nocturnal wind-up dance toy who only sometimes winds down (he has worn a nicotine patch for four years straight with no exit plan)—was lightning-struck by sadness. “Almost convalescent” at times, in his words, though rarely still. A fiercely dedicated jazz trumpeter by training, Alex is always playing. More importantly, he is always, always writing. And that spring, in the midst of dance parties and silent meditations, rooftop smokes and intense crying jags, a new kind of music started to come. Raw, stripped-down songs unfurling in the middle of the night without agenda, bent over an acoustic guitar. It never occurred to Alex that he was making an album.
The idea sprouted later that spring when he was co-directing a David Bowie tribute with his friend Kimbra—after hearing some of his new songs, she strongly encouraged Alex to turn them into a record, an idea he brushed off at first (they went on to co-write “Down for the Count” on the album). But it solidified in June 2016, when Alex was onstage with his punk project, Alexander F, and broke his foot. Stuck there in his apartment all summer, through practice, solitude, and a lot of silence, Tōth came to life.
Practice Magic and Seek Professional Help When Necessary, due May 10, 2019 from Figureight Records (UK/Europe) and Northern Spy Records (worldwide), is a self-help guide unlike any other—a breakup album before wholeness, but after anger. Where you might expect to find bitterness, there’s “Blessing Song”; where you might expect to find blame, there’s “Copilot” (this, Tōth’s first single, landed to instant acclaim in fall 2018, with a spot on NPR’s top songs of 2018). The album turns as it goes, through “lush, windswept sonics” (Gorilla Vs. Bear), bebop trumpet solos, and spare folk guitar, recalling the shimmery harmonies of the Beach Boys in one bar and the vocal touch of Arthur Russell in the next. Years of meditation have given Alex a Taoist farmer’s aptitude for hitting walls and finding windows. For remembering and letting go—and discovering what magic remains.