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 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.
Tōth | Practice Magic and Seek
Professional Help When Necessary
F8010 | May 10th 2019 | DIG & LP
"A talent goldmine"
Bob Boilen, NPR
"One of the least complacent songwriters around"
Gorilla vs Bear
"Drifting, dreamy songwriting [...] a beautiful, sighing return, reminiscent of Cocteau Twins"
"Alex Toth presents heart-breaking vulnerability"
The Line Of Best Fit
"Practice Magic is pretty, playful and poignant […] a gorgeous pop record."
Gold Flake Paint
"Beautifully insular pop with experimental tendencies and lots of shimmer"
"When I Awoke' is one of the album's key emotional and aesthetic moments, a point where Tōth emerges blinking into the light."