by Robert Bell
Wooden Toys is a Conway outfit that used to be called Hoop Dreams. The group plays dreamy, reverb-heavy pop that weaves together '90s staples like The Cardigans and Yo La Tengo with more current influences such as Vivian Girls and Real Estate, both of which the group mentioned in a recent "Hendrix Spotlight" video. Vocalist Lira Mondal is a trained singer. Her beautiful voice sounds by turns clear and strong, delicate and coolly unaffected. "In The Shade" recalls some of the sublimely mope-tastic college bands of yore, like The Sundays and Galaxie 500.