Chaz Bundick, or better known as Toro y Moi, came out with a new full-length release last Tuesday called June 2009. Bundick has been making music under the Toro y Moi guise since the same year, releasing a slew of EPs and two full-length records. Upon the release of his first LP Causers of This, critics and bloggers alike roped Chaz’s gazey, laid-back electro sound into the new buzz-word genre “chillwave”, alongside similar artists like Neon Indian and Washed Out. But Bundick has made it clear to us that his music and talent goes a lot deeper than the “chillwave” sound: his second full-length Underneath the Pine is a collection of smart, crisp pop tunes that feature Chaz on a menagerie of live instruments, and his most recent EP Freaking Out is an open love-letter to late-70s disco nostalgia.
With June 2009, Toro shows us even more versatility in his sound. The album is not comprised of new material, but is instead a compilation of older recordings that Bundick made around the time indicated by the title. While still retaining the sound of other Toro y Moi releases, the songs cover a much wider stylistic landscape. The first half of the record is a collection of lo-fi garage-pop tracks that sound as if they’re reaching your ears through the walls of a basement or a broken cassette deck. Chaz’s falsetto vocals meander half-ironically over crunchy guitar hooks, fuzzed-out bass lines, and rumbling drums. There’s no trace of the mesmerizing production quality, precise drum programming, and swirling soundscapes of the past Toro releases in these tracks; the music has been stripped naked and spit out with an honest simplicity.
Half way through the album, the mood changes drastically with the soft, emotive “New Loved Ones”— a rare moment for Chaz on just acoustic guitar and vocals that float upwards with dizzying reverberation. After this brief intermission, the album dives back into Toro’s roots with alternate versions of tracks from Causers of This (including a disorienting, ambient intro to a “Freak Love” remix), some hazy synth-pop cuts that sound like warped 80′s disco records, and a few nods to the West coast beat scene (a la Flying Lotus, Baths, etc).
June 2009 essentially offers a survey of the early years of Chaz Bundick’s recording career while giving us a rare insight into the composer/producer/performer’s musical mind. The release may not form a logically constructed whole as a record, but it can be appreciated as a a sort of road map for Toro y Moi’s sound, and a puzzle of clues to what we can expect from Chaz in the future. If there is one general observation that you can draw out of this disparately-presented record, it is that the music is unmistakably the art of one man with his ears in very different worlds of sound.
Check out “109″, one of the album’s more catchy garage tunes below:
Rummaging through the Pop Vinyl Vaults at WOBC, I came across a nondescript cardboard-brown record that donned artwork limited to two banana-like people walking hand-in-hand. On the back of the record, in scrawled hand writing, it reads static into the one you are singing, a ghostly message that I can only presume to be the title of the album. The elusive production all comes from a band called Ghostcloud, a New York City based quartet whose media representation is limited to a purevolume account on which they have zero friends and one fan.
Ghostcloud remains a mystery.
Yet, the music itself is familiar. It uncannily sounds like a band called TKSH from my high school, a surprisingly sophisticated, but understated attempt at angsty folk/punk. So naturally, Ghostcloud makes me nostalgic. It makes me think of sweet New Jersey, angst, and my own adolescent dream in becoming the teendream rock-chick of my generation. Static into the one you are singing is by no means a perfect album. Ghostcloud sporadically makes mistakes while playing the guitar, and volumes are horribly mixed, yet I can’t stop listening. The music is earnest and draws me in. All the tracks are unnamed, but I genuinely like the one that goes like “doo doo doo.” I kid. Seriously, the best track is on the record’s B-Side, a 5ive minute acoustic guitar of repetition and vague vocals. I urge you to take a step into the WOBC vaults and explore. There is so much music to be found. And next time you’re in the “G” section, check out Ghostcloud.
There’s that new, cool thing where a bunch of girls get together and get really weird and have seances and ouija their songs lyrics and only listen to Sisters of Mercy and The Pandoras for like 4-6 weeks straight and start wearing purple lipstick on one lip and black on the other and just sort of have all their shit figured out for a brief moment in their lives. Maybe the line is becoming more defined because way more girls have picked up on it, but Trophy Wife totally have their collective shit together. Their label says they sound something like a civil war era punk band, but they go one step further. They pick up on the crucial next step in pop music. The past few years has sort of been a shit-show — witch-house, chillwave, dub-gaze — and Trophy Wife seems to understand what needs to come next. They’re a more vicious Grimes, or a more intense Mika Miko, but they move beyond comparisons. Disjointed, freakish but so cohesive, they deprive the listener in an controlled way. They’re not exactly extremists, but they’re here to ween us off of the tepid pop we’ve been exposed to, while moving us in a new and exciting direction.
Much anticipated indeed, our-little-radio-station-that-could has acquired Brooklyn-based Widowspeak’s self-titled debut album. Released last August, this quirky group self-identifies as ‘grunge’ (at least on their bandcamp and myspace pages). Though this term is two decades removed from its heyday, Widowspeak spins and inverts this past score of musical-years in on itself. What we wind up with with Widowspeak is calm and sultry, strolling and serious, heaving and ghostly. Off of the label Captured Tracks, this two guys/ one girl team give us short little energy-pick-ups, ten of them. Perfect maybe for a summer drive, barbeque, or a radio show near you :D. Singer/ songerwriter/ heartthrob Molly Hamilton gives us a lot of nice vowel sounds, each one of them, right alongside each other. It makes for some really nice phonetic exercises in track seven, titled Hard Times. Just dip your head in the water of this lyric, again and again, ‘Hard Times, oooouhhhooooh;. The stretch of ‘Ovugghhr and ovugghhr’ (over and over) is sheer delight. Behind is some light guitar rifs and a pretty chill drum set. Oh the reverb.
Track 2 (Harsh Realm) sets the mood as a reflection on a past lover. The lyrics again repeat (I alwaaays think about you), as the instrumental parts deepen us into inevitable twists and plot-turns of relationships. It leaves all sorts of gaps to be filled, where the listener can insert their autobiography. Track 5 (Limbs) provides more narrative access, a little sob story on top of some finger-pricking and guitar with some developing moans and airy voice in the back. “So he told me, sink or swim, I did what he said, went underwater instead, everything looks the same, everything looks the same.” Quite Melodic and Contemplative. The album continues much along these, with nice transitions of fast and slow, familiar and unfamiliar. Let’s give it a nice warm welcome, WOBC.
Track List: Widowspeak – S/T
2. Harsh Realm
4. In the Pines
6. Gun Shy
7. Hard Times
8. Fir Coat
9. Half Awake
10. Ghost Boy
Look at these chill bros. I would be delighted to bro out with them, given the opportunity. Wouldn't you?
If you think that Australia’s Pond sounds a lot like Tame Impala, you have good reason: 3/4 of Pond is Tame Impala. But while Tame Impala’s vibe is reverb-soaked and megastony, Pond’s sound is more straight-forward classic rock. On “Elegant Design,” the standout track from the brand-new Beards, Wives, Denim, Pond shows that they’re more than Tame Impala sans washes of reverb. With straight, groovy drums and a falsetto chorus, these Aussies have created an incredibly catchy song that wears its 70s influences on its sleeves. Even with the King Crimson-esque breakdown at the end, Pond still manages to sound fresh and relevant.
As the guitars screech to conclude a low-fi and more angsty version of Weezer’s “Undone,” Eric Harm, the lead singer of Titus Andronicus, taunts the crowd with dark images of our generation: “Think about what you want our generation to be remembered for. Shouldn’t be pictures of some dude doing cocaine in a warehouse bathroom. This is all we’re going to have left after we’re gone: just pictures of us acting like morons. Think about it.” Interpret that however you will, but one thing is clear: this band is out to make a statement.
In 23 tracks Titus Andronicus does these things:
–> Covers Weezer, The Velvet Underground, Thin Lizzy, The Clash, Television Personalities and The Replacements
–> Releases a new track, “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape With the Flood of Detritus,” which will be on their next studio album
–> Releases 5 demo tracks of previously released material, including a really sweet acoustic demo of “My Time Outside the Womb”
4 live tracks
The mixtape works in so many different directions that it transcends the modern idea of a mixtape. It wasn’t even released online for publicity, but instead, the New Jersey rockers made 200 copies of the mixtape and sold them at their SXSW show for a small collection of doll hairs. Then the bloggers got a hold of it, started tapping away, and since it’s release last month, it has gone pretty viral on the indie-rock-grunge blogosphere. The result is something unique and reveals the accessible side of the band.
“Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape With the Flood of Detritus” is a clear standout on the mixtape. It’s the only newly released track, and even among the classic tunes like “The Boys Are Back in Town” and “Undone (The Sweater Song),” the new track holds its own.
More oddities. More bizarre sounds to enrich your cultural heritage in some fashion: this time we go in the realm of the cerebral. Drone, repetition, relaxation music, for the really rainy days of spring/future-summer.