|The Tontons — Make Out King and Other Stories of Love (2014)|
The Tontons — Make Out King and Other Stories of Love
•→ “Today’s not that day, I’m not that girl.” Asli Omar
•→ “The tracks on Make Out King and Other Stories of Love are truly interesting, and differentiate the band from their peers. This is weirdly wonderful and blissfully unlike anything else you will listen to. Discover them before everyone else does.”
Location: Houston, Texas
Album release: 18 February 2014
Record Label: self released
01. Magic Hour 3:02
02. Pony 3:50
03. So Tired 2:52
04. Veida 4:20
05. Kidd Cemetery 3:31
06. Paradise 3:31
07. Wild Kind 3:46
08. Bones 1 3:42
09. Lonely 3:28
10. Bones 2 4:07
11. Ruins 4:11
℗ 2014 The Tontons LLC
Asli Omar: Singer
Adam Martinez: guitarist
Tom Nguyen: bassist
Justin Martinez: drummer
Asli Omar of Houston indie rockers The Tontons. © Harrison Funk
•→ Produced, Mixed and Engineered by David Boyle
•→ Recorded in Austin, TX at ChurchHouse Studios (June — November 2013)
•→ Mastered by Brian Lucey of Magic Garden Mastering
•→ Art by EYESORE.
•→ Design / Coloring by Richard Ramirez II
•→ Photography by Julie Worsham
•→ All Songs Written and Performed by The Tontons.
•→ "Veida" and "Paradise" Written by The Tontons and David Boyle
•→ Additional Guitar by Andrew Lee on "'Magic Hour" and "Kidd Cemetery"
•→ Keyboards and Synths by David Boyle
•→ Assistant Engineering by Josh Johnson, Dave Huffman and Shelton Blackbird
•→ The Tontons' most anticipated and cohesive release to date, ''Make Out King and Other Stories of Love''. Listen to the chronicle and result of 3 years of hard touring band and the tribulations of love and life. Produced by Dave Boyle (Black Joe Lewis, Iron & Wine) at ChurchHouse Studios in Austin, TX. Master by Brian Lucey of Magic Garden Mastering (The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys). One of The New York Times' most anticipated Texas releases of 2014.
•→ The Houston, TX-based group of four released their new album, Make Out King and Other Stories of Love, in February 2014, and it’s definitely not a release to be missed. Full of soulful vocals and a dreamy, sunshine-filled vibe, The Tontons have created a hypnotic work of art that is impossible to ignore.
•→ The opening track, “Magic Hour,” gently catches the listener with a minimal, repetitive use of drums. This careful instrumentation highlights Asli Omar’s unforgettable vocals, which are truly without comparison — expect perhaps an indie, edgy version of Adele, though even that statement doesn’t manage to capture the dangerous loveliness that is Omar’s voice. “Pony” successfully builds upon the expertly controlled rhythm established in the opener. The sound blooms and unfolds with the help of layered vocals and a jazzy, soul-infused rock vibe. It is a very mature, realized song, though “Pony” still manages to feel laidback and effortless. The bolder guitar riffs on the bridge are particularly nice and add a spicy contrast. In the span of only two songs, it becomes very evident that something about what The Tontons have created is very mesmerizing, inducing soft body-swaying and closing eyelids. It is peaceful, but still buzzing with life.
•→ “So Tired” reaches for a slower, dreamier feel with precisely strummed guitar notes and the extremely appealing vocals the listener has come to expect. It is very easy to get lost in this album’s vocals that are so like a summer haze, or its gleaming guitar chords and simple, but unique, rhythmic beats. The tracks bleed and blend together, but in this instance, it works. It feels appropriate and enticing, not like the drawing-out of similar ideas. But then comes “Veida,” opening with stronger rock-based guitar riffs and a bolder, deeper vocal performance. This track is quicker and stronger than the previous ones, the first to demonstrate a truly direct, overt rise in tone from the verses to the chorus. Even though it is incorporating different musical ideas, the new elements seamlessly blend with the soft, dreamy feel The Tontons have established, while simultaneously picking up the pace and adding another textural layer to the album. The repetition of “I need you / I’ve gotta feel something” is simple, heartfelt and genuine.
•→ Even more mesmerizing guitar work opens “Kidd Cemetery,” though the overall sound has slowed down again and the rhythm is a little more complex. This track helps reestablish the centerpiece of this group’s sound: aching, wistful vocals and hypnotic beats, allowing the album a chance to almost check itself and reevaluate. Something about this track feels like the sleepy days of high summer, though The Tontons are still recognizing the crisp and sometimes bittersweet approach of fall. The tropical, bright vibe of “Paradise” follows, with more prominent guitar work, like that seen in “Veida,” that adds a zing to the track. A very realized piece, aided by Omar’s richly-textured vocals which lend the song (and the entire album) a certain note of sophistication, “Paradise” still feels carefree and easy.
•→ The beginning instrumentation of “Wild Kind” is like a Hawaiian sunset of music. •→ This track goes for a slower, easier beat than “Paradise,” making its essence more in line with “Pony.” The rhythm is blends smoothly with the rest of the album. “Bones 1” follows, opening with an exciting, guitar-based idea and a quickly rising beat, a nice antithesis to the prior track. “Bones 1” helps showcase The Tontons’ power over rhythm and mood. The group has a capability to throw a significant amount of musical devices at the listener without it ever becoming overwhelming or messy.
•→ The emotional landscape of “Lonely” is just as one would expect from the title. •→ The track is wistful, soulful and utterly desolate in the best way possible. Only the guitar accompanies Omar’s vocals for the beginning of the song — a master move. The fact “Lonely” is devoid of The Tontons’ usual playful rhythms speaks volumes; in this case, taking away something said more than an addition ever could. When the beat does fall in, it is intimate and minimal, eventually falling away completely towards the end. “Bones 2”has a particularly raw, emotional feel, and Omar proves her vocal excellence ten times over. The song also demonstrates the sunshine-y, hazy feel that this group has undeniably mastered.
•→ “Ruins,” the last track on the album, lacks that injection of pure sunshine and blue skies, which is perfectly fine, as instead The Tontons are creating a lusher, moodier, darker atmosphere. Positively beautiful from the get-go, “Ruins” is open-hearted and fully realized. Lyrics like “I’ll be ruins if you stay / though I want you close / I’ll push you away” reflect the breezy simplicity that is so integral to the album’s style. Make Out King and Other Stories of Love is truly a breath of fresh air, far from overwrought or flashy. In fact, The Tontons’ latest release is the exact opposite. It feels as though it could not have possibly been written or engineered or produced at all, but instead simply fell into being one afternoon.
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•→ I’m going to let you in on a little secret: you should get to know The Tontons before everyone else does. The release of Make Out King and Other Stories of Love could be the moment they break a little bit wider than their already growing fanbase. •→ The Tontons are very interesting from a musical for one huge reason: I have no ready mainstream comparison to what this Texas-based quartet is doing in this time and with this record. Strains of classic soul mix with rock, pop, shoegaze, folk and blues to produce a sort of magic that sounds like everything and nothing else all at once.
•→ Much of the credit for that can be given to the chameleon-like quality of singer Asli Omar’s unique vocal style, which is steeped in a sultry blend of R&B/jazz/rock loveliness. It’s fierce and feathery; smooth and tough. But Omar doesn’t work in a vacuum, and her instrument is one of many that The Tontons have going for them. •→ Bassist Tom Nguyen, guitarist Adam Martinez and drummer Justin Martinez lay the intricate groundwork that with a confidence and sense of purpose that allows for Omar to experiment and lift the already-solid arrangements and instrumentation higher.
•→ “Magic Hour” opens the album and sets the stage, providing a glimpse into what’s to come; a chance to get your bearings and open your mind and ears up a bit. But when “Pony” begins, it’s clear that the first track is far from an anomaly. There is such a pleasing quality to the harmonies that take center stage on this song, a velvet-tinged texture that ebbs and flows in a truly unique pattern. “Veida,” one of the lead tracks on this record, drives with an urgent rhythmic presence that punches at the edges of the Tontons’ sound, and that extra push pays off. It’s one of those tunes that feels radio-ready but completely unconventional at the same time.
•→ It’s the entrancing “Kidd Cemetery,” however, that truly hooked me into this album. This is one of those songs that’s buried deeply into the folds of where the myriad of influences converges; it’s a little bit twisted and tortured, but feels honest and organic. It’s also a little less straightforward than some of the other tunes, and piques my interest with the creative potential it implies. It’s a little bit weirder, like the mesmerizing “Wild Kind.” They meander a little bit, and not in a self-aggrandizing way or an annoying jam band or bizarre-as-fuck mopey shoegaze moment. They are still true to who they are, while venturing off the reservation a bit.
•→ Which makes the ultra-catchy “Bones 1” and blues-drenched “Bones 2” all the more interesting; flipping the switch to what can only be described as two pure and perfect rock and roll moments complete with classic guitar riffs and a wonderful vocal turn by Omar. The dreamy “Ruins” closes the album with an appropriately off-kilter lullaby that lets you down easy after taking you on the journey that is uniquely thrust upon you from this quartet.
•→ The Tontons are clearly channeling all of their musical influences in harmony as a group; it’s true that Asli Omar is a magnetic force to be reckoned with. Her fierceness is felt on every track and it’s a performance that must be insanely rewarding as a listener in a live setting. The tracks on Make Out King and Other Stories of Love are truly interesting, and differentiate the band from their peers. This is weirdly wonderful and blissfully unlike anything else you will listen to. Discover them before everyone else does. (http://www.indie-music.com/)
FROM STAFF REPORTS | Tuesday, February 18, 2014 11:27 am | Up: 4:31 pm, Thu Feb 27, 2014.
•→ Houston indie-rockers The Tontons, whose new album “Make Out King and Other Stories of Love” was just released this week, performed last Friday night at Austin’s legendary Stubb’s on the outdoor stage Friday night.
•→ SPIN magazine calls the group's new album, which was produced and mixed at Austin's Church House Studios, “40 minutes of natural charisma and steamy hooks.”
•→ Dave Boyle, who has worked with the likes of Iron and Wine, Okkervill River and Robert Plant, produced "Make Out King."
•→ The Tontons lead singer Asli Omar explains "'Make Out King' is more than just an album to us. It's 3 years of growth and change. It's touring across America. It's playing in places that we never thought we would see. It's our story and we hope that, for everyone who takes the time to listen, it will become part of their story too."
•→ Performing over 300 shows over the past three years, the relentlessly gigging band's new release represents their shared journey — from playing dive bars to now playing major festivals like Fun Fun Fun Fest, The Hangout Fest, Canada's Pop Montreal, CMJ Music Marathon and SXSW.
•→ The band is set to perform as an official artist at this year's SXSW in Austin and just landed gigs at many of summer's largest music festivals including Firefly Music Festival, Free Press Summer Fest and Texas Crawfish Festival. (http://www.hillcountrynews.com/)
EMMA GUIDO, on 24 January, 2014 at 00:27; Score: 7.5
|The Tontons — Make Out King and Other Stories of Love (2014)|