Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I dug what drummer Chris Fugitt brought to Totimoshi on the band’s last album, 2011′s Avenger (review here), and apparently the band did too, since even though he moved halfway across the country, founders Tony Aguilar and Meg Castellanos haven’t completely parted ways with him. Still, time and gigs march on, so with new part-timer Derrick Hostetter, Totimoshi will be headlining tomorrow night at the Silverlake Lounge.
Details and badass poster follow, courtesy of the PR wire:
TOTIMOSHI Inducts New Drummer
New Live Actions Begin Via Headlining LA Show This Thursday
Los Angeles-based desert rock trio TOTIMOSHI has revamped its lineup and will break in the new blood this week at a special hometown show.
Following the their latest LP, Avenger — released in 2011 via At A Loss Recordings — TOTIMOSHI has been on somewhat of a live hiatus for the past year or so due to the partial departure of drummer Chris Fugitt. While Chris remains in the band’s official lineup, he now lives halfway across the country, so the band’s founding members — bassist Meg Castellanos and vocalist/guitarist Tony Aguilar — have recruited additional drummer Derrick Hostetter in the interim. Having played and toured in Illinois punk bands in the 90’s, and having formed and played in various electronic bands in the Peoria area, Hostetter relocated to the West Coast, recording three albums with San Francisco-based band Cast Of Thousands, two records with The Bruises and Seeking Empire, as well as LA-based hardcore act Bough Breaks.
TOTIMOSHI will perform live with Derrick for the first time this Thursday, March 14th at a hometown headlining show at the Silverlake Lounge, with support from Gaytheist, Stripper Pussy and Dolphins n Shit.
TOTIMOSHI Live: 3/14/2013 Silverlake Lounge – Los Angeles, CA w/ Gaytheist, Stripper Pussy, Dolphins n Shit
Posted in Features on December 9th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Please note: This list is made up of my personal picks, not the results of the Readers Poll, which is ongoing — if you haven’t added your top 11 to that yet, please do.
It was an impossible task to keep up with everything that came out this year. I’ll say flat out that I didn’t. There are records that I just didn’t get to hear, and I should note at the outset that this list is mine. It’s based on my personal opinions, what I listened to the most this year and what I think 2011′s most crucial releases have been.
I’ve spent the better part of this week (and last, if brain-time counts) constructing this list, and I finally got it to a point where I feel comfortable sharing. Since last December, I’ve kept a Post-It of names, and all year, I’ve logged bands I’d want to consider for the final top 20. In the end, there were 78 bands and more that I didn’t get to write down for whatever reason. 2011 was nothing if it wasn’t overwhelming.
But here we are, anyway, and it’s done. Let’s get to it:
This is nothing if not a sentimental pick. Last year, I put Electric Wizard in the #20 spot because the record wasn’t out yet, and this year, I’m putting Suplecs (interview with bassist Danny Nick here) in just because I couldn’t imagine this list without them. Until literally a few minutes before I clicked “Publish” on this post, there was someone else in this spot, but ultimately, it had to be them. The New Orleans trio’s first record in half a decade wasn’t what I listened to most in 2011, it wasn’t the best album, or the most important, or career-defining, but when it came right down to it, god damn, I was just happy to have Suplecs back. It had been too long.
After a while, I was kind of shocked to find myself continuing to listen to Favourite State of Mind, the second album by Polish rockers Elvis Deluxe. The record’s dynamics didn’t immediately open up to me, but once I dug into the songs, I was wowed by their balance of catchy hooks and substantial-sounding riffs. The album was genre-relevant without being genre-minded, with vocal changes, organ, atmospheric shifts and a whole host of moods and turns. After hearing their 2007 debut, Lazy, I wasn’t expecting much out of the norm from Favourite State of Mind, and I’m still thrilled by just how wrong I was, and “Take it Slow” is among my favorite single songs of the year.
The gloomy opening statement from former Warning guitarist/vocalist Patrick Walker turned heads around the world with its unabashed emotional conviction, which was so much the central focus of the record as to be made a novelty by those who don’t usually consider doom an emotionally relevant genre (the widespread arguments against that notion I’ll leave for another time). What most stood out to me about The Inside Room was how the sentimentality translated into a gorgeous melodic sensibility and resulted in a lonely mood that was engrossing. On that level, it was easily among 2011′s most effective releases. It made you feel what it seemed to be feeling.
It was an album that lived up to its name. Return to Earth marked the remaking of one of heavy rocks most stoned outfits: Acrimony. But, as Sigiriya (interview with drummer Darren Ivey here), the four-piece (down from five) would show that the years since the demise of their former band had found them progressing as musicians, resulting in a sound less directly stoner, more modern, more earthy. The songs, however, were what made it. It’s still a rare day that goes by that I don’t hum at least part of the chorus of “Mountain Goat” to myself, and if Return to Earth was a new beginning for these players, I can’t wait to see where they go next.
In addition to being Totimoshi‘s first album for At a Loss following the end of their deal with Volcom, Avenger was the first Totimoshi record since 2003′s ¿Mysterioso? not to be produced by Page Hamilton, and where 2006′s Ladrón and 2008′s Milagrosa moved away from some of the noisy crunch in the guitar of Tony Aguilar (interview here), Avenger managed to be both a return to form and a progression of the band’s melodicism. It seems, as ever, to have flown under most radars, but Totimoshi continue to refine their songwriting and have become one of the heavy underground’s most formidable and least classifiable bands.
With their 2010 EP release, upstart British trio Grifter informed us that The Simplicity of the Riff is Key, and on their self-titled Ripple Music debut, they put that ethic to excellent use, resulting in straightforward, catchy songs that were as high-octane as they were low-bullshit. The ultra-catchy “Good Day for Bad News” showed Grifter at the top of their form, and with a dose of humor thrown in, Grifter was the drunken stoner rock party you always wanted to be invited to and, of course, finally were. Now if only I could get Skype to work and get that interview with Ollie Stygall moving, I’d be happy to tell him personally he put out one of 2011′s most kickass rock records.
I don’t know what’s most impressive about The Book of Knots‘ Garden of Fainting Stars — the songs themselves or that they were able to make any songs at all. With upwards of 20 guest spots around the core four-piece, the third in a purported trilogy of records from the avant rock originalists was an epic in every listen. Songs like “Microgravity” and the Mike Watt spoken word “Yeager’s Approach” pushed the limits of both genre and expectation, and miraculously, Garden of Fainting Stars was cohesive and enthralling in its narrative aspect. If it really was their last album, it was triumphant in a manner befitting its expanding-universe thematics.
Had it been a full-length, Invisible White would be higher on this list. Many out there who were enamored of Ancestors‘ 2008 Neptune with Fire debut have gone on to bemoan the Californian collective’s shift away from extended sections of heavy riffing and tales of sea monsters and other things that go “doom” in the night. I’m not one of them. The Invisible White EP was a brave step along a fascinating progression, and as Crippled Black Phoenix didn’t release a new album in 2011, I was glad to have Ancestors there to fill that morose, contemplative void, and I look forward to seeing how they expand on the ideas presented on Invisible White (if they decide to stick to this direction) for their next full-length.
Speaking of shifting approaches, still-young Massachusetts trio Elder also moved away from the Sleep-centric methods of their 2008 self-titled debut on the follow-up, Dead Roots Stirring. Still based very much around the guitar work of Nick DiSalvo (interview here), Elder songs like “Gemini” and the über-soloed “The End” pushed an influence of European heavy psych into the band’s aesthetic, and the result was both grippingly heavy and blown of mind. As an album long delayed by mixing and business concerns, when Dead Roots Stirring finally arrived, it was a relief to hear that Elder, though they’d varied the path, were still headed in the right direction.
Hands down the year’s best traditional doom release. The Wretch so gleefully and so earnestly employed the conventions of ’80s-style doom — most especially those of Saint Vitus and Trouble — that even though the lyrical and musical content was miserable, I couldn’t help but smile as I listened. Songs like “Bastards Born” and “The Scovrge ov Drvnkenness” pushed The Gates of Slumber away from the barbarism the Indianapolis outfit had been touting on their last couple albums, including 2008′s Conqueror breakthrough, in favor of a more purely Chandlerian plod. “To the Rack with Them” remains a standout favorite and a line often referenced in my workplace dealings.
I don’t know what you say to someone at this point who doesn’t like Weedeater. It just seems like a terrible way to go through life, without the madman ranting of “Dixie” Dave Collins (interview here) echoing perpetually in your ears, or never having witnessed their ultra-viscous fuzz in person. Jason… the Dragon was one of the earliest landmark releases of 2011, and practically the whole year later, it retains its hold, whether it’s the stomping fury of “Mancoon,” the lumbering groove of “Long Gone” or the surprisingly melodic “Homecoming.” The hard-touring, hard-hitting band did right in recording with Steve Albini to capture their live sound, and Jason… the Dragon was their strongest outing yet in terms of both songwriting and that unmistakable quality that makes Weedeater records Weedeater records.
I was surprised to see Rwake crack the top 10. Not because their first album in four years, the Sanford Parker-produced Rest, wasn’t superb, but because of how much the songs on the album stayed with me after listening. The Arkansas band’s last outing, Voices of Omens, was heavy and dark and had a lot going for it, but Rest upped the songwriting on every level and together with frontman CT (interview here) adopting a more decipherable shout over most of the record’s four main extended tracks, Rwake felt like a band reborn, and theirs was a highlight among several 2011 albums that showed there’s still room for individual growth and stylistic nuance within the sphere of post-metal.
It was back and forth, nine and eight, between Rwake and Hull for a while, but when all was said and done, the fantastic scope of Beyond the Lightless Sky gave the Brooklyn triple-guitar masters the edge. With a narrative structure behind it and a breadth of ambience and crushing, post-doomly riffing, Beyond the Lightless Sky was the defining moment that those who’ve followed Hull since their Viking Funeral demo have been waiting for. In concept, in performance, in sound and structure and heft, it absolutely floored me, and of all the heavy records I’ve heard with the tag applied to them in 2011, Hull‘s second full-length seems most to earn the tag “progressive.” A stunning and groundbreaking achievement.
One of 2011′s most fascinating developments has been the boom in European heavy psychedelia, and the self-titled debut from French band Mars Red Sky was among the best releases to blend a jam-based sensibility with thick, warm fuzz and memorable riffs. Together with the sweet-hued vocals of Julien Pras (interview here), those riffs made for some of the most infectious hooks I heard all year on songs like “Strong Reflection” and “Way to Rome,” and where other bands jammed their way into psychedelic oblivion, Mars Red Sky were able to balance their focus on crafting quality songs, so that although they sounded spontaneous, the material was never self-indulgent or lacking accessibility. One just hopes they don’t lose sight of that musical humility their next time out.
There was a point earlier this year at which I had forgotten about All We Destroy. After reviewing it in March, I simply moved on to the next thing on my list, and the thing after, and the thing after. But before I knew it, in my head was the voice of Jackie Perez Gratz, singing the line “As I live and breathe” over her own cello, the guitar of Max Doyle and Max Doyle‘s drums. It got so persistent that, eventually, I went out and bought the record, because the mp3s I’d been given to review simply weren’t enough. That was probably July, and I don’t think I’ve gone a week since without listening to Grayceon. So although I classify it in the same league as Rwake and Hull in terms of what it accomplishes in and for its genre, All We Destroy gets the extra nod for the fact that I simply haven’t been able to let it go. And though I’ve come to further appreciate “Shellmounds,” “Once a Shadow” and “A Road Less Traveled,” the 17-minute “We Can” — from which the above-noted lyric is taken — remains the best single song I heard in 2011.
On paper, this one should’ve flopped: Band with minor buzz and a cool video hooks up with indie rock dude to record an album of dopey riffs and beardo bombast. Instead, Red Fang‘s second album and Relapse debut became the 2011 vanguard release for the Portland heavy underground, which is arguably the most fertile scene in the US right now. They toured the record widely, and made another killer video for the mega-single “Wires,” but the reason Murder the Mountains is top five material is because it’s lasted. It was February that I reviewed this record, and March that I interviewed guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles, and I still can’t get “Into the Eye” and “Hank is Dead” and “Number Thirteen” (especially the latter) out of my head. When it came down to it, the songs on Murder the Mountains lived up to any hype the album received, and I’m a sucker for quality songwriting. I mean, seriously. That key change late into “Number Thirteen?” It’s the stuff of the gods.
I wasn’t particularly a fan of Swedish rockers Graveyard‘s 2008 self-titled debut. Even watching them at Roadburn in 2010, I was underwhelmed. But when I heard Hisingen Blues and was able to get a feel for what the retro-minded foursome were getting at stylistically — and most of all, that they were acknowledging that they were doing it without being glib or ironic about it — I found the material irresistible. We’re getting into seriously indispensable records now; ones that I’ve been unwilling to leave home without since they came, in, and Graveyard‘s Hisingen Blues has been a constant feature in heavy rotation. Everything from the devilish testimony of the title-track to the wiry guitars of the chorus to “Ungrateful are the Dead,” to the Skynyrd-ified solo capping “Uncomfortably Numb”: It’s been a year of revelry in all of it, and since they overcame my prejudice to impress on such a level, Graveyard (interview with drummer Axel Sjöberg here) are all the more deserving of their spot on this list.
What I hear in the second album from Dutch trio Sungrazer is the heralding of a new generation of fuzz rock. Taking influence from their forebears in Colour Haze and Kyuss, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Rutger Smeets (interview here), bassist/vocalist Sander Haagmans and drummer Hans Mulders followed and surpassed their stellar 2010 debut on every level, playing heavy riffs on expansive psychedelic jams and still finding room for some of 2011′s most memorable choruses in songs like “Sea” and “Goldstrike.” In so doing, Sungrazer affirmed the character of next-gen European fuzz and placed themselves at the fore of their scene, with touring and festival appearances to support. For their warmth of tone and for the fact that I spent the better part of the summer streaming the record through the Dutch website 3voor12, there was no way they were going to be left out of the top 20. It wasn’t until I sat down and actually put the numbers together, though, that I realized how vital Mirador actually was.
I was lucky enough to be sent some rough listening mixes of Ohio outfit Lo-Pan‘s Small Stone Records debut (following a reworked reissue of their Sasquanaut sophomore full-length), and in my email back to label head Scott Hamilton, I told him I thought he had a genuine classic on his hands. A year, I don’t even know how many Lo-Pan gigs and listens through Salvador later, I still feel that way 100 percent. If you were from another planet, and we got to talking at a bar, and you asked me what rock and roll should sound like in the place where I’m from, I’d hand you Salvador. I still think they should’ve started the album with “Generations,” but if that’s my biggest gripe, they’re clearly doing alright. “Bird of Prey” was the best live song I saw all year, and I saw it plenty, and cuts like “Bleeding Out” and “Struck Match” set the standard by which I’ll judge American heavy rock for a long time to come. Like the best of any class, Salvador is bigger than just the year in which it was released, and at this point, I don’t know what else to say about it.
This is as good as it gets, and by “it,” I mean life. YOB‘s last album, 2009′s The Great Cessation, was my album of the year that year as well, and I knew from the second I heard the self-produced Atma that nothing to come this year would top it. Like Ufomammut‘s Eve in 2010, Atma brings the entire genre of doom along with it on the new ground it breaks, refining what’s fast becoming YOB‘s signature approach even as it pushes ever forward. I still have to stop whatever I’m doing (not exactly good for productivity) whenever “Prepare the Ground” comes on, and songs like “Adrift in the Ocean” and “Before We Dreamed of Two” were humbling. Seriously. Humbling. Listening to them was like looking at those photographs from the Hubble that cover trillions of miles that we’ll never know and reveal gorgeous colors where our naked eyes only see black. If that sounds hyperbolic, thanks for getting it. YOB guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt (interview here) is, almost in spite of himself, one of American doom’s most crucial contributors, and with Atma, he and the rhythm section of bassist Aaron Reiseberg and drummer Travis Foster released what is without a doubt the best album of 2011.
A few quick housekeeping items and we’ll call it quits. First, honorable mentions. If this list went to 25, also included would be The Wounded Kings, Earth, Larman Clamor, Olde Growth and The Atlas Moth. Roadsaw were also in heavy consideration, so they’re worth noting, as are many others.
Obviously, I couldn’t include them, but two of my favorite releases in 2011 also came from Blackwolfgoat and HeavyPink, and I’m thrilled and honored to have helped put them out in the small way I did.
And as I said above, there are records I didn’t hear. I haven’t heard the new Black Pyramid yet. Or Orchid. Or a bunch more that I could go on listing. I’m only one man and this is only my list, for better or worse. Again, I really do hope you’ll contribute yours to the group poll, the results of which will be out Jan. 1.
I’ll probably have some more to wrap up 2011 as the month winds down, but until then, thank you so much for reading this and the rest of the wordy nonsense I’ve put up the whole year long. Your support and encouragement means more than I’m able to tell. Here’s to 2012 to come.
Posted in Features on September 9th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
That Totimoshi guitarist/vocalist Anthony Aguilar was on the road when we spoke was no big surprise. The principal songwriter behind the Los Angeles (by way of Oakland) outfit’s six albums spends most of his time touring, whether it’s with his own band, or as guitar tech for the Melvins or tour manager for Neurosis, Shrinebuilder or Sleep. Many of the skeletal parts of the latest Totimoshi outing, Avenger, were written in transit — and maybe that’s behind some of the energy the songs just can’t seem to shake.
Avenger (review here) marks Totimoshi‘s first studio outing since departing from Volcom Entertainment, the imprint on which their last two installments — 2006′s Ladrón and 2008′s Milagrosa — were released, and while the 10 tracks continue the complex melodic development that songs from those records like “Dance of Snakes” and “Gnat” first began to demonstrate, there is an undeniable noise rock crunch in Aguilar‘s guitar as well that comes across right from the bluesy swagger of “Mainline” down through the grandiose epic “Waning Divine,” which features guest appearances from Mastodon‘s Brent Hinds and Scott Kelly of Neurosis. It’s a sound fit for the oft-groundbreaking At a Loss Recordings.
The drummer for the Melvins, Dale Crover, also shows up in the intro and elsewhere, but Avenger is much more than Totimoshi showing off the fact that they have cool friends. The chemistry between Aguilar and bassist/vocalist Meg Castellanos is pivotal to the album’s success, as is the input of drummer/vocalist Chris Fugitt, whose versatility in no small part allows the band to roam in the varied and genre-defying directions they do on a cut like “Rose,” which is just as exciting for its melodic apex as for its stylized heaviness. Having also been fortunate enough to see Totimoshi live supporting Avenger, and earlier in the band’s career, it’s apparent that they’ve hit new levels of creativity, confidence and mastery of their craft.
Totimoshi are, and always have been, beholden to themselves. That comes across as important to Aguilar in the following interview, and that he takes the time to consider his band’s place in the overall sphere is no great surprise considering the effort that goes into actually making the songs. In our phone conversation, he discussed the touring lifestyle, the tribulations surrounding the 2002 album, Monoli, working with Melvins producer Toshi Kasai on Avenger instead of Helmet‘s Page Hamilton (who helmed Ladrón and Milagrosa), the differences between headlining a tour and playing in a support slot, potential future directions, and much more.
Please find the complete Q&A after the jump, and enjoy.
Posted in Reviews on August 23rd, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
A much-needed dinner with The Patient Mrs. meant getting to the Saint Vitus bar after both Fashion Week and Bezoar played, which left Pigs and Totimoshi still to come on the bill for my second night in Brooklyn. This time, I rolled into the place like an expert, my awkwardly large camera bag on my shoulder, and set up shop at the bar for a homebrew before Pigs went on.
My positive first impressions the night before were confirmed when the bartender, instead of pretending to have never seen me before after a moment of recognition (as is the custom in the city), asked me, “Weren’t you here last night?” I said I was and a pleasant conversation ensued. Imagine human interaction. Very cool.
When Pigs got going, I made my way past Totimoshi‘s merch — in my mind saying, “I don’t need to buy the record right now,” as if it wasn’t inevitable — through the curtain and into the back room to watch their set. The trio is made up of guitarist/vocalist Dave Curran (Unsane, Players Club), drummer Jim Paradise (Players Club) and bassist/vocalist Andrew Schneider (Slughog, also producer for The Brought Low and countless others in and around NYC and beyond); all three Brooklyn locals. The sound was probably what you’d expect if you ever heard Players Club, resting on the spectrum between that band’s riffier, somewhat melodic take and Unsane‘s flat-out noise aggression.
They’ve been around for a bit, but it was my first time seeing them (quite a weekend of firsts I had), and I was eager to do so. The occasional interplay between Curran and Schneider on vocals did a lot to offset the visceral screams from the former alone, and Paradise proved to be yet third in the line of excellent drummers I saw this weekend at Saint Vitus — I’d soon add Chris Fugitt from Totimoshi to complete the list — and though the changes in approach between the songs were subtle, I got a sense of them just from hearing the songs live once through, which makes me suspect the material comes across even more diverse on record. As all three members of Pigs (plus Unsane‘s Chris Spencer, who was also at the show) are behind Coextinction Recordings, the avenue for hearing recorded versions seems obvious.
Last time I saw Totimoshi was circa 2008 at the now-kaput basement Club Midway in Manhattan. Like Pearls and Brass the night before, they’re a band I’ve been a fan of for years on top of years who’ve been largely underappreciated by those outside a limited critical circle. Unlike Pearls and Brass, though, Totimoshi never stopped. I did wind up buying a copy of Avenger, the new album, before they went on, and regretted it not for one moment after their set got going, as it’s where most of what they played was taken from.
Set-wise, they went no further back than 2006′s Ladrón — “Viva Zapata” and “The Dance of Snakes” were highlights — and of the newer cuts, “Mainline” proved the most immediately recognizable. As a special surprise, they included a cover of the Hendrix classic “Are You Experienced?” that set the song’s original swagger against Totimoshi‘s desert-inflected tonality. Guitarist/vocalist Anthony “Tonymoshi” Aguilar (no one calls him that that I know of, but being a fan of portmanteau, I’m trying to start the trend) convincingly delivered both the lines and blissed out leads of that song and of Avenger closer “Waning Divine,” cutting the song somewhat short at the end, but still giving enough of an impression for the crowd to get a sense of what Mastodon‘s Brent Hinds contributes to the album.
Bassist Meg Castellanos and aforementioned drummer Fugitt both contributed vocals to “The Fool” — the latter through a headset microphone that made him look a little bit like a motivational speaker — which proved even catchier in person than on disc. The body of Castellanos‘ Rickenbacker was roughly the size of her own torso, but she wielded it expertly nonetheless, her tone melding with Aguilar‘s own and her stage presence complementing his sometimes frenetic or spastic energy with a kind of subdued confidence as the trio plowed through the instrumental “Calling all Curs.”
For his part, Fugitt looked like a consummate professional. The drumming gloves might have helped, but in watching him play (and as I say, I’d already had a dose of killer drumming to compare), it’s not that he lacked conviction, but that he looked like you could have put any style of music in front of him and he’d have been able to play it just as well. I don’t know his history in terms of projects he’s been involved in, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s done session work. His style was creative and his playing so solid that it seemed like he’d have no trouble sitting down with anyone’s song, know it front to back in five minutes and play it with the abandon of a kid in the garage who thinks no one’s around.
As the third in the three-piece with founders Aguilar and Castellanos, he was more than good company to keep. Totimoshi‘s set seemed short (they cut the title track from Ladrón from their written setlist), but was wholly satisfying anyway, and for the second night in a row, I felt happy to have made the trip into Brooklyn. I don’t know when I’ll get back to Saint Vitus — I was a little tempted to show up on Sunday, just for the hell of it — but whenever it is, I’ll be glad to be there.
Posted in Reviews on August 16th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
As they approach 15 years of existence in 2012, hard-touring Los Angeles trio Totimoshi return to the heavy crunch of their earlier albums on their sixth full-length, Avenger. 2008’s Milagrosa – produced by Helmet’s Page Hamilton and Toshi Kasai (the Melvins, Shrinebuilder) and released on Volcom – found Totimoshi heading in a more melodic direction, and while Avenger, which is out on forward-thinking underground imprint At a Loss Recordings, keeps some of that complexity, guitarist/vocalist Tony Aguilar’s tone is beefier and the three extra years of road-time he and bassist/backing vocalist Meg Castellanos have put in with drummer Chris Fugitt (who debuted with the band on Milagrosa) shows in the fluidity of their arrangements. Much of Avenger, which was produced by Kasai alone, traffics in the thoughtful and rhythmic melancholy for which Totimoshi have become most known, but the band are adventurous as ever as well, pushing forward into more open-toned sprawl here and there and going as far as to include guest appearances from Dale Crover (the Melvins, Shrinebuilder), Brent Hinds (Mastodon), and Scott Kelly (Neurosis).
The latter two show up on the stylistically out-there closer “Waning Divine,” which is Totimoshi’s most experimental excursion to date, trading in the comparatively straightforward and almost punk-ish drive of earlier cuts like the opening title-track (which follows a brief intro) or its chorus-centric follow up, “The Foot,” for a solid six-and-a-half-minute build capped by a solo from Hinds that’s well placed as the payoff for the whole of Avenger. All told, the record is just 42 minutes, but in that time, Totimoshi manage to work in a variety of moods. The aforementioned “Avenger” is about as pure as Melvins-worship can get (the two bands have toured together extensively over the years, and Aguilar techs for Buzz Osborne, so it’s an influence they come by honestly), and as Aguilar delivers the lines, “I have punch/I have kick/I will slash and wear your skin/I will teach you not to look at me” and threatens a feast of hemlock tea and strychnine meat in his characteristic snarl, the aggression is well met by his guitar work, Castellanos’ bass and Fugitt’s drumming. Immediately, Avenger presents the intensity of Totimoshi at their best – which is perhaps the element most absent from Milagrosa and the source of any comparison to the band’s older material – and from there, the band is able to capitalize on that momentum however they see fit.
Over the years, Aguilar has managed to turn his aforementioned snarl into a bona fide melodic approach, and one of the most effective aspects of Avenger is the balance it strikes between songwriting and its wheels-about-to-come-off feel. Fugitt is most at home in that element of Totimoshi’s sound – his fills on “The Fool” feel as though they could completely undo the song at any moment, but he’s never out of control. That song also shows the band’s grown capacity for melody and structure both in and out of its layered chorus, which sets up the punkish cabaret stomp of “Mainline” all the more effectively. Commencing with Avenger’s dirtiest riff and drunken bluesy sway, it moves into a solo to match, but then Fugitt steps it up on the drums and the half-minute delivers the title line with handclaps and one of Avenger’s most memorable flashes. “Calling all Curs” begins with Castellanos’ considerably-toned lead in andjams out a solid riff as the album’s only instrumental, but in the context of the record as a whole, it’s hard to see it as more than a cool groove and a stepping stone to side A closer “Rose.”
Posted in audiObelisk on July 19th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Avenger, due out Aug. 16 on the influential At a Loss Recordings, is the sixth studio album by Totimoshi. Produced by Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Shrinebuilder), it follows in line with the Los Angeles trio’s recent excursions — 2008′s Milagrosa and 2006′s Ladrón — in expanding their already considerable melodic reach, but at the same time, harkens back to the rawer, heavier guitar-driven feel of their earlier work on 2003′s ¿Mysterioso?, 2002′s Monoli and the formative 1999 self-titled. It’s a shift many longtime followers (myself included) will welcome.
Years of persistent touring with the likes of the Melvins and Helmet has tightened the chemistry between founding guitarist/vocalist Tony Aguilar and bassist Meg Castellanos – drummer Chris Fugitt came aboard in 2008 — and Avenger boasts both an individualized tonality and a distinctive crunch as a result. There are times where Totimoshi drive a riff so hard it’s like they’re trying to bury it, and they complement that ethic with a certain social awareness in their lyrics, adding contemplative heft to the fervor.
Totimoshi are long-underrated, and one hopes that with Avenger, they begin to get their due for the hard work they’ve put in. The album boasts guest appearances by Dale Crover (Melvins), Scott Kelly (Neurosis) and Brent Hinds (Mastodon), and should have no trouble winning favor from fans of those players. I was lucky enough to get permission to stream epically psychedelic Avenger closer “Waning Divine,” which features Kelly and Hinds both. You can check it out on the player below, followed by the dates for Totimoshi‘s upcoming North American run. Please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Totimoshi North American tour dates:
08/04 Scottsdale, AZ Chaser’s w/ Greenhaven
08/05 SantaFe, NMThe Due Return
08/06 Denver, CO 3 Kings Tavern w/Ume, Self Service
08/07 Lincoln, NE Duffy’s
08/08 Dubuque, IA Off Minor
08/09 Milwaukee, WIGaribalid’s w/ Sleestak, Like Like the Death Deaths
08/10 Madison, WIThe Frequency
08/11 Chicago, IL Ultra Lounge
08/12 Lansing, MI Mac’s Bar
08/13 Kent, OH Stone Tavern w/Rebreather, The Unclean
08/14 Toronto, ON Hard Luck
08/15 Montreal, QC TBA
08/16 Milford, CT Daniel St
08/17 Cambridge, MA O’Brien’s
08/19 Providence, RI TBA
08/20 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus
08/21 Baltimore, MD Golden West
08/22 Richmond, VA Strange Matter
08/26 Charlotte, NC Milestone w / Music Hates You
08/27 Atlanta, GA Drunken Unicorn w/ Zoroaster
08/28 Memphis, TN HiTone Cafe
08/29 NewOrleans, LA Siberia
08/30 Houston, TX The Mink
08/31 Austin, TX Scoot Inn w/Vaz, Pygmie Shrews
09/01 SanAntonio, TX Korova Basement
09/03 Tucson, AZ Vaudeville
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 11th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
I didn’t even know Totimoshi had a new record in the works, and the next thing I know, here’s this news down the PR wire that the damn thing’s out in about a month. Go figure. Having been a fan of the band since their Monoli days, I’m stoked to get to know Avenger better, but even just listening to it for the first time as I write this, anyone who was missing the heavier guitars on their last couple records will be much pleased at what the trio’s concocted this time around.
More to come on this one for sure, but here’s the preliminaries:
California heavy desert deathrock enigmas,Totimoshi,are pleased to announce the release of their long-awaited new full-length,Avenger, later this summer. Set for release on Aug. 16, 2011 via At a Loss Recordings, Avengerwas produced by ToshiKasai (Melvins, Shrinebuilder, Tool), mastered by JohnGolden (Melvins, MikeWatt, OM) and includes appearances by DaleCrover (Altamont, TheMelvins, Shrinebuilder), BrentHinds (Mastodon) and ScottKelly (Neurosis, Shrinebuilder).
Avenger Track Listing:
02. Avenger 03. The Fool
05. Calling All Curs
10. Waning Divine
For the past 14 years, Totimoshi — guitarist/vocalist AntonioAguilar and bassist/vocalist MegCastellanos — have been pounding out its own brand of acid induced rhythmic Hendrix-meets-DickDale rock. Born in the high desert of Southern California just 30 minutes from the hometown of FrankZappa and CaptainBeefheart, Aguilar, the band’s principle songwriter, definitely shares said composers’ love for adventure in music. Joined by drummer ChrisFugitt in 2008, the trio have carved out a sound all their own. A busy 2010 saw the band tour Europe with Mastodon and Eyehategod and the US with the Melvins and 2011 has already seen the band shake the west coast with Floor.
Posted in Reviews on June 21st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Some context: I was in Connecticut with The Patient Mrs. for some familial-type obligations and a couple days of the madness known as relaxation, but that wasn’t going to keep me from seeing the Melvins and Totimoshi at Webster Hall in NYC, so I hopped in I-95 South last Friday after posting the Frydee video and sat for about three hours to make an hour and a half trip.
It was only stressful because I didn’t see Totimoshi at Roadburn, and so wanted to catch their set. The show was early because Webster Hall knows what pays the bills, and that’s dance parties for yuppie assholes. 10:30 or so, and they come in and the Melvins crowd is out. Fine. Totimoshi were on stage as I paid my $30 to get in at 7PM. I barely made it.
Isis headlined. It was their last tour, and no, I didn’t stay. I’m sorry. I wasn’t interested enough to even listen to the free promo download I got of their last album, so I would have felt disingenuous staying for their set just because it’s allegedly the last time I’ll get to see them. I already have my good memories of killer Isis shows. I don’t need any more. Plus I had three more hours of traffic to sit in to get back to The Patient Mrs., and I didn’t want to miss out on that.
I like Totimoshi. I’ve liked Totimoshi for a long time now and I still like them. I think that was probably the biggest stage I’d ever seen them on, and even with drummer Chris Fugitt using half of the Dale Crover/Coady Willis combined megakit, they sounded good. But really, I’m just pulling for Totimoshi because I think they should be headlining tours instead of this perennial “always the bridesmaid” thing they seem to have going on. They could very well have sucked and I’d be blinded by my affection for them. Doesn’t mean I enjoyed the set any less.
Although, one thing about this show: it was fucking packed. And hot. And after three hours of 95, I was, well, a grumpy little bitch. About everything. I was grumpy shelling out $30 for a show I knew I wasn’t going to see all of, I was grumpy they were sold out of Melvins box sets (though the new album was just $10, which I happily paid), and I was grumpy smashed in with a douchetastic NYC crowd in the sweltering Webster Hall main room. Normally, beer is the solution to this, but the last thing I wanted was a dooey (I think that’s how it’s spelled, though I’ve seen it as D-U-I too), so I just stewed in it.
And then came the Melvins. They kicked ass. That’s all there is to it. They were really tight, the material sounded really good — highlights being the call and response of “The Water Glass” and “Electric Flower” from The Bride Screamed Murder and a couple nods to the Lysol record in the form of the Flipper cover “Sacrifice,” “Hung Bunny” and “Roman Bird Dog” — bassist Jarred Warren was dressed as a super hero, Crover and Willis‘ two-man drumset looked and sounded killer, and Buzz Osborne led the charge as only he could. Leaving when they were done, I didn’t feel like I was missing the highlight of the evening.
I took some pictures, but they sucked. I took some video, but the batteries died (hence the Bonnaroo clip below). And finally, I took myself back to Connecticut, where I watched the Black SabbathClassic Albums: Paranoid DVD again (thanks, Pete), and called it a night. I don’t know whether to mark it a win or not — I think the math works out in the red, though I haven’t drawn up any charts — but fuck it, two killer sets is a big help when it comes to focusing on the positive, and I’m going to try to do just that.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 13th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Los Angeles Zapatista rockers Totimoshi are one of those bands who are well overdue some serious appreciation. I don’t know what it is, why they aren’t bigger than they are (one would think all the touring they’ve done with Helmet and Mastodon would help), but for some reason, they just haven’t yet taken off. They put out killer records and play their asses off live. I’m not sure what hasn’t fallen into place.
Whatever the case, they’ve got a new three-song CD coming out in time for their latest European stretch with Mastodon headlining, and they went so far as to post the track “The Avenger” for streaming on their MySpace. As usual for Totimoshi, it’s good and heavy. Be sure to pop over there and check it out. If you’d prefer to stay right here (and who could blame you?) for the moment, since I’m not clever enough yet to rip tracks from MySpace pages, here’s the video for “The Dance of Snakes” from 2006′s Ladrón…
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 7th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
By now it’s quite a comeback Saint Vitus have launched. They might at this point be a regular touring band. I don’t know the official designation for when you go from doing a reunion show here and there to touring. I guess it probably involves mode of transportation and shit like that. I’ll get to work on figuring it out. Meantime, the PR wire has the flier-form goods on a Vitus date for Los Angeles:
With Ancestors, Totimoshi and Saviours on the bill, that’s a good night to be in CA. Because there’s little I enjoy more than posting these videos, here’s some live Saint Vitus from Hellfest in France. The day I get tired of watching this stuff will be a sad one indeed.