Tag Archives: Toro y Moi

Album of the Day: Brijean, “Walkie Talkie”

 

Percussionist Brijean Murphy is perhaps best known for her collaborations with Toro Y Moi, Poolside, and U.S. Girls, but on Walkie Talkie, she steps out on her own. The result is a smooth, sumptuous, and soulful record—one that feels like a journey through tropical house. 

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Album of the Day: Toro y Moi, “Boo Boo”

Even longtime fans of Toro y Moi, who’ve followed the prolific Oakland-by-way-of-South Carolina artist as he’s explored everything from the kaleidoscopic haze of his debut, to full-throttle electro-pop, sunny guitar rock, ambient compositions and even lush hip-hop production, may be caught off guard by Boo Boo, his fifth studio album. Insular, moody, and at times abstract, Boo Boo captures sentiments rarely heard in Chaz Bear (formerly Bundick)’s work: self-doubt, loneliness, and, ostensibly, heartbreak.

Although the album begins with an upbeat sentiment—“I just wanted everybody to have a good time”—things quickly get darker from there. “No Show,” for instance, offers up a bittersweet summation of Toro y Moi’s success, delivered in a beautiful cadence—“Wasn’t even thinkin’ we were going worldwide / Figured it was better than the Southern life”—but also presents the repercussions: a partner who eventually “got fed up with my ego.” Later, “Windows” finds him acknowledging a need for a “new state of mind” and “You and I” paints an unflinching picture of Bear working obsessively to distract himself from the aftermath of a relationship.

Yet Boo Boo is also jam-packed with exquisite arrangements that provide a counterpoint for Bear’s angst and confusion. “Labyrinth” possesses the sublime pulse of the Talking Heads’ “Naïve Melody,” and lead single “Girl Like You” is a smart R&B slow-burner that culminates in a radiant piano bridge. Bear has always had an ear for minute detail, and Boo Boo is no exception.

Those looking for a party album will not find it here. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine Bear’s exuberant band even tackling these compositions live. Instead, Boo Boo is a challenging and rewarding album, capturing a restless and ambitious composer as he takes a leap of faith and brings his darker feelings into the mix.

Max Savage Levenson

Good Company: Chaz Bundick’s New Label Keeps the Artist Front and Center

Chaz Bundick
Chaz Bundick. Photo by Andrew Paynter.

A few years ago, Seoul-based concert promoter Sean Patrick Maylone asked Lionel Williams, the visual artist and psych-rock devotee who performs as Vinyl Williams, if he could create a poster for an upcoming Toro y Moi show in Seoul. Williams decided to turn the opportunity to his advantage. “Instead of paying me to make the flyer,” he wrote Maylone, “just book my band in Korea and let us open for Toro y Moi.” Surprisingly, his proposition worked, and soon Williams and his band found themselves on a plane, bound for South Korea. It was there that Williams formed a friendship with Toro frontman Chaz Bundick, one that resulted in a handful of projects. When they returned to the States, the duo, along with Vinyl Williams guitarist Ian Gibbs, met up at Bundick’s home studio in Berkeley, California to record the fully improvised Trans Zen Dental Spa EP, a collection of sumptuous tracks that are alternately giddy and laconic. Vinyl Williams later joined Toro y Moi on a full US tour. It was no surprise, then, when Williams released Brunei, his third full-length, it was through Bundick’s Company Records earlier this year.

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