Toro Y Moi

Opening to the scream of F1’s speeding around a racetrack, and maintaining that intensity with booming guitar riffs and psychedelic effects throughout, the forthcoming album from Toro Y Moi is definitely making a statement. Or maybe a few statements. But Chaz Bundick, the frontman and songwriter, is leaving it up to you to figure out what they are. While it is obvious that each song is crafted around a personally meaningful experience, Chaz seems to purposefully leave the lyrics just vague enough to let each listener mold it into something unique. Chaz presents you with a few themes: love, beauty, nature; and gently lets go of your hand so you can wander off on your own.

A feeling of searching for something threads its way through every song on the album, which is aptly named What For? It feels contradictory in a very human way, like Chaz is swinging between waiting for something and not being able to wait anymore. But the swinging isn’t panicked or frustrated, it’s just a situation that he’s reflecting on. The songs are heavy with nostalgia, too, for simpler times, better music, more fulfilling relationships. Chaz references Weezer to warn you that “there is no one to destroy your sweater” and, in another song, recalls Big Star to declare that “rock and roll is here to stay.” It feels like he misses everything (even things he wasn’t around for yet), but is somehow excited for what comes next.

What For? is a glimpse into the life of a guy trying to figure out what it all means. The music is influenced by bands like Big Star, Talking Heads, Tim Maia, Todd Rundgren, but it doesn’t quite sound like any of them in particular. And it isn’t trying to. It has that special something that Chaz imbues in every Toro Y Moi album, his personal filter on the world he experiences. So whatever message you take from the album, don’t forget that it’s good. As Chaz himself so candidly believes, “Good is good. Good finds its own audience.”

Sinkane music — every note of it — comes straight out of a generosity of spirit. Never has that spirit been on more vivid display than on the uplifting new album Life & Livin’ It. This is feel-good music for trying times, celebrating what makes life good without ignoring what makes it hard.

By the time they finished touring for their acclaimed Mean Love album in late 2015, Ahmed Gallab and the band had spread the gospel of Sinkane to the world, playing 166 shows in 20 countries. During the same period, he had also led The Atomic Bomb Band— the highly celebrated 15-piece outfit that played the music of elusive Nigerian electro-funk maestro William Onyeabor. The band included David Byrne, Damon Albarn, members of Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, Jamie Lidell and legendary jazz musicians Pharoah Sanders and Charles Lloyd, and they played all over the planet, including making their TV debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. “Those 14 months really changed my life,” Ahmed says. “Not only did I learn how to put on a bigger show, but all that touring brought Sinkane closer as a band."

As Ahmed got into the depths of writing for Life & Livin’ It, he had a clear goal; to
conjure the ups and downs of a universal experience, and have fun while doing it. “I would listen to my favorite records, like Funkadelic’s America Eats Its Young, and realize how great they made me feel. That carefree, light and fun feeling I was getting while writing this record is what I want everyone to feel when they listen to it."

Ahmed soon brought the band in to help with the material, testing the songs at a four-show residency of sold-out shows at Union Pool in Brooklyn where the audience’s reception fed the creative process. They toured throughout the summer before setting up shop at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, Texas. Once again produced by Ahmed with lyrics and help from longtime collaborator Greg Lofaro, the album draws from the best elements of Sinkane’s previous records: the slinky funk and soul grooves are there, so are the sparkling melodies with roots in sub-Saharan Africa. With basic tracking played together live, the fun and immediacy of Sinkane’s live show is a central feeling of the recordings. Each one of the four members of Sinkane - bassist Ish Montgomery, drummer Jason Trammell, guitarist Jonny Lam and Ahmed – sing and contribute additional parts on the album, with Trammell contributing lyrics to “Theme from Life & Livin’ It,” and Lam helping with arrangements. Jas Walton and Jordan MacLean of Daptone recording artists Antibalas contributed horns.

In making a record that feels like this, Ahmed’s primary intention was to make music that is joyous, but also socially conscious when you scratch beneath the surface. The songs “U’Huh” and “Theme from Life & Livin’ It” conjure up the simple pleasures of hanging with friends, but there are heavier vibes in there. Ahmed says, “I remember listening to Bob Marley as a child. Dancing with my family in our living room and then my mother telling me what issues he was addressing, and that it was important to remember those things while listening. It made the music even better because it became about something more."

“Favorite Song” came about from Ahmed's experiences DJ’ing in New York. “As a DJ you’re always paying attention to the collective energy in the club. When you play a song that everyone knows, everybody is connected, lost in the music.” That song, along with “U’Huh”, has lyrics sung in Arabic, Ahmed's native tongue. “Kulu shi tamaam!” means “everything is great!” while “ya zol ya zain!” is a Sudanese term of endearment meaning “my beautiful friend.” “It’s really easy to understand the tone of those words," Ahmed adds. "They just feel good, you don’t have to know what they mean. It’s kind of like listening to Caetano Veloso or Jorge Ben — you don’t have to know Portuguese to feel what they’re saying.”

True to its name, Life & Livin’ It is an album about all kinds of experiences. When Ahmed Gallab sings, he sounds unafraid yet vulnerable. But while he once sang of feeling like he was on the planet Mars, Ahmed is now firmly grounded on Earth. He’s no longer searching for his home — he has created a home for himself. There’s a party there, and Life & Livin’ It is playing on the stereo. You are invited.

"Dog Bite is the brainchild of Atlanta's 22 year old Phil Jones, a project of sun-baked anthems caught the ears of London's Young Turks Records (The XX, Wavves, Gang Gang Dance, Holy Fuck). For the past two years Dog Bite has been releasing a steady stream of creepy psychedelic/folk pop songs, gaining praise from taste-maker media outlets like Pitckfork and Fader.

Now, Jones has enlisted some of Atlanta's finest to transform Dog Bite into a real rock n' roll force: Will Fussell of Mood Rings, Stephen Lusce of Red Sea, Woody Shortridge of Balkans, and Cameron Gardner of Washed Out. Finally, Dog Bite will be a fully realized live sound.

Dog Bite combines all your hopes and dreams, fuses them with grapes and butterflies, and then lays them out on a tray with sliced oranges.

Imagine Billie Holiday’s voice atop an ambient swirl of keyboard and vibraphone, and you have Oakland-based outfit DRMS (pronounced Dreams). With one album under their belt and an experimental Suite due out Fall of 2013, the group is evolving from its initial Noir Pop sound to explore the darker, weirder corners of themselves. Band leader and keyboardist Rob Shelton provides the skeleton for the songs, while vocalist Emily Ritz, vibraphonist Mark Clifford, and drummer Ross McIntire pack on the flesh.

Press Quotes:
"Killer lyrics with the insinuating pulse of vibraphones." - San Francisco Chronicle, Andrew Gilbert "Of the vast wasteland that the Internet’s become, you can still find a few undiscovered gems if you look hard enough — and Dreams (DRMS) is a perfect example…”- MTV Hive, Mike Ayers

"The voice of Billie Holiday blended with a drop of folk and an electro-infused ka-pow of Afro-pop. It's the stuff of dreams, isn't it? Sort of. Dreams (DRMS), besides being the mind's subconscious porthole, is a new East Bay indie supergroup." - Music Editor, Emily Savage, of San Francisco Bay Guardian

"The biggest surprise of the evening was the newly-formed DRMS... a dynamic tidal wave. The display of musicianship by the band was peerless. Brazilian jazz and pure rock experimentation worked side by side, but the result was something that sounded very new..."- SF Weekly, Casey Burchby

"...bewitching brand of indie pop-rock. Ritz's entrancing voice leads the way through the tantalizing, trippy journeys each song provides... Within moments of turning on this album, it will turn you on. You'll be utterly caught up in its unique spell." - Paul Freeman, San Jose Mercury News

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