Lo Tom - Lo Tom LPLabel: Barsuk Records
Pedro the Lion + Starflyer 59!
Lo Tom is made up of David Bazan (Pedro the Lion), Trey Many (Velour 100, Starflyer 59), TW Walsh (Pedro the Lion, The Soft Drugs), and Jason Martin (Starflyer 59), friends who started playing music together when they were still pretty much kids. While many bands are a collaboration between artists with a message, a shared vision for a record, or an idea of a sound they want to create, Lo Tom is a group of friends who missed making noise together and wanted to hang out. The off-hand – almost dismissive – way they talk about the experience of making their self-titled debut masks the excellence of the music they’ve written and produced together as Lo Tom, but perhaps their casual approach to the whole endeavor is part of why it came out so great. Recorded over two different sessions when they could find the time to spare, the four friends gathered with half-formed riffs and beats to see what would come out of it. The album’s thematic direction is loose and conceptual. The melodies recall Pedro the Lion and TW Walsh, the guitars sparkle with hints of Starflyer 59, and the songs hurtle through the major keystones of guitar rock – tight conversation between percussion and guitar, heavy fuzz, and some genuinely joyful breakdowns that give way to catharsis. Lyrics were mostly written by Bazan, who would take a melody and make up words quickly, then finish them over time. What makes this record special is not just how it’s built on melodies and riffs and songs with the looseness and ease of four friends who have been making music together for decades, but how vibrant and energetic and smart and funny and fun it is. For fans of a particular brand of indie-rock founded in the seventies and eighties and honed in the nineties and oughts, Lo Tom is one of the best things to arrive in a very long time.