Most bands form around friendships, the members of Lo Tom are friends, but their success came in previous projects. Now they’re making music for fun, and don’t care what happens from there. “We just wanted to make music together,” the group said in a news release.
The group members have been friends since they were kids, playing in as many as 10 different bands but finding success separately: Singer David Bazan and guitarist TW Walsh in Pedro the Lion, while drummer Trey Many and guitarist Jason Martin became known with Starflyer 59.
From the first drumbeats of “Covered Wagon” to the last fuzzy guitar lick of “Lower Down,” there is a comfortable, relaxed feel to their self-titled debut album. The influences of both of the members’ previous bands can be heard throughout.
Bazan’s melody and lyrical magic is front and center and give the album more of a Pedro the Lion feel, but you still get the Starflyer 59 fuzzy shoegaze backing on many of the tracks.
Lead track “Covered Wagon,” is a classic and will easily be the most accessible introduction to new fans. “Bubblegum” kicks up the pace with some grunge riffs over a beat that pushes the tempo. “Another Mistake” is another rocking track that pushes Bazan from his comfort zone.
“Bad Luck Charm” has to be one of my favorites and tells a familiar vacation story. You lose your temper and the rest of a trip with a significant other is no longer the same. Bazan mulls the question: Is it a bad trip or just a bad dream. His ability to make you think has to be one of his greatest gifts as a lyricist.
What shows these four musicians’ genius is that the entire Lo Tom album was written over the course of a few weekends. It’s hard to find anything about the eight songs that could or should be changed. Each track tells its own story, and has its own idiosyncrasy’s that makes the overall album more listenable. This is one of the best album’s I’ve so far heard this year.