Tonstartssbandht: Petunia Album Review | Fork


No matter how many decades have passed since its heyday in the 1960s, our collective fascination with the jam group refuses to die. Just look at the alreadyincreasing number street fashion brands reinterpreting the Grateful Dead bootleg bundle t-shirts of yesteryear to get a feel for the innate appeal that the jam band lifestyle still has in our psyche (even if that means the people spend more money to see John Mayer than they ever could have imagined). Of course, beyond the mesmerizing tie-dye and the common joy of taking psychedelics and daddy dancing in a field with your trailer for three hours, there’s the music. The best jam groups have always blended the ingredients of the American songbook into psychedelic mush, with an emphasis on the magical, spontaneous inspiration that springs from improvisation. Bands like the Dead were experimental in a way that still stands out in the pantheon of classical rock music, making them enduring icons of the DIY world, especially for young scholars like brothers Andy and Edwin White of Tonstartssbandht.

But while the Dead have long starred in the realm of massive stadiums and extended lineups, Tonstartssbandht channels that same energy on a much more intimate scale. As with other lo-fi companions of the late 2000s like Sun Araw and Eternal Tapestry, Andy and Edwin White reinterpret the concept of “jam music” for the college basement show, incorporating a dollop of bizarro pop noise in their cult guitar hero. Although they easily slipped into the softer rock boom of the 10s with their puny track names and funny haircuts (the brothers were even roommates with Mac DeMarco), Tonstartssbandht has always pushed his sounds to more transcendent ends, taking lessons in krautrock and noise as easily as they did country music. Their focus on live performances meant that for the most part the best way to hear Tonstartssbandht was either in the room with them or on one of their exceptional live recordings, who captured their sprawling psychedelia in all its shaggy glory. These live documents, along with their 2017 studio effort Wizard, are intimidating beasts, made up of tracks and side songs that bleed into each other like a black hole going through “Bad moon rising. ” With Petunia, however, Tonstartssbandht finally figured out how to translate his vision into a tight, cohesive studio album without losing the spirit of friendliness that has fueled his music from the start.

While previous Tonstartssbandht albums had a ramshackle giddiness straight out of the Meat Puppets playbook, there is a sense of melancholy to Petunia. Recorded in their hometown of Orlando in the midst of the pandemic (instead of being pieced together on tour from multiple cities, as their records usually come together), the Boys’ Byrds-ian Church Harmonies of the White Brothers sound more faded than ever, like road rock anthems sung at the end of the tracks. From the moment “Pass Away” comes to life, Andy and Edwin’s mock twins wear an ominous tone, explaining how “some people are born and can taste their days / I can’t wait to die”. For nearly eight minutes of the song, Andy pulls new riffs from his 12 strings as if he was composing them on the spot, each section flowing with a smooth, puffy tranquility. All PetuniaS songs carry that quiet sense of discovery, as on the laid back swamp boogie “Hey Bad”, which culminates in a floating riff that looks more than a fleeting resemblance to Jerry, or the spiraling arpeggios of “Falloff” that effortlessly build into a blues rock sprint that blasts the freeway, before a bent string melody brings the whole song to a giddy, sighing finale.

PetuniaThe best moment of ‘is the melancholy, tremolo elegy “What Has Happened”, a song unlike anything Tonstartssbandht has ever recorded on tape. Over Edwin’s brushed and subtly changing drum patterns, Andy softly sings the passing time, his voice barely rising above a low whisper. The song’s cycling melody may seem simple at first, but its sense of sadness slowly seeps in like a mist, evoking those long autumn walks where thoughts inevitably drift into the existential. “Honestly, what happened to me? He asks in a quivering falsetto voice, before the brothers drop in a fountain of gorgeous harmonies and weary chord changes, turning the few bare elements of the song into a dismal room of self. reflection.

On previous albums, the White brothers could have coated those moments of clarity with a lo-fi smear, stretching them out and making it impossible to tell where they start or end – as if we were hearing the idea what the perfect two-person psychedelic rock band could look like. Now, Tonstartssbandht eliminates all the echoes and distortions, instead focusing on writing rich and complex songs as the basis for their endless scrambling. They haven’t lost their ability to channel classic rock’s penchant for epic mysticism, but have learned to make it work on a more earthly level, revealing the human emotions behind their cheerful noodles. This proves that the best jam sessions can take you on a journey, even from your living room.


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