Music that refuses to be labelled and is defiant in having its own living identity has a distinct allure that is hard to ignore. These musical beasts, even if ultimately, they do not synchronise with an individual’s taste, still claim full attention and evaluation of their every note and aspect. The freshness of a band setting their own rules and virtually creating their own unique pigeon hole is rare, admirable and in the case of Californians Totimoshi deeply satisfying.
Founded in 1997, the Oakland band releases their sixth album “Avenger“ on August 16th via At A Loss Recordings. It is a nine track, plus intro, feast of surprises, power, and uniqueness. Each song has its own musical identity, breathing fresh ideas and sounds, showing the skill and creativity of Totimoshi in thought and realisation of the varied intricacies within the tracks and album as a whole. The release which was two years in the making due to lack of funds and being dropped by their label, is an impressive musical statement by the trio of vocalist/guitarist Antonio Aguilar, bassist Meg Castellanos, and the drumming ferocity of Chris Fugitt, a firm confirmation the band walk their own path.
The title track opens “Avenger” up properly with insistent riffs and guitars, throbbing bass line, and a driving incisive flow; littered with variance in beats and substance the track is immense and the perfect start to the album. The three piece offer power, aggression and attitude through their instruments and the vocal delivery of Aguilar, creating a rock/punk track that the closest description is Queens of the Stone Age meets Dead Kennedys in a party hosted by Mastodon and The Cramps, yes it is that unique.
A stirring growling bass line from Castellanos opens up ‘The Fool’ before it expands into a 70’s tempered hard rock sound with great backing melodies to Aguilar’s vocals again by Castellanos. The track is probably the most straight forward on the album though it still brings imagination in music and lyrics to be admired.
‘Mainline’ is a slow paced, heavy grind with dark psychedelic tendencies before it erupts into a highly charged compulsive and incessant groove, as if a switch has been turned on within the song. The Horrors soaked in extra electrified scuzz come to mind once the change kicks in and again the track shows the diversity in the music of Totimoshi.
Through the stoner laced instrumental ‘Calling All Curs’, the dark emotive funk of ‘Rose’, and the psychedelic sound of times past within ‘Opus’, the release continues the unity of different sounds and touches strongly and solidly, whilst the earnest vocal delivery on the crazed garage rock toned 60’s grooves of ‘Leaves’ and the wonderful 80’s post punk emotional ballad feel of ‘Snag’, lifts the album to loftier heights, the latter of the tracks bringing a scary electrified subdued sound of Pere Ubu.
Closing track ‘ Waning Devine’, again like the opener, epitomises the band’s musical mind set, starting as a slow stalking burn it escalates into a preying riff driven cacophony of sounds and directions, a dark and perverted musical experiment that feeds the ear perfectly.
“Avenger” was produced by Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Shrinebuilder, Tool) who seems to have a great feel for the bands thoughts and needs. The release also features the guest contributions of Mastodon’s Brent Hinds, Dale Crover from The Melvins, and Scott Kelly from Neurosis. Aguilar has stated about their appearance:
“We asked some friends to play on our record – and it was exciting to work with them. We are truly humbled by their presence in our music. We feel that this album is the best work we’ve ever done”.
All that is left to say is, there is no argument here.