Toonces, “Milk For My Tears” (Independent)

reviews-tooncesIt took over two years for the spastic six-piece Toonces to lay down their unique sound in an official album. And the resulting work definitely sounds like it’s trying to contain years’ worth of ideas.

The group’s debut, Milk For My Tears, is bursting at the seams with accumulated genre experiments, sketches, doodles and other marginalia. The album features fractured takes on everything from surf rock (the opening notes of “Tang Tang”) to hip-hop (the distorted drag rap at the heart of “Fire Island”).

Toonces make room for just about everything on their first release. The blown-out and sad “Moonbow” plays like the soundtrack to a space-age bachelor pad performed by winking cynics who now have the knowledge that space is largely a cold, dead nothing. The elegant and bucolic “Gnome Trot” sounds like folk from the future. But if you had to put a pin in Toonces, their dominant sound is a warped spin on bossa nova. The majority of the tracks sound like Astrud Gilberto took a stroll on Copacabana Beach and accidentally tripped into an interdimensional rift.

While the album has some definite weak points—they absolutely could have cut a few of the thirty-second toss-offs—this long-gestating work is worth a spin for anyone who wants to samba by starlight.

  • Robin Sherman

    Let me start by saying that I’m a really big Toonces fan. I’ve been to many of their shows and I’ve listened to this album approx. 50-100 times.

    By describing this album predominantly in terms of genre, Alex Galbriath comes to a conclusion, “[the] dominant sound [of Toonces] is a warped spin on bossa nova”, that does not accurately represent this record or band. Galbraith has missed an opportunity by not discussing the lyrics or stories of songs like “I’m Happy” or “Monarch”. It seems to me that the reviewer gave this record only a cursory listen. There is not a single bossa nova or samba groove on this album. And besides, Toonces already has their own genre: Retroglaze. Galbraith has not written a negative review necessarily, but it does misrepresent the sound of the album and the band. Please check this album out if you want to hear one of the best indie rock, ahem, “Retroglaze” albums of the last 20 years.