A friend introduced me to the very talented Toro Y Moi when he suggested I check out “Still Sound,” Underneath The Pine’s first single. After the first five seconds I was immediately hooked and wanted more of the soulful funk sounds.
Ever since that day, that track has been my go-to iPod jam for hectic days, bad traffic jams and when I have a mean case of the “reds” (watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s to understand this reference). That song is my “feel good” track and is in heavy rotation on my current list of fave tunes.
After getting my hands on his debut album Causes of This (that came out in 2010), I couldn’t believe it was the same artist. Sure, there were similar elements like the very angelic voice of Toro Y Moi, but it was heavy on the electro beats; something that “Still Sound” was totally obsolete of. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great debut album, but it totally threw me off that mellow Toro Y Moi sound I was craving.
After hearing Underneath The Pine, I got what I was missing! The Columbia, South Carolina native, Chaz Bundick, totally nailed the perfect melodic album that you’ll want to play it from track one until it ends at 11. Having spent the year listening to film composers like Françoise de Roubaix and Ennio Morricone, Chaz returned to his parents’ home in Columbia, the birthplace of many Toro tracks of yore, to bring his new ideas to fruition. The result of these sessions is Underneath the Pine, a deeply personal album that sees him putting down the samples and electronics and relying completely on live instrumentation, which provides for a very soulful musical entity.
Of course, my fave track is “Still Sound,” which you’ve all heard by now, as it spread like wildfire through the Web. The next single, “New Beat” is another you might have already heard of (again, thanks to music blogs) and an amazing upbeat, funky jazz track that’ll have you shuffling your feet and swaying back and forth to the dreamy voice of Toro Y Moi (something that can be said on every track of the album, making the experience a bit more celestial). Fused with ’70s-inspired vibes of soul, funk and disco all rolled into one, this jam is definitely one for the dance floors.
“Go With You” is heavily filled with keyboards/synths before the funky beats emerge. I like to call this one the “celestial jazz” track that puts you on a natural musical high. Then you have “Divina,” which is an instrumental track, but nonetheless amazing. (And I’m not one for instrumentals, but I played it twice because I loved it so much!)
“Before I’m Done” starts with beautiful guitar riffs before it opens up with Toro Y Moi’s heavenly vocals and is a more ballad-like track. “Got Blinded” is a keyboard infused song that starts off sort of fast but then slows to more mellow tones. “Light Black” adds a bit more of psychedelic dreaminess that almost puts you in a musical trance.
“Good Hold” has a harsh piano start (something unexpected following “Still Sound”) that really catches your attention, but then calms down when his voice comes in subduing you into literally a “good hold.” Finally “Elise” is the perfect up-temp, jazz infused track to end the Toro Y Moi dreamy experience with its catch beats that make you want to snap your fingers. The instrumental piece in the middle is beyond amazing.
Seriously, Underneath The Pine is a one of those albums you will love for years to come and always come back to when you want to chill out and just enjoy GOOD music. It’s not one of those albums that can easily be classified to be pop, indie, electro, jazz or R&B, which makes it even more compelling; it really is just GREAT music. There are not many of these albums nowadays, so when good music finally hits you in the face, embrace the shit out of it!
Toro Y Moi will be touring heavily in 2011 to promote the album including a stop at SXSW. He’ll drop down in the City of Angels on March 23rd at the Troubadour, and since I’m in love with the man’s music, you’ll find me front and center lost in the dreamy sounds that are simply Toro Y Moi.
Words: Kristie Bertucci