The first four of seven seals has opened and from the sky rides the four horsemen of the Alt-pocalypse. David Bazan, Trey Many, Jason Martin, and TW Walsh ride forth on long, lingering chords, heavy-handed crashes, and a rock swagger under the collective Lo Tom.
Instead of the depressing biblical sense, these four offer up a different kind of revelation in their self-titled eight-track release. While it may sound like the birth of a heavy metal group or that they are somehow devising a resurgence of some slightly poppy Hanson tribute, don’t for an instant begin to believe you’ve cornered this sound.
Lo Tom draws upon the experiences of the collective contribution (See: Pedro The Lion, Starflyer 59) and ignites an attitude of impassioned musical pulse fueled by a heartbeat of strong rhythms and captivating writing. Superficially rehashing inspirations decades long past, the overall arch of Lo Tom is really one of honesty and fun; perhaps with the occasional finger waving to relationship woes.
Playing to the lower end (you know, without a long blonde-haired screaming front man and screeching three-minute solos in the upper frets), the air about the record delivers on many levels. As it embodies the rattling bar wall rock in composition it does so with a slight nod to weary musician, it takes on a reflective rock life that comes quickly in the form of tracks like “Overboard,” “Bad Luck Charm,” and “Pretty Cool,” (the latter pouring a notable lyrical pint that is all too real). But all is not dreary heartbreak. The album hands us a few roll-down-the-window-turn-it-up slices of rock that are as addictive as they are awe striking if we’re being honest. “Another Mistake” pounds home an anthematic calling that culminates in a brilliant final 30 seconds. To draw the record to a close, Bazan, Many, Martin, and Walsh offer up the five and a half minute “Lower Down,” embodying the inner most musician and fan.
Identifying under the veil of Rock and Roll, perhaps reaching into a realm of what we could image is the Post-Alt Rock ideologies, Lo Tom collectively settles into an end-to-end record that is intimately real, aggressively staunch, and lyrically dynamic at all the right times. And while it may have a pink background with stylish K9 on the cover, when the needle hits the groove, Lo Tom blazes a trail of kicking ass and giving two shits about taking names.
Greg is a co-founder and regular contributor of Nanobot Rock.