The Tontons, Bones

The Tontons, <em>Bones</em>

At first I wasn’t clear why both the A- and B-sides of the Tontons’ latest 7″, Bones, are both titled, um, “Bones” (“Bones 1” and “Bones 2,” to be specific), but after hearing one roll straight into the other, yeah, I’m starting to get it. I couldn’t tell you if it’s intentional or not, but the two tracks flow together beautifully, like two halves of a single beautiful, murky-yet-shiny stone.

The songs’ lyrics help to make them seem to fit together, as well. On fun, playful psych-pop burner “Bones 1,” singer Asli Omar muses about how “one of these days” she’ll do all those things that’ve drifted out there in the future, but that now’s not the time, eventually declaring “Today is not that day / and I am not that girl” with a grin and spinning off into the crowd. It’s a song about living for today and letting things come in their own time.

Then there’s “Bones 2,” a mostly-downbeat, after-dark bit of blues-soul, which — despite the laughter at the start — is all about regret, I think, after all that fun. Omar’s waking up late, late at night and slowly remembering what happened a few hours before, acknowledging that it “tastes like shame” and “burns like sin.” “Bones 2” truly is the flipside of “Bones 1,” depicting the walk of shame home after a night spent doing that whole living-for-today thing.

Throughout both tracks, The Tontons prove yet again that they’re one of the best damn bands this city’s ever seen, bouncing from sound to sound and making the whole thing their own with effortless ease. “Bones 1” is buzzing and bumping, barreling along with Adam Martinez’s Hendrix-y guitar lines roaring and churning over Tom Nguyen’s fuzzed-out bass and insanely tight drumming from Justin Martinez. It’s relentless and addictive, nearly guaranteed to put a smile on your face, whether you want it there or not.

On the other side, “Bones 2” is hazy and bluesy and warm and rich, with a great organ sound and a swinging, swaying rhythm that belies the slow-dawning realization behind the song. It makes me think of the Afghan Whigs at points, mostly due to the melancholy ’60s soul feel and the general nighttime sound. Naturally, The Tontons are never content to leave things alone, so after the song meanders along for a while, they delicately, purposefully rev things up into a psych-rock crescendo…and then let things crumble back down again ’til the song comes to a close.

Of course, the centerpiece of the record is Omar herself, infusing both tracks with heavy-lidded, slyly-smiling soul and seduction with her husky, perfectly-roughened voice. Omar’s one of the few singers I’ve ever heard who can put as much power into a whispery croon as she does when she’s really belting it out; it’s seriously something amazing to witness.

When she declares, “I’ve got the whole wide world in my hands,” yeah, you’d damn well better believe it.

(Feature photo by Megan Tipps.)

[The Tontons are playing their 7” release show 2/2/13 at Walter’s, along with The Wild Moccasins, Young Mammals & Featherface.]
(self-released; The Tontons --; The Tontons (Facebook) --; The Tontons (Twitter) --
BUY ME: Bandcamp

Review by . Review posted Saturday, February 2nd, 2013. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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