Toro Y Moi What For?
Opening to the scream of F1’s speeding around a racetrack, and maintaining that intensity with booming guitar riffs and psychedelic effects throughout, the forthcoming album from Toro Y Moi is definitely making a statement. Or maybe a few statements. But Chaz Bundick, the frontman and songwriter, is leaving it up to you to figure out what they are. While it is obvious that each song is crafted around a personally meaningful experience, Chaz seems to purposefully leave the lyrics just vague enough to let each listener mold it into something unique. Chaz presents you with a few themes: love, beauty, nature; and gently lets go of your hand so you can wander off on your own.
A feeling of searching for something threads its way through every song on the album, which is aptly named What For? It feels contradictory in a very human way, like Chaz is swinging between waiting for something and not being able to wait anymore. But the swinging isn’t panicked or frustrated, it’s just a situation that he’s reflecting on. The songs are heavy with nostalgia, too, for simpler times, better music, more fulfilling relationships. Chaz references Weezer to warn you that “there is no one to destroy your sweater” and, in another song, recalls Big Star to declare that “rock and roll is here to stay.” It feels like he misses everything (even things he wasn’t around for yet), but is somehow excited for what comes next.
What For? is a glimpse into the life of a guy trying to figure out what it all means. The music is influenced by bands like Big Star, Talking Heads, Tim Maia, Todd Rundgren, but it doesn’t quite sound like any of them in particular. And it isn’t trying to. It has that special something that Chaz imbues in every Toro Y Moi album, his personal filter on the world he experiences. So whatever message you take from the album, don’t forget that it’s good. As Chaz himself so candidly believes, “Good is good. Good finds its own audience.”
Chaz Bear (formerly Bundick) was a musician from birth. Growing up, it was normal to hear music across genres, from Michael Jackson to Elvis Costello to The Specials, in the Bundick household. These influences were quite unique for a biracial kid growing up in South Carolina, contributing to the complexity of Chaz’s self-understanding and expression through his own music.
Chaz began playing and recording original compositions in his preteen years, forming multiple indie bands starting in middle school and continuing until his personal project, Toro y Moi, was signed by Carpark Records in 2009. Before getting signed, he was already an incredibly prolific artist, having released over 10 Toro y Moi albums on his own (and undoubtedly retaining a vast compendium of unreleased songs). His personal work drew upon a vaster array of influences than did his full band. Early Toro work called upon Chaz’s childhood exposure to 80’s R&B, pop and electronic music, while also evolving with his discoveries of acts like My Bloody Valentine and J Dilla and his burgeoning interest in French house. Just before his graduation from the University of South Carolina, where he earned a degree in graphic design, Chaz caught the attention of music bloggers and record labels with his dreamy, bedroom recordings, eventually compiled into his first album under Carpark Records, Causers of This.
Causers was one of a few albums to kick off the trend of home-recorded, hazy albums relying heavily on samples and production, evoking the feeling of a muggy, Southern summer. While the album did well and broke ground for Chaz’s career as a musician, it resulted in the widespread assumption that Chaz was a one trick pony, able only to write music similar to that of Causers. He immediately made it clear that he is an extremely dynamic musician with the 2011 release of Underneath the Pine, an album recorded between tours that was composed entirely of live instrumentation, moving away from the sample-based aesthetic of Causers. From then on, Chaz released an album every other year (sometimes more frequently), each one a display of his adeptness with different genres. While each album was distinct and sometimes a complete departure from the previous, Chaz’s unique production techniques and melodic sensibilities tie them all together. Whether listening to the psych rock-based What For? or 2017’s R&B-influenced Boo Boo, it is always clear that it’s a Toro y Moi album.
The most recent Toro y Moi album, Outer Peace, was written and recorded in the Bay Area after Chaz’s return from a one year stint in Portland. It is somewhat of a homecoming celebration, filled with features by friends and saturated with a playfulness that had not previously been embraced in past Toro albums. Outer Peace stands in contrast to the more sparse and contemplative Boo Boo, an album recorded while in Portland in relative isolation. With Outer Peace, Chaz showcases his ability to remain on the cutting edge of music’s evolution while not taking himself too seriously. There are contemporary hip hop references mixed in with funk, Eurodance and ambient elements, all interwoven expertly and retaining that quintessential Toro y Moi aesthetic.
Only five days after releasing Outer Peace, Chaz posted a photo of a cassette titled “SOUL TRASH V1” on his Instagram with Dropbox link to what appeared to be a mixtape. Later, the post and link were taken down and for the first time, Soul Trash will receive a proper release on October 29th along with a short film by Laneya Billingsley.
• North American Publicity by Grandstand
• Comm Spec + College Radio Promotion by Terrorbird
• AAA/Non-Commercial Radio by Dauntless
• 2015 festival dates including Coachella and Hangout
• Extensive Spring 2015 North American tour
Deluxe LP: 677517010244
1. What You Want
3. The Flight
4. Empty Nesters
7. Spell It Out
8. Half Dome
9. Run Baby Run
10. Yeah Right