Tony Low – Tone-Wah (2013)

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It’s been a few years since we’ve heard anything from Tony Low, but as evidenced by his new disc, Tone-Wah, he’s obviously kept his chops up in the interim.

For those too young to have been there or perhaps you’ve simply been hibernating in a cave, this highly acclaimed singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was a founding member of the Cheepskates, a New York band that made a big splash in the ’80s with their bright and shiny brand of modern day garage pop. After the group fizzled, Tony journeyed down the solo route, released a trio of fine albums, then put together another band, the Lowbots, who were touted by fans and critics alike.

But no matter how lauded his past endeavors are, Tony refuses to stand still and always moves forward. Here on the lowtunes release Tone-Wah, which is aptly titled, as the tone of wah-wah guitars frequently does inhabit the sessions, the North Carolina based artist retains the principal sound and style he’s known for, but stretches and expands such a vision by experimenting with varied colors and feelings.

Stamped with crushing rhythms and seizing six-string flourishes, assisted by biting hooks, “The Secret” sizzles with power and magnitude to a needling acid folk rock beat, and “Bass Guitar” jingles and jangles with breezy vocal harmonies and sun-kissed melodies.

Kicking off on a slow and brooding note, “Won’t Somebody???” eventually takes a shocking turn by sticking symphonic arrangements worthy of the Moody Blues into the show, where the instantly irresistible “There ‘n Gone” skips and flips with fresh and ripe radio-ready pop perceptions. Last but definitely not least, there’s the marvelously majestic “Smoke From Space,” an atmospheric swirl of hazy smog-filled psychedelic cuisine that evokes the surreal imagery and sonic sensibilities of Rain Parade.

An inspired effort exposing Tony’s love and appreciation for cool music, Tone-Wah also features the talents of former Lowbots drummer Mike Glock. These guys certainly have a telepathic vibe going, so let’s hope we can expect more missives from them in the very near future.

Revealing a wide range of influences, particularly the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Velvet Underground, Tone-Wah actually transcends its aspirations and resides in a class all its own.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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