Tonight @ Detroit: Totimoshi / Fu Manchu
Buck Owens is Black Sabbath and Totimoshi knows why: distinctive guitar tone and songs about Satan make a boy from Bakersfield do good, and Totimoshi guitarist Tony Aguilar learned the necessary lessons from both. Central Valley-raised—where he grew up on country/western as much as rock & roll and Mexican corridos—Aguilar and now-wife/always- bassist Meg Castellanos have been the Rose and Buck of Oakland's noted heavy-rock scene for almost 10 years, nosing their band Totimoshi through a disruptively unreliable rotation of drummers toward latest album Ladron, which is metal-meets-Morricone with production by Helmet's Page Hamilton and bitter what's-wrong-with-the-world? lyrics that could be from the last years of any of America's failing wars. As a kid, says Aguilar, he used to put on Hendrix and the Band of Gypsys' "Machine Gun" and listen over and over and over, "and it used to kill me. You can read any book or any well-written novel about the times when Hendrix was living, or you can understand it subconsciously by listening to that song—one song that tells the story of a million things going on."
Ladron—Spanish for "thief," picked to suggest "you stealing from yourself, or society stealing from you," says Aguilar—is Totimoshi's album for troubled times, a nihil-political record that follows up the more personal Monoli and Mysterioso with credit to the menacing mood and loose, open feel of "Machine Gun." Ladron takes a traditionally heavy '70s-scum-'90s chassis—Hamilton's influence might explain the Bleach/Meantime moments; the title track could fit with dirthead worthies like Mad Dog or JPT Scare Band—and then piles on stranger and quieter asides from a winding line of influence, looping in short snippets from Beatles (just a few seconds of the intro to "Gods of Earth" or maybe Neil Young (something about the guitar on the acoustic "These Meanings") or even a string section to match a scene from El Topo (the final suite of the instrumental "The Drunken Sun Forever Watching"). Since we're both serious grown men, we can straight-facedly discuss things like the qualifications for heaviness: Aguilar says to him it's his lyrics, which he spins out in unconscious freewrite and then edits back to reveal some kind of coherency, but besides the fearsome low-end—Castellanos and new drummer Luke Herbst—that Totimoshi honed to stand before tourmates like Mastodon and the Melvins, you could also credit Ladron's weird sense of weight to the band's weird and wide-open sense of dynamic. Aguilar even sings—nice notes and everything—on this album. It's like they do when they load their van: "You gotta be careful how you dispense the weight," he says. (CZ)