Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Few Words About The New One From D.C. Legends Tone

The band Tone has been a fixture in this town for longer than I can remember. The band's press says that they've been around for more than 25 years. So, yeah, if your band has played both the "old" and current 9:30 Clubs, then you're a legend. Which is why I titled this post that way.

Still, for a bunch of legends these cats make music that is both wildly expansive and modest in approach. Without a whole lot of pretension, this collective of musicians make big tunes that soar and agitate in equal measure. A perfect example of this dynamic can be found on the band's newest album, Antares, out Friday via Dischord and TMinusOneMusic.

If the title cut is familiar and a way to ease a fan, new or old, into the music that's on this record, the superb "Weapon Of Moonlight" is the furious unfurling of all the talents in this group. The guitars of Norm Veenstra, Jim Williamson, and Gustavo Vargas slash chords with some abandon while bassist Charles Andrews and drummer Gregg Hudson battle it out down below. The cut is controlled chaos and if it sounds like the guitars are like animals circling their prey (to use a really awkward description), the rhythm section is the beast in the center fighting back. Instrumental music that's not jazz is rarely this effectively emotional.

Elsewhere, "Quiver" unwinds with all the plucked precision of early Mogwai, and "Incoming" skirts the edges of the sort of hard rock that one found on mid-period Soundgarden records. Antares ends with the sublime-and-epic "Bright Angel Falls", all delicate guitar hooks amped up amid chugging chords and brutal drum-work. For a 12-minute song, things move at a very brisk clip -- even the "quiet bits" -- and yet things feel deliberate and precise throughout the course of the track.

In a nutshell, that's sort of the appeal of Tone, isn't it? The band has been making music that straddles a line between absolute chaos and checked fury for more than 2 decades. They have shown themselves to be some of the best musicians in this city full of great musicians and they've done all this without a great deal of unnecessary pretension. I'm always impressed by artists who make something serious and affecting without making a big damn deal about it and with Tone there's modesty to the presentation that adds to overall impact of this band's music.

Tone are playing DC9 on Thursday. Find out more details via the band's official website, or official Facebook page.

Antares by Tone drops this Friday and the you can order it via the Bandcamp link below or via the Dischord website.