Let’s face it – math-rock is in full bloom, and has been so for the past few years. It’s not a relatively “new” genre, but recently bands have been widening the scope math-rock covers, mixing it with their own influences, and bringing forth a completely new sound that pushes the limits of the genre further. This caused an explosion of interest in this fusion-esque realm, and more and more bands step up to tango with math-rock’s intricate and delightful themes and meshing it with anything that works.
RELEASE DATE: 30 January 2016 LABEL: A Spur of the Moment Project
The Philippine-based band Tom’s Story are guilty of this as well, crafting blissful, mellowed-out melodies while each song pushes an emotionally vivid and pensive aesthetic. The months following this album’s release was a whirlwind of both good and bad for me, and this review took shape in the ways the songs stuck in my head throughout all of it. This album, and review, has become more personal than I could have imagined, but it’s the best way to describe just how impactful Tom’s Story music is.
“Anchors” is a perfect introduction to Tom’s Story’s sound and songwriting chops. It has the technical guitars of math-rock, the melodic drive of emo, and a post-rock song structure to keep it together. This band is a super-group of genres in my mind, and these emphases on exploring differing ideas is what makes this album a fresh and enjoyable listen. I was blown away by the frantic guitar shredding and lively drums when “Anchors” crescendos, and this feeling is constant throughout the release.
I wanted to dissect what Tom’s Story may be on this album, and while it may never be clear, there are some definite connections on this album with songs like “Dream” and “Catcher” as well as “Light” and “House”. The use of acoustic guitars on “Light” and “House” felt natural and authentic, and pushed a much heavier emotional draw than its electric counterparts. “Dream” and “Catcher”, on the other hand, stayed true to the open and delicate nature of dreams themselves, creating yet another wonderful soundscape on this album to dive into.
One of my favorite songs has to be the aptly named “Mugatu”, which goes places I didn’t think this band could go. Being from the Philippines, Tom’s Story have a lot of their own traditional music styles as well, and they spare no effort bridging that gap. I think that they’ve found their place in this realm of music because it makes sense to them, and it allows them to take influence from their culture and put it directly into their vision as musicians. The end release of “Mugatu” is unlike anything I’ve ever heard, and it’s upbeat, dance-like rhythm felt genuine to what this band stands by.
I could go on and on describing the reasons this album is worth your time, but none should be more important than knowing that it consumed a lot of mine. This album has an interesting way of fitting the mood at hand, like a universal puzzle piece, and it was a ray of sun as much as it was rain on a cloudy day. I could put it on to relax, and I could put it on to reflect, and this feeling is unique to the album.
Never have I felt an album more physically present than Tom’s Story’s, and their appreciation for emotion is the central force of this record. It lets you feel like you, and the music responds accordingly, making the connection between musician and listener a two-way street. This album holds a special place in my heart, because it let me find out who I was and what I was struggling with at the time. When I listen to this album after the fact, I can realize that Tom’s Story was there as much as a friend or any other helping hand would be. When music breaks down barriers like that, it reminds me why music became my outlet for personal hardships. Tom’s Story’s music changed me, and it’s time it changes you too.