The self-titled EP debut from Pawtucket-based quintet Ming Toro (Bucket Republic/75orLess Records) will take a few dozen spins to settle in (or better yet, burrow), but when it does — and it will — prepare for a mighty regeneration of scuzzed-out post-punk.
WARDING OFF THE GOAT and smelling the vinegar.
Ming Toro bassist Steve Morse and I shared the same analogy when chatting up the unique and varied acts that comprise the 75orLess roster, referencing the Land of Misfit Toys. 75orLess Records founder Slick MacDougall has built a stellar roster comprised of acts on the fringes of "indie rock" and, after witnessing Ming Toro open for three of 75's finest (Coma Coma, the diePods, and Six Star General) at the 201 last weekend, it's safe to say that Ming Toro fit right in with their sonic misfit counterparts.
"Those bands are in a similar situation, sort of stuck in between genres and don't really fit in with a particular type of rock music," Morse said. "In a way, it is comforting to know we're not the only ones that are not so easily categorized."
Ming Toro sounds even nuttier when landing on the iTunes library next to the sugary-sweet Minky Starshine, hands down the alt-poppiest act on 75orLess; the two bands will share a bill when Ming Toro returns to AS220 this weekend.
Ming Toro (available at iTunes, or pick up a hard copy at 75orLessRecords. com for $7, which includes a copy of Ming Toro: Live at AS220 while supplies last) revels in spastic, squelching riffs, new-wavey basslines, and Moog- and theremin-affected vocals (what MT singer Kevin Commodore calls "wounded animal lyrical stylings"), not unlike MT heroes Six Finger Satellite and Chinese Stars. In fact, 6FS drummer and founding member Rick Pelletier worked the boards here (a succinct seven tracks in under 25 minutes). Guitarists Anthony Champa and newest member Fred Galpern provide plenty of tweaks and distorted squeaks while Morse and drummer Matt DeMeis hold the reins and Commodore deftly commands the pitch antenna on his theremin. The Stooges, Jon Spencer, and the Jesus Lizard are obvious influences, as is Morse's love of "Jah Wobble-era PiL." The EP opens with teeth-clencher "Magnum Size" and "Sexmaze" (getting some airplay at 'HJY), with Morse's nimble bass giving way to a sludgy breakdown before popping back up for air. "I like the way you make me sick" Commodore croons on "The Germ"; on the closing track, "Le Masquerade," he takes a shot at any and all posers: "Donkeys and douchebags and downers, what a display/A place to be seen and dismembered, a fucking charade." But it's the slinky "Outlaw" that hits the spot for me, and provided one of the highlights at the 201.
I sent the Ming crew some questions; here's some of the exchange.
YOU GUYS PROUDLY REP THE BUCKET AS MING TORO HQ. WHAT'S THE CONNECTION?
Matt DeMeis: The Commodore is a Pawtucket lifer. Steve lives there now and our practice space, the Dungeon, is in his basement. I lived in Pawtucket for 10 years but just moved. This might sound lame, but I did my time. Collectively, we definitely have womb-to-tomb status in Pawtucket, and I can't think of a better town to be based in — a central locale with easy highway access, all the fixin's. Hopefully Pawtucket will hold its own and not go down the pantyhose-and-boat shoes route of the West End.