Tora! Tora! Torrance! – A Cynic’s Nightmare

Tora! Tora! Torrance!
A Cynic’s Nightmare

After hearing Tora! Tora! Torrance!’s debut release, Get Into It, I was no more impressed than that time when I was younger and one of my friends said he had something “really cool” to show me, dragging me to the corner of the playground to point out a dead squirrel. It was kind of cool, in a twisted kind of way, but it was not anything I wanted to again be a part of right away. Yet both of these things stuck with me, and I still remember that little dead squirrel, as well as the spastic and abrasive sounds of Tora! Tora! Torrance!, to this very day.
Strange way to begin a review, isn’t it? Well, it all makes sense somehow, in that for me, this band simultaneously failed to make an impression and left a pretty deep one. What I mean is that although I knew perfectly well that what I was hearing had no place in my record collection, it was odd and original enough to earn a coveted spot in someone else’s. I would want to forget it, and yet I would not be able to. So when this new disc came along, I remembered, down to the cover art and opening notes, that older disc I had heard before.
But enough about that, because the band’s latest album is consistently capable of leaving an even deeper impression, which just goes to show you that this is a band moving in some interesting directions. As far as snotty garage punks go, the boys of Tora! Tora! Torrance! have the ability to shred with the best of them, and that is what makes this the sort of oddly original band that will stick with you whether you want it to or not. The band has sprouted up at an opportune time and may benefit from the current favoritism towards bands with a heavy garage-blues influence. But Tora! Tora! Torrance! appears to take an equally sizeable chunk of influence from spastic punk as well, and the musical structures of this album make that obvious. The rhythms are playful yet pummeling, and though they are occasionally overshadowed by everything else that is taking place, they are almost always doing something interesting if you stop to take notice, swelling and fading in a way that makes some songs feel almost like epics. The guitars are where the chaos and noise come into play. You almost feel bad for these poor stringed instruments, squealing and hollering in a way that would make you ask whoever was playing to stop, if it didn’t fit so perfectly with the rest of what the band is doing. Spattered here and there are bits of keyboard that never really take the lead but offer a nice extra layer when they do appear. And of course, there are the vocals, which are both approachable and obnoxious, perfect for this sort of venture. The cries come out in a snotty and aggressive sort of fashion, spewing lyrics (ie. “We don’t read the books, we write them / With diamond rings and new lives in the closet / Overdoses, fake deaths, rehabs in California”) that would easily come off as pretentious and annoying if not accompanied by such a chaotic yet controlled soundtrack.
The band never relies on melodies swiped from somewhere else, nor does it rely on a heavy coating of studio polish and trickery, though the recording quality should suit listeners just fine. These songs are not experimental to the point of being overbearing, and yet they are far from your average rock tunes. Building and collapsing, always brimming with an intense sense of energy, this is certainly an album worth hearing at least once.