Powerpop CD Review: Tony Low – Tone-Wah
A few years back, having just relocated to the Triad from NY/NJ, I wandered into a great little club in Winston-Salem NC called The Garage. Life has a way of springing little surprises on us and, as we all know, they are most often of the unwanted variety. This evening would be different.
Opening was Tony Low, a guitarist and Greensboro resident who would perform a very pleasant acoustic set. I remembered his name but couldn’t immediately place where I knew him from, simultaneously thinking that while he was quite good, acoustic music wasn’t what I came that evening to see and hear. Then it hit me. Cheepskates. He had been in a really wonderful powerpop band called Cheapskates with another guy of significant talent, Shane Faubert. And while Faubert wrote most of the songs on their last and very fine album, It Wings Above, Low had written a couple of songs on that record as well.
We had a short conversation after the set as he echoed my thoughts, saying that he’d be putting together a band shortly as most fans of his previous work expected to hear something other than acoustic treatments of powerpop songs. Tony was right, of course. Not that his acoustic set was bad. In fact, it was quite good. Its just that those songs deserved a full band.
Tony Low’s latest EP, Tone-Wah, illustrates this point perfectly.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, my last recollection being his acoustic set at The Garage roughly 4 years ago. Tone-Wah is a very pleasant surprise, a disc that won’t disappoint any former Cheepskates fan or for that matter, any fan of guitar driven powerpop and psych-pop. Byrds-like guitars embellish pleasing melodies with hooks that really stick.
I was immediately struck by the honesty of these songs. They have teeth, for lack of a better term. My personal faves are “The Secret”, which has a definite 60’s vibe to it with a killer hook and “There and Gone” the final song on the EP and it’s best tune. There is something almost Tommy-era Who about it, and it sounds better every time I listen to it.
While I can’t say that I feel that way about every song on the EP, Tone-Wah is most definitely worth a listen.