Beyond chill: Toro Y Moi’s Underneath the Pine

With South By South-West (SXSW) just a week away, the last month has been a bombardment of showcase announcements and stories about “must-see” acts. Among the throngs of hipster-fodder is one band that keeps rising to the surface: Toro Y Moi. To be technically correct, Toro Y Moi is really just the stage name for Chazwick Bundick, a South Carolina native who has helped define the obtuse faux-genre “Chill-wave.” (Editorial note: With the exception of 1980’s “New Wave,” I find it difficult to take any modern “-wave” genre seriously).

Tags aside, there is a reason Toro Y Moi has persistently shown up on my radar. Apart from the marketing campaigns and associated buzz, the new record Underneath The Pine is a fresh and accessible collection of laid-back dance songs with smooth overtones.

There is a certain vintage feel to Pine, as each song draws from classic-sounding instrumentation and traditional beats (there’s no trip-hop on this record). “New Beat” stands out for its contemporary take on disco, but don’t worry, there’s nothing cheesy here, just 70’s synths and maybe a few bongo samples.

While other “wave” groups such as The XX, MillionYoung, and STRFKR have markedly darker, more electronic sounds, Toro Y Moi maintains a certain air of warmth. That warmth is what sets this band apart and is the reason they have come into vogue. Rather than being strictly dance music or exclusively ambient and “too cool,” Underneath The Pine comes from a collective nostalgia.

Toro Y Moi will be making a handful of appearances at SXSW from March 16th to 19th and will play the Larimer Lounge in Denver on March 31. Visit www.minesblog.com/music for more information and the music video for “New Beat.”

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