While most bands claim to be derived of a "do it yourself" origin of playing and recording music, one sticks out like a sore thumb among the masses of manicured fingers. Whether it is the astonishingly impressive seventeen albums under their belt or the microwaves and hot water heaters that make appearances throughout those seventeen albums, Tonstartssbandht continue to push the boundaries of what to expect in DIY music on their eighteenth LP, Petunia.
Tonstartssbandht, comprised of brothers Edwin and Andy White, are the epitome of a jam-band – well, at least what constitutes as that description nowadays. While no artists quite scratch the surface of what the Grateful Dead or Phish aim to accomplish, Tonstartssbandht's new album Petunia, stretched across seven tracks, fleshes out this jam-band style through modern-day lens.
The White brothers did not decide to find refuge in their basements aimlessly producing tracks until the end of time to the chagrin of their day jobs but rather, did the responsible thing: signed with a major label, Mexican Summer, who houses such artists as Cate le Bon, Connan Mockasin, and Allah-Las.
The differentiating factor with Tonstartssbandht compared to other indie jam projects, however, is the fact that they would have stuck it out in the basement if they had to. Though the connections and resources of a label along with a pretty solid gig for brother-Andy performing guitar with Mac DeMarco's touring band, Tonstartssbandht are completely self-made as Petunia will land as only their second out on Mexican Summer out of their eighteen releases – and this was the time to do it.
Petunia cracks open to their second single, "Pass Away" – a light finger picking introduction accompanied by shakers and ever-increasing percussive accents—welcomes both brothers into the fold of this piece that consists solely of Andy's 12-string Danelectro guitar and Edwin's drum kit. Oh, and of course, the pair's blending vocals.
Andy's guitar on "Pass Away" continues to explore and open new doors of possibilities while Edwin's stream of thought drumming moves their pace forward culminating in an extremely captivating opener.
As "Pass Away" fades into track two, "Hey Bad," the gentle finger-picking returns with an equally as pleasant riff until bursting into a 1970s-dipped psychedelic journey intrinsic to elements of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard stewed with Brian Wilson-like falsetto vocals.
Despite being just shy of seven minutes, "Hey Bad" is only the fifth longest on the album as the Florida brothers certainly don't shy away from long tracks or frankly, any limitations on their creations.
Something Tonstartssbandht have embodied as a mantra is a sentiment from the sage words of Bob Weir, essentially stating that despite playing songs for decades upon decades, variations upon variations, that they are constantly growing and constantly evolving. This idea of treating their songs like living things is probably why they have so much space and breath to move within them.
"What Has Happened" arrives as track three and as the first single released from Petunia. As Andy's delayed guitar dances around between some of his most powerful vocal work, the theme continues to poke at a feeling of waiting – like spring petunias, like wondering what exactly has happened to me.
With an arrangement admittedly influenced by Talk Talk, "What Has Happened" makes for one of the stronger releases on the whole project because of its evolving and transitionary nature between a crucial juncture in the album. This is the song that makes listeners stick around for the next few tracks to see just what else they have to say.
As track four, "Falloff," continues with a steadfast beat and lightly-sprinkled words of wisdom, the pace continually picks up and culminates into the longest song on the bright, punchy Petunia.
It is around this point where we can really see the consistency held throughout the project as Petunia is the brothers' first album they have recorded in one place, their home of Orlando, Florida, and within an intended period of time. While the DIY nature could suggest the former, being piecing together an album slowly and remotely, Tonstartssbandht opted to use the pandemic to unite for a cohesive piece that proves to be one of their most mature yet.
Tracks five and six, "Magic Pig" and "All of My Children," go just as they came both topping out around two minutes in length but equally as charming as their eight-minute rips. "Magic Pig" has that optimistic guitar that makes for a highlight among the controlled-chaos while "All of My Children" chugs along to introduce the finale.
Petunia ends with "Smilehenge," a rocking reveal of some deeper thoughts than the surface level may indicate. The White brothers speak of packing their bags, sweeping up the apartment, and saying goodbye to an old life and an old love. Through Neil Young and Crazy Horse type phrasing, "Smilehenge" offers a final goodbye for now from the duo that simultaneously creates all the time yet never at all.
Petunia sees Tonstartssbandht continue to mend aspects of psychedelia and krautrock into digestible tidbits of rock umbrellaed with the term "indie" – especially when delivered via Mexican Summer. Tonstartssbandht tours Petunia across the U.S. this fall kicking off in North Carolina and fittingly ending at Andy's Bar in Denton, Texas.