Sound — 8
This is the band with probably the most varied sound you've ever heard. Toca are mixing so many different styles, it's almost unbelievable they managed to fit all of that into one record! Their self-titled album is a result of 5-year work featuring music so incompatible as jazz, punk, hip-hop, hardcore and reggae. This Los Angeles-based outfit borrows the name from Mayan meaning of TOCA, which translates as from many energies comes one rhythm and they quite justify the name by their sound! The band is vocalist Danny Xololanxinxo Rodriguez, David Ramos (drummer, vocalist), Tommy Valencia (vocalist, multi-instrumentalist), Danny Levin (horns) and Max Heath (piano). Rodriguez claims that ...this album really has a piece of everybody in the band -- having 6 different people with diverse backgrounds in the band, all taking part in creating, you wouldn't expect something primitive or simple. They didn't have a problem writing songs and trying to fit them in one certain sound of the album, constantly switching genres and styles from song to song. Thus there are a lot of influences on the record, like Hearts And Gold sounds a lot like by Busta Rhymes. Of course working in such varied music field, the guys couldn't avoid guest appearances. Lead single Liar features guest vocalists Busdriver, Pigeon John and Ellay Khule. It is done very close to the sound of '80s and Depeche Mode, thanx to it's synth-pop beat despair atmosphere and soothing keyboard. The music and lyrics in the songs follow each other, lead by one common idea or emotion. That is why the sound may change unpredictably within one track. Joyful Misery is about the relation between the society and it's citizen. The song starts really mild and playful and then suddenly turns into trash and metal, explaining people's many faces and the happiness we are trying to show, while being really sad inside.
Lyrics — 7
There are not too much words in the tracks and that's for a reason -- musicians so varied and sophisticated in music are quite poor in poetry, at least when it is in English. Cheesy lyrics, like the ones in Toca Can't Dance And she knows just what she does/And she know just who she is, (doesn't everybody?) repeated multiple times in the chorus, spoil the whole picture. Though there are better moments in other songs -- like I'm gonna drink your blood for breakfast in Liar.
Overall Impression — 8
This CD is a challenge to the limitation of music on the nowadays scene. Toca actually did something nobody was brave enough to do before -- they've showed that sound within one band can be so much varied and there are actually no boundaries for those eager to experiment. If you've got talent, of course. They mix it so mild, that even though there are so many different music styles blended within one record, you don't feel annoyed listening to jazz after hardcore or punk after hip-hop. The guys have thirst for music and of course are aiming to change the world, like many artists on the scene. But unlike many of their colleagues, with such potential, they have much more chances for that. Their first effort may sound not so polished as you would want it to be, but it archives the target of a debut record, grabbing you attention and making you curious about what else these crazies can do.