New Music: Toner ‘Passing Glance’ EP

Oakland’s so-called “slowcore revivalists,” Toner, just released an EP titled ‘Passing Glance’ on Vacant Stare Records.

“It’s crazy how fast people come and go out of your life,” says Sam Cruz, the frontman of Toner. He says Passing Glance was written around the time he moved out and stopped seeing old friends–it was an isolating experience. With a premise like this, you wouldn’t expect their music to sound the way it does.

On the new EP, we get a continuous stream of gleaming melodies that bounce around a ubiquitous, brooding landscape. The band recorded with Dave Lyndell at Camp David in Portland and the result is something more dense and tangible than their last release. An immediate difference being that the instrumentation and vocals are more pronounced and distinct compared to the somewhat fuzzy blend of arrangements you’d find on their self-titled LP release from last year (noticeable with the re-release of “High & Dry”). The title track “Passing Glance” is a short and droning track, perhaps the most melancholic of the EP, especially in contrast to the other tracks like “Juice” because it doesn’t leave room for the same swirling endorphin rush that grabs hold of you as they break into the chorus.

“The lyrics are mostly about letting go of love and trying to be happy with yourself and seeing people around that you no longer speak to,” says Cruz in discussing the meaning behind “Smoking Room,” the most infectious pop track on the EP. In addition, the song is part reflection on the frustrating process of overthinking everything and dwelling when that time could be used more productively. We feel you, man.

Although Toner’s sound may lean slightly on the dream pop or indie rock fence, these aren’t really the best genre descriptors that come to mind. It seems like the band traded in some of their gloomy blues for equal parts shimmery pop, ultimately finding a strong balance of both sounds in their punk rooted moody rock. Cruz says if he had to describe the band’s music, it would come down to “Lovers Rock” or maybe “Slowcore Revival,” only jokingly, of course. But perhaps there’s some truth to this. Find out for yourself and listen below.

Order the EP now on Vacant Stare Records.