In a rare display of earnest self-awareness, Bay Area trio Totimoshi were the first to admit that 2008's Milagrosa -- their fifth full-length and first for Volcom Entertainment -- was something of a transitional project; comprising vocalist/guitarist Tony Aguilar and bassist Meg Castellanos' determined effort to not only distance themselves from once dominant post-grunge influences (particularly drawn from the Melvins and Nirvana), but to incorporate their shared Latin heritage into what could loosely be deemed a concept album. The son of migrant farm workers, chief songwriter Aguilar reportedly drew from personal experience to convey the feelings, if not the precise meanings, behind his generally very oblique lyrics throughout Milagrosa, and, at their most cynical, distressing, and distorted laments like "El Emplazado," "Last Refrain," "The Whisper," and "Dear," to painfully express the nomadic immigrant's gloomy outlook for this world, and frail hopes for the next. Thankfully, the album isn't alI doom and gloom from start to finish (almost, but not quite), as the storm clouds admit just a glimmer of sunshine's hope within the rhythmic thrust of "Milagroso" and the yearning melodies of "Little Bee," then fuel what's left with a grim sort of determination that wills the human spirit to make the best of what life brings. And amid all this textual depression, it's in their increasingly inventive and unpredictable musical experiments that Totimoshi remain notably upbeat, as they insistently thwart traditional rock songwriting arrangements to stop and start, twist and turn into unforeseen dynamic variants within the likes of "Sound the Horn," the aforementioned "Milagroso," and the uniquely acoustic "Forever in Bone (Los Dos)." So even though occasional shards of barbed-wire, latter-day grunge like "Fall and Bound," "Seeing Eye," and the dissonant lurch of "Gnat" still hark back to their previous albums, they also fit quite seamlessly into Milagrosa's quickly evolving sonic aesthetic. And, in the end, whether intentionally or by accident, the album's more unified thematic concept actually serves to temper some of its incremental musical adventurousness making Milagrosa both more challenging and engaging than Totimoshi's previous efforts, while coming ever closer to establishing their own, unique style. Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi
- Hard Rock
- Heavy Metal, Alternative Metal, Alternative Pop/Rock
- July 8, 2008
- Antonio Aguilar (Vocals ) , Meg Castellanos (Vocals ) , Page Hamilton (Vocals )
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