feature: review – toro y moi’s new album, ‘what for?’

April 7, 2015

People feel free to slap various labels on Chaz Bundick’s music. Chillwave, Garage Pop, Electro-R&B, alt Pop..they are all shortcuts to thinking and the most easy way to market art. Bundick, who records under the name, Toro Y Moi and DJ’s under the moniker Les Sins, comes off as  a chameleon-like wizard with his new release What For?.

By John Paul Shiver, AFROPUNK Contributor


For this record, Bundick, a Berkeley resident, ditched the R&B, bubble funk sound of previous records.  Feeling the need to be challenged and stay ahead of the curve with contemporary music in 2015, he stripped himself of comfort zone compositions rooted in electronic dance music. And returned to his rock roots by strapping on a guitar.
There is a distinct possibility, What For? is the personal bouillabaisse of sounds that inspired Bundick to start making music in the first place. At 37 minutes, the ten-song record weaves in and out of Beach Boys and Big Star harmonies, Talking Heads nervous funk hooks and alternative 90’s buzz and 70’s am radio blue-eyed rock ballads. It’s a quick, crisp and complete time traveling rock record. Like morning dew on cedar, What For?, is very familiar and yet new at the same time. 
Bundick, has refurbished moods and sounds from previous musical era’s and genres, while avoiding the hackneyed trap of imitation. This record is a testament to his warm touch…. in that he is a architect of sound, not a builder nor biter of Mc Mansion rip-offs. Hence, we don’t have a Stone Temple Pilots situation on our hands.

From the playful Weezer tone of “Empty Nesters”, the fuzzed out bass goodness of “Half Dome” and the impish sly jokes working as lyrics in “What You Want”, Bundick shares his 2015 view of early alternative rock from the 90’s. With “Buffalo”, one can imagine a 1970’s blue-eyed soul mid tempo song, penned by Todd Rundgren, floating out of a AM only transistor radio. Or with “Ratcliff” we are given the luxury of hearing the audio equivalent of a 90’s Wes Andersen film that was never released.There is a heavy XTC sound coupled with a Squeeze wink and a nod lyric content.  So what may come off as subversive and insular. Is just merely another way of being conservative with words yet expansive in meaning. It’s a tough trick to pull off.But Bundick succeeds at it…in 37 minutes.

What For? is released today (April 7th)  – Pre-order at


* This article was originally posted on SF Bands And Music Mag