Published Jul 16, 2019To be a fan of Tony Molina's work to-date means having a true understanding of "short but sweet": his 2013 solo debut Dissed and Dismissed spanned a little over ten minutes and 2018's Kill the Lights barely passed the quarter-hour mark, yet both these records felt complete in their brevity, like a well-written haiku. Upholding this tradition with his latest release, Songs From San Mateo County, Molina presents a compilation of bite-sized pop rock tracks that leave an everlasting impression to please both new and ardent fans' palettes.
In many ways, Tony Molina is a minimalist. Having been an active member of the San Francisco hardcore scene since he could first wield a guitar, his music often reads like a run-of-the-mill punk song: short and straight to the point. Lyrically, he expends his energy focusing on heartbreak and the sadness that follows it. From each of these angles, not much has changed in his latest release.
But what sets Songs From San Mateo County apart from Molina's previous works is how distinctive his style has become. Dissed and Dismissed was an album that leaned heavily in the direction of alt rock, while the ensuing two projects Confront the Truth and Kill the Lights were essentially prog folk records.
Songs From San Mateo County feels like Tony Molina's logical next step, where his two stylistic counterparts have organically discovered a middle ground. Nothing shows this coming-together of styles better than "Word Around Town," where Molina channels his inner Elliott Smith with soft acoustic strings before delving into a fuzzed-out, Weezer-esque electric guitar riff just in time for the chorus.
At the end of the day Tony Molina is just a guy who loves making music, and this is clear in every second of the layered, hard-hitting Songs from San Mateo County. Longtime listeners will find it exciting to see how the Bay Area rocker has refined his style here, and although another album comprised mostly of minute-long melodies might leave us hungry for more, we can rest assured at this point in his career that Tony Molina knows what he is doing. (Smoking Room)