Torin Muccino – For The Times

 Torin Muccino – For The Times

Torin Muccino – For The Times – Album Review

This dude is going places.

Feels like I’ve been on a pretty good run of luck when it comes to reviewing full albums lately…gonna keep that momentum flowing in the right direction & write about the debut record from Torin Muccino.  I’ve had the opportunity to check out For The Times (Released officially October 9th) over this past week and I’m not only stoked on what I’ve heard from this young artist out of Maine, but I’m confident that you’ll dig it just as much as I do – Torin is working with an incredibly relevant sound for right now.  And perhaps the best news?  It’s relevant for sure – but what he’s doing is no carbon-copy of anyone else.

You’ll find comparisons to be made along the way I’m sure…there’s almost always something that can be said in reference to other music out there as we all know.  You’ll hear the Classic-Rock influence, the Psychedelic vibes, the spot-on Indie sound, a tinge of the Blues/Folk and a whole bunch more on For The Times; and while Torin certainly brings a cohesiveness to his set-list through the killer vocals he lays down on this album…I’m positive you’ll be just as impressed with how diverse & deep the material runs.  I know a bit about the twenty-one year-old rockstar…I know that he comes from solid musical-stock as his Pops is a longtime musician as well; so in a way, it’s not surprising that Torin’s bursting out of the gate so strongly…a lot of his interest & skills, we’d all assume, would just come naturally from his environment and the influence of seeing & hearing his Dad play music over the years.  But here’s where good ol’ Mr. Muccino made an extremely amazing decision I’d imagine…and rather than impose his own style or sound on Torin’s own music, it seems as if he’s been encouraged at every step to find his own voice…to bring his own perspective to his songs if he was going to set out to be a musician.

And so he did.  So he has.  So he is.  Torin’s got himself a real debut to be proud of with For The Times and a terrific start into what could easily become a lifelong career if that’s what he wants to do.  Much like when I reviewed the project I, Useless and the album Twister earlier this week – you can hear the authenticity in young Torin Muccino; and originality always has a massive chance at success & longevity.  I know that if I could turn the clock back to where this artist is in life…and if I was ever lucky enough to have this much creativity & authenticity myself…well…I’d certainly have kept on going.  I’d imagine that once the people out there get a chance to listen to For The Times, he’s going to fully come to grips with the fact that he’s really onto something special here with the music he makes & style he brings to it…confirmation is coming just around the corner in October when this record officially gets released.

Because believe me…there will be many more people out there that hear the ‘it’ factor at work in Torin than just myself.  If you can somehow resist the lead-single and first cut on the record called “No More” – then straight-up, you’re made of much stronger steel than I’ll ever be.  From the very first time I heard this song, I’ve absolutely loved it…and once I heard the full album that this single came from a few weeks later, I couldn’t have agreed more with the choice to put this cut out there first.  “No More” immediately reveals a singer with an identifiable & unique sound – and it also gives you a glimpse into the stunning songwriting he’s already capable of.  The balance on this song is impeccable; the hooks in the music will grab you long before the vocals even start – and the moment that they do & Torin takes his moment in the spotlight on the microphone, this whole track just gets better & better.  Bass-lines are kickin’ it in the background, movin’ & groovin’ with the tight drum beat…guitars are full of sweetened & subtle tones…it all adds-up quickly and stacks up to a successful single that people will notice.  Add in a bit of keyboards to help fill in the atmosphere and Torin’s insightful approach to the vocals, and you’ve got the main ingredients as to what makes up “No More” and a lot of what you’ll hear on For The Times.  What really makes the entire record a great experience is the amount of personality, character and style you’ll hear from the album’s main star…and when you hear a track like “No More” your ears will confirm all this; the music is excellent…but whenever Torin shows up on the mic, you can’t help but listen.  He’s really got an incredible voice…amazing texture, amazing tone…it’s honestly really captivating to hear.  I completely dig the way he’s approached “No More” and think it instantly displays a lot about what makes Torin Muccino a real contender for a regular spot on your playlists & at the top of the charts.

The Classic-Rock-meets-Indie-Rock vibe starts to roar to life even more through “Control” – which…almost like the title would imply…is quite stunningly professional and actually quite bold as well.  Here’s the thing…it’s a debut record…there are bound to be some things that really work and some spots where Torin will be able to grow and evolve as the years go on…but when you consider what he’s already able to do with his first album…it really makes you want to put your chips down on this guy to go the distance.  Because…well…take “Control” for example.  I think you’ll hear hooks in the music right away once again, I think you’ll hear them in the verse and in the unique way that Torin approaches his vocals.  But here’s what I truly love – LISTEN to that downtrodden transition out of the first verse – that’s a move in the writing that’s powerful enough to take this track right out of the running for what would pass as a traditional ‘single’ – because it’s got real MEAT ON THE BONE.  It’s a smart part of the writing that, while it makes the song trip into a more progressive aspect of the structure that’ll be harder for the masses to keep up with, it the kind of addition to the composition & choice in the writing that you KNOW only a REAL songwriter would actually make.  Torin could have kept this 100% flashy if he wanted to – the main verses and chorus have incredible hooks, the surrounding instrumentation does as well…the mix of textures and swagger in the vocals will pull people in too.  I feel like he takes “Control” of the direction of his music really early on in this record…and I felt like that really occurs right here on “Control” where he kind of veers left when you’d assume he’d go right kinda-thing.  It’s decisions like this that will keep us all coming back to listen; I pointed the specific part of the song out for the difference it makes in the overall listening experience – but rest assured, I love what I hear.  So…overall…I suppose what I’m saying is…you get the best of both worlds on a track like “Control” – I think there’s a ton of appeal from the vibe this track creates…but there’s definitely art at work here too.

For fans of Jack White & the Black Keys – the title-track “For The Times” will certainly snag your attention and get you turning the volume up.  As defined in style as both those two comparisons are – that’s what I think makes Torin’s music really fantastic to listen to…because I’d be willing to bet that if you were a fan of bands like Alt-J, The Beta Band, Band Of Horses, or The Dandy Warhols, I’d assume you’d be just as into what you’ll hear on this cut.  You see what I’m saying?  Torin’s never too much of anything else…because he’s just being himself…he’s taking that opportunity to really express his own artistic perspective, sound, and style – and it’s combinations like you’ll hear on “For The Times” that point to just how well he can take a wide-range of influences & create something spectacularly fresh.  The first kick-in to the chorus makes a supreme impact…then the additional wildness that you get with what’s arguably a second-chorus of sorts…the undeniable swagger that Torin takes to the microphone in the vocal flow of the main hooks on “For The Times” is pure awesomeness to listen to.  I think the lead guitars are excellent…I have a few moments here & there with the rhythm parts; everything we hear upfront is played with such a noticeably vibrant passion…my only advice would be to make sure each part is coming out with just as much shine on the sound…that just because something is more set inside of the background doesn’t mean it deserves any less attention to detail than the rest.  Not a massive factor in how much I ended up loving this tune…I still think that his title-track comes out sounding fantastic overall…largely that’s because it’s really designed so that it’s what upfront that we hear most.

In my heart of hearts…I kind of hope that he’ll continue to experiment putting sounds like you find on the “Interlude” in his future recordings as well.  It’s less than fifty seconds long and it’s absolutely captivating, written & played entirely by Tony MacNaboe, who will show up on the keys as well in the track right after called “Jackie.”  “Interlude” is a purely beautiful moment in time with incredible texture & tone – it’s short & sweet and I want a whole lot MORE of it.  Though there are no vocals on this tune…it could very well be a sign of things to come in the future; while a lot of Torin’s music right now is the meat & potatoes of drums, bass, & guitar – as the “Interlude” clearly shows, there’s a lot of potential for the keyboards and an entirely different direction of sound possible for him as well, or the inclusion of guest-stars, collaborations of all kinds…the possibilities are endless and setting the stage for that to be able to happen later by incorporating pieces like this early on in his career will have his fans open to all sorts of ideas, styles, and sounds.  In the right atmosphere & environment…I think you can already hear that Torin’s vocal-style would work really well with something like the music from Tony on “Interlude” and again, create something different that we’ve yet to really experience…the potential for this artist is theoretically limitless right now.  This early on into his career, he can do whatever he wants to next.

“Interlude” also does an excellent job of calming down the atmosphere on the record after the riotous hooks of the title-track, allowing us to slide right into the charming sound of “Jackie” right afterwards.  Lyrically, it’s probably one of my favorites on the album as well…”Jackie” is quite a remarkably stunning song that you almost don’t see coming; you hear it once, it’s a pleasant vibe…you hear it twice, you’re hooked on the mix of humble innocence, self-reflection, and complex emotions in this tale.  As far as the third time or fourth, or fifth & so-on goes…the song has already become something you NEED after listening twice…all the times you listen after that are just trying to make sure you get that musical fix of sweetness you need in your day & you’ll be happy to do so.  That being said…it’s another fine example of the multiple layers in Torin’s writing & sound.  You can listen on the surface-level and be swept right off your feet by how gentle & charming this song sounds…and you can listen to the lyrics and realize that there’s a whole other level of contrast contained there.  “Jackie” is a memorable moment & chilled-out highlight on For The Times…one of those songs where the world around you stops for a second or two, and you just wrap yourself up in the warm glow & invitational sound of this song to listen.  Awesome.  Bass is fantastic, drums are perfectly delicate…and there are definitely guitars in the mix somewhere as well for sure…though half the time I’ve listened, I’m convinced it’s all ukulele.  I think it’s both?  I’m honestly not entirely sure…I just know what I like…and I love this tune – excellent vibe on “Jackie.”

Torin does work with some interesting textures and tones that I’d imagine might prove to be difficult for a few people out there at times…there’s some dissonance in the sounds he chooses on a few songs.  I can hear it all throughout “Run” – which could even be the result of new strings slightly coming loose from the sweet-spot…it’s hard to say 100% if that’s a specific choice he’s making or not.  I’d imagine that it is…I think he’s displayed from the get-go on this album that he’s willing to explore a lot of sounds & directions in music…dissonance or flatter tones of any kind always come with a bit of a risk.  Having said that – writing and performance count for SO MUCH…and when you put as much into both like Torin does on “Run” – I can pretty much guarantee the people out there will be willing to accept quite a bit.  The rhythm & groove of “Run” throughout the verse is killer…the chorus is next-level cool and wildly expressive…some real highlight vocals for Torin on this cut and the stylistic way he approaches the mic.  Dig the lead guitars again…I think it’s the rhythm guitar likely supplying that noticeable dissonance…and, there IS some textural value in that as well truthfully…there’s an air of haunting mystique hanging in the air and atmosphere of “Run” that is likely a result of the approach & methods applied here.   At his most amped-up & when this song really punches through to that next-level in its energy & sound, the added drama & conviction in his performance sounds awesome…diggin’ the dark & jazzy vibe this tune creates.

If you want a solid example of everything in its right place and incredible songwriting combined – LISTEN to “Hands To The Fire” – because this is Torin taking it to the next-level once again.  His vocals and lyrics are amazing on this tune…the music is inventive with its pace and bold with its sound…the entire song has real weight to it.  The verses came out truly engaging…the subtle & melodic chorus is killer…the solo is short but strong…the instrumentation provides serious highlights as well.  Not sure if those are bass-harmonics added in or just really sweet tones from somewhere else…but…well…Torin knows the spot I mean and you will too when you hear it…it’s an awesome part of what you’ll hear on this tune, used sparingly, just on the way out of the verse and into the chorus in transition.  You get a real clear dose of it in the final moments of “Hands To The Fire” as well.  Bottom line is, this particular track reaches deep and fully succeeds – this is writing and music that is going to completely hold-up over time.  Love the way he sings the verse around the 2:25 mark and the emotion he pours into the lyrics there…you can really feel this song like you’re right there with Torin in his mind & thoughts as they spill out through the microphone onto “Hands To The Fire.”  No doubt that it’s a bit of a slow-burner & mid-tempo pace, which can often be a struggle for the masses…but in my opinion, the strengths you’ll find in the performance and sound of “Hands To The Fire” make this tune quite a strong candidate for a single.  You get the right video to dive into the dark with him here…chances are you could put together a really powerful combination of art & music onscreen as well, which might give it the edge in that scenario.  Without a doubt one of my favorite tracks from For The Times…everything about this song is perfection.

“Keeping Secrets” sounds like it’s probably the newest track in the set…and I love the potential this song has.  As it stands…I think it might need another run-through or two…there’s still a lot of melody to be mined out of this song.  For the majority of the song, I think Torin sings this remarkably well…like, there are some truly genuine highlights in this performance of his here…but there are also noticeable moments where he sounds unsure of how he’s about to tackle the melody…which create a few raw sections that I think he could smooth out a bit more over time.  Particularly, in the first verse…he starts this out on incredibly solid ground throughout the first forty-seconds…then for about thirty-seconds or so you can hear that disconnect occur a little…that struggle to find the specific way he wants to approach this song.  Being built upon a verse-chorus-verse style, he gets another crack at these parts later on in “Keeping Secrets” – and I think he finds his groove more-so as the song continues.  What I love about “Keeping Secrets” far outweighs any rough patches – I’d listen to this tune all day long happily as it is right now.  I think there’s an honesty in this tune and in the performance…it might not be perfection, but it’s REAL.  And kind of like the sweet sounds of “Jackie” earlier on, “Keeping Secrets” is straight-up charming and audibly irresistible in so many ways.  Love the tone in the guitars, love the pace, tempo, and overall inviting way this tune pulls you in close to listen.  Could it be a bit smoother?  Perhaps.  I do think there’s still more potential in this particular tune to be explored…but I think the endearing style & sound that “Keeping Secrets” possesses already makes for a gorgeous experience.

Slipping right into the chilled-groove of “Out Loud” is one of the easiest things you’ll do this year.  Not a thing about this song I’d change and it’s another highlight on For The Times without question.  LISTEN to that warm & invitational sound of the guitar on the way into this tune…LISTEN to the perfect control in the rhythm section…LISTEN to the incredible performance that Torin puts into the vocals on this song!  This is a spectacular example of how much stronger the writing is here than you’d expect to find on a debut record of any kind, Torin exceeds all expectations here with an unforgettable moment on his first album.  Lyrically, this is just as immaculately sound as the rest of what you’ll hear in the vocals & music – Torin has written an extremely beautiful love song here.  Perfectly framed in that Indie-style where imagery in words is key…he uniquely describes a moment so special that, even though the tender sound of this tune is remarkably subtle & pleasant…it could easily bring you to tears just from how sincere it is.  “Out Loud” celebrates love, questions it at times as well, but ultimately expresses just how powerful it is and how special a moment in time can truly be…how it can impact us long after the fact and create what we come to know as nostalgia later on in life…because it’s times like these & feelings that you never forget, no matter how old you end up.  Documenting emotions this profound with this much insight & genuine sincerity completely proves that Torin Muccino is going to be a force to be reckoned with out there over the years to follow…the vibes he’s created on “Out Loud” connect in all the right ways.

And while I know it might not necessarily be the case for everyone out there, I could listen to the final track “What I Used To Be” solely for the rest of time and never complain about the selection I’ve made.  Torin’s been more than impressive throughout this entire album…I’ve had to remind myself several times while I’ve been listening that it’s a DEBUT record…because the writing on this record is so purely stellar and so advanced beyond his years on earth that it’s impossible not to notice.  “What I Used To Be” is another example of a killer choice being made; he’s chosen to exit this album in a beautifully hypnotic & captivatingly atmospheric sound that heads straight to the soul when you listen.  The gentle sway and sound of the melody is stunning…Torin’s vocals are freakin’ perfection and stocked full of that uniqueness & Indie-style sincerity that’s such a significant part of his identity in his material.  Honestly…for as subtle and chill, intimate and isolated as “What I Used To Be” is, I couldn’t take a single ear off of this song and literally let this final tune repeat over and over and over.  It’s so easy to get lost right inside the warmth of this last song…it was a really smart idea for Torin to dial everything back and just take this ending on with only his vocals and an acoustic guitar…it’s heartbreaking, it’s beautiful, it’s exceptional in every possible way that a song can be.  And you know what?  It’s the most ‘him’ you’ll probably find on For The Times…I mean, there’s really not a whole lot going on here aside from the melody, vocals, and guitar…but perhaps what’s most amazing, is that you won’t want for anything else.  You get the full clarity of all the main ingredients that make Torin Muccino incredible…you get to hear those lyrics and the complex emotions & sweetness they combine…you get to hear the amazing way he sings at his most sincere, melodic, and beautiful…you get to hear the insightful way he can combine his words with the music and how much he truly understands what a song really calls for.

Like I said at the beginning – this dude is going places.  Torin’s got himself an incredible debut record full of heart, uniqueness, authentic perspective, and innovative ideas…this is where it all BEGINS.  I can’t even imagine the heights to which this artist could eventually climb up to…he’s got the songwriter’s gift and a strong connection to music you can truly hear.  He’s making magic now already through the songs he’s got on For The Times…there’s zero doubt in my mind that he’ll go on to reveal even more over the years to follow.  Torin Muccino has an extremely bright future in front of him – this man is made of music.

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