The Sandwitches: Our Toast – Out 6/9 via Empty Cellar Records
When listening to an album, the knowledge that any recording is to be a band’s final release is bizarre. It is especially bizarre listening to an album, in this case Our Toast by The Sandwitches, an incredibly talented, unique, young band, and being forced to accept as the listener that there is nothing more to look forward to. The Sandwitches have made it clear Our Toast is the final album they will be releasing as a band, and I have not had nearly enough time or opportunity to enjoy their music. Instead of celebrating the great potential a band’s future holds for them, I have to take Our Toast for what it is instead; by far the best album to be created by The Sandwitches and a showcase of why this band has been worth following over the short course of their career. Instead of writing an exposé, I am writing a eulogy.
So far, all of the general accolades that have been prescribed to Our Toast ring mostly true upon my listening. The Sandwitches music has an incredibly cinematic sound. The notion that Our Toast could be the soundtrack to a David Lynch film or have been sent to the future in a time machine from the 1950s makes sense, and those sort of compliments have been thrown around frequently, but I personally believe to only subscribe those kind of anecdotes to Our Toast is to sell the album short. The backbone of Our Toast is a really impressive pop album, and then what The Sandwitches build upon that backbone is what truly sets Our Toast apart as a gem, a diamond in the rough.
The disorientation created between the first two songs on Our Toast, “Sunny Side” and “Play It Again Dick”, is one of the most exciting, unexpected moments I have had listening to music this year. Beautiful piano melodies are the hinge point of many songs by The Sandwitches, but the up-beat, carnivalesque piano melody played on “Sunny Side” creates an immediate atmosphere, I harken to an upbeat, 1920s state fair. The Sandwitches also throw in a good bit of ironic flair by allowing the song to function as a pseudo-cover of the 1899 song “Keep On The Sunny Side”. And again, because of this connection, an immediate cinematic quality possesses the song, “Keep On The Sunny Side” having been featured in the Coen Brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou. Immediately following the solar powered “Sunny Side”, “Play It Again Dick” exposes the listener to what The Sandwitches are really out to do on Our Toast, render soulful, melancholy songs that are both modern and nostalgic all at once. The tone shifts from a sunny day at the state fair to a melancholy night at a jazz lounge filled with smoke and smoky eyes. The connections I make in my mind shift from O Brother Where Art Thou to the sounds of David Lynch’s dark, exposing films that have been associated with The Sandwitches music from the very beginning.
For the most part, the rest of Our Toast continues in the vein of “Play It Again Dick”. The songs on the album are full of quiet, improvisational-sounding music, all the way down to the percussion, and incredibly soulful, smoky vocals. Our Toast is the kind of album that makes me fantasize about having the opportunity to see The Sandwitches in concert. Their music is so atmospherically dense, there is no doubt it would translate to a wholly unique live experience. The sixth track, “Island Jam”, highlights all of the qualities that make Our Toast such a strong album. The song begins with very little beyond sultry vocals. Taking its time to build up, over halfway into the five minute track, “Island Jam” lets loose in a way that could only be considered letting loose by The Sandwitches standards. On top of the largely unstructured, mellow soul jam, a brilliant piano melody and ambient orchestral accompaniment comes in and steals the show, leaving the listener ellated. The brief transcendence is cut short by the next song on the album, “Personal Hell”, an aggressive song, seemingly built on hurt.
On Our Toast, The Sandwitches have perfected the role of atmosphere and tone in music. Not a single song passes through the duration of the album that does not immediately evoke a visceral, emotional response, and in my opinion nothing more can be asked from an artist. I listen to music to feel, and that a single album has the ability to make me feel so many ways, not necessarily understanding why, is a feat that has so rarely been accomplished over the course of an album. I cannot help but mourn knowing Our Toast is the end for The Sandwitches, a band I have just been able to truly garner admiration for.
Review By: Taylor James
Photo By: Rachel Walther
Cover Painting By: Deirdre White