TORO BRAVO: Mes Tokia Karta
Release year: 2021
Label: Pasidaryk Pats Records, Mangy Little Mut Records
Originating in the UK, oi! has since it’s inception and maturing in the late 70’s and early-to-mid 80’s spread throughout the world. Still, apart from Poland perhaps, Eastern European oi! is still something of a rarity today. From the top of my head, I can’t think of a single band from, for example, the Baltic countries. I’m sure the bands exist, they just don’t generate much of a buzz outside their home countries.
Well, there’s Toro Bravo. They’re from Lithuania, and through a lucky coincidence I was able to get my hands on their newest release, a six track EP released as a CD in a cardboard sleeve. The outer trappings are perhaps somewhat modest, but the music doesn’t fare too badly even on international standards.
Taking their cues from classic and, yes, stereotypical oi! and singalong-punk, Toro Bravo’s sound will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention to the style in the last… well, forty-odd years, really! Catchy choruses which you’d sing/shout along to if you understood a word of Lithuanian, straightforward songs with some adequate melodic-but-tough-as-nails riffwork, the whole lot. The only thing that’s perhaps somewhat unusual are the vocals; not only are they in Lithuanian, but they have this slightly snotty character to them that I’ve come to recognize as eastern European. Maybe it’s got something to do with the way the languages sound as well? I honestly can’t quite put my thumb on it.
Anyhow, the vocals may take a listen or two to get accustomed to, but apart from that, fans of oi! will feel right at home here. Despite leaning on the punkier side of the genre, Toro Bravo’s sound isn’t too snotty or rough. Instead, the sound is very proficient, and the band sound like they’ve spent some time in the rehearsal room getting these tracks right. The production values definitely do not pale in comparison to far bigger, international names.
Whilst by no means a modern milestone or a classic-to-be, Mes Tokia Karta is a well-crafted EP of classic oi! on the punkier side of things. Sure, perhaps it’s a bit generic as well, but let’s be honest: oi! isn’t a genre exactly known for being particularly adventurous. As such, I don’t fault the Lithuanians for not going out of their way to sound original. Instead, with music as solid as this, I don’t see why these guys couldn’t make a slightly bigger name for themselves in the international scene, if they only manage to make some inroads.
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