Tony Molina is a busy dude and one who’s got his fingers in a shitload of musical pies. Known for kicking it with hardcore bands as well as making a fuzzy racket in various grunge-pop outfits, it’s a wonder when he sleeps! Molina being the creative polymath he is, has a burgeoning vault of unreleased material; mostly, little nuggets of sound that barely touch the minute or epics that almost clock up to an astounding two minutes. Covering 2009-2015, Molina has readied a compilation of rarities and unfinished tracks that make up ‘SONGS FROM SAN MATEO COUNTY’; a collection of songs from the grungier end of his sonic spectrum.
The tricky thing with a rarities/unreleased materials album is, these songs haven’t been released for a reason. Sometimes it’s like striking gold and sometimes, the musical morsels uncovered are more ‘nice to have’ rather than essentials to be added to your record collection. ‘SONGS FROM SAN MATEO COUNTY’ plays out like a sketchbook or being allowed into Molina’s creative world. By and large, each song is templated the same; a grunge, fuzz beginning, Molina ruminating on love lost or the need to change and then a histrionic solo to cap things off. The album is bookended by two instrumentals, one veering close to classic rock riffola and the other a shimmering surf rock outro. Mostly, ‘SONGS FROM SAN MATEO COUNTY’ sounds like Weezer jamming out some ideas, with the occasional foray into something more introspective and melancholic. ‘Don’t See Me Now’ is where Molina channels his inner Elliot Smith; thanks to a delicate strum of acoustic guitar as the artist questions “do you ever think of me?”. If ever there was a wasteland between Rivers Cuomo and the gang and Elliot Smith, you’d find Molina there, in a wooden shack, with a guitar, slowing churning out sad, fuzzy songs.
‘SONGS FROM SAN MATEO COUNTY’ is a cool window into Molina’s inner sanctum but definitely one for the die-hard fans.
Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams