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Houston, Texas, United States

Houston, Texas, United States
Band Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Pieces falling into place for the Tontons - The Houston Chronicle"

An accidental misspelling might have saved the Tontons from being frozen by Star Wars creator George Lucas. The Houston band had an EP recorded, complete with cover art. What it didn't have was a name.
“We tried out the Prowlers for a bit,” bassist Tom Nguyen says and laughs. “We worried people would think it was a car or something.”
While watching The Empire Strikes Back, Nguyen and guitarist Adam Martinez thought the tauntauns — described as “omnivorous reptomammals” on Wikipedia — might provide a good name.
Lucas is protective of his world, which is why the Tyler band Eisley is no longer Mos Eisley. So one of this city's brightest bands might have saved its name by accidentally spelling its name the Tontons.
Things seem to have a way of working out for the band.
Take its genesis … Singer Asli Omar was working with another band that was booked by Nguyen to play a show. “I tended to overbook things,” Nguyen says. According to Omar, overbooking meant her band went on at 3 a.m., “which really (ticked) off the guys in my band. We were close to breaking up anyway. That might have finished the job. We didn't last long after that.”
Martinez; his drummer brother Justin and Nguyen recruited Omar. The styles sounded incompatible on paper. She sings with a sinuous torchy voice. They play a loud bluesy type of art rock.
“When we first started playing music we made jokes about the way we wanted to sound,” she says. “We joked that our main goal was to make ‘sexy music.' ”
Finding the formula for sexy music was bumpy at first. Nguyen says there were moments early on when the two styles didn't twist together as naturally as they do now. But a collaborative approach to writing songs put the band on common ground for its first recording, The Sea and Stars EP.
Where that recording showed promise, the band sounds more assured and aggressive on the new The Tontons, which was released last week. The band will do a CD release show at Cactus Music today and it also plays Aug. 8 at the Free Press Summer Fest.
“We work a lot different from other bands that I know,” Nguyen says. “It's a weird dynamic. Everyone writes something on their own, and we bring it all together. Sometimes we'll practice for a week and not get anywhere. Then another day we'll drive three songs.
“We used to joke that we're a one-take band.”
Omar says for the album the band “wanted to stay away from the obvious influences. We wanted to try something different. With a few songs we tried to get out of the comfort zone. Try some things you can dance to. But we always come back to who we are.”
The band takes the same approach with the occasional cover. Nguyen says they're kicking around some Pavement and David Bowie songs as possibilities. They previously struggled with Baby by Os Mutantes. “We can't play bossa nova at all,” he says. “Asli can sing it, but that's it.”
So, true to Mutantes' name and spirit, they tweaked it. “We made it more Tontonsesque,” he says. “It sounds weird, but people seem to like it.”
The band's immediate plans aren't entirely clear. Omar leaves for school in New York later this month. There is some talk about trying to play some shows there; the band played in Georgia when she was in school there.
“We'll keep at it while she's gone,” Nguyen says. “As long as we don't get complacent, we can get some songs set up and ready to go.”
They plan to release a 7-inch in December and another EP early next year.
“There'll be a little break,” Omar says, but “you'll see us again in the springtime.” - ANDREW DANSBY

"The Tontons The Tontons Self-Released; 2009 - Dryvetyme Onlyne Album Review"

As a dude who listens to a lot of pop music, I listen to a lot of dudes who make pop music. The burden is lighter, I think, for male vocalists, just like it is for male comic book heroes. A male singer can moan (Thom Yorke), whisper (Jeff Tweedy), sing off-key (Bob Dylan in the sixties), and/or talk rhythmically off-key (Bob Dylan in 2009), and it’s still an acceptable way to perform good music. Females rock stars have a harder time fitting the “rock and role” of rock and roll, through no fault of their own. That’s just how it is. And I’ve searched decently hard for a female voice that wants to rock but doesn’t try too hard, is smooth without being too soulful, and can be pleasant and clean without sounding like just another country star. Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond comes close, but she’s sometimes too New York theatrical for me. Zooey Deschanel, for a short while, has such a sweet voice for such a sweet collection of songs, but she didn’t have quite enough grit. Then, thankfully, I was handed the new album by the Houston four-piece The Tontons. Suffice to say that the sky opened, the sun shone, and the clearness of female-rock day come bursting fourth through the vocals of Asli Omar.Omar’s style fits the small variations of a workable, rockable, guitar sound that The Tontons have created over the past few years cruising the Houston, TX scene. The opening track, “1816”, a smooth dirt-ball of pop, is a perfect introduction to once-bouncing, then-grinding guitar work and a voice that slithers around like a purple Barracuda. And it doesn’t let go till the final breath of music escapes from this debut album.

Although at the core, the feel of this album does not change. It is clear that no wacky instruments are added to give the album any sort of manufactured “uniqueness” or “modern rock variety,” and each song has a particular guiding influence. For the sultry “Little Wooden Horses,” the source is clearly urban blues. “Cock-eyed Cowboys,” an instrument jam, takes its root from a western dance-hall country and southern Cali rock, and is as memorable a ditty as “Walk Don’t Run” (aka the opening tune of Pulp Fiction).

And then, there is “Dancing” – a sort of ’90s pop jam taken from the disco garden of ’77 and played through Texas guitar—a song that has barely left my mind. This, more than any other track, is the reason I like this band, as it moves effortlessly between genres, measure by measure, and creates a song full of grit and sweat, inspired by the action that is this song’s namesake. Omar’s voice never falters in the transition from disco love to tough love when she sings with pain and longing, “I’ll fix you if you let me. Won’t you let me help you?”

This is the kind of straight-forward pop music that makes you angry, sad, tense, tired, relaxed, and energetic, and do so all at once. The music of The Tontons is made to be played loud, made to be listened to carefully, and made to be placed at the corner of the wooden dance floor among the brown-bottled beers and plain white undershirts. My Seattle-self would almost hate to admit it, but The Tontons almost make me wish I were from Texas. - Michael Dallas Miller

"The Tontons - Houston Press"

It's only a matter of time before everyone in Houston will have an "I knew them when" story about the Tontons. Now that the local indie-rock quartet is releasing its first full-length CD, The Tontons, the clock is ticking. The term "breakout potential" gets thrown around all too easily — especially around here, where the scene sometimes seems downright desperate for validation from beyond the Loop — but the Tontons absolutely have the talent and charisma to be somebody's Next Big Thing. Singer Asli Omar is a big, big voice in a tiny package and a dynamic front woman who seizes her audience's attention (and affection) and doesn't let up. The three guys behind her, meanwhile, etch out carefully wrought musical canvases of everything from hard-edged psychedelic blues-rock to carnivalesque waltzes to simmering ballads — which, if you close your eyes, you'd swear it was Billie Holliday singing. Saturday's CD release at Caroline Collective is the Tontons' first step in a journey that will take them who knows where, destined to be one of those "I was there" moments for the band's growing circle of fans. - Chris Gray

"The Tontons Sea and Stars EP - Freepress Houston"

"This shit is Awesome. However, I have to be honest. The Ep sat on my desk for a few weeks with the myriad others that usually end-up in the graveyard of emo and singer songwriter crapola that we receive so much of. I was frankly surprised by the five impassioned and haunting songs that The Tontons served up on their debut E.P. Sea and Stars. I hate to say nice things about local bands. Dammit. The band combines a tasteful mix of Asli Omar's Hypersoulful vocals, and the bands, Hendrix ala Garage aesthetic. Imagine a diffuse amalgamation of the Sugarcubes, Hendrix, Nina Simone , and a touch of punk rock sensibility. Pardon the shitty, half-priced pun, but the sticky=sweet song Syrup is an irresistible track laden with violins and call and response back vocals..." - Omar Afra

"The Tontons (Star Wars-Loving Psychedelic Soul Rebels?) - 002 Houston"

"Sometimes it can be hard to fit a band into an easy box. for music writers, labels are gold-shorthand they can use to describe something with one word they'd need ten to talk about otherwise. There are bands however, that stubbornly defy those kinds of attempts of categorization..." - Jeremy Hart

"The Tontons (Self Titled) - Houston Modern Luxury Magazine"

In a surprisingly rich mini-era of local indieband awesomeness, the quartet tops the heap. Vocalist Asli Omar magnanimously chirps each verse, as on tracks like "Leon." THis first full length album packs saucy vocals, wreckless guitar noodling and sing-alongable songs. - Shea Serrano


Sea and Stars EP - 2008

The Tontons (Self Titled) - 2009



The Tontons have become a recent Houston favorite by restructuring the soul-infused psychedelic blues-rock archetype in a way that uniquely combines intimidating overdriven guitar, imposing construction, and seductive vocals while still remaining honest and accessible. Winners of the "best new act" award from the 2008 Houston Press Music Awards. The Tontons have released a new album late summer of 2009 and are preparing to record and release a new album in 2010