San Mateo County is one of the smallest counties in California. Despite its size, the county is one of the most impactful places on earth. Part of the notorious Silicon Valley, it’s a mix of future, urban, and striking coastlines. Like the county, Tony Molina’s newest release Sounds from San Mateo County is a quick album full of a mix of different sounds and emotions that delivers a large listen.
Sounds from San Mateo County is deceptively short. At first, I thought I was only listening to a 30 second sample of each song before double checking the run time. At something like 15 minutes total, this album goes for quality over quantity. Despite the short run time, many of the tracks sound and feel like complete songs. Only a few seem like there needs to be more to the song. Though most feel complete, all the tracks leave you longing for something more.
Like the county itself, this album is diverse. Sounds from San Mateo County is an eclectic mix of different songs and snippets from a few years of recording. From the beginning, “Intro” followed immediately by “#1 Riff” lay the groundwork for the changes in sound type and tempo that will follow in the album. There is a lot going on through the different tracks. “I’m Not Down,” which starts with a repetitive electric guitar riff behind easy vocals yet ends with a ripping solo, is one such song to illustrate the length of the spectrum that the tracks can take. Sounds from San Mateo County offers an oftentimes smooth sound reminiscent of Weezer or soft pop, but can’t be labelled that simply. There are soft acoustic guitars, high-powered, electric guitars, and a folksy vibe to round out the diverse sound of the whole thing.
Why waste time with more when you can do with less? Tony Molina has no need for dragging on any of his songs and does a lot with a little.