Underground Music Top Ten

Belice, la nueva capital del Reggaetón
November 9, 2012, 6:57 pm
Filed under: Random | Tags: , , , , ,

HOLLYWOOD, California, 7 de febrero de 2012 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Justo cuando el mundo del Reggaetón iba perdiendo terreno en la lista de éxitos, Franxel y Chami-Ka causaron un gran impacto el verano pasado con su éxito candente “Feel Your Love (San Pedro)”. El género estaba luchando en tanto líderes de la industria como Ivy Queen cambiaban su enfoque hacia la actualización, entre otros emprendimientos. Los naturales de Belice se negaron a permitir que el género sufriera infundiéndole vida nueva con el éxito “Yo Te Quiero Ver”. La canción y video captaron una audiencia y reconocimiento critico apenas salieron del estudio, convirtiendo aun a la cantante inglesa Nikki Breeze en una estrella latina inesperada. Su nueva fama la propulsaría a compartir el micrófono con el principal rapero de Houston Lil Flip en el sencillo mezclado con pop “Big Dreamer”. Belice ahora había comenzado a formar a estrellas en nombre del Reggaetón. Fue solo cuestión de tiempo antes de que artistas como Daddy Yankee y Don Omar necesitaran ayuda para avivar las llamas del género. Belice aceptó el llamado. El productor de RVM Records Josh El Código logró llegar hasta El Salvador con “Bombón” en tanto comenzaba a notarse la bandera de Belice en un número creciente de importantes conciertos. La situación seguía cambiando cuando el video de Myro El Fundamento para “Tu Pum Pum” estrena su estilo fogoso por todo el mundo y gana atractivo en países no conocidos por el Reggaetón. “No son artistas de Belice solamente, sino que estamos presenciando la llegada en tropel hasta acá de músicos de América del Sur y Central para grabar”, dijo Chami-Ka (José Chacón). “Se está poniendo muy difícil encontrar un estudio en Belice que no esté reservado con Reggaetón”. La demanda se ha apoderado de otros también. “Somos una disquera de rap y los teléfonos no dejan de sonar con peticiones para escuchar el Reggaetón de Belice”, explicó el galardonado productor de JAG Camp de la Ciudad de Belice Deady On Da Beatz. “No se puede dejar de querer ser parte de este éxito”. La chispa se ha convertido en un fuego arrasador, y aun 2 Ramas de España, conocidos como los Black-Eyed Peas de la furia roja, lanzaron deprisa su “Pégate a Mi” con el popular Chami-Ka. Nombres de Belice como One Carlos, Reggae Joe, DJ Flako, Osky, T-Romeo, y Jahby pronto estarán compartiendo la lista de éxitos con Plan B y Wisin y Yandel. “No hubiéramos llegado donde estamos hoy sin el apoyo mundial”, dijo Franxel (Francisco Ponce). “Pero tenemos que seguir trabajando juntos para mantener vivo el Reggaetón”.


Underground Music – Artist Spotlight – Mates Of State

Underground Music – Artist Spotlight – Mates Of State

Talking to Jason Hammel and Kori Gardner Hammel is like being an extra in some improvised post-modern play. You start in a freewheeling scene, and by the end of the night, you end up in the audience. Sure, they answer your questions, but not to you, only to each other; using each query as an excuse to bounce back and forth in some private utopia. At a Red Roof Inn in Gainesville, Florida, Kori and Jason sit on opposite ends of an unmade bed. Although there are two beds in the room, only this one appears rumpled. Kori is the straight-(wo)man, sitting up, blonde ponytail at attention. Jason, the comic foil, usually stays prone, his coiffure as disheveled as the bed he lays upon.

Mariah Robertson
The Mates of State

“The best thing about Captain and Tennille is, I saw this clip of them, they’re riding this paddleboat together, like, ‘Yes! We’re still together, we’re still recording music,'” says Kori, miming the actions of paddling a boat, further ruffling the bed sheets. “That’s where I want to be. I want to be riding in a paddleboat when we’re 60 going, ‘Yes, it’s been great!’ Their music wasn’t that great but their relationship obviously was.”

“Was it just the two of ’em?” asks Jason.

“Yeah, she was like the singer.”

“If I had a song like that, I could get up there.”

“Yeah, we need a gimmick. …The Captain!”

You can call me Captain.”

Both giggle openly as Kori points a running video camera at Jason

“You want me to call you Captain,” inquires Kori, “don’t you?”

“You do call me Captain.”

“Cut out the sexual innuendo.”

You’re the one that said, ‘I’m gonna call you captain.'”

Here Kori and Jason — lost in the lens of the camera, their love for each other, or possibly both — appear as to have forgotten there’s anybody else in the room, as well as their world or their plane of existence. The tone of voice becomes a blushing intimacy.

“I’m not calling you Captain,” half-gushes Kori.

“You’re calling me Captain.”

“Why should I call you Captain?”

“‘Cause I am Captain.”

“No you’re not, I’m Captain!”

“I am.”

“You’re the skipper.”

Both laugh — followed quickly by uncomfortable silence and a re-positioning of the video camera. End scene.

Kori, 27, and Jason, a-just-turned 26, are The Mates of State. Like Captain and Tennille, they are a married couple who happily plays music together. Unlike Captain and Tennille, they don’t suck. Their sound is lush mix of indie-pop hooks, sparse intimacy, and the type of harmonies that can only come from two folks who are, well, so damn harmonious together. All played out on spare-only-in-theory instrumentation of drums and organ.

The Mates of State legally became mates on July 7, 2001. After quitting their jobs in San Francisco, they tied the knot at a wedding ceremony held in Trumbull, Connecticut. Although Kori’s Catholic mother urged them to have the ceremony a church, it ended up in the backyard of Kori’s parents. It was a sunny Saturday, 78 degrees, book-ended by three days of rain.

Kori and Jason had been playing together for over three years at this point — meeting and forming at the University of Kansas in ’97, moving to California in ’99, and playing shows practically every weekend — so the collaborative process came easy for the duo. In this spirit, they wrote their own vows and sermons for the secular ceremony and culled the hippest handful of music to ever grace an indie-rock matrimony.

Kori walked in, on an aisle covered with 1,500 rose petals, to the ever-melancholy Cat Power’s spare cover of The Velvet Underground’s “I Found a Reason.” The rest of the procession followed to Nick Cave’s brooding “(Are You) The One That I’ve Been Waiting For?” Later in the ceremony, guests were treated to a piano rendition of “Über Legitimate,” a transcendent track off the Mates’ latest release, Our Constant Concern. Kori and Jason entered the reception to the strains of delicate indie-poppers Pinback, played some Bright Eyes on acoustic guitars, and did their first dance to Olympia lo-fi-songstress Mirah.

Kori’s Catholic mom, whom she is very close to, had problems with the no-church ceremony, the female justice of the peace presiding over the service, and of course, the grave melancholia used as wedding music.

“She was like, ‘You can’t walk in to that! It’s depressing!'” Kori says. “Now she’s like, ‘You had the best music at your ceremony!'”

The Mates honeymooned in Tahiti, and three days later, were travelling in their bulky Astro Van, lugging around Kori’s 175-pound Yamaha Electone Organ in a massive trek across the U.S.

Mariah Robertson
The Mates of State

“Our last year or two was like a complete whirlwind,” Kori — the more vocal of the two, both on stage and off — says whilst twirling a coffee straw around her finger. “We were working those jobs [Kori as an elementary school teacher, Jason as a cancer researcher]. The kind of jobs where you don’t just leave your work at the office, you have more to do when you get home. Then we’d play all the time. Almost every weekend we were playing in a different place. We were planing a wedding. June came, we quit our jobs, got married, we went on tour. It was all consecutive events happening at once.

“We honestly thought we were gonna be completely starving or poor if we didn’t jump right into the tour, ’cause we spent a good month on the wedding and the honeymoon. We weren’t getting paid. It was all about making enough money to pay rent.”

Since then, they’ve gone nonstop. Their most recent tour brings them to Florida. Although the erratic chills of the February night leaves Gainesvillians opting for warm clothing, the big furry neck on Jason’s parka still makes him stand out, especially when attached to the top of the same lanky frame that towers over his drum set. Kori keeps warm in blue scarf, framing her grinning visage, a dead-ringer for a young Julianne Moore. At the Barnes and Noble, Kori and Jason finally purchase the latest issue of Spin, which features a small feature on the duo. While both are exited by the coverage, they seem preoccupied with the cover, and soon drift off into another one-act play.

“That’s pretty cool,” Kori says, peering at the cover. “Jimmy Fallon! Isn’t that the guy that plays Corky Romano?”

“No it’s not. I was hoping it was,” says Jason.

“He calls me Corky Romano, so we were hoping that was who was on the cover.”

Why does he call you Corky Romano?

“‘Cause I hate it,” Kori says without hesitation.

“That’s not why! I don’t do things that you hate.”

“Remember that show Life Goes On? They used to call me Corky just because of that guy on Life Goes On, which I thought wasn’t very cool. So when Jason said ‘Corky,’ it immediately brought back childhood scars. And then he hasn’t stopped since.”

“You make it sound a lot worse than it is. I think I called you that once.”

The Astro Van with the broken side handle and black-haired-n’-beady-eyed hula girl hood ornament burns toward the Red Roof Inn. Like a true couple, they slept in today, watching TV until two. Like a true band, they collected addresses on their immaculate white iBook, printed them on a series of manila envelopes stacked in a pile on the dresser and stuffed them with CDs. The band has national distribution from Polyvinyl and Omnibus Records, yet still end up stuffing envelopes themselves, possibly in an attempt to further shrink the Mates of State microverse.

“The ideal situation for me would be to have enough time to actually do every single aspect of the band by ourselves,” Kori says. “If I could have a home studio and the engineering knowledge that could get us a good sounding record and space to store merchandise and a printing press…”

The Red Roof Inn is a $50 stay, pricey by Motel 6-frequenting Mates standards, but they need a good two nights of sleep. Jason lays out on the bed, skinny hands reaching for red velvet cake.

The lyrics of Mates songs may seem rather bleak, especially when spilled through their austere boy-girl harmonies (“The robe fits tight/My hands were wide with spots unworn.”). But it doesn’t take more than a simple lull in conversation and the comforts of a familiar hotel room for the Mates to get a little goofy.


“So, we rented a porn last night,” Jason intones.

“Oh, why did you have to tell him that! [smacks him] God! It was his idea!” yells Kori, twitching uncomfortably.

“Yeah, it was”

Illicit Sex on the pay-per-view porn.”

Well, how was it?

“Porn,” jokes Jason.

“It was OK,” Kori says, fidgeting with hair, visibly unnerved by where the conversation is going. “We watch it, maybe, like once every six months together. I mean he might watch it alone on his own.”

“Yeah! I watch it every day! [laughs]”

“But that’s how much I can handle it. [dramatic pause] So this is the article our parents won’t read, right?”

Do your parents read Ink 19?

After another pause Kori shouts, “You know, actually, we’re married now! We can watch porn together! …Well, we didn’t get married in a church.”

Mariah Robertson
The Mates of State

They are indeed married. The proof: The preceding conversation is just one example of the endless playful banter that seems to permeate every conversation they’re in. They have the rings to prove it — Kori’s a glimmering rock that dances across the organ when she plays, Jason’s a subdued “white gold.” They, um, do some other things that married couples do, too. Maybe the über-relaxed confines of the Red Roof Inn relaxes the Mates too much — they readily spill the beans about some, um, cheeky sexual exploits. And although these anecdotes wormed their way onto the spinning wheels of my tape recorder, the Mates prefer to leave ’em private, thank-you-very-much. Let’s just say everything seems healthy and all videos have been promptly erased.

Yep. Those crazy kids are in love. On stage, Jason and Kori are notorious for exchanging glances, humorous asides, and quite possibly, telekinetic bonds. They’re so damn close that their live show is a virtual macrocosm of the tiny back-and-forth nuances visible in the hotel room — an unspoken bond, a chemistry, an intimate performance staged only for the two of them.

“It’s true,” says Kori. “Sometimes we’re not sharing an inside joke, sometimes we’re talking about fixing the sound. But most of the time, yeah, that’s accurate. We’re so close that it wouldn’t make sense to play a show and have us just play the songs and not even look or talk to each other. That wouldn’t feel right. …We’re just there to have fun and enjoy that 30 minutes of playing music together. That’s what it is.”

“We’re a close relationship when we’re not onstage, why would we fake it when we are onstage?” says Jason “We’re still a close relationship and I think, obviously, it shines through. Whether we intend for it or not.”

And unlike other revered minimalist couple bands (The White Stripes ended their marriage in 2000, Quasi has been famously divorced since 1995), they plan keep that relationship alive. For the Mates, their love and music are inseparable.

“Our relationship and the band are so one-in-the-same that if one ends, the other ends.” Kori says. “We’ll always play music together, we might not be doing it to this extent, but we’re not ever gonna stop playing music together, we’re not ever gonna stop being together.

“I think if you’re not with the absolute right person and you’re spending all of your time together, you’re doomed. But somehow we got lucky. We get along really well, yeah, we argue, but…”

“We do?” Jason adds, sarcasm duly noted.

Once again the Mates answer a question with personal asides. Once again it kicks off another play for two characters who could care less if there’s an audience or not.

As friendly and warm as these individuals are, there’s just no room for anyone else in the Mates of State microverse. It’s a world created solely for the two of them. As they leave room 224 of the Red Roof Inn, they hang a sign on the doorknob that reads “Do Not Disturb.” As if anyone could.


by Christopher R. Weingarten

Underground Music – Artist Spotlight – Vampire Weekend

Underground Music – Artist Spotlight – Vampire Weekend

If there’s anything the happy New York kids in this band have learned from listening to African music, it’s the difference between “pop” and “rock”: Vampire Weekend’s debut album announces straight off that it’s the former. The first sound on the first song, “Mansard Roof”, comes from Rostam Batmanglij’s keyboard, set to a perky, almost piping tone– the kind of sunny sound you’d hear in old west-African pop. Same goes for Ezra Koenig’s guitar, which never takes up too much space; it’s that clean, natural tone you’d get on a record from Senegal or South Africa. Chris Baio’s bass pulses and slides and steps with light feet, and most of all there’s Chris Tomson, who plays like a percussionist as often as he does a rock drummer, tapping out rhythms and counter-accents on a couple of drums in the back of the room. And yet they play it all like indie kids on a college lawn, because they’re not hung up on Africa in the least– a lot of these songs work more like those on the Strokes’ debut, Is This It?, if you scraped off all the scuzzy rock’n’roll signifiers, leaving behind nothing but clean-cut pop and preppy new wave, tucked-in shirts and English-lit courses.

This Afro/preppy/new-wave combination has a history– Brits like Orange Juice, Americans like Talking Heads. For now, though, it’s one of the most deservedly buzzed-about things around: People have been chattering over Vampire Weekend ever since a CD-R demo of three of these songs started circulating last year. (Full disclosure: One of the sound engineers of that CD-R now does freelance audio work for Pitchfork.) The excitement isn’t hard to fathom. People spend a lot of time poking around for the edgy new underground thing, convinced that plain old pop songs have been done to death. But Vampire Weekend come along like Belle & Sebastian and the Strokes each did, sounding refreshingly laidback and uncomplicated, and with simple set-ups that make good songs sound exceedingly easy. (The result being not “this is mind-blowing,” or “this is catchy,” but “I have listened to this, straight through, four times a day for the past month”.)

No surprise, then, that their first hit mp3 would be a song called “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”, which is sly, quiet, and casual in a way that blows away so many other bands who actively try to get your attention. Their label seems to have understood this effect, and so they’ve left these demos sounding as natural as they were: This release just fiddles with the mastering, switches out a few takes in ways you wouldn’t much notice, plays with the sequencing, relegates one song to a B-side, and adds a couple of great ones that you can nonetheless understand being omitted the first time.

Most of the credit will wind up going to Koenig, who’s the star presence here. By the second song, “Oxford Comma”, the band is ticking along on little touches of keyboard and the tap of a snare drum, and he’s still keeping the empty space captivating: There’s a little indie yelp to his voice, but mostly he’s relaxed, conversational, and wry. (Not unlike another guy who’s tried on an Afro-suave sound– though Paul Simon never sounded this exuberant.) The person who’ll probably never get enough credit turns out to be Batmanglij, whose pat, classicist keyboard arpeggios lead the way through tempo shifts and transitions, occasionally locking in with some sprightly violin parts. It all comes off as simple, jaunty, and homespun, but there’s a lot of precision lurking beneath– exactly what happens when you combine a music major and indie-pop.

Koenig is smart and lucky, in that he gets to play the preppy angle both ways: Like a guy who’s read a lot of Cheever, he can summon up the atmosphere of kids whose parents use “summer” as a verb and give it all the hairy eyeball at the same time. “Oxford Comma” is spent picking on someone who brags too much about money: “Why would you lie about how much coal you have?/ Why would you lie about something dumb like that?” (Then again, there’s nothing more moneyed than having the luxury to find money tacky, and when Koenig adds that Lil Jon “always tells the truth,” you kind of suspect Lil Jon wouldn’t find how much “coal” someone has to be all that irrelevant.)

Later, walking across the Columbia University campus, Koenig drops a detail whose delivery always gets a smile from me, even if its thrust is hard to gauge: “You spilled kefir on your keffiyeh.” Koenig is a detail guy, a happy observer who never much bores you with how he feels; mostly, as befits a recent college grad, he’s singing about location, about where people will go and whether they’ll come back with new faces. In non-album B-side “Ladies of Cambridge”, he can’t decide whether to move there with the girl or mourn letting her go alone; “Walcott” whirls you through Cape Cod and then suggests getting the hell out (“Bottleneck is a shit show/ Hyannisport is a ghetto”); the twitchy “A-Punk” sees one person off to New Mexico while another stays near college and finds a place in Washington Heights. And while the faux-African backing vocals on “One” might be the album’s only real misstep, the final line sums up where its concerns are: “All your collegiate grief has left you/ Dowdy in sweatshirts/ Absolute horror!”

Of course, while Vampire Weekend have certainly benefited from our new music world of internet buzz, plenty of people have found reasons to hate Vampire Weekend from the first note, many of them having to do with their prep aesthetic and Ivy League educations– Oxford shirts, boat shoes, Columbia University. But it just so happens that we’re in a moment where such things matter to people: As interest grows in clean-cut, clever indie-pop, plenty of folks would like to hear things get dirtier, riskier, less collegiate– and in a lot of corners of the indie landscape, they thankfully are. But here’s another odd parallel with that first Strokes record: Vampire Weekend have the same knack for grabbing those haters and winning them over. Bring any baggage you want to this record, and it still returns nothing but warm, airy, low-gimmick pop, peppy, clever, and yes, unpretentious– four guys who listened to some Afro-pop records, picked up a few nice ideas, and then set about making one of the most refreshing and replayable indie records in recent years.

Nitsuh Abebe, January 28, 2008

Underground Music – Artist Spotlight – BLACK KEYS


The Story

The Akron, Ohio-based duo The Black Keys is well known for its concentrated, hermetic approach to recording, hunkering down with rudimentary equipment in an unfinished basement or commandeering the floor of a vacant local rubber factory to create terse but soulful rock that seems to have time-traveled into the pair’s amps from some long-ago radio show. But guitarist-vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney now admit they were ready for a change of scene-as well as some company. So when they got the opportunity to work with Grammy Award-nominated producer-musician-provocateur Danger Mouse, a/k/a Brian Burton (Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz, The Grey Album), they agreed, for the first time, to leave their familiar environs. They weren’t quite willing to cross state lines yet, though.

The Black Keys had originally been approached by Danger Mouse to write songs for an album he was developing with Grammy Award-winning R&B legend Ike Turner, who, in recent years, had been recognized more for his contribution to the birth of rock & roll than for the time he’d spent in the tabloids. That project would never be completed, however, and the 76 year-old Turner passed away unexpectedly in December.

As the pair were composing and sending tracks out to Danger Mouse in Los Angeles earlier last year, ostensibly for Ike, they realized they were also instinctively laying the groundwork for a new album of their own. So when Patrick went to L.A. to visit his wife’s family, he called up Danger Mouse to go out for drinks and, he says, “I asked him straight up if he wanted to produce our record. He said yeah, and we made a plan. Nothing was set in stone until about a week before we went in to record in August. I think Dan and I were intrigued to work with somebody as a producer because we both realized we couldn’t teach ourselves anything more, and it was best to start learning from other people. When we were, like, 22, we didn’t have the money to do this; by the time we were 24, maybe we thought we knew more than we actually did. Now, at 27, we maybe just realized we had stopped being broke, and stopped being dip-shits, and we could learn from other people who make records.”

“After doing four albums in the basement, we were ready to go somewhere else,” Dan confesses, “but it couldn’t just be anywhere. Brian suggested L.A., but we said no way. We still wanted to do it in Ohio. There’s this guy named Paul Hamann, who has a studio outside Cleveland called Suma. I’d done a bunch of projects with him before, bands that I’ve recorded on the side. He’s done some mastering and cut some vinyl for me. In fact, he’s got one of the only studios in the world where they still cut their own vinyl. So we said we wanted to go there, and Brian said, ‘Whatever you guys want.'”

The legacy, the hand-built recording console, and the engineering skills of Hamann were undoubtedly attractive to The Black Keys, but perhaps it was the ambience of the place that really sealed the deal. As Patrick explains, with genuine affection, “The place is covered with dust, it smells like a moldy cabin, and it looks like a haunted house. It was fitting for our first time of going into a real studio-basically being in a haunted house that hasn’t been updated since 1973.” Dan continues, “A big part of the sound of this record is the studio and having somebody like Paul, who is an old pro, recording us and helping us get the right sound. Having him there meant that we were free to jump on any instruments we wanted to add stuff. If I wanted to play organ, I could jump on it and just record it; if I wanted to jump on the guitar, I could do it. Brian and Pat had a moog part they thought would be cool on a song, so they would just try it. That studio is a really special place.”

Danger Mouse fit right in, too. Says Dan, “He came in as our collaborator. Brian does hip-hop, but he likes rock and roll, obscure 60s psychedelic stuff, and we listen to a lot of that too. So he was pretty easy to get along with. Brian has a real ear for melody and arrangement, and that was a big part of this record, his making suggestions about the arrangements.”

Dan and Patrick were childhood buddies who grew up in the same Akron neighborhood and attended the same schools. But they didn’t recognize their natural musical affinity until well into high school when they started jamming together with other aspiring musician friends, who they soon ditched. Early demos of The Black Keys featured a third member, who played a moog bass, but he didn’t last long either, and they subsequently carried on as a duo. Says Dan, “Pat and I just click. We walk in to a groove quite easily. It’s kind of hard to describe.” Their minimalist approach to rock is similar to what the late-70s New York City duo Suicide’s has been to electronic dance music: The Black Keys have been able to make something ferociously noisy, deceptively melodic, and surprisingly sincere out of the simplest tools and riffs. (Unlike Suicide, though, they’re more congenial than confrontational with their audiences.)

With Danger Mouse, The Black Keys didn’t veer uncomfortably far from the elemental rock & roll territory they’d mined so effectively on previous albums like their 2006 Nonesuch debut, Magic Potion, or their Fat Possum discs, Rubber Factory (2004) and Thickfreakness (2003). But they were definitely in a mood to experiment on Attack and Release. Dan explains, “We’d never let it all go before like we did for this one, where anything was game.” The new tracks have a spaciousness and clarity that accentuate the soulfulness in Dan’s preternaturally weathered vocals and in arrangements that oscillate between melancholy and swagger. (On side-by-side, moody vs. head-banging versions of “Remember When,” they do both.) There’s a subtle range of extra instrumentation (organ, piano, synthesizer) and some very cool arrangements (like the ghostly choir that surfaces midway through “I Got Mine”). Guitarist Marc Ribot and Pat’s uncle, multi-instrumentalist Ralph Carney-both veterans of Tom Waits’ band-sat in for a few days of unfettered jamming. Jessica Lea Mayfield, an impressive eighteen-year-old bluegrass/country singer from Kent, Ohio, sings alongside Dan on the plaintive final cut, “Things Ain’t Like They Used To Be.” Dan and Patrick did finally head west for the mix. Recalls Patrick, “We started August 9; our last day was August 23. We went to L.A. to mix the record with Brian’s engineer, Kennie Takahashi, who mixed the Gnarls record. He’s a younger dude who knows his shit. He matched our rough mixes exactly-the EQ, the compression, everything. He just cleaned them up-or dirtied them up-from there.

“I’m more pleased with the sound of this record than any we’ve ever made,” Pat concludes. “Rather than mask things in, like, a low-fi fog, we can make things sound big and fucked up at the same time.”

–M. Hill

Underground Music – Artist Spotlight – Toyko Police Club

Underground Music  Top 10- Artist Spotlight – Toyko Police Club



Following on one of the most well received 16 minutes of music in recent history (2006’s A Lesson In Crime EP), Newmarket Ontario’s Tokyo Police Club will release a debut album entitled Elephant Shell, due out late April on Saddle Creek in North America and Memphis Industries in the UK.

Elephant Shell lands roughly a year and half after A Lesson In Crime (with last year’s Smith EP and “Your English Is Good” digi-single and a ton of touring also bridging the gap) and barely four years from the band’s 2005 formation. Not bad for four friends who learned to play during senior year in high school, later naming themselves for a nonsensical lyric from the song that would become track one on their first EP, which would in turn sell over 30,000 copies-probably about 29,000 more than they expected-and garner accolades from Entertainment Weekly (“We can hardly wait for the full length), Rolling Stone (“If only all young guitar bands were smart enough to rock out this fast, banging out seven first-rate mod-punk party starters in barely more than sixteen minutes”), Interview, Blender, Nylon and The New York Times among others.

If bassist/vocalist David Monks once described the band’s music as “wide-eyed post-punk with a tendency to get over excited-so much so that someone has to come and tell it to settle down,” Elephant Shell is the sound of four early-20-somethings now seasoned through hundreds of shows from tiny clubs to the festival throngs at Coachella and Glastonbury, maturing a bit and learning to temper and modulate their own more varied musical moods. Or maybe Canada’s socialized health care means easier access to generic Ritalin and Adderall?

Either way, Elephant Shell delivers on every bit of promise in Tokyo Police Club’s rapid-fire barrage of material to date. The opening one-two of “Centennial” and “In A Cave” barely evaporates before “Graves” and “Juno” pack innumerable hooks and “what-does-that-remind-me-of” glimmers into meager 2-minute-and-change frameworks, while “Tessellate” and “Sixties Remake” encapsulate everything great about the manic TPC live experience: soaring guitar signatures and keyboard figures, driving backbeats and irresistible singalongs abound. Elsewhere, “The Harrowing Adventures Of…” and the down tempo standout “Listen To The Math” find our young protagonists ably adapting their energy into more subdued structures before the rousing coda of “The Baskervilles” brings the record to an all-too-early halt.

Unsurprisingly, Tokyo Police Club is already back on the road at press time and will continue to be through the release of Elephant Shell.



Underground Music – Artist Spotlight – Donald Robertson




Donald “XL” Robertson is know now for mixing New Orleans funk with West Coast soul. It wasn’t always this way. We snuck a peak at just a few albums XL worked on…and we will say…well…he’s been making hits for a long time. Watch out Timberland!


Production and Songwriting Credits
.Year .Album .Artist .Credit
1999 Only God Can Judge Me [Clean] Master P Producer, Engineer
1999 Only God Can Judge Me Master P Producer, Engineer
1999 World War III Mac Vocals, Producer, Drum Programming…
2000 Brick Livin’ Mr. Marcelo Producer, Engineer
2000 Ghetto Postage [Clean] Master P Producer, Engineer
2000 Ghetto Postage Master P Producer, Engineer
2000 Goodfellas [Clean] 504 Boyz Producer, Engineer
2000 Goodfellas 504 Boyz Producer, Engineer
2000 Time for Da Real Wild Boyz Producer, Engineer
2000 Trapped in Crime [Clean] C-Murder Producer, Engineer
2000 Trapped in Crime C-Murder Producer, Engineer
2001 Breather Life Krazy Producer, Engineer
2001 C-P-3.Com [Clean] C-Murder Producer, Engineer
2001 C-P-3.Com C-Murder Producer, Engineer
2001 Game Face [Clean] Master P Producer, Engineer
2001 Game Face Master P Producer, Engineer
2001 My World, My Way [Clean] Silkk the Shocker Producer, Engineer
2001 My World, My Way Silkk the Shocker Producer, Engineer
2001 Streets Made Me Soulja Slim Producer, Engineer
2001 Training Day [Clean] Original Soundtrack Producer, Engineer
2001 Training Day Original Soundtrack Producer, Engineer
2002 Ballers [Bonus DVD] 504 Boyz Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2002 Ballers [Clean][Bonus DVD] 504 Boyz Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2002 Ballers 504 Boyz Producer, Engineer
2002 Tru Dawgs C-Murder Producer, Engineer
2002 Years Later Soulja Slim Producer, Engineer
2003 Malibu’s Most Wanted Original Soundtrack Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2003 Project Gotham Racing, Vol. 2 Hip-Hop.. Original Soundtrack Producer, Engineer, Mixing, Appearance
2003 Storm Tru Thug Producer, Engineer
2003 Straight from the N.O. [Clean] Choppa Producer, Digital Editing, Programming…
2003 Straight from the N.O. Choppa Producer, Digital Editing, Programming…
2004 Based on a True Story [Clean] Silkk the Shocker Producer, Engineer
2004 Based on a True Story Silkk the Shocker Producer, Engineer
2004 Beginning of the End… Juvenile/Skip/Wacko Producer, Engineer
2004 Good Side, Bad Side [Bonus DVD] Master P Producer, Engineer
2004 Good Side, Bad Side [Clean] Master P Producer, Engineer
2004 Good Side, Bad Side Master P Producer, Engineer
2004 Nolia Clap UTP Playas Producer, Engineer
2005 All Things Erica Fox Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2005 Best of Silkk the Shocker [Clean] Silkk the Shocker Producer, Engineer
2005 Best of Silkk the Shocker Silkk the Shocker Producer, Engineer
2005 Goodbye So Long Katie Marino Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2005 Instrument of Praise Erica Fox Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2005 Return The Legendary Ghost Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2005 Run Away Katie Marino Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2005 Rush the Dance Floor Katie Marino Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2005 Source Hip Hop Hits, Vol. 10 Various Artists Producer, Engineer
2005 Syrenz Syrenz Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2005 That’s the Business XL Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2005 Truest $#!@ I Ever Said [Clean] C-Murder Producer, Engineer
2005 Truest $#!@ I Ever Said C-Murder Producer, Engineer
2006 No Limit Greatest Hits Various Artists Producer, Engineer
2006 Reality Check [Clean] Juvenile Producer, Engineer
2006 Reality Check Juvenile Producer, Engineer
2006 Start The Conversation Movement Producer, Engineer
2006 Tru Story: Continued C-Murder Producer, Engineer
2007 Could It Be Kanary Diamonds Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2007 Do What I Want Andrea Lewis Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2007 I Rock Kanary Diamonds Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2007 Ironman Action Figures Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2007 It’s Like This XL Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2007 Kids Creative Movement Hip Hop Mimi Producer, Engineer, Mixing
2007 Trials of Darryl Hunt Original Soundtrack Producer
2008 It Is What It Is Impromp2 Digital Editing