brooklyn indie rockers california king space out on ‘sankofa.’ #soundcheck

September 12, 2014

California King has always been a band of hybrid-genre descriptions. The Brooklyn trio mixes motown soul, garage, and dance in with their indie rock, but on their latest, Sankofa,California King give themselves the freedom to push the boundaries to the point where genres are meaningless. (Weren’t they already? Probably.)


By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor  

The title track opens on a syncopated Carribean beat heavy on atmosphere. Frontman Mike Mills engages in a tightwire act of tension building, teasing anthemic rock riffs beneath his effects-laden guitar work. There’s a similar feel to The Mars Volta at their least out-there (which is, in fairness, still pretty out there…). “Strange Blossoms” gets a little more down to the indie rock California King is known for, while jittering synths pulsate around the edges. These edgewise synths take center stage in “The Big Picture” with its manipulated beats, and 80’s chorus guitars.


Sankofa-era California King is at their best when they lean into the atmospheres. “Intimacy” and “Further Explorations” both make rhythm section Yohann Potico and Howard Alper anchor a groove deep in a well of texture. The juxtaposition brings out the best in everyone, as the band brings album closer “Intimacy” to an epic end. While the jagged edges of La Belle Epoque may have been sanded down, their newfound emphasis on texture over bombast takes them to a new level.