Founded in 2001 by Michael McDonald (not the singer, but the former Dave Matthews tour manager and ATO Records co-founder), they describe themselves as a “boutique artist management company,” and for good reason, since they specialize in a small amount of high quality acts: Ray LaMontagne, Deer Tick, Lord Huron, and Toyko Police Club just to name a few more. Two of their groups recently released new albums that have been making a lot of buzz in the indie community. Both St. Lucia and White Denim have great new music out that lives up to the Mick Management reputation.
St. Lucia started as a one man project by the South African musician Jean Philip Grobler in Brooklyn, after struggling to fit into the standard rock format he was then involved in.
“At the beginning of St. Lucia, there was an element of ‘Who the fuck is this guy?’ ” Grobler admits. “There was an amazing indie scene in New York for, like, 10 years, and still is now. As much as I love a lot of bands from that scene, something in me found what they were doing a little unnatural. It seemed like a lot of bands were doing it just to try and be weird.”- via Vancouver’s Straight.com
As St. Lucia, he experimented with the pop-rock sounds he was influenced by: Fleetwood Mac, Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, and Radiohead. The project soon turned into a 5 person performance group (consisting of Patricia Beranek, Nick Brown, Ross Clark, and Nicky Paul), to fully realize the vision of Grobler’s work.
His/their debut album When The Night, embodies the current obsession with 80s pop sound, but layers it with a fresh indie vibe.
"With the new album, we just really wanted the sound of the band playing live together to come across more than some higher concept rock record…and we have to make records that hopefully people like. It’s tough, especially with all stuff you hear about the business every day. But we also feel very lucky. This is record number five, we’re still doing it all ourselves"-James Petralli via Irish Times
The band’s new refined sound is a fan favorite, but critics are not as kind. Rolling Stone said “On nearly every song, the band’s knack for compacting oblong, ramble-tamble jams into tight, buzzing puzzles is dazzling. Are these great songs? Not really. But they’re great four-minute workouts.” An abstract positive review with confusing negativity, followed by the run-of-the-mill 3.5 star review…typical Rolling Stone. Then, PrettyMuchAmazing said:
"Don’t get me wrong, I like the song. I like it the way I value a decent neighborhood restaurant with a lunch special that’s cheap and filling. I’ll eat there if it’s close to work, but I’m not going to bring my friends from out of town. Inoffensive to a fault…It’s vaguely good. It would never distract you. But I can’t shake the feeling that it’s a record made by someone who’s read about rock, but never listened to it. Technically, it’s well executed. There’s just nothing extra. People say don’t reinvent the wheel, but this isn’t a goddam wheel. It’s rock ‘n’ roll. Its existence is predicated on revolution….C+"
I find reviews like these more insulting than just saying that an album is horrible. I don’t agree with either of these reviews, and the only reason I have included them is to disprove them.
I am a proponent of the ever-expanding alternative community, but there is so much experimental/avant-garde music out there today, that refined simplicity is amazing when done right. This album sounds like Thick Freakness-era Black Keys, a sound that has not been that active in indie culture lately.
What I got from these harsh reviews is that they believe this album is safe compared to the variety of sounds White Denim has experimented with in the past. Safe is relative. Mumford&Sons Babel was safe since it was just a continuation of sound from the group’s first album, Sigh No More. Corsicana Lemonade is not safe, it’s refined—but not to the point where it’s boring. There’s enough unexpected diversity in the album. It’s an American Rock sound, with an indescribable alternative underlayer that creates a unique sound. Case in point, my favorite track off the album: