California King
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California King

Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF | AFM

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Alternative Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Review: La Belle Epoque"

California King is a band that originally came to our attention via the Black Rock Coalition and the Afro-Punk websites. Currently residing in Brooklyn, the alternative power rock trio is led by Virginia native Michael Mills on vocals and guitar, along with veteran NYC drummer Howard Alper and bass player Yohann Politico, who originally hails from Normandy, France.

Following on the heels of their 2008 debut, The Adoration of the Boogie Bear, the band recently released their sophomore album, La Belle Epoque, available in multiple digital formats via Bandcamp.

Eschewing standard genre labels, CK aims to “bridge the gap between distant rock & soul icons Prince and Hendrix and more modern indie rock pioneers such as Radiohead and TV on The Radio.” Other influences listed by the band include De La Soul, Funkadelic, and N.E.R.D. along with more obvious choices from the black rock pantheon such as Fishbone and Bad Brains. Consequently, you can also expect a dash of hip hop stylings and heavy funk thrown into their melting pot.

Standout tracks on the album include the hard rocking “Bobby Burns,” featuring Jeffrey Smith on sax; the opening track “Solar Nights,” which would heat up any dance floor; and the trashing “Come To Me and Stay.” However, I almost prefer the slower, introspective songs which allow more room for experimentation, such as the cosmically melodious “Higher Plane” and the fuzzed up, slightly psychedelic “Soft and Warm.” Following is a live performance of the closing track “The Reins” from the band’s Youtube channel:

La Belle Epoque may well represent the “golden age” for California King, and is worth checking out. Though the self-produced and recorded album could have benefited from additional resources, it’s a fine addition to our growing body of contemporary black rock music.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss - AAAMC Black Grooves

"Review: La Belle Epoque"

California King

La Belle Epoque (New Boy Records)

I met California King back in 2008, when they were just out of the gate. They were, like a lot of bands just starting out, tentative in their performance. That said, they clearly had a lot of potential, which is why they made it onto the compilation album with their track "On Planet Earth," which was taken from their debut album, Adoration of the Boogie Bear.

Fast-forward to 2010, and on their new album, La Belle Epoque, it's clear that they've come a long way. They're still kicking out strong, well-written songs channeled through lead singer Mike Mills' yearning vocals. What's different now is the noticeable fire that propels their songs. And, on top of it all, it sounds like they're having fun!

From jump, the trio, made up of Mills, Yohann Potico on bass and Howard Alper on drums, sets an infectious energy level with "Solar Nights" and maintains it through "Come to Me and Stay" and "Brutal Minds," which closes the first quarter of the album.

"Homicide" is a well-placed ballad that gives the listener a bit of a break by creating more musical space than is present when the trio is going in hard on a song. There's something about the mood of "Higher Plane" that reminds me of "Higher Purpose," a song Nona Hendryx contributed to the sound track of the Showtime series Sleeper Cell. Both songs do a great job evoking the spiritual. And, in something of a departure from the trio setup, a Junior Walker-style saxophone joins the bar rocker "Bobby Burns."

It's clear the band has a good recipe working: First, there are the smart lyrics -- such as this line from "Lingering": "The winter left you cold/Cuz the fall opened up your nose/It was over and done by Christmas Eve." Second, the trio is tight; two years of gigging proves there's no shortcutting the process of learning to work together as a unit.

California King do themselves proud, and here's hoping that for this band, the new year turns out to be a beautiful era, indeed.


"California King: Adoration Of The Boogie Bear- Album Review"

Sometimes something great just sneaks up on you. That's exactly what happened to me when I slid Adoration Of The Boogie Bear into my CD player.

The album is the new record from Brooklyn-based trio California King (I didn't get the name at first either).

The band's fusion of traditional soul and R&B (the good R&B, not the Usher kind of R&B) with indie rock makes it hard not to draw comparisons with many well known acts. Talking Heads (check), Bad Brains (check), Fishbone (check).

That's pretty lofty company. But the comparisons are warranted.

The album opens as a solid R&B record. The first track "2012" is pure smooth soul rock and one of the most uplifting songs of my recent memory. "Naked" could easily be a Prince number. That is until the guitars brings to fuzzy in the captivated outro.

As you get deeper into the record, the more genre-bending it becomes.

"Douwanna" follows the now classic Pixies quietLOUDquiet formula with it's soul base, creating a funky cousin of "Caribou". On "Mountains" singer/guitarist Mike Mills (not the R.E.M. dude) adds some Greg Dulli-style grit to his usually slick Prince-meets-Cee Lo vocal delivery.

California King also prove they have some blues in them. "Whiskey Glass" sounds like the love child of TV On The Radio and John Lee Hooker.

Most surprisingly, every chance California King takes and every boundary they push seems to work. This is a fantastic record which needs to be in your collection.

California King can play my party any time.

Best tracks: "Mountains", "2012"

Track listing for Adoration Of The Boogie Bear:
Bring You Back
No Romance
Whiskey Glass
On Planet Earth
- Snob's Music

"Review: Adoration of the Boogie Bear"

The retro-aquatic vibration that is 'Adoration of the Boogie Bear' is sonic 70's-era watercolor sketches, and muted realities wrapped in guitar-string bows. Mellow and strumfully echoed, it aptly and uniquely presents a facet of the 'other black experience', that could easily become iconic. The poetry in the lyrics adeptly weaves a soft electric dream for the listener, while the vocals, heavy, straight and suggestively whimsical, command attention effortlessly, but gently.
The bards of CaliforniaKing are skilled storytellers, with songs like 'Far too young' easily fitting of a film score, capturing the emotion of its lyrics with a lamentful precision, painting a picture and story the listener is instantly pulled into. Moving forward the etherscursion offers 'Naked', an uptempo song reminiscent of otherworld strumming banjo strings, coconuts, and sandy beaches, wearing a giant sonic smile. You can see the palmtree printed button-downs and smiling bikini-clad afropunkettes swaying in it. Infectious, it's the song you put on for happytime, as grey clouds fear its power.
Even the otherworldy glowing interlude with delicious kaliedoscope chords, 'No romance' lures and hypnotizes, repeating the mantra 'It's not just make believe', while 'Whiskey Glass', a sullen masterpiece honors the other-dropping shoe. 'It never matters...Just give me my whiskey glass,' is delivered with a reality registering in stop-motion pastels, leading into the charming romantic overture, 'Whaleride'.
The finale, Planet Earth, takes the story downtempo, complete with lamentful guitars, ending a journey that began with the majestic and timely sonic yarn '2012'.
'And you try to be whole...' truly says it all.
We applaud this excursion into the delightful depths of the ethereal mind that is CaliforniaKing, and await their coming works with a dreamy sigh, and a flick of our chocolate mermaid tails.

Well done.
If we had an official rating system at UU we'd give it an A+
- Ultraviolet Underground


2008 "Adoration Of The Boogie Bear"
2010 "La Belle Epoque"
2013 New LP coming up this Fall. Stay tuned...



With the 2008 release of their debut CD “Adoration of The Boogie Bear,” and their 2010 sophomore effort “La Belle Epoque,” California King found their way on to the radar of Indie/Alt tastemakers with performances at both The Northside Festival and Urb Alt Festival. 2014 sees California King poised to release their third album entitled Sankofa. If their earlier efforts were decidedly rock, Sankofa echoes its myriad influences—from Electronica to Caribbean to Funk. The title track is a manifesto of consciousness, the band's way of urging people to look to the past in order to choose the superlative elements and influence the present and the future.

Formed by guitarist and vocalist Mike Mills, Brooklyn based trio California King has a style so distinctive that it defies narrow genre labels that are currently en vogue. Mills is an adept storyteller; painting a detailed lyrical picture as well as delivering mesmerizing emotion-laden vocals and guitar work.  Joining Mills in the band are bassist Yohann Potico and drummer Howard Alper.  The duo creates a solid foundation with Potico blending in low-end dance and hip-hop styling’s while Alper infuses Rock creativity, power and sophistication.

“Se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenki” - Literally translated: it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot.