Let the celebrating begin, because real music is back. The multi-talented, Minnesota based band Mint Condition is roaring back from a six year hiatus with the release of their newest creation, Livin the Luxury Brown. This time, on their own terms, the band has released a set of fourteen songs along with some very adventurous musical interludes and other very special bonus material. The new CD will be released on their very own label, Cagedbird Records, in a joint venture with Image Entertainment, a major distributor of home entertainment products. The independent release is most definitely a luxe experience, as the talented Twin Cities brotherhood proves that not only have their musical chops survived intact, theyve deepened with time.
Livin the Luxury Brown is Mints first release since their 1999 album Life's Aquarium. The title of the new CD has a specific meaning for the group, which has spent the last six years playing spot dates, woodshedding with new songs and side projects and just living life. Lead singer Stokley says, "Livin' the Luxury Brown is a kind of metaphor that celebrates our experience, culture, tradition and peoplehood. We're just givin' you somethin' honest, creative, fun, deep and real."
Amazingly enough, the original lineup of the influential band remains essentially the same since its 1991 debut recording Meant to Be Mint. Mint Condition once again sports the prodigious talents of Stokley on vocals and drums, Ricky Kinchen on bass and lead guitar, Lawrence El on piano and keyboards, O'Dell on lead and rhythm guitar and Jeffrey on saxophone and keyboards. Beginning as a sextet, the group now stands at five after the amicable departure of keyboardist Keri Lewis. Mint Condition's classic soul-meets-rock sound is still in full effect as a product of being a self contained unit by writing and producing their own material. Mint Condition also gets support on the new CD from drummer Chris Dave, as well as a contribution from A Tribe Called Quest and former Lucy Pearl sound architect Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
Happily for longtime fans, Livin' the Luxury Brown incorporates the back-to-basics ethos of a hardworking garage band, while fully embracing the smooth melodies of contemporary R&B with welcome touches from the hip-hip, jazz and latin genres. Saxophonist and songwriter Jeffrey notes that the new album does have some interesting twists, "Musically we have more guitar on this record than we've ever had in the past. In addition to Odell, we have Rick playin' guitar, Stokley playin' guitar, and Larry strums a little bit. So, we've established more of an organic sound on this record. The first single from the set is the mid-tempo tune "I'm Ready." With Stokely's signature skill at infusing a lyric with maximum significance, he professes a new willingness for long-lasting romance. "I'm Ready" acknowledges when you've been in a relationship for a long time and have finally crossed that bridge saying 'let's rise on' and take our relationship to that next level."
Mint Condition definitely knows how to send it swingin' on the up-tempo party tip. but it wouldn't be a Mint thang without the bands' trademark, temperature-raisin' love song like the classic ballad promise of "Love Your Tears Away," "a dreamy surprise". Adoration is also the subject of regret on the mid-tempo scorcher "What Happened", while the Mint machine rocks out on the blazing protest "Doormat.
Livin' the Luxury Brown, the band's first release of the new millennium, clearly represents a new era for Mint Condition. Their music itself stands alone and that independence feels right for the group. With their unique sound and musical expertise, Mint Condition has long stood apart from cookie-cutter groups and studio-honed boy bands. After all, this is the group that launched such indelible hits as "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)", "Someone to Love", "You Send Me Swinging", "What Kind of Man Would I Be" and "Pain or Pleasure". This is also the same group whose awesome stage presence and songwriting skills so impressed production bigwigs Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, that they immediately signed Mint Condition to their own Perspective Record label in the mid-nineties. Now, in 2005, comes the next step in the evolution of the band Mint Condition.
The year 2005 and beyond will include a national tour in support of the new CD Livin' The Luxury Brown released nationally on April 26th, an exclusive BET television special on the band to air on April 24th and the long anticipated release of Mint Condition's first live concert DVD/CD combo package in July 2005. The group also has plans for their new label Cagedbird Records, which includes signing new talent and the exciting prospect of releasing Mint's highly coveted side project, the experimental Latin Jazz group JOTO which features Jeffrey, Stokley and Lawrence El.
It's an ambitious slate for the band, but Mint Condition is just fulfilling their destiny of Livin' the Luxury Brown.
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