Mates of State are a husband wife duo consisting of Kori Gardener and Jason Hammel. I first learned of them through my friend Bill Racine who co-produced their album Bring It Back in 2006. “Punchlines” and “Running Out” are two of my favorite songs off that album that I’ve returned to many times over the years. After teaming up with producer Peter Katis (The National, Interpol, Frightened Rabbit) on their 2008 release Re-Arrange Us, the Mates decided to go it alone and self produce their latest album, Mountaintops. It seems that simplifying the creative decision process allowed the duo to get back to what they do best – writing good synth pop tunes that showcase a keen sense of melody and a unique blend of vocal timbres. Mountaintops feels straight ahead and never lost in overproduction and trickery, problems that seem to plague so much of modern music.
Some of our readers might find Mates of State an unlikely pairing for HearYa. For me, Mates of State’s music is a pleasant deviation from a lot of what I’ve been hearing lately. As fall is creeping into winter I find that I’m listening to a lot of darker, more brooding music. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I have to break it up a bit and Mountaintops has done just that. The album is dripping with sunny hooks from the catchy synth line of “Maracas” to the joyous bounce of “Sway.” While mixing this session, I had the line “Oh little girl, pick up the pieces” (from the song “Unless I’m Led”) stuck in my head for about a week.
It was an absolute pleasure to have Mates of State in for a session. Totally cool down to earth people. Thanks to Kori and Jason, along with their touring band, Kenji Shinagawa (guitar) and John Panos (keys, trumpet) for stopping in. As a new parent I enjoyed learning about how Kori and Jason handle touring life with their two young children. I was also flattered to have Kenji ask if he could pose for a picture standing next to my ‘66 Fender Vibrolux. I guess he really liked it. Special thanks to Chris Hershman, Nathan Saks and Ryan Luciani for covering camera op duties and bringing the image quality of our videos to an all-new level.
Mates of State – Sway (Live in Chicago @ Shirk Music + Sound)
Mates of State – Maracas (Live in Chicago @ Shirk Music + Sound)