A storm of controversy swirls around the new 'Cane Records compilation CD, Miami Hybridized, which is scheduled for an August 30 release. The disc -- the second from the fledgling label run by University of Miami students -- showcases five local artists: rappers 5th Gear, vocalist Carla Hall, straight-ahead rocker Cheryl Hill, anarchy-rockers the Jongleurs, and funkmeisters the Kind. Each contributed two tracks.
But three of the Hybridized participants have slammed the 'Cane project, blaming the label for amateurish sound quality. According to Richard Lebos, guitarist for the Kind, both of his band's entries "sound horrible. The level of the entire recording is low and muffled." Lebos suspects foulups during the original recording of the songs, and accuses 'Cane of compounding the problem in the mixing stage by piling on cheesy effects. Lebos's band recently hired an attorney to try to block the CD's release, or at the very least to drop the Kind's songs from the project.
"They ['Cane] seemed really cool to start out," relays Jongleurs drummer Eric Hastings. "The rough mixes sounded good. But the final mixes sounded terrible. Bland. The levels are really low. Nothing stands out. And both songs are just bathed in effects. I got the feeling they were like kids in a candy store with all the studio effects."
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The Kind's vehemence puzzles 'Cane Records producer Eric Alexandrakis, who mixed the band's tunes and who has only kind words for the funksters. "I really like what they do, and I think the new mixes of their stuff sound great, Alexandrakis says. "We had some little engineering problems at first -- even I wasn't very happy -- but we went back and redid the guitars and now I think it sounds really ballsy. They'll be a lot better off with us than without us."
And if the bands don't share that opinion? "We did the best we can," the producer assesses. "But the decision's already been made to press the CD. They put it in our hands. They signed the paper. that's the real world."
That attitude does not sit well with Cheryl Hill. The vocalist echoes the Kind's complaints. "The whole thing was a fiasco," she sighs resignedly. "They called in studio musicians for me that couldn't cut it. They spent the least amount of time on the most important part -- recording the basic tracks -- and then said they would fix it all in the mix. They called me and told me they had to drop some background vocals from one song because they weren't sung in tune. As soon as I signed the contract, it was all downhill from there."
Alexandrakis adds that those contracts require participating bands to perform live at least three times to promote the project. The first of those performances will be the CD-release party August 30 at the Hard Rock Cafe.