In progressive music circles, it's an event whenever Tom Tom Club, the arty electro-funk Talking Heads spin-off composed of Heads members Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, releases a new record.
"Downtown Rockers," released Sept. 11, is the band's first recording in more than a decade, and the gotta-dance, six-track EP should satisfy expectant fans. The title track pays homage to the free-wheeling New York City music scene of the 1970s and name-checks the Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, the Ramones, Television and the New York Dolls. The album also features cameo appearances by Debbie Harry and other denizens of Lower Manhattan during its experimental zenith.
But what's almost as noteworthy is the band's new label: Nacional Records. Since it was founded in 2005 by music industry veteran Tomas Cookman, the North Hollywood-based indie company has been a champion of alt-Latin and Latino acts such as Manu Chao, Mexico's Nortec Collective, Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux and Argentine ska-rockers Fabulosos Cadillacs.
Being associated with Nacional re-contextualizes Tom Tom Club's distinctive sound; the band's jangly New Wave chords, infectious herky-jerky rhythms and deadpan lyrics, all sound highly contemporary. What's more, the connection underscores the influence of Tom Tom Club/Talking Heads on Nacional alt-Latino artists like Quiero Club and Hello Seahorse!