The Caribbean (band)

The Caribbean is an American experimental pop group from Washington, D.C., primarily composed of Michael Kentoff, Matthew Byars and Dave Jones.[1] The band has been critically acclaimed for its deconstructionist approach[2] to pop music, its wry, literary lyrics, and its eclectic sound, which incorporates elements of American pop, indie rock and experimental rock, cool jazz, folk music, lounge music, and even Brazilian music.[3]

The Caribbean
OriginWashington, D.C., United States
GenresIndie rock, experimental rock, art rock, post-rock, electronic music, field recording
Years active1999–present
Endearing Records
Little Voice
Hidden Shoal
West Main Development
Website [26]
MembersMichael Kentoff
Matthew Byars
Dave Jones
Don Campbell
Tony Dennison


Formed in 1999, The Caribbean began as a songwriting and recording project between members of Washington, D.C. indie rock and post-punk acts Townies and Smart Went Crazy.[4] Townies singer-guitarist Michael Kentoff and drummer-guitarist Matthew Byars joined Smart Went Crazy drummer Tony Dennison and began writing and arranging new songs to record.

The recording collective grew in 2001 with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Don Campbell, which allowed it to tour for the first time as a group. For the most part, The Caribbean remained a recording collective as its members spanned Maryland, Florida, Minnesota, and Kentucky. Since 2004, all of their records have been mixed by producer/engineer/songwriter Chad Clark (Smart Went Crazy, Beauty Pill).[5] The Caribbean’s records eventually found release on Endearing Records,[6] Germany’s Tomlab,[7] and, later, respected underground imprint Hometapes.[8] Western Australian experimental label Hidden Shoal Recordings releases The Caribbean’s less pop-song-oriented music, including a 2009 remix of the group's 2007 album, Populations, by producer/engineer Scott Solter (who has worked with John Vanderslice, Okkervil River, Fred Frith, and The Mountain Goats).[9]

Guitar player Dave Jones joined in 2004 and the group again toured as a quartet until Campbell departed for graduate school in 2006. The trio of Kentoff, Byars, and Jones have stabilized as the main touring concern since then, with Campbell and Dennison still active in recordings."[10]

The group has toured the United States and Canada extensively, including at respected North American music festivals such as South by Southwest,[11] CMJ Music Marathon,[12] Toronto’s North by Northeast[13] and The Denver Post’s Underground Music Showcase.[14]

The band's 2011 album, Discontinued Perfume, received high praise from Pitchfork Media, with the reviewer stating: "It’s as though the band had all the pieces for comfortable indie pop in its possession but no interest in putting them into a standard order. This is of course what makes them interesting. They are bound to confound your expectations several times on any given album, and if you’re into that, they’re good enough at putting these weird songs together that they can pull you in with surprising ease."[15]

In addition, the record received a 9/10 from PopMatters, wherein the review stated, "They walk out of step with prevailing pop-culture trends and fashions. Yet they’re making some of the most interesting and multi-faceted music that exists right now. Operating on the fringes, they’re nonetheless capturing essential dilemmas of our time, and doing so through the musical equivalents of quandaries, rumors, and whispers. To the band, the listener, the songs’ characters, and the instruments themselves, Discontinued Perfume is an exciting exercise in unlocking the puzzle that is the world around us."[16] Additionally, PopMatters named Discontinued Perfume the "Best Indie-Pop Record of 2011" in their year-end "Best Of" list.[17] "Mr. Let's Find Out" from the record was named to Washington, DC City Paper writer Ryan Little's "Ten Best Local Tracks of 2011,"[18] the title track from the record was named to DC City Paper Arts Editor Jonathan Fischer's "Ten Best Local Tracks of 2011,"[19] the Washington Post hailed the record as a "subtle masterpiece,"[20] and the Denver Post's online site Reverb listed the record as one of their Top 10 Albums of 2011, as well.[21]

The Caribbean has garnered further positive press in The Washington Post, The Washington City Paper, Magnet,[22] Tiny Mix Tapes,[23] Uncut (UK), The Denver Post,[24] Flak,[25] Stylus Magazine, Harp Magazine, and Signal to Noise.

On October 25, 2013, Magnet magazine debuted the first single from The Caribbean's next release, Moon Sickness, "Imitation Air." On November 7, 2013, Rolling Stone debuted another song from Moon Sickness, "Jobsworth."

Moon Sickness was officially released on February 18, 2014 on Hometapes. In its review, the Washington Post compared the band to Scritti Politti, Talking Heads, and Caetano Veloso, describing them as a "quietly extraordinary DC trio." Denver Post Arts & Entertainment reporter John Wenzel tweeted that the record was "an early contender for Album of the Year," and the All Music Guide review stated that "When Moon Sickness settles in on fresh ears, the Caribbean's sometimes disorienting take on pop becomes as infectious as it is unique." The Utne Reader also debuted another song from Moon Sickness on release day, "Electric Bass," which featured contributions by Christopher Porterfield of Wisconsin band Field Report. Moon Sickness was named by the Denver Post as one of its Best Albums of 2014 and by the Washington City Paper as one of its Best Local Albums of 2014.

The band released a new single, "Vitamin Ship," in June 2018. The song was mixed by Beau Sorenson and mastered by Heba Kadry, and the video for it premiered on PopMatters on August 9, 2018. That was followed in October 2018 by the single "The Seventeenth Century," mixed by Don Gunn and again mastered by Heba Kadry. A subsequent remix album, "Vitamin Ships: Remixes" was released on Bandcamp on July 5, 2019, featuring remixes by Josh Kretzmer, Vance Stevenson, Ian Epps, Ursidae, Mike Shiflet, and Josh Mason.



  • Verse By Verse (Endearing, 2001)
  • History’s First Know-It-All (Tomlab/Endearing, 2003)
  • Plastic Explosives (Hometapes, 2005)
  • Populations (Hometapes, 2007)
  • Discontinued Perfume (Hometapes, 2011)
  • Moon Sickness (Hometapes, 2014)

Singles and EPsEdit

  • The Caribbean (Little Voice, 1999)
  • William of Orange (Hometapes, 2004)
  • The Go from Tactical/The Beverly Boys (Hometapes, 2007)
  • The 65 Cent Dinner/Tonight, It's Over (Scioto, 2011)

In CollaborationEdit

  • Scott Solter Re-Populates The Caribbean (Hidden Shoal, 2009)


  1. ^ Artist Page,, May 10, 2011, "[1], May 11, 2011
  2. ^ Joe Tangari,, Feb. 23, 2011, "[2], May 3, 2011
  3. ^ David Malitz, The Washington Post, April 22, 2011, "[3], May 3, 2011
  4. ^ Heather Phares,, Jan. 15, 2002, "[4], May 3, 2011
  5. ^ Jonathan Fischer, Washington City Paper, March 25, 2011, "[5], May 6, 2011
  6. ^ Label Page,, Spring 2005, "[6], May 11, 2011
  7. ^ Artist Page,, 2009, "[7], May 11, 2011,
  8. ^ Artist Page,, May 10, 2011, "[8], May 11, 2011
  9. ^ Artist page,, Jan. 15, 2009, "[9], May 5, 2011
  10. ^ Digital album page,, Nov. 16, 2010, "[10], May 6, 2011
  11. ^ South by Southwest schedule,, March 16, 2011, "[11], May 6, 2011
  12. ^ Hometapes CMJ schedule,, Nov. 1, 2006, "[12], May 6, 2011
  13. ^ North by Northeast schedule,, June 5, 2003, "[13], May 6, 2011
  14. ^ The UMS 2009 schedule,, July 26, 2009, "[14], May 6, 2011
  15. ^ Joe Tangari,, Feb. 23, 2011, "[15], May 4, 2011
  16. ^ Dave Heaton,, April 22, 2011, "[16], May 4, 2011
  17. ^ Dave Heaton,, December 7, 2011, "[17][16], December 7, 2011
  18. ^ Ryan Little,, December 21, 2011, [18]"[17], December 21, 2011
  19. ^ Jonathan Fischer,, December 22, 2011, [19]"[18], December 22, 2011
  20. ^ Mark Jenkins,, December 22, 2011, [20]"[19], December 22, 2011
  21. ^ John Wenzel,, December 23, 2011, [21]"[19], December 23, 2011
  22. ^ Magnet Staff,, Feb. 3, 2011, "[22], May 5, 2011
  23. ^ Collin Anderson,, Feb. 2011, "[23], May 5, 2011
  24. ^ John Wenzel,, Aug. 10, 2007, "[24], May 11, 2011
  25. ^ Tina Krinhop,, 2001, "[25], May 5, 2011

External linksEdit

  • Tumblr website [27]
  • Hometapes website [28]
  • Facebook page [29]