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Italian duo of Bot and Phra, better known as Crookers, have taken over the electronic music / club scene pretty heavily over the last couple of years. After releasing a few independent EP’s, the Crookers sound began to take off with an over-the-top remix of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”, that demanded club-goers to “shake it” before exploding into an aggro-electro breakdown that could only be described with one word: “wow”. From there, the duo was tapped to remix and produce for artists as eclectic as U2, Murs, Chromeo, Snoop Dogg, Chemical Brothers, Britney Spears, and most notably, Kid Cudi, with the infamous uptempo remix that set off his massive single “Day ‘N Nite”.

Tons of Friends finds the the duo with their first major album release, showing off just how many people in the scene that they rub elbows with. The result is a massively packed, mixed palette of 19 tracks, which finds them trying on several different styles for size.

It begins in familiar territory, on the mostly instrumental “We Love Animals”, a humorous, catchy, mostly instrumental electro track, produced in tandem with Soulwax and Mixhell. From there, we find a trio of tracks that display their knack for working with hip-pop artists and bringing out the best in them. Kelis appears on the abrasive “No Security”, which finds her asking any potential enemies to step in the arena, while Pitbull gets nasty over the soca rhythms of “Natural Born Hustler”, with ease. Perhaps the most impressive of this set is’s “Let’s Get Beezy”, which finds him toning down the more commercial aspects of his music for an infectious busy signal rhythm, not too far off from what you might here at the dancehall.

Speaking of which, the handful of reggae themed tracks included here will inspire many airhorns to be sounded off, as international flavors are captured on “Arena” (feat. Poirier & Face-T), “Jump Up” (feat. Major Lazer, Leftside, Supahype), and “Birthday Bash” (feat. The Very Best, Marina, Dargen D’Amico).

However, at times, the Crookers tracks are only as strong as their collaborators. Flash-in-the-pan crew Spank Rock’s “Park The Truck” takes things into far too experimental territory, as does Rye Rye’s “Hip-Hop Changed”, both appearing too early in the album, potentially scaring off new listeners. Among other moments like this, budding artists like Carrie Wilds and Drop The Lime fail to make a great first impression with songs like “Have Mercy” and “Tee Pee Theme”, respectively. On the flip side of that coin however, there’s a handful of tracks from many virtual unknowns that come off with excellent results. Each “Remedy” (feat. Miike Snow), “Royal T” (ft. Roisin Murphy) and “Cooler Couleur” (ft. Yelle) are ridiculously catchy tracks that don’t need classification, despite whatever type of music the listener might hold closest to their hearts.

We find the group at their most radio friendly on the Kardinal Offishal assisted club-banger “Put Your Hands On Me”, and revisiting Kid Cudi’s “Day ‘N Nite” in an acapella sketch that almost pokes fun at the runaway hit single. Cudi redeems himself with “Embrace The Martian”, which closes out the LP.

With such a long track list, Tons of Friends can lose the listener’s attention at times, especially considering how many different styles of music are presented herein. The average hip-hop listener may only be able to make it through four or five selections before sending the rest of the album’s tracks to the trash bin. But make no mistake, Tons of Friends is actually a slow-burner that showcases the production talents of Crookers, not a disposable compilation of tracks. Don’t needle drop this, put it on in the background at your next crowded house party and watch it do it’s thing. Eventually you might count yourself on Crookers’ friend list.

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