KFlay: FML

K just released a gorgeous & haunting new track and video that hits real close to home.

FML is about waking up from the party late-night life-style to discover that your bad habits catch up with you.

I was going to say more about how some of the lyrics really hit home, especially for those of us deep in The Grind.

But YouTube has switched over to another recent single of hers, “Can’t Sleep”, and now I’m enjoying one of her tracks from Life As A Dog.

I can’t sleep
I hope to stay awake
Cuz I’ve been running, running, running all day…

More true words that hit home.


Elderbrook “Could”

Our friend Gigi Tsakiris wrote in with an older but still awesome stripped-down electronica track by Elderbrook.

“Could”, the first track from his debut EP that dropped about a year ago, highlights his minimalist aesthetic and well-crafted songwriting and production skills.

The video is also gorgeous. A constantly-shifting oil painting follows along with the song. It must have been filmed first live, then the paintings done over each frame.

Great track!

New web series: X-RAY

There’s a new indie music web series based in Portland, OR, but it’s not about hipsters or ambient post-punk bands.

Director Seena Haddad created X-Ray to resonate with those in Portland’s hip-hop community. It’s a realistic, ground-level view of what it means to “make it” in the rap game, where success is measured in increments, and the drive to be heard is balanced against everything else going on in an artist’s life: friends, family, romantic relationships, the work that actually puts money in your wallet. The first season, premiering online this week, follows an aspiring young MC whose goal is not to get in the ear of some mogul and score a multimillion-dollar deal: He just wants to get a mixtape out. Empire it is not. It’s an archetypal tale of starting from the bottom, one which looks, feels and, most crucially, sounds like Portland.

XRAYPOSTER_FOR_PRINT_11_25x17_25Getting those details right were crucial for Haddad. Expectedly, it took some trial and error to get there. After all, Haddad had only just returned to the area two years before he began writing the script. He left Beaverton in 2006, going to New York and then studying film at the American University of Paris, and is currently based in L.A. After completing his first draft, he reached out to Fahiym Acuay, founder of the Pacific Northwest hip-hop blog We Out Here, for an appraisal. “He didn’t capture the issues at hand,” Acuay says. “It could’ve been like any city.”

Acuay became Haddad’s de facto tour guide to Portland hip-hop, taking him to shows and introducing him to MCs. (He’s credited as an associate producer on the show.) One night at Kelly’s Olympian, Haddad witnessed a set by Michael “Fountaine” Stewart. He’d already cast his lead protagonist, a trained actor from Beaverton, but after seeing Stewart perform, he began to rethink his decision.

“The other actor had an idea in his head that he was playing this rapper. He came from the ‘burbs, and it seemed like he was playing into a stereotype that didn’t make sense,” Haddad says. “I wanted the character to be very cerebral. People think about what they say here. In real life, people aren’t trying to make a big show of things, they’re just putting their energy into music.”

In contrast to the bravado found in other rap-themed dramatizations, Stewart brings a quiet vulnerability to the role of Marcus Ray, a creative kid reeling from a personal tragedy who is just trying to get the wheels of his career turning. It helped that, during filming, Stewart was essentially on the same trajectory in his own career, releasing his debut last March. “At first, I didn’t believe in myself because I’m like, ‘I don’t act,’” Stewart says. “[Haddad] just said to be myself. The story he wrote was my up-and-coming story as an artist.” Haddad filled out the cast with other non-actors recognizable to local hip-hop fans, including Epp, Wes Guy and Maze Koroma, and also brought in producers 5th Sequence and Samarei to do the soundtrack.

After a year and a half of stops and restarts—a hard-drive crash in October forced him to re-edit several episodes—Haddad is finally ready to put X-Ray online. It will play out over 10 brief episodes, most under 10 minutes. It sounds modest. But for those who see themselves in Marcus Ray, who’ve scrapped to make hip-hop viable in a city where it’s often appeared to be outlawed, it’s a crucial depiction of just how hard they’ve fought.

Season one is available on Vimeo. Season two launches in April.


Old-school R&B and hip hop from DJ Mr Wilson

File this under random, but over the weekend I got an Uber ride from DJ Mister Wilson. We got to chatting during the long trek from West Hollywood to the South Bay and enjoyed learning more about each other’s musical journeys and tastes.

I followed up to ask for some music he likes, and he sent me back links to his Soundcloud and Mixcrate.

He mixes up long sets of old school R&B / hip hop mashups. Great entertaining music for dinner parties and other hip(ster) gatherings.

Also if you ever seen DJ Mister Wilson live, be sure to ask him to drop in some Katy Perry.

Stunning new experimental rock video from Nick Valentini Collective

Oh hell to the yes.

So we just learned about the Nick Valentini Collective. They describe themselves as a “jazz fusion band meets Radiohead.” Which is probably technically correct, but it is waaaaay too wimpy a description and doesn’t do this group justice.

They rock, for sure. But they’re also very R&B. And also very folk/country.

Melodic, powerful … oh and the video is visually stunning as well.

There’s a new sound emerging, and it’s collectives like Nick Valentini’s that are pioneering a blend of urban and country. Maybe they’re best described as a modern Yes?

Lead songwriter Nick Valentini takes influence from the freedom of expression and creativity that has become prevalent in today’s sociopolitical system. “The upcoming album is inspired by the beauty of experimentation and the eagerness to explore endless possibilities through voice and music. There is opportunity to grow as people and individuals by simply trying new things,” states Valentini.

Their debut album drops this summer, followed by extensive touring.

Be on the lookout.

New video: Transference – “Stone Circles”

Old-school psychedelic rockers / spiritual seekers Transference have just released a video for a track they’ve been working on for their new album. The song is called “Stone Circles”, and, as is usual for Transference, tackles the existential crisis of our time and the yearning in our souls to the One Light that illuminates all beings across the universe.

I really like this track, and especially dig the video. It’s as long as an MDMA trip with all the visuals and spiritual epiphany, but without the nasty side effects that come from taking drugs.

Launch the video,
turn down the lights,
Dissolve into the infinite …

Jesse Terry: “As One” live video & tour dates

Jesse Terry just wrote in from Toronto with news about a live video from a concert in New Zealand over the holidays, as well as updates for his upcoming tour.

We hear he’s got lots of new music to release later this year, and will be headlining a number of venues for his first time this year.

A folk singer on the rise …

March & April Tour Dates

Jesse starts off the month of March with a “Two Troubadours” co-bill tour with the talented Ken Yates. Grab your Advance Tickets today and help us spread the word about these awesome concerts!

March 8th | Toronto, ON, Canada
Burdock Music Hall

March 11th | Pickering, ON, Canada
House Concert
RSVP : ken@kenyates.com

March 12th | London, ON, Canada
The London Music Club

March 13th | Avon Lake, OH
The Barn
RSVP : marilyn@musicmissioninc.com

March 16th | Indianapolis, IN
Indy Lido Deck
RSVP : ken@kenyates.com

March 17th | Chicago, IL
Uncommon Ground Edgewater

March 18th | East Lansing, MI
Pump House Concerts
RSVP : pumphouseconcerts@gmail.com

March 19th | Spring Lake, MI
Seven Steps Up – Pin Drop Concerts

April 2nd | Plymouth, MA
The Spire Center for The Performing Arts

April 7th | Houston, TX
Anderson Fair *

April 9th | Huntsville, TX
Thoreau Woods Coffeehouse

April 10th | Huntsville, TX
Thoreau Woods Unitarian Universalist Church

April 15th | Westerly, RI
The Knickerbocker Cafe

April 16th | Villanova, PA
Musical Lairs – Supporting Craig Bickhardt & Band – 20th Anniversary Celebration
RSVP : leeabowers@outlook.com

April 23rd | Fairfield, CT
Fairfield Theatre Company Stage One – Supporting Jeff LeBlanc

# w/ Ken Yates
+ w/ Pesky J. Nixon
* In the Round w/ Ken Gaines & Friends
^ In the Round w/ Marc Douglas Berardo & Abbie Gardner