“Safe Space” – First Fridays (Virtual) Open Mic Featured Artist Set (03.05.21)

I had the pleasure of being selected as the featured artist for the First Fridays Virtual Open Mic for March! Here’s yet ANOTHER new original song I played that night called “Safe Space”.
First Fridays: https://linktr.ee/firstfridaysjp
RKB: https://linktr.ee/roeknowsbest

Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: Honorable Mentions

1. You Will Eventually Be Forgotten by Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)

I loved the way this album flowed like a storybook or a collection of newspaper clippings or scrapbooks – and maybe that was the point, I don’t know. What I do know is that the “emo revival” or whatever you wanna call it, rings true in the sound and shape of this record. Though Keith Latinen’s voice is somewhat of an aquired taste, at times it’s the sweetest thing you ever did hear. I didn’t find myself exactly dumbfounded or necessarily “struck” by listing to this record, but parts of it shines through very brightly to me and I was overall impressed and content with what I heard.

2. Kingfisher by Prawn

 When listening to this record, I got excited dreaming up the potentialies of what Prawn could be in the future. Still a young band and also within the vein of “emo revival”, Kingfisher seems extremely promising upon first listen. I’d keep an eye on Prawn in 2015. I think they have a wide open road ahead of them and I’m definitely looking forward to the next release they put out.

Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: #1 – Flies In All Directions by Weatherbox

Artist: Weatherbox

Album: Flies In All Directions

Produced by: Brian Warren

Released: May 13, 2014

urlI think I could go on and on and on about this album forever. Before this year, I had no knowledge of Weatherbox, who Brian Warren even was but after seeing a few dribs and drabs via social media about the band / this record, I decided to give it a listen. I’m always game for new music, right?

And holy shit I was not expecting to completely fall completely in LOVE.

For me personally, this album was a godsend as I was going through a lot of existential crisis filled with fear, worry, and doubt and this record seemed to be the best tonic I could ever draft up to keep my mind at ease and feel okay. Every lyric became a mantra for me at some point.

Flies In All Directions jams to the beat of its own drum. No rhythm or tempo is the same for too long, lyrics are fresh and perfect, Brian Warren is crystal clear, yet wonderfully non-specific, giving way to mystery.

I fell in love with this band and album so much that I saw them live this summer at Asbury Lanes by myself, as I was unable to convince anyone knew of their absolute genius.

There’re parts of me that want to compare both Brian Warren and Max Bemis of Say Anything in some respects because of the way each of their musical minds work: Both self-produced the albums released this year, there are clever lyricisms abound throughout their work, there are time signature changes, rhythm changes, tempo changes (anomalies not typically seen within this “genre”) – as if both gentlemen are listening to their true human nature, letting the songs come, allowing the music to flow naturally, not conforming to what may be considered to be a pop song or a radio friendly song – and their music flourishes and is fun to listen to because of it! If I’m not mistaken, I believe Weatherbox and Say Anything did tour together at once point but I think I remember reading Brian Warren saying it wasn’t as successful as he had hoped, because as much as him and Bemis are the same, they are also drastically different: Bemis tends to be more biographical, Warren sticks to his metaphors and blurred/ambiguous meaning, during live shows Max utilizes his stage presence, Brian tends to stick to the mic and move around his center here and there, etc.

With that said, I think if you are a fan of Say Anything your interest will definitely be piqued while listening to this record. There are so many wonderful things going on, you need to listen more than once to catch them all. And if you’re not an SA fan, I still think this album holds up incredibly well as an independent entity. If you love and appreciate the craft of songwriting and want to chew on something different, take a listen.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: #2 – PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by Pharoahe Monch

Artist: Pharoahe Monch

Album: PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Produced by: Pharoahe Monch, Guy Routte, Lee Stone, Marco Polo, The Stepkids, B.A.M., The Lion Share, Boogie Blind, Jesse West, Quelle Chris

Released: April 14, 2014

Pharoahe_Monch_PTSDAside from this record coming in as #2 on my list, this is no doubt the best hip-hop album of the year.

First hearing of Pharoahe Monch off a name drop in Talib Kweli song a few years ago, I checked him out. W.A.R. was out at the time. I liked it, but it didn’t grab me as much as PTSD has this year.

This album is a beautiful diamond in the rough – Inspired by true events in Pharoahe’s own life, PTSD is a work of art that must be listened to in its entirety to be truly appreciated. We start off at “The Recollection Facility”, a place where traumatic experiences can be extracted and then we immediately get catapulted into “Time2”.

The PTSD narrative emphasizes a very real issue that exists within the black community: The sentiment that mental health or to seek help for mental health is more aligned with white access and privilege, not something that is advertised or seen as accessible to anyone else on the outside of that community. There are also many lyrical parallels that no doubt speak to post-9/11 war veterans and the overall pharmaceutical abuse which is still rampant in everyday America, regardless of race or class.

Another reason why this album trumps all others is because it stands out from its contemporaries. I can’t help but notice that subjects of current hip-hop songs and albums are about smoking weed, being promiscuous, going to clubs, self-toasting to the point of redundancy. Not to say, that hip-hop shouldn’t have any of that – I believe it in fact should and it has since its inception. But anything in excess gets tiring real quick. In PTSD I feel like I’m learning something, becoming slightly enlightened. On this record Pharoahe talks about suicide, losing his grip on reality, nightmares, how his own mental state affects his relationships, even talks about the importance of eating organic in “The Jungle”.

As a privileged white female who grew up in the suburbs a few miles outside an inner city, I am nearly blind to everything Pharoahe is talking about. But by listening to this record and others like it, I can step in his shoes for a hour or so and get outside my own defined sense of reality. Hip-hop like this is my window inside – and I hope by saying that, that doesn’t make me seem ignorant or insensitive, but hopefully compassionate and caring. In fact I think hip-hop works this way for many others. Just because Pharoahe Monch is a lyrical wordsmith who utilizes killer beats and speaks in vibrant metaphors, does not make what he’s talking about less real than anything else that occurs outside our own empirical reality. It in fact brings it more to the forefront that the 6 o’clock news ever could.

I’ve seen Pharoahe talk about the record on MSNBC with Melissa Harris Perry and on NYC hip-hop radio programs. All videos are available on YouTube and I suggest checking them out if you wish to learn more from the creator’s mouth about this incredible record.

Production is dope, Pharoahe Monch is one of the greatest MCs of our time…If you have any love for hip-hop and/or socio-political commentary of anything, please bump this record ASAP.

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