K.Flay — Eyes Shut EP; or, why K.Flay reminds me of the Smoke Monster on Lost

Band: K.Flay
Album: Eyes Shut EP
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Free mp3: “Easy Fix” (’til Feb. 16)

I must say, what I think I like most about this place is an intentional effort from launch to now to write about music that I — and anyone else lingering around the halls of Chicago Tunes — am listening to and like.

With that said, over time the page has taken on a kind of swagger. You see, as I’ve concentrated more and more on the types of music I willingly respond to — lately, my taste seems generously steeped in psych rock and garage-like noise — the site, inevitably, develops a nonsense personality that says THIS is what gets written about here, and so THIS is what you’ll (probably) read about.

Nevertheless, musicians and PR people of all types — and I mean all types — continue sending me lots of things. Lots of files and lots of tour dates. Some of it aligns rather nicely to something I’ve reviewed before, and that’s great. A lot of it, though, does not. And yet I say to the outliers: Keep on keeping on! You can’t know for sure what might inspire me. I don’t even know.

K.Flay, an Illinoisan turned Californian, happens to be one of those artists that caught me by surprise.

For whatever reason, the site’s email address ended up on her mailing list, and from time to time she sends me things. Her last email, dated January 31, had this subject line: “FREE K.FLAY EP.”

I mean free, right? Free.

I get going with it, eventually, and I realize pretty quickly that even modified hip hop has a place on Chicago Tunes. In a year and a half, I haven’t written a thing about hip hop. And yet here I am writing about the hip and the hop.

Is K.Flay totally hip hop though? Well, not really. That’s why it’s modified. She spits out words quickly and surrounds herself with good beats, but that doesn’t make her a hip hop star. I mean, Vince Vaughn talks fast, but that doesn’t make him a scat man.

Five tracks, Eyes Shut EP is a handful of things. I picked up hip hop, yes, but also something like gangster rap, rock-rap, hardcore pop and hyper R&B. I made up a couple of those, of course. I don’t listen much to stuff like K.Flay.

What’s interesting about the lead song, “10th Ave,” is it isn’t a song at all in the traditional sense. It’s more like a tutorial to what K.Flay can do. Like a showcase of what she thinks is attractive, and what you’ll then find in the oeuvre of K.Flay. She’s vulgar, and then she’s modulating the shape and speed of her voice, and then the backing shifts and so on. At just over two minutes, things end as quick as they begin, and we’re on to the next thing.

It’s in the next handful of tracks, I think, that K.Flay settles in to what she set out to do with Eyes Shut. In tracks two through four, K.Flay is her most tough, tossing out -isms like “my dad looks down on me and says what a crying shame” and “not worried about my taxes; not giving a flying fuck.”

And on “Sunburn,” in particular, she blasts a sample that might just be the Smoke Monster. (It isn’t, but gosh it had me smiling).

But what’s really unfortunate about these middle three is they may have might and snap, but as soon as the refrain kicks in, K.Flay’s brawn, her muscle, devolves into a kind of pop that I didn’t expect from her. I so think K.Flay would have wowed me more had her meaty punches carried through to the end.

This might be why I’m as smitten as I am with “Easy Fix,” the final track. It brandishes cool ‘tude for a full three and a half minutes, and is this post’s giveaway. Head back up to the top if you missed it on your way down.

Extras:

  • K.Flay was born in Illinois but now lives in the S.F. Bay Area.
  • Eyes Shut EP is available for zero dollars or $4.95. You choose. | Download
  • K.Flay headlines Subterranean Friday night. Doors at 9 p.m. | Tickets
  • Chicago Tunes interviewed K.Flay at SxSW 2011. | Video

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About Eric

Hello there. Email your things to chicagotunes[at]gmail[dot]com.
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