Fresh Friday: How to Dress Well, Sports, Chet Faker and Bosnia and Herzegovina a Budding Basketball Force in Europe?

How to Dress Well (the stage name of singer Tom Krell) is one of the rising PBR&B artists that is worth listening to extensively.

In this edition of “Fresh Friday, we’re going to take a look at some “chill” beats from some up and coming Indie artists, and examine Bosnia’s win at the FIBA Under-16 European Championships and whether or not it’s a sign that Bosnia is a European dark horse in development. As it is officially October, it means Fall is upon us, it is time to shelf the shorts and t-shirts and bring back the flannel and jeans, and basketball season is nearly upon us. Hence, it is even more important to build up some chill music on the Spotify queue in anticipation of basketball junkies’ late nights with NBA League Pass. D-League on YouTube, FIBA Global Pass (via LiveBasketball.tv) and Euroleague TV (if that thing will launch of course…if anybody has any updates, please let me know…I’m committed to covering more Euroleague for this blog) as well as cheap, but classy sundry choices that make the basketball addiction feel a bit more normal (even when in reality it is not).

This weekend’s beer of choice: Pabst Blue Ribbon. Cheap, classic, from Milwaukee (which is always a good thing and a hell of a lot better than St. Louis), and readily available in the Midtown area of Kansas City. There is a lot of good music going on this weekend in Midtown and Downtown Kansas City (with Of Monsters and Men being the headline weekend act in KC tonight at the Midland Theatre), so as you’re spending your money on tickets and covers to see some great shows, counter that with something cheap to drink that will make the night a little bit easier on your wallet.

So on with the music and basketball for “Fresh Friday.”

How to Dress Well “Repeat Pleasure”

There is something utterly endearing about “How to Dress Well”, the stage name of Chicago-based R&B singer Tom Krell. His style makes listeners hark back to older R&B acts like Immature and Boyz II Men, but has a modern-day Hipster-ish hue in the mold of say a Bon Iver (especially his voice, which makes one think of Justin Vernon, as it is hypnotic, but not exactly the easiest when it comes to deciphering lyrics). Krell started out as a nameless blogger who released new audio tracks anonymously via his blog “How to Dress Well” (which later became his stage name). In an era when self-promotion is huge in the independent music scene (I can’t tell you how many indie artists will follow random people just to get people to listen to their stuff…not that this is bad, but this is what it takes to get noticed musically as an artist), Krell seems to be a true artist, caring more about his craft than fame. He probably is more talented than most of the modern-day R&B singers out there in the scene now, but he goes unnoticed because he doesn’t have the marketability (he doesn’t have the flashy style or appearance of a Ginuwine or Tyrese for example) or product-promoting aggressiveness of some up and coming artists. But, that is refreshing, and it’s just a matter of time before “How to Dress Well” becomes more mainstream. His albums, including his most recent, “What is this Heart?” have all received rave reviews, so he is on the cusp of becoming a bigger name in the indie and R&B scene.

The track above, “Repeat Pleasure” is classic “How to Dress Well”: a nostalgic but chill R&B tune that is great to listen when un-winding from a long week day or a long night out…especially if you are spending it with a significant other (wink…wink…)

Sports “Panama”

I witnessed Sports playing live at “The Riot Room” in Westport about a month ago. They looked like something straight out of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” or “Dazed and Confused” and I guess I was expecting some kind of Punk Rock act. Instead, I was greeted with a super chill, heavily electronic group that featured a nostalgic 80’s sound that made you think of 80’s artists like Huey Lewis and Phil Collins. I was thoroughly entertained by their set, even as they struggled to get the sound they wanted from their equipment and the sound system.

From Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sports has one album out “Naked All the Time” which just recently came out this summer to some good reviews. The album is worth a listening to on Spotify or buying on ITunes, as many of the songs are the kind of hypnotic, hip and head swaying tracks that are great to jam to at a small get-together when you just need something to fill the space but not overpower the people in attendance. People will remark that it sounds familiar, as if it were something from the 80’s, and that is where you can come in and say it’s actually a band that is currently active. Sports is that kind of “Wow, I didn’t know they were an active band” remark-generating act. By knowing who they are, it will make you seem “cool” and “cultured” in the music scene with friends and even acquaintances, even if you only know them because you stumbled upon them by accident one Friday night in Westport.

So yeah, keep “Sports” on the playlist, especially “Panama” which is one of their albums’ best tracks.

Chet Faker “No Diggity”

Any time Hipster culture can clash with my own personal nostalgia, I am hooked. That was the case when I was listening to one of Spotify’s playlists (Indie Chill: Covers) and stumbled upon this. I loved this song when it came out performed by Blackstreet. I was in like the fourth or fifth grade, and this single was in my music collection along with Keith Sweat, R. Kelly, Boyz II Men, and AZ Yet. And yes, I was in the fourth and fifth grade. And my mom was totally cool with me listening to this music. Music that featured lyrics like this, from AZ Yet’s “Last Night”.

Last night
I was inside of you
Last night
While making love to you
I saw the sun , the moon
The mountains and the rivers
I saw heaven when I made sweet love to you

Again. I repeat. I WAS IN THE FOURTH AND FIFTH GRADE WHEN I WAS LISTENING TO THIS. By the time we talked about sex ed in 6th grade, I knew a lot about the sexual reproduction process because that’s all that was talked about in my music collection. Maybe that’s why my mom let me listen to all that R&B: Keith Sweat, Blackstreet and AZ Yet could teach me about the “Birds and the Bees” so my parents didn’t have to.

As for Chet Faker’s rendition, it is not the original Blackstreet of course, but for covers it stands out firmly on its own. I like the chill, lo-fi remix to the classic R&B track, and it is the perfect track to jam to while reading or writing or just hanging out in your apartment. Faker has a fantastic voice and unique sound, like lounge meets indie pop meets soul. He’s worth checking out more of if you dig any of the three listed above, with his first major EP “Thinking in Textures” being a good start.

Replay of the Week: Bosnia and Herzegovina-Lithuania FIBA U16 European Championship

Bosnia and Herzegovina may be one of the most intriguing basketball countries as of late. While we know about the impact Jusuf Nurkic had as a rookie with the Denver Nuggets, the intimidating center may be just the tip of the iceberg of what kind of potential Bosnia and Herzegovina may have in the future. BIH didn’t do great in the FIBA Eurobasket 2015, as their Men’s National Team went 1-4, finished last in their group, and failed to make it out of group play (though they did have an exhilarating win over Israel in their third game). However, the future of their program may be quite bright, as evidenced by their Under-16 Boys squad.

BIH’s youth team went undefeated in the tournament, with big wins over France and Germany in the early rounds, a big win over Spain in the semifinal, and then a 85-83 win over Lithuania in front of a packed pro-Lithuanian crowd (as the U16 European Championships took place in Lithuania). The game was also a showcase for BIH star Dzanan Musa who scored 23.3 ppg, nabbed 9.0 rpg and dished 6.3 apg in the 9-game span. The 6’6 shooting guard displayed an incredible shooting touch, as he regularly sized up Lithuanian defenders in the tape above and made all kinds of incredible “Curry-esque” shots from beyond the arc. Only 16, Musa is an international player that will be worth paying attention to and following as he grows older and transitions from development ball to more serious professional ball, be it in Europe or here in the States.

Also, another thing worth noting about BIH’s win over Lithuania was the celebration in Sarajevo following their victory. Just look at the picture below and see what I mean:

God, can you imagine what the city would do if they won the FIBA Eurobasket? Or World Cup?

I can’t…really I can’t considering that scene above and its massiveness. But I will say this: the U16 championship game and the BIH celebration in Sarajevo is a reason why I love European and International basketball. Fans really care…a whole hell of a lot…when it comes to national pride in sports, especially basketball.

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