Posted April 25, 2013 by Cooper Point Journal in Arts & Entertainment

AKA and the Heart Hurt Goods

By Cassandra Johnson-Villalobos

“You would’ve never thought I was capable of this, if you met me in person,” opens one of the most emotionally potent tracks on Heart Hurt Good, the new CD from Olympia hip hop band AKA and the Heart Hurt Goods.

The 12-song LP is a meticulously distilled collection of love letters to everyday life, including its hardships, in this small city.

Eight years in the making, frontman Mark “AKA” BAKA2owen’s writing feels relevant and alive in its mature completion.

If you’ve spent enough time here, chances are that you have met Mark or one of the members of his live band, the Heart Hurt Goods.

Andrew White (keyboardist), Adam Bakotich (electric guitar), Joe Pearce (acoustic guitarist), Josh White (drummer), and Jamie Simmons (DJ) generate the varying cascades of sound behind Bowen’s seasoned articulation. Live, you’ll hear only a few of the album tracks, but on a scale so expanded and practiced that three to five familiar songs are completely sufficient for old fans and new listeners.

The Heart Hurt Good’ ability to be profoundly uplifting, danceable, and even tear-jerking within the space of one song has resonance outside of the South Sound region, as does the band’s strings.

The next song “Falling Off the End of the Middle” represents the first collaboration between Bowen and keyboardist/composer Andrew White. It also features recurring vocalist Nathalie Elam. According to White, he first saw Elam and Bowen perform together when they opened for Macklemore at the Capitol Theater in November 2011. “End of the Midi” resulted from Bowen and White meeting and jamming in early 2012.

Metal guitarist Adam Bakotich and punk drummer Josh White (Andrew’s brother) joined the line-up after meeting and collaborating with Mark. The rest of the band came to the band through a mix of mutual acquaintance, circumstance, and successful jam sessions to form a full ensemble.

Although clearly one of the most compelling contributors to the Northwest hip hop scene, they have not yet been fully recognized by local press. A unique approach to a wide range of influences marks every major moment in our region’s impact on national music. Seattle hip hop’s real substance has lived in obscurity for decades, appearing occasionally on national airwaves in party hits like “Baby Got Back” and more recently “Thrift Shop.” For the South Sound, despite an unusual density of hip hop fans, street artists, and beat makers, cohesive expression of community identity in the form of rap has remained largely elusive. Maybe the the key is employing the full range of available artistry to create a music that accurately represents what we’re really capable of.