Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Music journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
This week's NYC Scene Report features the debut of NYC rockers The Manimals, something smooth from R&B artist BOYSLASHFRIEND, a heart wrenching video from singer-songwriter Troy, and the punk rock singer-songwriter stylings of Brogues.
* If you've ever wanted to combine your loves of rock n roll, and fantasy novels, The Manimals have released a concept EP that is right up your alley. Titled SEVEN, the project is inspired by George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, with each song focusing on a different character’s point of view.
The lead single off of SEVEN is "Talk," the video for which was filmed in the band's favorite graffiti covered LES dive, Clockwork, and features their drummer showing up in costume, which no one in the band expected. It's a raucous song, and an equally raucous party, that makes me want to see The Manimals live.
* Smoothing things out for a bit is NYC R&B artist BOYSLASHFRIEND, who recently returned from his first national tour, which he co-headlined with MeLo X. Now that he's back, he's released a video for the title track of his latest album, Low Key.
BOYSLASHFRIEND describes his music as having "a heavy heart for 90s R&B," and "Low Key" is a song that certainly would have fit in perfectly in that era, and will appeal to anyone who never stopped loving that style of music. With the video now out, BOYSLASHFRIEND plans on spending the summer releasing a series of remixes of "Low Key," and wrapping up his sophomore effort, which he's working on with producer MNTN. Rest assured, when it drops, I won't be low key about its release.
* Occasionally a song, or music video, truly tugs at your heartstrings. This is the case with singer-songwriter Troy's latest, "Song Man." "Songs can mean a million things to a million people," Troy says of "Song Man," "but to me, this song is about navigating the ups and downs of life and love, and making decisions in those arenas based on the advice of a lost loved one."
The song has racked up over half a million plays on Spotify thanks to being included in their "Evening Chill" playlist, and now "Song Man" has a video that will undoubtedly affect you. The clip is set in a sparsely filled bar, and features an elderly man dancing with the ghost of his wife, while Troy provides the soundtrack. As the scene switches between us seeing the wife, and seeing the reality of the situation, the video becomes a legit tear jerker, as the man looks lost without with his love.
* The ascendance of punk rock singer-songwriters makes perfect sense, as both punk rock, and singer-songwriters, deal with heavy emotions. One major difference between the two is how they express those emotions, one being loud, and the other being soft. When combined, the result is something that is equal parts intense and melodic. Take, for example, NYC's Brogues, the latest musical endeavor of guitarist/songwriter Shawn Gardiner.
Featuring ex-members of Morning Glory, Brogues just released their debut album, Heart and Song, last week. The lead single off of Heart and Song is "Heartbeat RPM," which features the kind of emotional output you expect from a punk rock frontman, while still keeping in the singer-songwriter style of the lyrics being front and center. If you like what Frank Turner has been giving us as a solo artist, Brogues is a band you're going to want to add to your personal playlist.
For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.
Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week Pop Shots is hitting you with thoughts on everything from Avril Lavigne's Nickelback fueled Twitter rant, to Dr. Luke finding new ways to make himself look bad, to Rage Against the Machine becoming their own cover band, and since this is Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.
* Avril Lavigne may technically be separated from husband Chad Kroeger, but that doesn't mean she's about to accept the world continuing to badmouth his band. The pop singer went on a bit of a Twitter rant this past week defending Nickelback, and calling out the haters. With all of that now having been handled, I look forward to Avril penning a passionate essay on Rush.
* New Kids on the Block, bolstered by a string of sold out national tours, are hitting the studio to record a new album. You remember on Saved by the Bell when there was a dream sequence where everyone was a senior citizen, and they said they were going to see the Old Men on the Block? This is going to happen in real life!
* Blink-182 released a new song titled “Built This Pool,” and it's all of 14 seconds long. Man, when they sung about "All The Small Things" I don’t think any of us knew how serious they were.
* After originally not allowing Kesha to perform at the Billboard Music Awards, someone finally tapped Dr. Luke on the shoulder and said, "You're finding a way to make your situation even worse," and Luke gave his approval for the performance. Kesha needed Luke's approval because she's still signed to his label. Luke's original gripe was that he assumed she'd be using the appearance as a platform to air out her grievances with him. He should have known that's what all the lawsuits, and Festivus, are for.
* In record setting news, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ new single, "Dark Necessities," became the band’s 25th song to reach the top 10 on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart. This extends their record over runner-up U2, who've had 23 songs reach the top ten, and 11 songs automatically download into your iTunes.
* Britney Spears has become the latest celebrity to have a mobile game, with Britney Spears: American Dream. According to Billboard, in the game, "Players customize pop stars-in-the-making and bring them up from performing local gigs to climbing the ladder of success with all the business' glitz and glamor. Users record hit singles, design their own single cover art, dine at Koi Restaurant, fend off rival singers and perform at a range of venues from the local coffee shop all the way up to Spears' stage at the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas." As an alternative, users can also attempt to do those things in real life, and not live in their phones.
* Three members of Rage Against the Machine are teaming up with Chuck D and B-Real to form a supergroup. That's the good news. Here's the bad news, Zack de la Rocha is not a part of the project, and the plan is to essentially be a cover band, performing the songs of all three of the bands involved. So this is kinda like Voltron, but without the head.
* Vanessa Hudgens was forced to pay $1,000 in restitution for carving a heart into a red rock wall in Sedona, Arizona. I'm slightly concerned that this is just the beginning of her embarking on a crime wave, a la her character in Spring Breakers. I can save you, Vanessa! #vanessadam
* Chris Daughtry told Music Times he's been trying to get a role on his favorite show, The Walking Dead, and even auditioned to play Dwight (the stringy haired jackass Daryl should have killed when he had the chance). Listen, if we're going to start having American Idol alums on The Walking Dead, I have a long list of contestants I'd like to see get eaten by zombies, and Daughtry is pretty low on that list.
* Last, but not least, Ariana Grande's new album, Dangerous Woman, was released on Friday, and it features some of the 90s R&B influenced vibe that originally drew me to her music. As predicted here, "Focus" was left off of the album (thank God), so it's a really solid play front to back. Check out her SNL performance of the album cut "Be Alright." Ariana is back!
And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.
If you ever went to college, or have simply been stoned, you've probably synced up Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz. Husband and wife soul-pop duo Che-Val have found a similar connection with the title track off of their just released album Waterproof, and Gene Kelly's famous dance scene from Singin' in the Rain, and now they have the video to prove it.
The clip was put together by Aidan Gerety, and much like the video, the song is also a fusion, as it brings together both synth, and live orchestral, elements for a truly fresh sound that would fit in perfectly on Top 40 radio. Click play, and enjoy being "Waterproof."
Have you ever wanted to give your songs new life by stripping them down and reworking them as acoustic pieces? For Canadian synth-pop artist Lights, this has become one of her specialties. Lights recently released her third acoustic project, Midnight Machines, which features eight songs – six of which are stripped down, reworked versions of songs that appeared on her 2015 Juno Award-winning album Little Machines.
I caught up with Lights to find out about her process for turning her synth-pop songs into radically different acoustic pieces, how she decides which songs should be given the acoustic treatment, and how these projects have expanded her fanbase. Lights also gave some helpful advice for musicians looking to strip down their music. There's a lot more involved than simply picking up an acoustic guitar.
This week's NYC Scene Report features AJR playfully singing about where they rank on the paparazzi's radar, singer-songwriter Alexis Babini getting "Stoned," emcees J. Manifesto and ScienZe making you "Move," and a kick ass posse cut featuring hip-hop heavyweights P.SO, Homeboy Sandman, K. Gaines, and 2 Hungry Bros.
* You might remember AJR from when they struck pop gold with their SpongeBob SquarePants sampling hit "I'm Ready." The song was absolutely everywhere. You may, however, not necessarily recognize the Met brothers, Adam, Jake, and Ryan, if you saw them walking down the street, and that's the concept behind their latest single, "I'm Not Famous."
The playful pop tune asks, "Where my haters / Where my haters / I don't got ‘em / I'm not famous," and in the video, the group's frontman, Jack, looks to hammer this point home by dancing in the streets of NYC, clad in pajamas, sneakers, and a winer hat, to the reaction of no one. He even hops on the subway with his sampler.
Speaking of the Met brothers' NYC adventures, I spoke with Adam Met last year, and he told me about the group nearly getting arrested in Washington Square Park. If you missed that feature, you can check it out here, but first, watch the dance filled video for "I'm Not Famous."
* Keeping with the theme of wandering around NYC, the video for singer-songwriter Alexis Babini's latest, "Let's Get Stoned," features all sorts of NYC scenery as he roams the streets, and what looks to be the High Line.
Babini is readying the release of a new EP later this year, and he says of his music, "The mission is to leave you moved and inspired.”
Recently, Babini moved into the television world, appearing as a banjo player on an episode of the TV Land series Younger. I wonder if he managed to score Hilary Duff's phone number while he was there.
While I do some investigative journalism, and find the answer to that, "Let's Get Stoned." (Don't worry about the green screen, that's just how it starts)
* O.I.S.D. emcee J. ManifestO has been involved in NYC's highly competitive hip-hop scene for over half a dozen years, and he's currently readying his latest solo effort, an EP titled Live From The Infinite. The first single off of the EP is "Move," which was produced by Mighty Joe Young, and features fellow emcee ScienZe. J. ManifestO describes the song, saying it's about "low key getting curved by shorties whilst on the hunt with your homies."
Getting rejected by women while on the prowl? Let's just call this the most relatable song that’s been released in quite some time... and no, you may not ask about my love life! I'm just gonna put this one on repeat.
* I'm going back to back with hip-hop tracks this week, because when there's an epic collaboration that's absolute fire, how can I not feature it?
That was my feeling as soon as I heard the P.SO, Homeboy Sandman, K. Gaines, 2 Hungry Bros. collaboration "Open Palm Strike." Not only does it hit as hard as an open palm strike from a martial arts master, there are some crazy mariachi styles horns thrown in that I absolutely love.
Click play, and let this one smack ya in the face... musically speaking, of course.
For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.
When Hassan Campbell told the world he’d been sexually abused as a child by Afrika Bambaataa, it rocked the hip-hop community. The allegations were quickly backed up by three other men, who all said Bambaataa had abused them, as well.
With these accusations fresh in everyone’s minds, Bambaataa’s former bodyguard, Shamsideen Shariyf Ali Bey, supported the claims, saying they were not isolated cases, estimating that the legendary founder of hip-hop has molested “hundreds” over the past 40 years.
Bambaataa’s lawyer, Charles Tucker, brushed off all the accusations, telling the New York Daily News, “This is not a crime story. This belongs in the gossip section. This is not Bill Cosby.” He’s right about one thing, this is not Bill Cosby. This is Jerry Sandusky.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.