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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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NYC Scene Report – Slow Sugar, Ray Hodge, & more
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This week's NYC Scene Report features some sweet indie pop from Slow Sugar, the powerful indie soul of Ray Hodge, producer and singer Quiet Luke proving to be an "Escapist" of genre categorizations, and a return appearance from indie pop duo HEIRSOUND, who have yet another fantastic single.

* This past week I discovered NYC indie pop duo Slow Sugar, and man oh man do they sound sweet. Consisting of Alex Utay and Danielle Harris, who are true New Yorkers, born and raised, Slow Sugar's latest single, "Pieces," is a radio-ready tune that would fit in perfectly alongside the likes of Tove Lo, Halsey, and Zella Day.

In a statement, Utay explained the concept of the song, saying, “‘Pieces’ is a song about clarity and resilience. On the surface, it's a breakup song, but it doesn't focus on anger or resentment. It instead captures the moment where you realize you can be whole again after losing yourself in a relationship."

Check out "Pieces," and get a taste of Slow Sugar.


* Hailing from Jamaica, Queens, indie soul artist Ray Hodge has one of the most incredible voices I’ve heard in quite some time. Ranging from angelic, to authoritative, to triumphant, Hodge spans the vocal gamut on his debut single, "I Am King."

He describes the song, saying, "(This song) was born to be a lasting echo from me to my future children, and their children, and so on. It's a reminder to them that we are more than just what people say, or think, we are, to give them this spiritual power to move through life when days get so low."

Hodge continued, adding, "If I can help someone by giving that same reminder, and feeling, that I wanted to give to my future kids, it would be amazing accomplishment."

"I Am King" will be on Hodge's debut EP, Braveheart, due out October 28th, and you can check out the video right here.


* NYC-based producer, and singer, Quiet Luke, is prepping the release of his debut EP, Beholden, and judging by his latest single, "Escapist," it's going to be something listeners won't want to be quiet about.

A mixture of genres, including heavy influences of pop and R&B, "Escapist" escapes categorizations, much like the artist himself.

Quiet Luke's history in music began when he started playing classical piano as a child. He then picked up a guitar, and tried his hand at rock music. He followed this with an endeavor making music as a rapper and producer. Dipping his toe in jazz, and other experimental genres, became the icing on the cake of what we now hear as the Quiet Luke sound. It's a sound that has the ability to cross genres, and generations, and it's something you definitely want to hear.

Check out "Escapist," and escape into the music of Quiet Luke.


* Easily one of the hardest working indie bands of 2016, HEIRSOUND has released another video, this one for their classic pop sounding song "Fell Again."

HEIRSOUND'S Alexa San Roman says of the forest-themed clip, "For the 'Fell Again' video we wanted to make a simple visual that still had an emotional feel to it," adding, "because this song is very sentimental and nostalgic I wanted the visual to be something you could get lost in."

"Fell Again" is off of HEIRSOUND's debut EP, Merge which was released last month. Check out the video, and enjoy both the song, and the leafy green scenery.


For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.

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Pop Shots – A Look At The Charts
Monday, September 26, 2016

Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week Pop Shots is hitting you with a little Billboard singles chart analysis, as fall is here, which means a new batch of songs are ruling the airwaves. The chart positions I’m using are from this past Wednesday, and since this is Pop Shots, you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.

1. The Chainsmokers w/ Halsey – Closer


"Closer" is the latest in a string of hits for The Chainsmokers, but not everything is all rainbows and unicorns for the chart topping duo. A terrible live performance at MTV’s VMAs, and a cringe-worthy, potentially career-shortening, interview with Billboard, have them teetering on the brink of self-destruction. They make some pretty darn good pop music, so hopefully they'll wake up, and realize douchiness, and finger pointing, is no way to live life, or have an extended career (unless you're Kanye West). As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of Halsey, so the fact that she's on "Closer" makes it a win for me, even if, for the time being, I wince at the mention of The Chainsmokers.


15. Lady Gaga – Perfect Illusion


Apparently, much to my chagrin, "Perfect Illusion" is not Lady Gaga's ode to David Copperfield. Instead, after years of singles that were, at best, a mixed bag, "Perfect Illusion" is a return to form for the pop star. It's a song reminiscent of The Fame Monster era, as it's sure to fill dance floors. Heck, it even features elements of disco, which her voice has always been perfect for. If we get more singles like this from her, we could be looking at a very Gaga fall and winter.


19. Ariana Grande w/ Nicki Minaj – Side To Side


You already know I think Ariana Grande is pretty great. I consider her voice to be one of the best in music today. For her latest single, “Side to Side,” she's joined by Nicki Minaj, who she teamed up with before on "Bang Bang." Once again, the result is a great pop song. My only gripe is that despite being in the top 20, I rarely hear "Side to Side" on the radio. What's up with that, Clear Channel?

Side note: If the spin classes at my gym looked anything like the one in this video I'd hop on a bike in a millisecond, and pedal like a champ.


28. Flume w/ Kai – Never Be Like You


If I asked you if you like the latest from Flume, you might give me a strange look, having no idea what I'm talking about. However, if I asked you if you like the song that played ad nauseam during commercial breaks on MTV, as the network advertised some show you never thought of watching because it just looked like a bunch of annoying hipsters partying, you'd know EXACTLY what I'm talking about, and heck yeah you like it, because the chorus is freakin killer.


51. Martin Garrix w/ Bebe Rexha – In The Name Of Love


Bebe Rexha is an artist who's equally adept at singing, and songwriting. She's had hits of her own, and written hits for others. She's also a great live performer, and she’s certainly easy on the eyes. With all that in mind, it's a bit confusing as to why she isn't mentioned alongside the upper echelon of pop stars yet. Perhaps her collaboration with Martin Garrix, "In The Name of Love," will be another step up the ladder of success. Personally, I'm interested in listening to anything she releases (even if her team did flake on an interview with me a few years ago, less than an hour before it was supposed to happen).

And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.

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Vid Pick: UZOO – Attack
Friday, September 23, 2016

If you've been a reader of this site for any length of time, you already know about the extremely talented Joey Batts. With his band, Joey Batts & Them, he combines hip-hop with rock to make songs that are both lyrically deft, and a perfect soundtrack to just about any party.

A little while ago he told me about a new project he's a part of – UZOO. While checking out the video for their single "Attack," I felt a vibe similar to the one I felt the first time I listened to Boot Camp Clik, and D12.

Featuring a dark beat, and a plethora of emcees who are all about spittin, no one comes wack on "Attack," and the song continues with emcee after emcee jumping in to show their skills. This is hip-hop for hip-hop heads.

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Revisiting 'The Real World: Las Vegas' with Arissa Hill
Thursday, September 22, 2016

In 2002, when seven strangers took over an entire floor of The Palms Casino Hotel in Las Vegas, it made for one of the most memorable seasons of The Real World, and one that wholeheartedly embraced the city’s nickname of Sin City.

Arissa Hill was one of the seven strangers we would end up getting to know.

I caught up with Hill to find out more about her experiences on The Real World — including a crazy night that wasn’t seen by viewers — and why she did one, and only one, Real World/Road Rules Challenge.

Read the full interview at Myspace.com.

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Jelly Roll Talks Babies, & Getting Busted, Over BBQ
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It’s roughly three hours before he’s due to hit the stage at The Studio at Webster Hall in NYC when country rap artist Jelly Roll arrives at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ on East 16th Street. Some pre-show nerves are starting to show. His fingers tapping, his right leg restless, moving as if it wants to run a marathon even though he’s sitting down. You’d never guess that less than two weeks earlier he’d rocked a crowd of thousands at the annual Gathering of the Juggalos.

Read the full story at Myspace.com.

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NYC Scene Report –Kevin Devine, Paul & The Tall Trees, & more

This week's NYC Scene Report features the rock infused singer-songwriter stylings of Kevin Devine, Americana/indie rock act Paul & The Tall Trees, J Hacha De Zola putting his unique spin on an Ariana Grande song, and dark pop artist Shana Falana not liking being lied to.

* Kevin Devine is going to be incredibly busy this fall, as the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter has a new album, titled Instigator, due out October 21st, and a national tour that begins October 3rd, and lasts through December 11th.

Not the type of singer-songwriter you find at your local coffee shop, Devine has significant rock elements in his music. A prefect example of this is his latest single, "No History."

“No History” is a collection of personal vignettes centered around the September 11th attacks, and the emotion sees Devine harnessing a rock sound. The result is downright captivating.


* You don't normally stroll through NYC expecting to see forest life, but if you happen to stroll through Brooklyn there's a chance you may come across some Tall Trees in a music venue in the form of Americana/indie rock band Paul & The Tall Trees.

The group, led by Paul Shalda, whose musical history includes two decades of playing in bands of various genres, and being a guitarist for Charles Bradley, will be releasing their latest effort, Our Love In The Light, on October 21st. Our first taste of that effort is the single "Next Time."

With a chorus that embodies much of what's important about life in just a few simple words, "Next Time" is a beautiful song that admits personal faults while continuing the quest to be a better person. Check it out.


* If you know me, you know that I'm a fan of Ariana Grande. It seems as though column favorite, New Jersey native J Hacha De Zola, is an Ariana Grande fan, as well, as he recently covered her song "Bad Decisions."

According to De Zola, who released his latest album, Picaro Obscuro last month, his goal for his cover of “Bad Decisions” was to make it completely unrecognizable until the chorus hits. “At that point, I hope the listener says, ‘Holy shit, this is an Ariana Grande cover?!’”

Whether you love Ariana Grande, or simply love music that defies categorization, you’re going to want to click play on this one.


* I'm pretty big on telling the truth, and I think Brooklyn-based dark pop artist Shana Falana would appreciate that, as her latest single, “Lie 2 Me,” expresses how she isn't a fan of being lied to.

If you appreciate sludgy, fuzzy, pop-rock – the kind you might hear at a dingy NYC venue well past midnight, with your shoes sticking to the floor, and your emotions soaked in cheap alcohol – you're going to love "Lie 2 Me." (side note: was that too graphic of a description of my life?)

“Lie 2 Me” is off of Falana's upcoming album, Here Comes the Wave, due out October 21st. Give the song a listen, because the truth is Shana Falana is really good.


For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.

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Pop Shots – Going For Broke
Monday, September 19, 2016

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 Nelly’s major IRS debt, to Kid Cudi tearing into two of rap’s biggest names, to Demi Lovato making a major purchase, and since this is Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.

* Facing a $2.4 million IRS bill, Nelly is getting some financial help from his fans, who are streaming "Hot in Herre" nonstop in an attempt to help raise funds for the rapper. Wesley Snipes has to be sitting somewhere wondering why none of his fans thought to continuously stream Passenger 57 to help pay his unpaid taxes.

* 23-year old Zayn Malik will be releasing an autobiography on November 1st, via Penguin Random House. Being that the majority of his audience is made up of teenyboppers, he's either going to have to pretend he's Harry Potter, or have the first autobiography done in the format of Colorforms.


* Kid Rock, while performing his song "Born Free" at a recent concert, shouted "Fuck Colin Kaepernick," in a very unsubtle critique of the NFL quarterback's kneeling during the national anthem. 49ers fans now have to wonder if Kaepernick will ever be able to perform at peak levels now that he has to take “Bawitdaba” out of his “Get Hyped” mix.

* During a Q&A on Most Requested Live with Romeo, Britney Spears mentioned Justin Timberlake as an artist she'd like to collaborate with. When asked about this a few days later, Timberlake replied that he’d love to work with Britney, adding, "I'm accessible, give us a call!" Break out the matching denim outfits, this sounds like the makings of a beautiful musical reunion!


* Kid Cudi went on a Twitter tirade this past week, with his main targets being Kanye West and Drake. Cudi, who collaborated extensively with Kanye in the past, ripped Yeezy and Drake for having multiple people writing their songs for them, adding, “The fake ones wont be lasting too much longer." In a delicious slice of irony, there’s only one artist who could help Kanye properly address a spat with an ex in a song, but I don’t think Taylor Swift is answering the phone when she sees Ye’s name come up on the caller ID.

* Katy Perry is apparently someone you want to hang out with if you’re a pregnant woman nearing your due date, as last Monday she helped her sister deliver her second child. The pop star is no rookie at this, as she handled midwife duties for her sister’s first child, as well. This means Perry is basically the Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, of the pop world ... if Dr. Quinn could shoot whipped cream from her boobs.


* Demi Lovato, playing the role of Victor Kiam, liked rehab so much, she bought the company. Yes, that's right, Demi is now the co-owner of the CAST Centers in West Hollywood, CA, the rehab center where she received treatment a handful of years ago. OK, go ahead, Google Victor Kiam. I know I make references no one understands.

* Kesha took to Instagram to announce she's "Making a FUCK OFF song with a casual Grammy award winning secret person." This begs the question – who wins a Grammy award casually?!?!? Seriously, who is so f*cking chill that they can win one of music’s greatest honors and act all Matthew McConaughey about it?


* Fifth Harmony's Normani Kordei, who left Twitter due to online bullying, has returned to the social media site, and is now working with the anti-cyberbullying charity The Cybersmile Foundation. I wonder if they bullied her into coming back.

* Last, but certainly not least, Beck has released a new music video! If you need me, I’ll be lost in the trippy awesomeness of “Wow.”


And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.

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