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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.
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NYC Scene Report – Blind Benny, Cheena, & more
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This week's NYC Scene Report features four returning favorites, as we have the latest from indie pop duo Blind Benny, some classic sounding punk rock from Cheena, the unique musical stylings of J Hacha De Zola, and a little bit of metal from Fear Is Dead.

* If you've read this column for any amount of time you already know all about stand out NYC indie pop duo Blind Benny. A longtime column favorite, the twosome have been hard at work this year, hitting numerous stages throughout NYC, and giving listeners new singles.

Blind Benny's latest is "Hide & Seek," and while I'd like to make some sort of reference to how it's something you'll want to find, I've made the finding easy for you. Just click play, and enjoy this fantastic song.


* Looking for a quick dose of some classic sounding NYC punk rock? Cheena are here to provide you with just that!

The band recently released a video for their latest single, "Stupor," which is off of their upcoming debut LP, Spend The Night With..., due out August 5th on Sacred Bones Records. The clip features back alleys, beaches, and subway platforms. Maybe not the best locals for a date night, but they sure make for a great rock video.


* New Jersey's J Hacha De Zola wanted a change of scenery for recording his second album of 2016, so he made his way across the country, to a small studio built in an old boiler room in Portland, Oregon. With a host of influences, including Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, and Tom Waits, the music he created in that boiler room recording studio will be on display on Picaro Obscuro, due out August 12th.

The lead single off of Picaro Obscuro is "Bubble Gum," which J Hacha De Zola describes as “a song about distractions, escapism, confusion, and detaching from reality in pursuit of confections. The world might be burning while we’re caught up in our trivialities. Ultimately, it’s not a criticism; it’s just an observation, as I’m right in it, too.”

Chew on J Hacha De Zola’s “Bubble Gum,” right here.


* Politically motivated, and socially conscious, heavy metal may sound like a pretty radical concept, but for fans of NYC's Fear Is Dead, it's what they've been embracing for years. The band recently released a video for "Miranda," the fourth single off of their Eleutherophobia EP, and the Miranda in question is a reference to the rights read to a person when they're arrested by the police.

The message of the song, and the visuals of the video, are both jarring, and thought provoking. The music is head banging. That's a pretty dope combination.


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... From 25 Years Ago
Monday, July 25, 2016

Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week I’ve hopped into my time machine again, and I've set the coordinates for 25 years ago this week. On the Billboard Hot 100 there were quite a few one hit wonders, and some legendary acts who were just getting their first taste of success. Without further delay, let’s get into some of that 1991 goodness! Of course, since this is Pop Shots, you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.

1. Bryan Adams – "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You"


This was one of the most ever-present songs of 1991. "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" was played so often that, as a listener, you ended up going from hating it, to loving it, to hating it, to loving it again. A gigantic hit off of the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack, it's actually a good song, although I think we can all agree Robin Hood: Men in Tights was a far better Robin Hood movie. (FYI, I couldn’t use the actual music video because Bryan Adams has disabled the embedding of his videos)

2. Jesus Jones – "Right Here, Right Now"


"Right Here, Right Now" was an appropriate title for Jesus Jones' monster hit, as it also defined the band's longevity. In 1991 they were here for right here, right now, and we never heard from them again. A pretty good band, while Jesus Jones' Doubt was by no means a seminal album, it's one most 90s fans still dig. (FYI, I didn’t use the music video because for some reason it’s not on YouTube)

3. EMF – "Unbelievable"


Another band that didn't last all that long, EMF gave us the Andrew Dice Clay sampling "Unbelievable," and then made their home in the one hit wonder hall of fame. Hey, I'm not knockin 'em, if you're gonna have one hit, "Unbelievable" is a pretty great hit to have. (Again, the actual music video isn’t on YouTube, hence the live clip)

5. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – "Summertime"


The greatest song about summer ever created, 25 years later, hearing "Summertime" on the radio still marks the official start of the season. Everything from the lyrics, to the production, to the overall vibe, of this classic are 100% pure summer. For a duo that had a heck of a lot of hits, "Summertime" will always reign supreme as DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's best work.

22. Seal – "Crazy"


Call me crazy, but I think this Seal guy might just have a future in music. I mean, it's not like he's gonna marry a supermodel or anything, but...

23. Boyz II Men – "Motownphilly"


Again, I might be going out on a limb here, but I think these Boyz II Men guys might be able to build off of this "Motownphilly" single and have a nice career. Solid debut, don't you think?

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: Jake Lefco w/ Preachermann – No Justice
Friday, July 22, 2016

Jake Lefco may not release new music as often as some of us might like, but when he does hit us with new material, it's required listening. This is why I was excited to see he recently posted a video for a brand new song, titled "No Justice."

Produced by K.O. Beatz, and featuring Preachermann, "No Justice" sees Jake Lefco taking on the recent tragedies that have been occurring in America at an alarming rate.

I think we can all agree, "Killing unarmed kids is wrong," but there's a special power in hearing that lyric repeated multiple times. Jake Lefco knows the power of words, and he uses that power beautifully on this song, which will be featured on his upcoming album, Clarity. Click play on the video, you won't be disappointed.

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15 Iconic '80s Songs That Were Actually Covers
Thursday, July 21, 2016

The ‘80s are universally regarded as an amazing decade for music, and rightfully so. Classics from those years are still played today. Many ‘80s songs, however, aren’t actually from the ‘80s, as in addition to all the synths, and drum machines, what the decade should also be known for is its embracing of unique covers.

The following 15 songs are great examples of this, as they defined the 80s, but have their roots in other eras.

Read the full column at Myspace.com.

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10 Things You Should Know About Apathy

Fans of underground hip-hop have held Connecticut-based emcee Apathy in high regard for over a decade. He’s toured the world numerous times, and moved crowds of over 50,000 at festivals. If you request his music at your favorite mainstream hip-hop radio station, however, you might receive some puzzled replies. Apathy address this on his latest album, Handshakes with Snakes, on the introspective song “Charlie Brown.”

“I go into a lot of the dynamic of being known, and having some success, but not being like a major label, huge household name,” he says of the song. “It’s a funny dynamic. It’s a funny position to be in.”

Here are 10 other things you should know about this highly skilled emcee.

Read the full feature at Myspace.com.

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NYC Scene Report – HEIRSOUND, Bueno, and more
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

This week's NYC Scene Report features another great single from rising alt-pop-rock duo HEIRSOUND, a city-based project from indie rockers Bueno, a Tron inspired clip from Stone Cold Fox, and head-nod inducing single from hip-hop artist JohnNY U.

* I first wrote about NYC alt-pop-rock duo HEIRSOUND last month, and they're already back with another fantastic single, and video.

Their latest is "Hoods Up," which the band describes, saying, "'Hoods Up' is not about one particular incident, as it is more about describing a particular feeling. The chorus says, 'We've got our hoods up,' and it means just that. That mood where you put on a big sweatshirt, and headphones, and zone out away from everyone. The darkest song on the EP, 'Hoods Up' is lyrically sad, yet melodically beautiful, and we are both very happy with how it turned out."

The aforementioned EP "Hoods Up" is off of is Merge, which is due out August 5th, and the way HEIRSOUND keeps crankin out amazing songs, it could easily end up a column favorite.


* Staten Island indie rockers Bueno have an exceptionally cool concept for their upcoming sophomore album, Illuminate Your Room, which is due out August 19th. Musically representing decades of the NYC rock scene, the album is built around 24 hours in NYC, opening in the early morning hours, and closing late in the night.

The lead single off of Illuminate Your Room is "I Got Your Back." Bueno's Luke Chiaruttini says of the song, "'I Got Your Back' is a song about all the casual disappointments that make up daily life – being disappointed by, and disappointing, the people you love. Living up to expectations, living down to expectations, or disregarding them entirely.”

Check it out. You may find Bueno to be muy bueno.


* When a Brooklyn-based indie rock band releases a video that's loosely inspired by Tron, you know darn well I'm going to feature it here in the NYC Scene Report!

The band in question is column regular Stone Cold Fox, and the video is for their latest single, "Change My Mind." "Change My Mind” is off of Stone Cold Foxes' recently released EP Tunnel Vision, and in an interview with Billboard, the video's director, Joseph Carlin, said of the clip, "The whole concept stemmed off of the album art, this image of a crystallized man in a space. It made my mind jump to pictures of nebulas, and 1980's inspired computer art, like Tron. The end result was a sort of moody, neon colored landscape of three dimensional shapes, and the band interacting with them, and vice versa, in a fun way.”

You clicked play as soon as you read "loosely inspired by Tron" didn't you? It's cool, I would’ve done the same thing.


* A lot of folks like to receive gifts for their birthday, but Brooklyn-based emcee JohnNY U. decided to GIVE a gift in honor of his birthday in the form a free single.

The song is "Andre O'Jay," and it's a head-nodding joint produced by Tunnelno5 that's a worthy addition to anyone's summer soundtrack.

For those unfamiliar with JohnNY U., you may remember him from his previous moniker, E.Y.E.Q., or his crew, O.I.S.D.. He says of his name change, "JohnNY U., which is short for UniteUs, is the bonding of my styles and personalities. JohnNY is the balance between my 'conscious' and care free mind."

Check out that balance on "Andre O'Jay," and if you like the single, download it for free on JohnNY U.'s bandcamp page.


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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Top Five Things to do at Warped Tour 2016
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

On July 9th, Warped Tour rolled into Jones Beach on a beautifully overcast day, and I was there from the first note played, until nearly the last band was done. If you’re hitting up one of the dates on this year’s tour, here are five things you should make sure you do while you’re there.



1. Visit the VFW

In this case, VFW stands for Veterans of Former Warpeds, as there are a plethora of bands on each date of Warped Tour that will take you back ten, or more, years, sparking great memories, and potentially inspiring new ones. One of this year’s highlights is Sum 41.


Knowing everything Sum 41 lead singer Deryck Whibley has gone through in his personal life, including an especially tough bout with alcoholism, I legitimately wondered what his voice was going to sound like. Would this be a 90s era Aerosmith versus a 70s era Aerosmith type of situation, where the lead singer’s voice sounds completely different? I’m happy to report, that was not the case, as Whibley sounds great, and Sum 41 still sound like Sum 41.

Another oldie but goodie on this year’s tour is New Found Glory. During their set I witnessed a balding, silver haired, man crowd surf all the way to the front. It was a perfect illustration of how this year’s Warped Tour is for multiple generations.




2. Say hi to your mother for me

Point blank, Mother Feather are a must-see band. If you’re a frequent reader of this site you already know about the NYC based “pop cock rock” band, and their high energy live shows. Warped Tour was the second time I’d seen them live over the course of a month, and I'd see them again tomorrow if they were playing near me.


Lead vocalist Ann Courtney owns the stage, and with wild makeup, and eye popping moves (as seen pictured above), the band has a visual element that’s just as no holds barred as their music. Make it a point to catch their set. You’ll become a fan within minutes.




3. Welcome an interruption

I was only able to catch part of The Interrupters’ set, because they were on at the same time as Sum 41, but I absolutely loved what I heard, and if I ever see them on a bill in NYC I’m going to make sure to attend the show.

A ska band that sounds a bit like a female led version of Rancid, The Interrupters are a really good time, and who doesn’t love a good time?


A friend of mine who attended Warped Tour the day after I did hit me up to ask about The Interrupters, and I told her I really dug what I heard, and that they were nice slice of classic ska goodness. Later that day she thanked me for telling her about them, saying they were one of her favorite bands of the day.




4. Scout a rookie

The one downside to having a veteran filled bill is that it doesn’t leave as much room for up and coming acts. That said, with seven stages, and roughly 70 bands, there are still a decent number of Warped Tour newbies for folks to discover. One of my personal faves was Poughkeepsie-based pop rockers Against the Current. Not only did they sound great, lead singer Chrissy Costanza was a bouncing ball of energy on stage.


Funny story – When I met Costanza I noted that I liked her line during the show about people she went to high school with that she wasn’t exactly fond of, and I told her about how I skipped my 20th reunion for a rock concert. Later that evening, while researching the band, I learned she’s only 20 years old. I immediately wondered how much of an old man I must have sounded like.




5. Go down under

There are multiple Aussie bands on this year’s Warped Tour, including a return appearance by Warped Tour veterans Tonight Alive. A longtime favorite of mine, while the band has leaned more toward pop over the past year, their previous work still rocks hard, and their live performances remind everyone that lead singer Jenna McDougall is a true rock star. Exuding a confidence she looks to spread throughout her audience, McDougall is a rocker who relishes being a role model, and takes the position seriously, while still smiling all the while.


This was either the fifth, or sixth, time I’ve seen Tonight Alive live. My personal favorite was an intimate gig at The Studio at Webster Hall in NYC. The tight venue with low ceilings was packed, and Jenna was in full punk rock mode. It was gloriously riotous.

Although they aren’t as punk rock as they used to be, Tonight Alive can still harness that emotion anytime during their performances, and do so quite a few times during their set at Warped Tour.

All photos by yours truly. Please do not use without permission. For a gallery of 49 pics from the show, check out my Warped Tour photo album.

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