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. See my complete profile
This week’s NYC Scene Report features the summery “surf noir” of Fruit & Flowers, a whirlwind romance inspired song from pop artist Julietta, an electro-pop tune from Blonder, and the triumphant return of Young Ejecta.
* Looking for a warm, summery, indie rock song for your beach playlist? Look no further than Brooklyn “surf noir” rockers Fruit & Flowers, whose debut EP, Drug Tax was released last month via Little Dickman Records.
The band is currently on their third tour of 2017, and they recently released a video for their single “Out Of Touch.”
“Out Of Touch” is summertime in a jar … except summertime doesn’t come in jars, unless one of those candle companies has something named “Summertime,” but I digress, Fruit & Flowers has provided listeners with a perfect song to add to this summer’s soundtrack. Click play, and enjoy.
* If you were to attempt to list all of the pop songs that were inspired by love and romance it would probably take you the rest of your life. That said, very few of those songs have the wild backstory of NYC-based pop artist Julietta’s “Runaway.”
She explains the inspiration behind the song, saying, “Several months ago a guy I met at a party asked me out on a date. The thing is, he lives in Italy and I live in New York. I told him that was a bit far for a Saturday night plan. After playing around with the fantasy of our date, he sent me tickets with my name on it.”
Julietta continued, adding, “After that dreamy weekend I sat at the airport waiting for my flight with the Sunday blues and wrote the song. It was the most natural writing formula, at the end of the track you can hear the voice note I took on my iPhone of me boarding the plane.”
Click play, and “Runaway” with Julietta.
* Blonder is the performance alias of NYC-based pop artist Constantine Anastasakis, and he has quite the awesome definition of music.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he said in a statement, “and because it's art it can be more special than an ordinary day, or an ordinary moment.”
Blonder is looking to make every moment special with his debut EP, $5.
Check out the song “Talk To Me.” It’s a jam that will get you moving in your seat, and perhaps even standing up and dancing wherever you may be, whether you’re at work, at home, or on the train. Bonus points for if you can get other people dancing with you on the train.
* Wondering where Young Ejecta has been since she released her 2015 EP The Planet? Me, too, which is why I was stoked to find a new song of hers in my inbox.
The song is titled “Build A Fire,” and while the synthy gem is available as digitally as a single, it will also be Side A for a new 12” – along with remixes by Ellie Herring and Napolian – with Side B being The Planet EP, available on vinyl for the first time.
“Build A Fire” was born after some collaborative musical explorations with producer Joel Ford (Autre Ne Veut, Oneohtrix Point Never, Ford & Lopatin). Here’s hoping they continue their working relationship.
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 Britney Spears’ 22nd fragrance, to the lineup for the iHeartRadio Music Festival – which starts September 22nd – to some of the 22 items an NYC judge ordered pulled from a memorabilia auction, and since this is Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.
* Britney Spears has launched her 22nd fragrance, this one named VIP Private Show. I’m not going to question Britney as a businesswoman, but with 22 perfumes one has to question what she’s trying to cover up.
* The iHeartRadio Music Festival, which spans two days starting on September 22nd, has announced their artist lineup, and it includes The Weeknd, Miley Cyrus, Harry Styles, Coldplay, DJ Khaled, Chris Stapleton, Lorde, Kings of Leon, Big Sean, P!NK, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Niall Horan, David Guetta, Thomas Rhett, and a special guest performance by Kesha. Listen, if you’re going to have THAT many artists in the same place, at the same time, you might as well record a new version of “We Are The World.”
* Maple Leif Garrett, aka Justin Bieber, surprised kids at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, meeting fans, taking pictures, and saying prayers with patients. Bieber has been the butt of many of my jokes around here, but this is just some real good guy stuff. Semi-related – None of my favorite female celebs visited me while I was in chemo. What’s up with that, Vanessa Hudgens?
* Aaron Carter was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug-related objects. Anyone else think it’s time for an updated version of “Aaron’s Party?”
* A Manhattan state Supreme Court judge ordered Gotta Have It! Collectibles to pull 22 items from its rock-and-roll-themed auction, including personal items of Madonna’s, specifically, a pair of worn panties, a hairbrush containing her hair, and a love letter from Tupac Shakur. Personally, I have to call into question the authenticity of such items. I mean, when has Madonna ever worn underwear?
* Ed Sheeran made a cameo on Game of Thrones, causing the show’s fan base to throw an absolute sh*t fit on social media. Apparently he ruined the believability of a show involving dragons.
* Mariah Carey is going to executive produce an as-of-yet untitled TV project based on her life. The Starz network will reportedly air the drama, which will be set in New York City in 1986. If there’s no mention of the Mets, I will call for a boycott of the show.
* It’s been over half a year since Camila Cabello left Fifth Harmony, and now the singer has unfollowed her former bandmates, as well as the group's official account, on Instagram. So while there ain’t no crying in the club, there’s apparently plenty of crying on social media.
* Billie Joe Armstrong, and Tim Armstrong (no relation), have joined forces to create a new band named The Armstrongs. The Green Day and Rancid frontmen are joined in the band by Billie Joe’s son Joey, and Tim’s nephew Rey. I know what you’re thinking, that’s a lot of Armstrongs, but where the f*ck is Stretch Armstrong?!?! Both of them!
* The-Dream is expecting his eighth child. This will be his third with wife LaLonne Nash. He also has three children with his former wife Nivea, a daughter with his ex-wife Christina Milian, and a son with Lydia Nam. Eight kids, and four baby’s mommas? For the love of God, could a condom company PLEASE hook this man up?
* Sisqo released an EDM version of “Thong Song.” It’s terrible, but it works as a nice excuse to post the absolute classic that is the original.
And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.
You can call him intense. You can call him aggressive. You can call him passionate. However you want to describe the fire with which Otis Clapp rhymes, just remember to call him dope, because he’s one of the Queens, NY’s finest, and his latest single, “Demons Into Diamonds,” is yet another example of his skills.
“Demons Into Diamonds” is off of Otis Clapp’s Helen Keller EP, which was released earlier this year, and I caught up with him to find out more about the demons he’s turned into diamonds, the huge honor the music video took home, and his high hopes for the New York Mets.
Tell everyone a bit about the song. What are some of the demons you’ve turned into diamonds?
When I wrote “Demons” I hadn't really written, or released, anything for a while, so when I was writing it I was thinking something of a triumphant return.
Turning demons into diamonds speaks to who I was – too much shit I wasn't proud of – transforming into who I am, to who I will become.
Overcoming a real rough, abusive childhood. Father who sold our toys for drugs, and bounced when I was six. Stepfather who used to beat us almost daily. I used to get beat because I wanted to make hip-hop, if my pants were too baggy, etc. etc.
Mentally, I spent the majority of my life trapped in a uniquely pessimistic state of mind. It's something I still struggle with, but every day I continue to overcome.
After my brother got out of prison I made a super conscious decision to try to be happy, but all the sour experiences, poor life decisions, and struggles I inherited, all contribute to this timeless music I strive to make.
These songs are the diamonds I've transformed from my demons.
The video for “Demons Into Diamonds” was an official selection of the 8th Annual NYC Independent Film Festival earlier this year. What made you decide to submit the clip to the festival, and how will such an honor affect the way you approach future music videos?
The director, Ryan Windess, is incredible. It was really his idea. He had a vision for the video. He hit me up like, “Yo, we have to shoot this video, and submit it to the festival. I have a vision. I just need you to show up and do what you do.”
I was excited. I figured the worst that could happen was they say they don't like it, but they accepted it, and then actually asked me to perform at the festival. I was ecstatic, but I couldn't have done it without Ryan, and the cast. They deserve all the credit.
Moving forward, I just need to need to make sure I keep putting out quality visuals – videos, artwork, whatever. Credentials are always cool, but everything needs to be better than the last. Always.
You’ve been releasing a bevy of work over the past year. What’s been inspiring your artistic output?
I took a lot of time off to executive produce, mix, and master other people's work over the years. Since I put out #ATB (2014) I've recorded, mixed, and mastered probably 15 to 20 projects for other people. At the same time, I was non-stop creating new music for myself.
When this year started, I told myself I wanted to start focusing on my music more, so I came up with a plan, and just executed.
I was starting to feel like that guy with potential that never does shit. I figured, let me just release the project, who knows, maybe someone will like it. As of right now the next EP, 40s on the Church Steps, is already done, and I have about 12 additional songs.
I never stopped creating, I just never had a plan. Took me a while to realize that's just as important as the music.
Finally, are our Mets EVER gonna get it together?
Yes, and while this season has been frustrating, the past three seasons as a Mets fan overall have been fine with me.
I feel like Terry Collins has done a great job. He's been given some frustrating circumstances the past few years, and the team never quits on him.
Sandy Alderson gave us a competitive team this year, and last year, and the year before. They brought back Yoenis Cespedes. This isn't the same Mets that flew Willie Randolph out to Anaheim to fire him.
Injuries are unfortunate, but we're right in there. If we don't make a run, we'll be competitive next year. Not many times in my Mets life have I been able to say that next year we could be a playoff team with confidence.
Fire From The Gods is a band I was especially intrigued by while prepping for this year’s Warped Tour. While their music has its roots firmly in metal, they also mix in plenty of hip-hop, and soul, for a sound unlike anything else on the tour … and possibly the planet (there are probably other metal, hip-hop, soul bands on the planet. Don’t write me letters, OK?)
I made it a point to catch their set, and my intrigue turned into interest. Want to know why? Check out these three reasons you should see Fire From The Gods live.
1. Frontman AJ Channer is a Triple Threat
Some vocalists can sing so soulfully it sends shivers down your spine. Some can scream with a guttural rage that will shake your bones. Some can rap with such thought provoking insight they make your brain do gymnastics.
In AJ Channer, Fire From The Gods have all three of these types of vocalists in one person, and witnessing him go from rapping, to screaming, to singing, sometimes in the course of just one song, is pretty amazing. I’m still not entirely sure how he performs such vocal gymnastics.
Even if one of these types of vocals isn’t you cup of tea, by virtue of Channer being adept at all three, in the context of the mix you end up appreciating what you may not have perviously been a fan of.
2. They Make Music For The Marginalized & The Outcast
Between rapping about a desire for emancipation, and screaming for “The Voiceless,” it’s clear Fire From The Gods is a band that embraces those society often ignores.
With this, they also inspire individualism, not just welcoming those who are different, but outright urging people to be different, to be unafraid to be themselves, because as a band they’ve created a welcoming place for them with their music.
3. They May Influence You to Mosh
Every year Warped Tour puts up signs explicitly telling people not to mosh, and not to crowd surf, and every year kids ignore those signs in the name of a good time.
During Fire From The Gods’ set they may have ever so slightly encouraged the audience to get a little rowdy, and the audience may have taken them up on this. That said, I’m not about to be labeled a snitch, so you had to be there.
To find out when, and where, Fire From The Gods are performing next, check out their Facebook page for show dates.
This week’s NYC Scene Report features rockers VISTA fighting the good fight, a trippy clip from metal band Blackout, a country tune from Zephaniah OHora, and producer/musician Loveskills asking to “Stay.”
* VISTA, which is the Long Island duo of Hope Vista and Greg Almeida, have already accomplished a heck of a lot for an independent band. They’ve supported Against The Current at Irving Plaza, sold out their own headlining shows, and are currently readying a headlining tour for this August. That tour will be in support of the band’s sophomore EP, Long Live, which will be released on July 21st.
According to VISTA, the theme of the EP is that of forming an allegiance, and finding an oasis, in a dystopian society.
After one listen it’s clear VISTA is a band that will end up – much like their former tour-mates Against The Current – on the main stage of Warped Tour sooner, rather than later. Give the single “Henchmen” a spin, and hear what I mean.
* No, you aren’t tripping balls from accidentally putting psychedelic mushrooms on your pizza (actually, I can’t know that for sure), but it’s understandable if NYC metal band Blackout’s video for their new single, “Graves,” may make you wonder just that.
The insanely trippy clip is like something out of one of Frank Zappa’s dreams, but what else would you expect from a band that describes their new album, The Horse, as, “A messy plate of meat, slathered in weird sauces. A haunted steak from from Centaurus A to sink your dirty fangs into.”
Click play, and enjoy the ride.
* You don’t hear a lot of country music coming out of New York City, but Brooklyn’s Zephaniah OHora is an NYC-meets-Nashville artist who brings an old school country feel to a city where cowboy boots are only worn as a fashion statement.
OHora’s latest is “Take Your Love Out of Town,” and he describes the song, saying, “(It) paints the picture of living in the aftermath of a love gone bad. It's easy to decide who takes the couch, who gets the records, but what about all your old favorite places? It's amazing how a place as big as New York City can feel so small when you're trying to move on, and avoid all of the subtle reminders of someone that come with the places you go, and the people you might see. Sometimes, you wish they'd just leave town."
“Take Your Love Out of Town” is off of OHora’s recently released album, This Highway, and you can see the video for the song right here.
* How does one describe NYC-based producer, and musician, Loveskills? Perhaps it’s best to let the man speak for himself, as his bio states, “In the state of multiplicity, we will find Loveskills. Producing textures of therapeutic synth, low frequency bass, and a balance of melodic heart speak.”
His latest creation of synth, bass, and emotion is the song “Stay,” which features Matthew Ernest.
Melodic, and heartfelt, it’s not quite singer-songwriter fare, and not quite electronic music fare, it is Loveskills, an artist who occupies the small overlapping section of the Venn diagram that features both.
Give the song a spin, and “Stay” with Loveskills.
For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.
Last week it was announced the new (corporate) owners of Webster Hall will be shutting the legendary NYC music venue down indefinitely for renovations.
Who knows what it will look like when it eventually reopens, or when that reopening will actually occur. Some have speculated it may be two years before its doors are open to the public again.
With all this in mind, and having experienced so many moments there, I want to talk about ten memories I have of Webster Hall.
Meg Myers’ concert the night of the terrorist attack at the Bataclan in Paris
November 23rd, 2015
I’ve been a fan of Meg Myers since hearing her Make A Shadow EP, and was hyped to finally see her live. When she opened by saying her performance was dedicated to the people of Paris, many of us in the crowd were a bit perplexed. Little did we know, as we had been arriving at the venue the news was beginning to spread of the terrorist attack at the Eagles of Death Metal show at the Bataclan.
The next day I was reading articles about the attacks, and one New York-based newspaper, attempting to put the attack in local terms, wrote that the Bataclan was Paris’ version of Webster Hall.
I spent quite a bit of time wrapping my mind around that.
Tonight Alive nearly tearing the roof off the place
November 2nd, 2013
Tonight Alive has been one of my favorite bands since I first saw them on Warped Tour back in 2012.
The Aussie rockers packed The Studio at Webster Hall on a pleasant November night in 2013, and during their time on stage they emotionally turned the place into what CBGBs used to be.
At one point during their set frontwoman Jenna McDougall stood on top of a monitor and shouted, “C’mon New York, is that all the fuck you got?” prompting extra exuberance from the crowd, and crowd surfing in a place with ceilings so low the crowd surfers nearly hit the lights.
Interviewing Echosmith before their show
November 2nd, 2013
Before Tonight Alive’s set, a young, up and coming band named Echosmith opened the night (they’ve done pretty alright for themselves), and before they hit the stage, they sat down with me for an interview.
We did the interview in a hallway, and frontwoman Sydney Sierota blew my mind when she remembered bumping into me at CMJ the month prior.
Seeing Tricky perform
October 28th, 2016
It’s not everyday you get to see one of the godfather’s of trip-hop perform. In fact, with his Visa issues, which he mentioned during the show, U.S. appearances have been a rarity for Tricky.
One of my favorite moments from this show was when he called fans up on stage, and the fans all took out their phones to record themselves, and take selfies. Tricky kept telling them to live in the moment, and put their phones away. Eventually he started taking their phones and throwing them into the crowd (the phones crowd surfed their way back). The looks of shock on the kids’ faces when Tricky tossed their phones was priceless.
Taking swigs of vodka, post-interview, with Millionaires in their tour van
July 5th, 2012
Before Millionaires’ show at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall I had an interview scheduled with the sister duo. The interview ended up happening in their tour van, both Melissa Marie and Allison turned out to be incredibly sweet, and we shared swigs from a bottle of vodka after all was said and done.
Whitney Peyton’s perilous pull-ups
August 3rd, 2016
Philly rapper Whitney Peyton, opening for country hip-hop artist Jelly Roll, made the entirety of The Studio at Webster Hall her stage, doing everything from climbing onto the bar, to grabbing one of the pipes up by the ceiling and doing pull-ups over the crowd.
I really wasn’t sure how well those pipes were going to hold, and after she did her pull-ups Peyton really wasn’t sure how she was going to get down (she received some help with that).
Crashing Chris Webby’s show with Jelly Roll’s crew
August 3rd, 2016
I’d interviewed Jelly Roll before his show, and with Webster Hall having multiple stages, he decided he was going to crash his friend Chris Webby’s gig upstairs, and invited me to join in the fun.
We rolled in there with some wild women, had some drinks, and took in the show.
Rockin’ out with Xombie, LTrain, Newborn, and Aligns
January 30th, 2016
I’ve been friends with the guys from Xombie for years, and for this particular show not only were they at their absolute best, all the other bands on the bill were fantastic, as well.
This was one of those nights where I came to see one band, and left as friends with members of the other bands, whom I’ve covered since.
Black Panda PR’s CMJ show
October 14th, 2015
CMJ always fell the week of my birthday, and Black Panda PR’s 2015 CMJ show, which featured my friends herMajesty, and Anna Rose, just happened to be on the night before my birthday.
My fondest, albeit hazy, memories from this night include all the great music, a drunken convo (drunken on my end) with Anna Rose about Fleetwood Mac, meeting my friend Morgana outside, as she’d swung by to wish me a happy birthday, and inflatable panda heads all over the place.
I may have taken one of the panda heads with me and attempted to use it as a pillow on the train ride home.
Jesse Abraham and P.SO’s charity show
January 26th, 2013
This event took place in a room I’d never heard of before – The Hanky Panky Room.
There was no hanky panky on this night, but there was plenty of great hip-hop, many good friends, money raised to help get clean water to communities in third world countries, and I ended up winning a raffle for a hand painted water jug that currently has a place of honor in my office.
If you have memories of Webster Hall, feel free to share them in the comments section.