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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, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. Book coming soon!
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NYC Scene Report – Purr, Mount Sharp, & Jonathan UniteUs
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

This week’s NYC Scene Report features Purr traveling down “Avenue Bliss,” Mount Sharp being anything but “Ordinary,” and Jonathan UniteUs flying the coop.

* Purr – the indie pop duo formerly known as Jack + Eliza – will be releasing their debut album, Like New, this Friday. The latest single off of the album is “Avenue Bliss” (as a pro wrestling fan, I hope that one day there will be a very real road named after Alexa Bliss, but I digress …).

Discussing the inspiration for the “Avenue Bliss,” which was the last song they wrote for the album, Purr’s Eliza Callahan said, “It’s about power and presence, and having no words left — and then having that dust clear. The beginning of the song is like an ending, and the end, hopefully, like a new beginning … we tried to mirror this in the arrangement, too. You’ll see. It’s an adventure track. Self-adventure, the worst and best kind.”

Check out the video, and go on an adventure with Purr.


* Fans of indie rock foursome Mount Sharp have been patiently waiting for a new album for five years, and this Friday the wait will finally be over as the band will release That Shadow via Dadstache Records.

Vocalist and guitarist Swood says of the long awaited album, “We made all of That Shadow in our friend Brian Sendrowitz’s basement – you might know him from Beat Radio! I think that the intimacy of that comes out in the recording, and somehow Brian worked his magic to make it feel huge at the same time.”

Want to hear what intimate, yet huge, sounds like? Click play on the lyric video for “Ordinary,” and experience Mount Sharp’s musical peaks.


* Jonathan UniteUs might be one of the busiest artists in NYC’s indie hop-hop scene. His most recent release is End of the Year Vol. 2 (Flew The Coop), a collaboration between Jonathan UniteUs and Boston, MA hip-hop artist/producer Jonathan Cloud, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

“As far as 2020 is concerned,” Jonathan UniteUs says, “there will be at least two more Jonathan UniteUs projects, and two with tha Joint (which is the team of Jonathan UniteUs and Joey Golden),” adding, “tour – maybe. Definitely more out of town gigs and activities.”

On the subject of End of the Year Vol. 2 (Flew The Coop), he explained the concept for the project, saying, “Flew The Coop is an idiom, meaning to escape into a better situation/freedom, and it’s the main idea behind the piece. Discarding fears, looking to the future, and the path to becoming the person I want to be, are constant themes throughout.”

You can stream Jonathan UniteUs’ musical escape in full right here.


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 – You Did That on Purpose?
Monday, February 17, 2020

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 Post Malone and Chris Brown getting new face tattoos, to Pitbull teaming up with Blake Shelton, to the Apollo Theater booking Pearl Jam, and since this is Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.

* Post Malone has added yet another tattoo to his face, this one of buzzsaw dripping with blood. So basically, Post Malone is going to spend the rest of his life walking around with someone’s tool on his face.

* In more face tattoo news, Chris Brown now has a Nike Air Jordan 3 sneaker tattooed on the right side of his face. It provides a small, but decent target for any of his dates if they decide to fight back.

* Kacey Musgraves released a scented candle named after her song “Slow Burn.” Sorry Kacey, but when it comes to naming candles, you’re no Gwyneth Paltrow.


* While performing at a Bernie Sanders rally, The Strokes announced they’ll be releasing a new album on April 10th. This is the closest anyone wants Bernie Sanders to come to having a stroke.

* Pitbull and Blake Shelton inexplicably joined forces for a song titled “Get Ready.” The collaboration features a chorus that interpolates the Lead Belly classic “Black Betty.” I just have one burning question – who the hell asked for this?!?!

* Eminem’s performance of “Lose Yourself” at the Oscars sparked a big sales gain with 4,000 downloads of the song being sold in the U.S. on February 9th. That’s a jump of 1,894% from the previous day. There’s no word on what the performance did for the sales of spaghetti.


* Pearl Jam will be performing at the legendary Apollo Theater on March 26th. I feel like the audience for that show might differ ever so slightly from the traditional Apollo crowd. You know … because they’ll be wearing flannel. I’m totally talking about flannel.

* Jay Electronica announced via social media that his album, Written Testimony, will be released on March 18th. Sadly, most of the people who were hyped about Jay Electronica when he first hit the scene have died of old age.

* Janet Jackson will be hitting the road this summer in support of her upcoming 12th studio album, Black Diamond. With a name like Black Diamond I assume it will be an all ski lodge tour.


* Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean teamed up to release a brand of 80 proof bourbon named Wolf Moon. This writer would like to know if they’d be willing to send over some samples for … uhh … journalistic purposes.

* Hilary Duff is joining her new husband Matthew Koma on RAC’s forthcoming cover of Third Eye Blind’s “Never Let You Go.” If you Google “RAC” the first thing that comes up is Rent-A-Center, so wouldn’t it be more appropriate for him to be teaming up with Troy Aikman and Hulk Hogan?


That’s all for this edition of Pop Shots, but come back next Monday for more shots on all things pop.

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Stacking The Deck with Root Shock
Friday, February 14, 2020

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.

A reggae band, a soul band, and a rock band all rolled into one, the music of Root Shock will make you groove, think, and love.

The Syracuse, NY-based five piece consisting of (photographed left to right) Phil Grajko (guitars/vocals), Brian Lauri (keys), Jessica Brown (vocals/melodica), Bill Eppel (bass), and Tyre Outerbridge (drums), have become known for their dynamic live performances that create both a warm, and extraordinarily fun, vibe.

If that’s a type of vibe you’re interested in experiencing, you’re in luck, because the band says they’ll be on the road for a large portion of the year, while also working on recording a new full length album.



I caught up with Root Shock before their recent show at The Acoustic, in Bridgeport, CT, to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about the vast musical histories of the members of the band, what sparked their initial interest in music, and the article of clothing that is not in Jessica’s closet.



Jimi Hendrix

Phil: My earliest memory of knowing that I wanted to play guitar was seeing something on TV with Jimi Hendrix playing. I don’t even remember how old I was. I was probably 6 or 7, but that is my earliest memory of being like oh, guitar looks cool.

Did your young fandom progress to getting his albums?

Phil: I later became a Jimi Hendrix fan, but (at that age) I was like “Oh, white Strat (Stratocaster) is cool,” and that was my first guitar.

Jimi was the reason I got a Strat.

When it comes to your music, Jimi Hendrix and reggae don’t necessarily immediately go together.

Phil: Yeah, but reggae is such a small part of where I draw my influence from, and I think where most of the band does, too. It’s a piece of it.

I remember when I saw you for the first time I described your sound as “accessible reggae,” because you have so many other genres thrown in there, whatever someone is into, they can get into it.

Phil: Totally.

Bill: It was always a good jumping off point, but it’s not necessarily the destination on anything, so it’s kind of a bedrock piece of things, but it doesn’t have to be where everything is aimed.



Cro-Mags

Bill: I got the Cro-Mags. This is Harley Flanagan, and they’re talking about The Age of Quarrel, from 1986, being their big album.

I was in a band that was billed with these guys in the ‘90s when I was playing for a while in a hardcore band.

What was the name of the band?

Bill: I don’t even remember which one it was, but it was a bunch of guys in Syracuse, which is obviously known for its hardcore, but I kinda grew up in a world where stuff wasn’t quite as rigidly defined.

Part of my upbringing in the ‘80s was listening to a lot of punk rock, different varieties of early hardcore, British punk, and along with that a lot of reggae, which is part of where the reggae stuff comes from, this big connection between ‘70s punk rock and reggae that a lot of people don’t realize. The guys from the Sex Pistols, and Stiff Little Fingers, and all the British bands, The Clash, were all hugely into reggae, and dub reggae, which was the other rebel music at the time.

It’s kind of also emblematic that everyone here in the band has been in other types of bands, and performed other types of music. There is no one defining genre for any person in this room. Everyone has done a whole bunch of different stuff, and I think it speaks to what the band does that everyone has really big ears in terms of listening to all different type of music.

You mentioned being into multiple rebellious styles of music, and being in a hardcore band. I need a story of rebellion from your life, because right now you look so ready for your 9 to 5.

Bill: You know, I didn’t have a regular 9 to 5 job until I was in my mid-30s.

I worked at an independent record store for the better part of a decade, so I could also be on the road playing, and touring, in what at that time was a third wave ska band. I’ve been in industrial and punk bands, too. All that goes with that.

Tyre: He likes to bust skulls.

I was about to ask, do you roll those sleeves up and there are sleeve tattoos going all the way down?

Bill: It’s funny because I used to live with a guy who owns a tattoo shop in Syracuse, and all of our friends, and all the people we hung out with, were completely covered. I was the one dude who had nothing, and I’m like no, I’m going out the way I came in, man – clean.

That’s a true act of rebellion.

Bill: Because (tattoos are) what everyone’s expecting. He actually said at one point in time, “If you ever want anything, a back piece, anything, come to me, I’ll do it for free. Whatever you want, I’ll do it.” There’s just nothing that I’ve been so into that I was like – I want that for my whole life. I want to die with that.



INXS

Brian: I actually saw these guys, it was probably one of my first real shows I can remember seeing, and just being blown away by the video, and the sound. At one point Michael Hutchence jumped through the screen, and you’re like, how did he jump through the screen? I want to jump through the screen!

It was definitely a catalyst for me being like, no matter what you do playing-wise, this is where I’d like to be, and with a group of people who also want to be there. You can see them all having their parts, and all moving as one.

I’ll always remember that as a being a highlight to my (thinking), “OK, the band thing is really cool.” It switched over to being cool from being sorta nerdy.

Were you already in a band at the time?

Brian: I was playing in bands, and stuff, but it was sorta of under the radar because music isn’t as cool when you’re 5, 6, 7 years old.

That’s super young. Most people that age are on the recorder.

Brian: I was lucky enough to have people to play with.

I played sports, and there were a couple other kids on the teams who were also into music, so we all had our instruments. I’d spend weekends at their house just jamming – 14 years old, playing Eagle tunes, and stuff like that. It got it moving, and then to see something like this, you’re like oh dude, I am cool. {laughs}



Twisted Sister

Tyre: I picked these dudes because they bring me back to a nostalgic point of a movie that I grew up watching so many times. It reminds me of big leopard print panties, and a snake swallowing a guy’s arm that was holding a rat to feed it … this movie is Road Trip, with Tom Green.

This is what got me into Twisted Sister. (The characters in the movie were) on that little mini bus, and that song comes on – “I Wanna Rock!”

The unorthodox Tom Green to Twisted Sister road.

Tyre: Yeah, and when that one song popped up on that bus it was probably the first time I had ever heard it, and I loved it so much I went and downloaded it just so I could listen to it as much as I possibly could.

Then I was thinking Dee Snider was Stuart from MAD TV. I thought they were the same person. It was like, “This guy’s got a band, and he’s on MAD TV as a comic?” {laughs}



The Doors

Jessica: Honestly, I didn’t grow up listening to The Doors, but Jim Morrison was such a frontman, that’s why I was like, I can relate, in some way … except the fact that I’m still alive, and I’m in my 30s.

He was super emotional, and he was wild on stage, so he could bring you in on that soft level, and then all of a sudden go crazy. I can relate to that, personally, as a performer.

Both Jim Morrison, and the previously mentioned Michael Hutchence, were frontmen who oozed sexuality.

Jessica: Right. I wouldn’t say that I can personally relate to that. I don’t think I ooze sexuality on stage. {laughs}

Tyre: Not to us. {laughs}

Jessica: Maybe I should take lessons …

Bill: Maybe if you had the leather pants.

Everyone: {laughs}

Jessica: If I had leather pants, and I took my shirt off, maybe it might be different. {laughs}



For more Root Shock, check out rootshockmusic.com, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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NYC Scene Report – VISTA, Otis Clapp, & Alyssa Kayhill
Wednesday, February 12, 2020

This week’s NYC Scene Report features VISTA airing out their “Dirty Laundry,” Otis Clapp kindly requesting you put the “Money in the Bag,” and Alyssa Kayhill “Playing With Fire.”

* VISTA have had a busy couple of months. For starters, the electronic alt-rock group has gone from being a duo to a trio, as lead vocalist Hope Vista and guitarist Greg Almeida are now joined by drummer Mikey G. VISTA also just put the finishing touches on a brand new EP, titled The Repair, which will be out this Friday.

The lead single off The Repair is “Dirty Laundry,” which Hope discussed, saying, “‘Dirty Laundry’ felt like the right fit to introduce this record because it opens up about hanging some of VISTA’s internal demons out to dry. Our last EP, The Ruins, delved into what our personal demons are, what it felt like to be fighting them, feeling them. ‘Dirty Laundry’ addresses how we’ve evolved in the few short months since we released our last EP. The song itself is about how jagged our edges were, how we cracked open, but being able to expel everything that was weighing us down.”

Click play on “Dirty Laundry,” and air everything out with VISTA.


* Otis Clapp has one very simple request – put the “Money in the Bag”!

“Money in the Bag” is the latest single off Clapp’s upcoming album, 40’s on the Church Steps, and the video for it has a bit of an ‘80s feel.

“Me and director nyenteenatey2 were trying to capture a ‘80s TV/Miami Vice-esque vibe,” Clapp says of the clip, which was shot in Florida, “Along with that we attached a loosely based storyline where we follow Otis and the ‘bag’ as he delivers his bars. The idea for the song is basically, ‘Put the money in the bag,’ or Pay Me ... without all the excuses.”

Check out the clip, and watch Otis get the bag.


* Pop singer-songwriter Alyssa Kayhill is a lifesaver by day, indie artist by night. This is because when she isn’t hard at work in the studio, she’s hard at work in Brooklyn Hospital’s Cardiology Unit.

Discussing the unique way her careers intertwine, Kayhill said, “I think there is an important connection between my work as a nurse and my music. Nursing has taught me so much about myself and humanity, and music has been the most amazing outlet for me to connect through stories of my struggles, my doubts, and my victories.”

She added, “Hopefully, my songs can help someone realize they are valued, seen, and that we are not as alone as we sometimes think we are.”

Check out the song “Playing With Fire,” which is off Kayhill’s just released album, Love Is What It Is, and get to know this great new voice on the scene.


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 – 8 Valentine’s Day #1s That Involved Loves of a Different Kind
Monday, February 10, 2020

Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, with Valentine’s Day being this Friday I’ve created a special edition of Pop Shots in honor of the holiday … well, sort of.

Everyone knows Valentine’s Day is all about love, and sometimes that love includes chocolates, flowers, and Hallmark cards, but I wanted to go in a slightly different direction. I combed the Billboard Hot 100 archives looking for songs that were #1 on Valentine’s Day that Involved loves of a different kind. How different, you ask? You know me, so you know this is going to get ridiculous.

Of course, since this is Pop Shots you also know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.


1983: Men at Work – Down Under


If you have a love of travel, and exploring foreign cultures, Men at Work are here for you with their classic mega-hit “Down Under.” On this song we not only get valuable info on Australia – where women glow and men plunder – we also get some insight on Brussels, and Bombay!


1987: Bon Jovi – Livin’ on a Prayer


Yes, this song has the love of Tommy and Gina, but I have it on this list for the love of drunkenly shouting the lyrics at the top of our lungs alongside dozens of strangers at a bar, because we all know that’s the optimal way to sing “Livin’ on a Prayer.”


1991: C+C Music Factory – Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)


If you’re anything like me, you have a love of working out, and no one wants to work you out harder than C+C Music Factory. Freedom Williams says he’s gonna make you sweat ’til you bleed. I mean, that sounds to me like a callus ripped, but hey, we’ve all been there.


1992: Right Said Fred – I’m Too Sexy


Self-love is an incredibly important form of love, and the ultimate form of self-love is knowing exactly what you’re too sexy for. Right Said Fred has a list of what they’re too sexy for, and it includes their shirt, Milan, New York, Japan, your party, their car, their hat, their cat, and their love. Heck, they’re even too sexy for this song.


1995: TLC – Creep


In 1995 TLC showed us a love of having multiple loves with their infidelity anthem, “Creep.” The man in the song is cheating, and the woman is cheating back. Basically, there’s a whole lotta cheatin’ goin’ on. Maybe someone should open up the lines of communication here. Just a thought.


2001: Shaggy – It Wasn’t Me


Going one step further than TLC, Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” exemplifies a love of making excuses for infidelity … well, one excuse, and a pretty weak one at that, but it made for a heck of a song! Also, judging by the video, he apparently had one of those Ring doorbells way before anyone else.


2010: Ke$ha – TiK ToK


This one’s for all the single people out there, because while the couples of the world are celebrating their love for each other, you can brush your teeth with a bottle of Jack, and celebrate your love of partying! Who knows, maybe you’ll find another love while doing so!


2013: Macklemore w/ Wanz – Thrift Shop


This one’s close to my heart, because much like Macklemore and Wanz, I have a love of discovering great finds on clearance racks, at second hand stores, and at flea markets. Seriously, don’t leave me unsupervised at a Goodwill.


That’s all for this edition of Pop Shots, but come back next Monday for more shots on all things pop.

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My First Time – Drea Jeann
Friday, February 07, 2020

Sometimes you hear an artist and just know Top 40 radio is in their future. This is the case with Drea Jeann.

A newcomer on the indie pop scene, Drea originally hails from the Bay Area, but now calls Los Angeles home. She’s just started getting her her feet wet in the industry with two single releases – “Faithfully,” and “Come Back to Me” – both of which have a sound, and feel, that could easily lead you to believe Drea is already a well-established pop star.


With big things in her future, Drea sat down with me to talk a little bit about her past, as we discussed some of the major artistic firsts from her life, including a performance story that has some serious Fresh Prince of Bel-Air high school graduation vibes.

My first time performing on stage

My first time performing was at the age of 3, on a cruise ship to Mexico, singing “You Are My Sunshine,” wearing giant sunflower glasses and a bucket hat. I don’t remember it that well, obviously.

My next performing memories that I do remember were in little musical theatre shows at the age of 6.

My first time buying an album

My first album that I bought was a Hilary Duff album, Metamorphosis.

I was absolutely obsessed with her as a kid from the ages of 8 to 12. I saved my allowance for that album, and would listen to all of her songs on repeat in my carpool rides to school. I really looked up to her as a kid who loved singing and pop music, and just loved the sound of her voice, and her uniqueness.


My first time attending a concert

My first concert was Carrie Underwood. My parents brought me as a birthday gift. I believe I was 13. I was so excited to see her perform, as she was another role model for me as a young singer. I followed her journey through American Idol and loved who she was as a person, what she stood for, and the natural talent she had that had led her to win the show.

I still have her original CD albums from that concert. I was absolutely in awe of her talent live.

My first time writing an original song

My first time really writing an original song was in the summer of 2018, with Eddie Wohl, the producer I work with currently. I had met him through family friends and he thought I had a nice voice and gave me a shot to come out and write with him for a week. We ended up making some great songs, two of which are released now.

I showed my close family and friends when they were in the works, as I was super excited to finally be creating my own content, and forming my own sound as an artist.

“Faithfully” was one of the first songs I wrote, as well as the first song I recorded and released.


My first time performing my own music

I’ve actually never done an open mic, but I have done lots of karaoke and performing when I was in high school.

I just did a performance at a close friend’s party with about 50 people attending. Although it was small, it was the first time I got to perform my own music, and choose which songs/covers I wanted to perform.

There’s plans in the works of me performing a lot more this year.


For more Drea Jeann, check out dreajeann.com, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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