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 edition of the NYC Scene Report features new soul-pop from Chetti, a change of pace for Ranjit and the Ambassadors, some garage rock from Washer, and a huge good time song from funk-rock-soul band Kwame Binea Shakedown.
* I first wrote about NYC soul-pop artist Chetti last year after seeing her perform at Mercury Lounge. The diminutive singer with the big voice mixes modern pop with late 90s style R&B for a feel-good sound that fits right in alongside everything from SWV to Ariana Grande.
Last week Chetti was back at Mercury Lounge, debuting some new songs, one of which was “Honeymoon.” The funk and disco influences are strong on “Honeymoon,” as the bass, and guitar, add an underlying Daft Punk-like vibe to it.
Lyrically, the theme of being a woman who knows what she wants is present throughout “Honeymoon,” but that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as Chetti was born and raised in Brooklyn, so she’s very at home standing up for herself.
Give “Honeymoon” a listen. It’s something you’re sure to groove to.
* Ranjit and the Ambassadors is a band I became aware of when I saw them perform at Rockwood Music Hall last year. They sounded fantastic, and I instantly became a fan. Interestingly, Ranjit has switched things up a bit for his latest release, stripping things down for an EP titled Piano Fortissimo.
As the name implies, the piano was the instrument of choice for the EP, which makes the vibe is noticeably different, as it would have to be when an artist focuses on composing for the piano versus writing for a full band. That said, even with the new sound, Ranjit’s songwriting is just as personal, and deep, as before, and as an artistic endeavor, Piano Fortissimo goes a long way in showing Ranjit’s range as an artist.
Give “Emoji” a listen to hear this new side of Ranjit. On the song, he goes through the emotions of love lost, and the aftermath of a breakup. Pretty much everyone can relate to this one.
* Brooklyn garage rockers Washer would like to introduce you to “Joe,” “Joe” being their brand new single, which will be released on May 5th via East Coast Basements and Bedrooms (ECB&B) and Exploding In Sound Records.
The 7-inch, which will also be available digitally, is a split release with fellow Brooklyn rockers Flagland, and the two bands have been on the road promoting the new tunes with shows that we can only assume have been extremely wild.
Washer’s Mike Quigley explained “Joe” in a statement, saying, “It’s about not being prepared for certain situations. How you can’t really be prepared for them, even the ones you know are coming, but you can’t back out, or put it off. Some things are crippling, or terrible, but you just have to get through it.”
I think I’ve done my best to prepare you for “Joe,” so give it a listen, and rock out for a few minutes.
* If you’re looking for a good time, then look no further than the music of Kwame Binea Shakedown. The band, which fuses rock, funk, blues, and soul, reportedly earned its “Shakedown” moniker because of the way the walls of frontman Binea’s Harlem apartment used to shake during rehearsals.
Binea’s path to the NYC music scene was a winding one. Of Ghanaian descent, he was born and raised in West London, and moved to New Jersey as a teenager, before eventually making NYC his home.
“I’m driven by my mantra of peace, love, and positivity,” Binea says of his life, and his work, “so that propels and drives the messages for most of my lyrical content. It’s also party music, and danceable, so if our music moves you, and makes you move, that’s a great night.”
The first single off of Kwame Binea Shakedown’s upcoming eponymous debut album is “Let Go.” The song features two indigenous West African/Ghanaian instruments, the kora, and the djembe, and the video is of a raucous performance that makes me want to see the band live. Check it out.
For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.
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.