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 the first post-Grand Cousin release from Henry Hall, a long awaited new album from Super King Armor, a blast from the past from Conscious, and the debut EP from downtempo duo Red Giant.
* When NYC indie rockers Grand Cousin disbanded in 2014 fans wondered what would be next for the members of the group. I’m happy to report that the band’s former frontman, Henry Hall, is doing just fine. He recently released his first solo single, titled “See The Sun,” and two weeks ago he packed the house at The Bowery Electric for a solo show.
While a member of Grand Cousin, Hall was known for his writing style, which was partly quirky, partly dark. His solo work stays in that direction, as “See the Sun” opens with the lines, “I don't trust you within an inch of your life / that's why I'm going to take away that knife.”
Hall’s vocals on “See the Sun” have an old school quality to them, much like the vocals of Kiyoshi Matsuyama of Rocket & The Ghost. When those vocals are mixed with Hall’s music, which is one part NYC indie rock, one part California cool, the result is something pretty great.
Check out the video for “See the Sun,” and don’t worry, this is one sun it’s OK to stare into.
* NYC hip-hop fans have been waiting a long time for a new release from Super King Armor. Thankfully, with Gone Is The Illusion, the wait is finally over.
Gone Is The Illusion is a full length effort, produced predominantly by Steel Tipped Dove, with contributions from Willie Green and J57, and guest appearances by Cav, and Corina Corina.
Super King Armor says of the inspiration for the album, “From a musical standpoint there were a lot of illusions of what I could, and could not, do as a recording artist, both in my own mind, and in the minds of others, that I needed to crush.”
“The process was harsh,” he continued, explaining, “By that I mean quitting my job, uprooting myself from New York, moving to a place I had never been in California, losing the roof over my head, living on the streets of Los Angeles in and out of welfare motels... through all that I went through some serious reflection, and received a peace of mind I had never experienced in my life. I had to lose everything, to learn who I am.”
On the album’s title track, which is posted below, you can hear Super King Armor break down his walls as he raps, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust / gone is the illusion, the wall is crushed / the world talks shit, but when you call its bluff / then gone is the illusion, the wall is crushed.”
If you love raw, emotional, personal, hip-hop, you’ll love “Gone Is The Illusion.”
* NYC renaissance man Conscious goes by a plethora of aliases, and explores an equally impressive number of artistic endeavors. The one I’m going to tell you about today is an old one that just became new again thanks to a random album release.
Conscious’ DuttyPrude project is a musical one that is inspired equally by hip-hop, jazz, funk, and experimental music. Two weeks ago, those of us on Conscious’ email list were treated to the release of the DuttyPrude album Vinyl Destination, which he said he’d been “sitting on for a while.”
He explains his reasoning for finally releasing it, saying, “This project, Vinyl Destination, today symbolizes me looking back at past production as I contemplate my future as a producer. You've gotta recognize where you came from to move forward? Well, I came from a crate of a handful of records, and a turntable, initially, and as it stands today I don't have much more. The big difference is these days I don't sample very much, but with Vinyl Destination it's all about the sample.”
I can speak to the age of some of the tracks on Vinyl Destination, as I remember playing two of them, "Latchkey" and "Hotshots," on my old radio show on WVOF, and that was somewhere in the nieghborhood of a decade ago. “Kilosil,” however, is new to me, and I have it for everyone right here.
* Although this is a column about NYC’s indie music scene, sometimes that scene can bleed over into the rest of the tri-state area. On such occasions I have no problem featuring an artist from out of state, like New Jersey downtempo duo Red Giant.
I first wrote about the Red Giant twosome of vocalist Foxanne, and producer Derrick “Drop” Braxton, this past winter, when NYC hip-hop artist Silent Knight introduced me to their music. I was hooked immediately by their sound, which is beautiful, yet mysterious, and even a little bit dark.
The duo recently released their debut EP, Drones, and speaking as someone who was eagerly anticipating it, I’m thrilled that it’s everything I’d hoped it would be. I’ve embedded the EP here in its entirety so you can give it a spin. If you’re into acts like Portishead, Red Giant will be right up your alley.
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.