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 NYC Scene Report features a wild new video from Stranger Cat, some fresh hip-hop from Hired Gun, a symphony of toy instruments manned by J Hacha De Zola, and a Halloween inspired fictional killing spree rapped by Jimmy Valentime.
* Stranger Cat released their debut album, In the Wilderness, earlier this year, and it quickly became of one of my favorites the NYC indie scene has given us in 2015. With that in mind, I'm excited that Joyful Noise Recordings continues to push new singles from the album, the latest being "Red."
In the wildly creative video for "Red," Stranger Cat's Cat Martino is first awed, and then terrorized, by a creepy magician whose powers are far greater than those of a traditional magician. Finding herself in the woods, scared, and in unwelcoming circumstances, Martino struggles to find a way out.
Check out the clip, and then give In the Wilderness a spin. It's indie adult-contemporary electro-pop at its finest (and yes, I know that's A LOT of descriptive words).
* Brooklyn-based emcee Hired Gun has been a staple of NYC's indie hip-hop scene for over a decade. Whether it's been as a solo artist, as a part of the trio 3rd Party, or helping to put together events like Fourth Fridays, which ran for three years at the old Bowery Poetry Club, he’s always been a catalyst for quality hip-hop in the city. This past week, Hired Gun dove back into his solo work, and released #NICEGUYSFINISHFIRST.
In a statement, Hired Gun wrote of #NICEGUYSFINISHFIRST, which was produced entirely by ZQ, "This album is a product of love lost, and love gained. Dues paid, and pain owed. In 2010, I'd gone from my highest apex, to my lowest low. I began writing. This collaboration with ZQ became an examination of the spirit. This is the record for those who show up. These are the songs of the willing. Hustlers, strugglers, and strivers alike. I want to thank treachery, jealousy, deception, love, mirrors and music for making this possible."
Check out "Midnight Sun," and hear the depth of Hired Gun.
* There are occasions when the story behind an album is so utterly fascinating you can't help but want to hear the music. This is the case with J Hacha De Zola’s new project, Escape from Fat Kat City, which is due out January 8th, 2016, and uses some very unorthodox instruments.
The Jersey City native described his process for creating the album’s first single, “Better Run,” saying, “‘Better Run’ was lots of fun to record as it contains many unconventional instruments and noise makers. Before the session, I visited the local corner bodegas that I used to go to as a kid, and bought silly noise makers, 25-cent whistles, rattles, plastic flutes, and cheap candy ocarinas.”
Throw in a busted in a toy piano he found on the scrap heap, and you have some of the instruments that helped J Hacha De Zola create his sound. Click play on "Better Run" to hear the final product.
* With Halloween just a few days away, NYC hip-hop artist Jimmy ValenTime decided to honor the holiday by releasing a horror themed song titled "The Following."
On "The Following," ValenTime is on a mission to change hip-hop, and while some artists claim to be "killing the game," ValenTime gets literal, murdering his adversaries, including some of the biggest names in hip-hop today.
In real life Jimmy ValenTime is not a murderer. I feel the need to point this out, because this is the internet, and I don't want someone to Google "Jimmy ValenTime, murderer," have this come up, and then demand he be thrown in jail. This is my way of looking out for my people.
With that disclaimer having been said, enjoy ValenTime’s fictional killing spree on "The Following," which is off of his recently released album, Better Luck Tomorrow, and is available as a free download until November 1st.
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.