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Name: Adam Bernard
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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.
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NYC Scene Report – SYBLING, Van Bellman, & more
Wednesday, April 03, 2019

This week’s NYC Scene Report features the dark folk of SYBLING, indie pop-rock from Van Bellman, rockers Big Bliss creating a “Duplicate,” and singer-songwriter Matt Marshak professing to be a “Simple Man.”

* The most fitting word I could use to describe the music of dark folk sister duo SYBLING would be – transfixing.

As soon as you hear the piano, and the gorgeous harmonies of their vocals, you’re hooked, and would have no issue with SYBLING sisters Alice and Mariana Makwaia never letting go.

SYBLING’s latest single is “The Grim,” which is off the NYC-based duo’s recently released self-titled EP. Alice discussed the project in a statement, saying, “If one quote were to sum up the entirety of SYBLING, it would be Kurt Vonnegut’s – ‘He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral.’ This entire EP explores the ghosts of our past, and the way we try to seek out those people we once knew – who are, of course, still very much alive.”

Check out “The Grim,” and let yourself be entranced by SYBLING.


* Van Bellman has become a column favorite here, and with “All This Time” he’s given us another great song. As a bonus, the clip he posted on YouTube for it features his cats investigating his record player.

In a statement, Van Bellman said of the song, “I initially wrote ‘All This Time’ for Connell Cruise, who was labelmates with my other band, American Authors, on Island Records a couple years ago, but has since moved back to South Africa where he just won Dancing With the Stars. But I always loved this song, and I didn’t want it to fall through the cracks.”

Van Bellman continued, adding, “I’m mainly a guitarist, but I love writing on piano because I can come across some happy accidents. That’s where the piano riff came from – a toy piano gathering dust in the corner of Mission Sound studio with one broken key, which you can hear in the track if you listen closely. I composed the string section digitally, and had my friends Marie Kim (currently playing keys for Mitski) and Andy Baldwin (mixing engineer for Björk, Cat Power, and St. Lucia) replace it with actual cello and violin, which is truly a sonic treat in today’s digital age.”

If you’ve been waiting “All This Time” for a great pop-rock song, click play on this video. You won’t be disappointed.


* Indie music fans who’ve been searching for their bliss haven’t had to look very far, as Brooklyn rockers Big Bliss have been making a name for themselves in the local scene, and all over the country, as well.

After the release of the trio’s 2016 EP, Keep Near, they didn’t keep near at all, landing themselves on five tours.

Big Bliss’ new full length album, At Middle Distance, was released this past fall via Exist Stencil Records, and the latest single off it is “Duplicate.”

Check out the black and white video for the song, and find your Big Bliss.


* Long Island native Matt Marshak made his name as a jazz and funk guitarist, but recently learned his soul is that of a singer-songwriter. His just-released album, Simple Man, showcases how he’s embraced this discovery.

For the album, Marshak collaborated with Nashville-based composers Cara Graham Hogan and Steve Dean, and longtime friend Mike DelGuidice.

Discussing the project in a statement, Marshak said, “I certainly had many blessings come my way from the jazz and blues community, but when I heard the material I wrote with Cara and Steve, I knew I had embrace this style and place my voice front and center.”

Marshak added that when it comes to the album’s title track, “It’s about being yourself, be who you are, being human.”

Many feel there’s beauty in simplicity, and I think you’ll find there’s plenty of beauty in Matt Marshak’s “Simple Man.”


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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