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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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NYC Scene Report – Taraka, Miles Francis, & LVCHLD
Wednesday, September 15, 2021

This week’s NYC Scene Report features Taraka inhabiting a “Pyschocastle,” Miles Francis debating what it means to be “Popular,” and LVCHLD asking “Baby, Won’t You Pass Me the Light?”

* As one half of the Brooklyn-based band Prince Rama, Taraka (pronounced like “maraca") made a name for herself in NYC’s indie music scene. On October 8th she’ll be releasing her first solo album, Welcome to Paradise Lost, the lead single off of which sees her inhabiting a “Psychocastle.”

The video for “Psychocastle” was filmed inside an abandoned mental institution in upstate New York, while the album was conceived while Taraka was living in a hot Texas gallery with a live serpent in an attempt to return to a pre-internet Eden.

If you’re anything like me, everything you just read made you think – this sounds freakin’ awesome! Click play, and enter Taraka’s indie rock “Psychocastle.”

* Lots of people want to be popular, but have they really thought about what drives that desire?

NYC-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Miles Francis ponders this question on a new single titled “Popular,” which features Lizzie Loveless, and Lou Tides (aka Lizzie, and Teeny Lieberson, formerly of TEEN) on background vocals.

Discussing the song in a statement, Francis said, “Everyone indulges in having an ego, and wanting to be recognized, but men seem particularly bent on the power element – whether it’s taking up space in a room, or leading a country.”

To celebrate the release of “Popular,” Francis took to the streets of NYC, giving live performances on the back of a pickup truck. If you missed the drive-by concert, there’s also a fantastic video for the indie pop-rock song which you can check out right here.

* On their latest single, Brooklyn-based band LVCHLD has a simple question with a deep backstory, as they ask, “Baby, Won’t You Pass Me the Light?”

LVCHLD is led by singer, songwriter, poet, and multi-instrumentalist Leo Becker Liebeskind, who discussed the song in a statement, saying, “I wrote ‘Baby, Won’t You Pass Me the Light?’ on the 2 train, walking through the 14th street station, and then the F train — crazy story, I know. I was terribly infatuated with someone who I could tell it was never gonna work out with, but we got high together, a lot, and so it felt like I had to write a song about coming to terms with just asking her to pass me a lighter, if nothing else – taking people and relationships as they are, something like that.”

He says the song “took about 5 minutes to write, and about 5 years to record,” adding, “I’m proud of the track that it’s finally become, and I’m excited to see it enter the world.”

While Leo’s love might have been unrequited, your love of “Baby, Won’t You Pass Me the Light?” will most definitely be appreciated.

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 – So Happy Together?
Monday, September 13, 2021

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 Drake’s latest major collaboration, to who Nichole Scherzinger might not be reconnecting with, to what happened when Guns N’ Roses and Dave Grohl teamed up, and since this is Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.

* Drake will be collaborating with ESPN to curate music for ten Monday Night Football games this season. I guess the one sports jersey Drake doesn’t own is Colin Kaepernick’s.

* Britney Spears’ father has filed to end the controversial court conservatorship that has allowed him to control the singer’s life and money for the past 13 years. Britney’s little sister better run like hell, because papa’s about to come for those Zoey 101 checks!

* Nicole Scherzinger, of Pussycat Dolls fame, is being sued by Robin Antin, the choreographer who first assembled the group, for threatening to walk away from PCD’s upcoming reunion plans unless her 49% share is increased to 75%, and she is given complete creative control. I hope this kind of thing doesn’t affect any potential Space Teens reunions.

* Amazon Prime will be releasing a new documentary on Maple Leif Garrett, aka Justin Bieber, titled Justin Bieber: Our World. The film will focus on Bieber’s New Year’s Eve concert that rang in 2021. It is also yet another reminder of why I don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime.

* Guns N’ Roses, and surprise guest Dave Grohl, were performing the GnR classic “Paradise City” at Napa Valley’s BottleRock music festival when local authorities took over, cutting the speakers as the band went past the festival’s 10pm curfew. {insert joke about sour grapes here}

* The MTV VMAs took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY this past Sunday. If the awards had accurately reflected current programming on the channel, every trophy would’ve gone to Ridiculousness.

 
Click to enlarge

* An artist who didn’t hit the stage at the VMAs this year was Lorde. She was originally scheduled to perform, but according to the official VMAs Twitter account, changed plans “Due to a change in production elements.” I love how vague that is. It could mean they couldn’t agree on when she’d go on, or that she was suddenly going to be required to be set on fire.

* The Jonas Brothers debuted a new single titled “Who’s In Your Head” during a recent concert. The song will be hitting streaming services this Friday, and for the record, I have no idea who’s in my head, the voices won’t tell me their names.

* Eddie Vedder announced he’ll be releasing a new solo album titled Earthling (release date TBA). The outer space community can’t be happy with that album title. I swear, if Eddie Vedder starts an intergalactic war I’m gonna have to knock Ten down a few slots on my all-time great albums list. I’m just kidding. Ten is a classic, and not even intergalactic warfare can change that.

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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3 Reasons You Should See The Dales Live
Friday, September 10, 2021

I first saw The Dales back in March of 2020 at StageOne at FTC in Fairfield, CT. We had a fantastic interview before the show (you can revisit that interview here), shared a few drinks, and then the three part harmony Americana/folk band hit the stage and provided a euphoric vibe for the night.

At the time, I was going to write a review of their live show in addition to the interview, but a few days after the show the entire world came to a screeching halt due to the pandemic. With no live music, I felt it didn’t make a lot of sense to talk about seeing a band live.

Thankfully, live music is back, and the other week I saw The Dales again, this time at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC, and once again the band blew me away.

So finally, after over a year of wanting to write this, here are three reasons why you should see The Dales live.

1. They combine a relaxed vibe, and an upbeat good time 

I know it may seem antithetical, the idea that something can be both relaxed and upbeat, but this is the magic of The Dales. Their three part harmony washes over you, stripping away all of your stresses from the outside world, while their music gets you out of your seat and moving.

It’s like a musical cleansing, but without any of the weird tea being hawked by social media influencers.

2. You’re pretty much guaranteed to enjoy yourself 

Having seen The Dales perform for audiences in two states, including the notoriously difficult to impress NYC crowd, I can say with fairly good authority that everyone, no matter how they’re feeling when they enter the venue, leaves a Dales show with a smile on their face.

A panacea for the present, it’s impossible to feel high strung – even in NYC – in the presence of The Dales’ California cool.

3. They have a whole lotta new music 

The Dales trio of Preston Pope, Jackie Tozzi, and Drew Lawrence spent the majority of the pandemic penning new tunes, which means even if you’ve seen them live in the past, they have a plethora of new songs – new songs that can only be heard live – to check out.

This also leads me to believe no two sets are going to be the same, which is pretty great for those of us who would be more than happy to see The Dales multiple times per year … or even per week!


To find out when, and where, The Dales will be performing next, check out their website, or Facebook page, for show dates.

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NYC Scene Report – ALMA, Nation of Language, & The Death Set
Wednesday, September 08, 2021

This week’s NYC Scene Report features ALMA heading out for the “Mornight,” Nation of Language piecing together “This Fractured Mind,” and The Death Set riding an “Elephant.”

* Brooklyn-based indie pop trio ALMA just released their debut album, Mosaic, which they describe as a personal letter to NYC, with each song giving listeners a slice of life in the city.

The single “Mornight” breaks down what it’s like to be working in the places people go to party the night away.

Discussing the song in a statement, the band said, “It’s Friday night, and while the rest of the world is getting ready for a fun night, you’re heading out to work. While nights out mean fun for those dancing on the floor, the view is a bit different when you’re the one pouring the drinks. ‘Mornight’ flips the script on a classic night out. While the music is produced in a dance, Top 40 style, the story follows our main character from the moment she wakes up in the early evening, (through) her bartender night shift.”

Parties aren’t parties for those punching a clock, and with “Mornight” ALMA has done a masterful job of crafting a song you can truly enjoy, while still commiserating with the protagonist. Check it out.

* Speaking of tough jobs, the latest single from Brooklyn-based band Nation of Language was inspired by some uninspiring side gigs songwriter/vocalist Ian Devaney once had.

Titled “This Fractured Mind,” Devaney explained how the song came together, saying, “After I dropped out of college I spent a number of years delivering pizzas, and waiting tables, while I lived at home and tried to get a music career going. One ends up spending a lot of time contending with unrealized dreams, and feeling jealousy towards those who have moved on. There’s an inferiority complex that can set in, which if unchecked, can lead down a pretty bitter and self-destructive road. This is a song for driving down that road, as indecision, and longing, and regret cycle together into mania, until finally, at the end, quiet acceptance and peace wash over.”

“This Fractured Mind” is off Nation of Language’s upcoming sophomore album, A Way Forward, due out November 5th. The band is currently on a North American tour, and will be going on an international tour in January.

Check out the video for “This Fractured Mind,” and enjoy the synth pop-rock goodness of Nation of Language.

* NYC, by way of Australia, punk rock band The Death Set are back after a long hiatus, and they’re making their return with the frantic single “Elephant.”

“Elephant” is off The Death Set’s upcoming full length album, How To Tune A Parrot, which is due out this Friday, and is the first full length release from the band since 2011.

The Death Set’s own Johnny Siera directed, and edited, the video for “Elephant,” which the band describes as, “A satirical exploration of his brain’s twisted desire to self-sabotage after seven years of sobriety, meditation, and a plethora of self-care routines.”

The two minute song moves at an insane pace, so click play and get ready to have a serious dose of hyperactivity run through your body … but in a good way!

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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Stayin’ Alive – Stamford’s Two Outdoor Concert Series are Back in Action
Tuesday, September 07, 2021


Sugar Ray at Alive@Five in 2014
 

When Norwalk, CT-based R&B singer Omar Wilson hits the stage tomorrow at Wednesday Nite Live to open for Chaka Khan, he knows what to expect – he opened for Boyz II Men at Alive@Five back in 2015 – but after the pandemic kept him and every other artist from being in front of a crowd for over a year, he has one word to describe what it’s going to feel like to once again look out at a sea of smiling faces ready to have a good time – “Breathtaking!!”

Alive@Five, and Wednesday Nite Live (formerly Jazz-Up July) have been staples of the summer in Stamford for nearly 25 years. Alive@Five typically features acts that skew towards a younger audience, with this year’s lineup including Third Eye Blind, and Ludacris, while Wednesday Nite Live is for a slightly older crowd, with Jefferson Starship, Village People, and the aforementioned Chaka Khan among this year’s acts. 

 

 
This year’s lineups (click to enlarge) 
 
 
Booking this year’s shows was a unique experience, as it had to be done before anyone knew when live music would be able to return.

Normally a July/August affair, Annette R. Einhorn, who is the Director of Events and Marketing for Stamford Downtown Special Services District, says September became the target month for 2021, noting, “We thought it would be a safer time frame to conduct the concerts.”

While Einhorn had no trouble booking all the dates, Wilson admits the uncertainty of COVID had him wondering if this would be yet another cancelled show.

Thankfully, everything has worked out, and Wilson is thrilled, saying having these shows throughout September is “definitely needed for people’s sanity,” adding, “I think it will do amazing things for everyone’s spirit.”

Conor Horrigan, who is the Founder and Chief Hoptimist at Half Full Brewery, which is a first time sponsor of Alive@Five and Wednesday Nite Live this year, agrees with Wilson’s sentiment, saying he feels the shows are “huge for the community,” adding, “Anything that brings people together regularly, and gives them something to look forward to, is great for the Stamford community.”

 

 
Omar Wilson performing at Alive@Five in 2015
 

Longtime concert goers will notice a few changes to this year’s proceedings. First off, people can purchase tickets in advance rather than having to attempt to get to the gates as early as possible. Second, another thing that can, and in this case has to be done in advance is the new requirement of proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the show.

Perhaps the biggest change, however, is the location, as the shows have moved to Mill River Park.

“Conversations were happening prior to COVID about the possibility of moving to Mill River Park,” Einhorn explains, “COVID solidified our decision to make the move … to give everyone plenty of room to spread out, and give everyone the space they need to enjoy the concerts safely.”

Wilson loves the community-based outdoor shows, saying the crowd is “a mosaic on full display,” noting the concerts are a “social gathering of all nationalities having a good time, and bonding, despite our physical differences.”

We all have music in common, and Wilson, and a host of others, are ready to get us together throughout September, and bring summer to a close on a joyous high note.

 

For more info on Alive@Five, and Wednesday Nite Live, go to stamford-downtown.com, and for tickets to shows, click here.

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Pop Shots – Home Improvement
Monday, September 06, 2021

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 bringing Mariah Carey home for the holidays, to Harry Styles telling fans what they need to do if they don’t want to stay at home, to Bruno Mars having inspired people to get out of their homes, and since this is Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.

* Funko has created a Mariah Carey Christmas figure. In a related story, there are gonna be some f*cked up manger scenes this holiday season.

* Taylor Swift is celebrating the one year anniversary of the release of Folklore with a merch collection that will be available at Urban Outfitters. Ah yes, cuz nothing says great anniversary party like making all the guests pay for everything. It’s like the complete opposite of an open bar.

* Shawn Mendes has joined the TV adaptation of the video game Life is Strange as executive producer. Since my video game playing days ended long ago, I have never heard of Live Is Strange, but I do know that people are strange when you’re a stranger, and faces look ugly when you’re alone.

* Harry Styles announced he’s requiring fans to provide proof of vaccination, or proof of a negative COVID test, before attending his upcoming shows. The vax thing is gonna be difficult since I’m pretty sure it still isn’t approved for people under 12.

* Demi Lovato, fresh off turning 29, decided to get another hand tattoo. The ink is of a lyric from the Infinite Universe song “Beautiful Chorus,” with the words surrounded by stars and planets. I have a birthday coming up next month, but I like my hands the way they are, and the only way I’ll have stars on them is if I trip and fall into a case of Lucky Charms.

* KISS was forced to postpone at least four dates of their End of the Road tour when frontman Gene Simmons tested positive for COVID. COVID is now in danger of being infected with Gene Simmons.

* Drake surprised the sister of a superfan with a much needed wheelchair accessible van. This is an incredibly thoughtful, and generous act, but he has to know we’re all thinking about his Degrassi character right now, right?

* After playing eight shows in July and August, Bruno Mars saw his Bruno Mars at Park MGM residency, which launched at the end of 2016, surpass the $50 million mark in earnings. This means he can now afford all classic funk and soul samples his heart desires, so maybe we’ll get another “Uptown Funk.”

* Speaking of artists who love to sample other people’s work, Olivia Rodrigo saw her debut album, Sour, ascend back up to #1 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart with 84,000 copies sold in the U.S. for the week ending August 26th. Of that sum, vinyl sales accounted for 76,000 copies. Her fan base, however, will be disappointed to learn their copy of Sour won’t fit on their record player.

* Kanye West’s latest album, Donda, had 60 million first-day U.S. streams on Apple Music, setting a one-day record for the streaming service for 2021. I know what you’re thinking, and I’m thinking it, too – 60 million people use Apple Music???

* In more Kanye-related news, Soulja Boy claims he had a verse cut from Donda, and called Kanye out in an extended rant on social media. Hey, anyone else remember diss tracks? It’s how real rappers publicly address beefs.

* Finally, after a four year hiatus, one of my favorite bands, The Summer Set, are back! Check out their new single, “Street Lightning.” Personally, I think it sounds like they picked up right where they left off, and that’s a beautiful thing.

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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