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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This week’s edition of the NYC Scene Report features the triumphant returns of atmospheric electronic music duo The Mast, and the ever soulful Nat Osborn Band, as well as the emcee skills of Ciphurphace, and the latest from electro-pop duo Stranger Cat.
* The Mast's Pleasure Island was my favorite album of 2014, so you know I'm stoked that the atmospheric electronic music duo released more music yesterday, this time in the form of an EP that is simply titled 1.
1 was born from a series of improvisational sessions The Mast live-streamed from their studio. It's a very cool concept, and it worked out really nicely as a way of capturing the vibe of their live performances, which are nothing short of incredible.
Below is "1a," which is the first track on the EP. Click play, and let it take you far away from whatever my be on your mind.
* Moving from a 2014 favorite, to a 2013 fave, Nat Osborn Band's The King and the Clown came in first on my best albums of 2013 list, and after a few international tours, and a whole lot of life lived, the soulful, jazzy, funky, Osborn and his band are back with a three song EP simply titled Nat Osborn Band EP.
Produced by Alex Bilo, and mixed by Scott Jacoby, both of whom are longtime collaborators of Osborn's, the band recorded the rhythm tracks at the legendary NYC recording studio The Magic Shop.
Osborn remembers the session, saying, "It was a great scene. Lots of musicians who have played in the band, or are friends of the band but who weren't actually recording, were hanging in the studio adding to the vibe. David Bowie had just wrapped his record there, so there were tidbits of their sessions lying around, and that energy was still present."
The content of the EP is largely drawn from Osborn's personal life, this includes the song "Too Late," which he describes as, "A reflection of my feeling of watching revolution, and world changing events, happen from the comfort of a computer screen. It's largely a reaction to slacktivism, and as much a personal call as it is a public one.
Check out "Too Late," and catch Osborn and crew on their upcoming tour.
* What I’m about to tell you will blow a lot of minds who have been raised to think mixtapes are nothing more than compilation albums. DJ Grapla, and Space Lab emcee Ciphurphace, who have dubbed themselves swAZians aka The Asian Gang Starr, have released a mixtape that truly lives up to the title, as it's an actual mix!
The project, titled The "Bish Prees" Mixtape, features 22 Ciphurphace songs, and four Moonshine Burrito tracks, the latter being the collaborative effort between Ciphurphace and Jake Palumbo, all mixed and blended by DJ Grapla.
Ciphurphace remembers how the project came together, saying, "Several months ago, my DJ, Grapla, tagged me on a video post of this Korean cat being interviewed at a StarCraft Convention. The interviewer asks the Korean dude, 'Did you ever think you were gonna lose?' The response from the Korean dude was, 'Bitch please.' Asian translation – 'Bish prees.' The video is hilarious! Then one day we had a conversation about putting out a new mixtape and the first thing that came to mind was 'bish prees.' I was like 'Yoooo!!! Yooooo!!! Let's call it The 'Bish Prees' Mixtape!!!' Grapla loved it.
Check out the Moonshine Burrito track "Burrito Revival" off of The "Bish Prees" Mixtape, and enjoy some first class emceeing.
* Many believe great hardship produces great art. For Stranger Cat's Cat Martino, her great art has come from overcoming great hardship.
This is the story behind Stranger Cat’s full length debut, In The Wilderness. The album features music crafted by the duo of Martino and Sven Britt that is simultaneously dark, and triumphant. It's dark in that it covers an especially difficult time in Martino's life. It's triumphant in that the writing of album helped get her out of that difficult time.
That time was the summer of 2012, during which Martino says, "I was living a bad dream, or a good country song. I lost my man, I lost my job, had no money to live on. I could barely make music, save for some simple sounds into my microphone and loop pedal, which offered some comfort. I was smoking heavily, drinking a lot of vodka from my freezer, and taking pills just to sleep with all the pain (of a neuromuscular illness)."
An old friend saw what she was going through and brought her out to Northern California. Martino remembers, "She picked me up from SFO airport, got one sight of my sorry, sleepless, smoky ass, and said, 'That's it, I'm taking you to the ocean before anything else.' She drove us straight to these massive cliffs with the sea beyond and we tore our clothes off and ran in. It was a beyond-baptismal and joyful catharsis. A memory of that is where 'Unzip Your Skin' emerged from."
Give "Unzip Your Skin" a listen right here.
For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.