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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We’ve reached the end of the year, and you know what that means – it’s time for my top ten albums, live performances, and interviews of the past twelve months! Strap in, and get ready, because here we go!
Top Ten Albums of 2016
1. The Summer Set – Stories For Monday
Musically, The Summer Set’s Stories For Monday is pop punk meets the 80s, with influences that include everyone from Bruce Springsteen, to Bryan Adams, to John Mellencamp, to a-ha. Lyrically, Brian Logan Dales continues to be a truly incredible songwriter about life, relationships, and growing up.
2. Tancred – Out of the Garden
Tancred, a female fronted, Massachusetts-based, band, has a sound that’s modern indie rock mixed with ‘90s Veruca Salt / The Breeders, and every song on Out of the Garden is a winner.
3. Larkin Poe – Reskinned
Larkin Poe are roots rock sisters, with country influences, and with Reskinned they gave listeners an album that gets better with every spin.
4. Gurus – Unconditional Surrender
An incredible album revolving around the concept of cults, Unconditional Surrender is the brainchild of Brooklyn-based indie band Gurus. Think Depeche Mode meets occasionally terrifying lyrics.
5. Matt Bennett – Terminal Cases
Indie rock album born out of the personal pain of divorce, and a love of Robin Williams films, and Lou Reed, Matt Bennett’s Terminal Cases hits hard, and warrants multiple listens.
6. Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman
Ariana Grande has released three albums. All three of those albums have made my year end top ten lists. Dangerous Woman is yet another example of her incredible vocal prowess.
7. Tove Lo – Lady Wood
Tove Lo is an artist who has every right to be in the “queen of pop” conversation, and while Lady Wood flew a bit under the radar, it’s a true pop gem.
8. Kemba – Negus
Personal, political, and damned near perfect album from Kemba, one of NYC’s top hip-hop artists, Negus is one of the best, and most important, hip-hop albums of the past half decade.
9. The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome
The Rolling Stones went back to their roots and recorded an album of classic blues covers. Not surprisingly, it’s fantastic.
10. The Motor Tom – Super Sexy Space Station
One of NYC’s most raucously fun live bands, The Motor Tom managed to capture their wild times on Super Sexy Space Station. The band likes to claim they make “dumb music for smart people,” but they actually make great music for anyone who likes their indie rock with a heaping dose of personality.
Honorable Mentions: Rituals of Mine – Devoted, Lady Gaga – Joanne, A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here, Thank You For Your Service, The Struts – Everybody Wants, Lights – Midnight Machines
Top Ten Albums of 2016 Playlist
FYI, if you’ve never used a YouTube playlist before, you can skim through tracks using the drop down menu at the top left hand side of the video, or by viewing the playlist on YouTube.
Top Ten Live Shows of 2016
As you all know, I’m a huge fan of live music, and in 2016 I once again saw more than 100 artists/bands hit the stage (that’s pretty much been my average over the years). The following ten performances, which are arranged in date order, are the ones that stood out most.
April 6th – ALKE, & Anna Rose at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2
April 20th – The Motor Tom at The Bowery Electric
April 22nd – Kawehi, and The Weekend Riot at Mercury Lounge
May 27th – The Summer Set at The Gramercy
June 22nd – KYOSi, & I Am Snow Angel at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2
July 9th – Mother Feather at Warped Tour
July 14th – Hanson at Alive@Five in Stamford, CT
July 21st – theSHIFT at Alive@Five in Stamford, CT
September 17th – Blind Benny at The Bitter End
October 28th – Tricky, and Rituals of Mine at Webster Hall
Seven Other Memorable Nights
January 6th – herMajesty, Molly Moore, & Brandyn Burnette at Pianos
January 30th – Xombie, L Train, Newborn, & Aligns at The Studio at Webster Hall
March 5th – Shilpa Narayan, Scruffy Pearls, & herMajesty at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1
March 18th – Ex Norwegians at The Bowery Electric
May 6th – Brother Joscephus and the Love Revolution at The Acoustic
Aug 3rd – Jelly Roll, & Whitney Peyton at The Studio at Webster Hall
September 22nd – Anna Rose at The Bowery Electric
Top Ten Interviews of 2016
Lena Katina – As a huge fan of t.A.T.u. this was an awesome moment for me, and I was thrilled Lena was such an incredible interview. The fact that this turned out to be one of the most popular features I wrote all year was the icing on the cake. (Myspace)
Matt Bennett – I loved doing this interview because it was from such a unique angle. One part interview, one part advice column, Bennett used getting through his own tough times to help others who might be going through difficult situations. (Myspace)
Jelly Roll – From a writing standpoint, this was one of my favorite features in quite some time. A narrative, it combined an in-person interview I did with the country rapper, with moments from his concert later that night. (Myspace)
Logan Lynn – One of the most intense interviews I did all year, I spoke with LGBTQ artist, and activist, Logan Lynn just days after the PULSE nightclub shooting in Orlando. This is an interview that can easily bring a person to tears. (Myspace)
Tony Lucca – Not only was Tony Lucca a really fun interview, a member of his team hit me up to let me know the article featured a revelation even she didn’t know about! I love when that happens! (Myspace)
Lights – I went full music nerd with one of my personal faves, Lights, as she broke down how she makes the acoustic versions of her songs completely unique pieces. (Sonicbids)
Gin Wigmore – I have to give props to any artist who spends time telling me about their latest puppy adoption. Gin also used the adoption as an example of why her marriage works so well, which is pretty awesome, if you ask me. (Myspace)
Apathy – The Connecticut-based hip-hop artist was extremely open about his desire to see mental wellness issues taken more seriously, even speaking about his own battle with agoraphobia. (Myspace)
Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo – With stories that ranged from the time she was put in handcuffs by a police officer, to a personal fangirl moment gone bad, Kay was a kick ass interview. (Myspace)
Colbie Caillat – From singing in the bathroom, to writing on the beach, to some antics from her youth that included using a fake ID to get into shows, Colbie proved to be a fun interview. (Myspace)
Arissa Hill – This one wasn’t music related, but it was awesome speaking with Arissa from The Real World: Las Vegas (2002), and getting some insider info as to what went on behind the scenes. (Myspace)
That’s a wrap for my Best of 2016. Looking back, it was really a fantastic year for music. OK, OK, every year is a fantastic year for music if you look hard enough for great tunes. With that in mind, we should all be looking forward to what 2017 will have to offer.