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 NYC Scene Report features a soulful “Painkiller” from singer-songwriter Jennifer Denali, a smooth “Labyrinth” from Lingua Funqa, a funky Unknown Caller you should pick up the phone for, and a “Fake Sweater” from rockers Bethlehem Steel.
* If you’re looking for a dope, soulful jam, NYC-based singer-songwriter Jennifer Denali has a “Painkiller” she can prescribe to you.
“Painkiller” is Denali’s debut single, and it comes straight from the heart. She explained the inspiration for the song, saying, “‘Painkiller,’ for me, is about losing a person to addiction and the irony of turning to your own addictions to get through the loss. It's about needing more and more. In a way, ‘Painkiller’ means it’s too painful to feel. What used to numb the pain no longer does. It's the never-ending cycle and how hard it is to break. I think it’s human nature to want a shortcut to a temporary high, but for a permanent low.”
Denali continued, adding, “I wrote it because I've seen it and experienced it myself. It's obviously an epidemic in our world. I wrote it because it’s real and it’s true. I wrote it because that’s my way of getting through.”
Sometimes great pain leads to great art, and that’s certainly the case with “Painkiller.” Check out the video, and catch the vibe.
* Speaking of vibes, this week we have the return of Brooklyn-based funk-pop outfit Lingua Funqa, as they look to navigate a “Labyrinth.”
No, David Bowie isn’t at the end of this maze, but plenty of smooth, and funky grooves lead the way.
Lingua Funqa’s final release of 2018, the project’s creator, Axel Roland, explains the song has actually been a long time in the making. “It’s based on a little 2-chord riff that I came up with what feels like a thousand years ago at Berklee College,” he said in a statement, “by that metric, it's probably the oldest of all Lingua Funqa tracks!”
With more music on the way in 2019, check out the video for “Labryrinth,” and hear why Roland describes himself as a jazzhead gone pop.
* You know how you usually let your phone go to voicemail when the Caller ID says “Unknown Caller”? Well, if it’s Brooklyn-based artist Unknown Caller on the line you should definitely pick up the phone.
Unknown Caller recently released his second single, “See You Again,” and it’s a smooth, funky jam. Alex Lichtenstein, the braintrust behind Unknown Caller, explained the inspiration for the song, saying, “‘See You Again’ is about people and places that appear in your life – perhaps briefly, perhaps enduring – and impact your worldview in a way you don’t always realize in the moment. There’s something refreshing about the spontaneity of certain interactions, especially during a period where every connection is trackable. The meaning also parallels never being able to see a person again because of change, but there’s a certain beauty in remembering them as they once were.”
Give “See You Again” a spin, and expect to see Unknown Caller in this column again in 2019.
* Chances are someone’s going to give you a sweater for Christmas. Here’s the good news – it might be Bethlehem Steel’s “Fake Sweater.”
“Fake Sweater” is off the band’s split EP with fellow Brooklyn rockers Washer, which was released on November 30th.
Bethlehem Steel frontwoman, Becca Rsykalczyk, discussed the song in a statement, saying it’s “a song about trying to define your sadness while also being fine with letting it just be what it is; trusting in yourself that you're strong enough to find the light.”
The band has a show at Bowery Ballroom on January 18th with split EP cohorts Washer, as well as Big Ups, and Guerilla Toss. To get ready for it, try on their “Fake Sweater.”
For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.