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 indie soul-pop duo Gemma being your “Only One,” indie pop band Barrie finding inspiration at the impound, an ambitious new video from the musical melange that is Sinkane, and singer-songwriter Caicos hooking us up to his Dream Machine.
* With a unique blend of retro-pop and modern R&B, you could say that when it comes to NYC’s indie music scene, Brooklyn-based duo Gemma are the “Only One” with such a sound. “Only One” also happens to be the name of their latest single, which is off their sophomore album, Feeling’s Not A Tempo, due out May 31st via Double Double Whammy.
Gemma’s Felicia Douglass says of the project, “A lot of the lyrics are things I dream of saying. They hint at taking a chance, just going for it. Something I’ve always had trouble with, with logic and practicality as factors.”
In a statement, the production half of Gemma, Erik Gundel, who also happens to be a music therapist, explained the title of the album – which came to Douglass in a dream – saying, “The way you’re feeling at any point can be frustratingly arhythmic. (The album’s title is) a direct acknowledgement and acceptance of this fact of life. Riding out the shifts in tempo can be incredibly difficult and scary, and just being aware that it will change – without knowing the new BPM – can be comforting when you’re in the thick of it.”
Continuing the thought, Douglass adds, “Not everything can be bound to a grid. There’s much more to discover in the chaos if you let go.”
Enjoy the beautiful chaos of Gemma’s “Only One.”
* Brooklyn-based five-piece Barrie have become a column favorite here at the NYC Scene Report, and we expect to be hearing a lot more from them throughout the year, as they just released their full length debut, Happy To Be Here.
The latest single off Happy To Be Here is “Darjeeling,” which Barrie frontwoman Barrie Lindsay explains has a relatable origin story. “The opening line of the song – the city towed my car the first night I got in – is true. My car got towed when I first moved to New York. The first night I hung out with (fellow band members) Spurge and Noah, we went to this warehouse party in Bushwick on the train tracks, which was totally new to me. My car was in Manhattan, and when I went back to find it at 3 AM it was gone. So I walked along the West Side Highway to the impound lot. At 4 AM it was this eerie wasteland of abandoned cars.”
Lindsay continued, “It was in the honeymoon phase of moving to New York, and I remember feeling very happy and surreal in the tow lot. I’ve had a lot of experiences like that in the city, and I think I had that feeling in mind with this song — it’s kind of a collection of those vignettes.”
Speaking as someone who has also had to make the long walk to the impound lot in the wee hours of the night/morning, it’s ridiculously impressive that Barrie turned that experience into something as beautiful as “Darjeeling.”
* There’s one thing you can always count on with each new release from Sinkane – it’s going to be musically adventurous. The Ahmed Gallab led collective’s seventh album, Dépaysé – which is French for “to be removed from one’s habitual surroundings” – is due out May 31st, and the first single is the inspiring “Everybody.”
The video for “Everybody” was filmed in Brazil, and the clip’s director, Bruno Ferreira, described his experience working on the project, saying, “This film is incredibly emotional and personal to me. The people I met during filming taught me to smile and dance, even in the midst of a daily life oppressed and undignified by politics and those who consider themselves superior. They are tired of fighting, and yet they fight every day. They are the heroes of the film. They are the heroes of life.”
Check out “Everybody.” It’s sure to move you in a multitude of ways.
* Caicos is the solo project of NYC-based singer-songwriter Alex Frenkel, who you may be familiar with from his time as one of the principal songwriters for the indie band Gospels. His second solo EP, Dream Machine, is due out May 31st via Very Jazzed Records, and the lead single is “Genesis.”
If you’ll pardon the pun, “Genesis” sounds like the start of something big. It features a great indie-pop-rock sound, and at times is downright hypnotic … hmm, maybe that’s the initial stage of being hooked up to Caicos’ Dream Machine. If it is, hook me up, because I want some more!
Give “Genesis” a play, and I think you’ll feel the same way.
For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.