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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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NYC Scene Report – Moonwalker, The Golden Grass, & more
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

This week’s NYC Scene Report features the dance-rock sounds of Moonwalker, retro-rock from The Golden Grass, indie rocker Vlad Holiday going solo, and The Double A Blues Band proving you can find the blues on Long Island.

* NY-based rock trio Moonwalker – which was formed in January of 2017, and features two-fifths of former pop-punk outfit Reckless Serenade – has signed with Standby Records, and plans on releasing their full-length debut album this summer.

In a statement, vocalist Rob Crews said of the development of Moonwalker, “Over the year we’ve made a ton of musical changes, but the one I’m most proud of is our change in attitude. With every song on this new record, we are being very unapologetic with our choices sonically and lyrically. We aren’t pulling any punches this time around. There are going to be songs that are joyous as hell, heartbreaking as hell, romantic as hell, angry as hell, and sassy as hell. As a songwriter and performer, I have never felt more liberated and I can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve been up to."

Crews continued, adding, “When people hear us, we want them to feel good. Maybe they can leave their baggage behind for a minute, be in the now, and enjoy the music.”

Click play on the video for “Serotonin,” and enjoy some Moonwalker.


* Brooklyn-based psychedelic rock trio The Golden Grass sound like they enter the stage via a time warp, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Their third full-length album, Absolutely, is due out in mid-May, and if the single “The Spell” is any indication, it’s going to be a heck of a retro-rock ride.

Speaking of rides, the band will be touring Europe from May 4th through May 12th with the Berlin-based band Heat.

If you’re in the US, and that sounds like a bit too far to travel for a show, don’t worry, you can catch The Golden Grass’ latest right here.


* Even if you don’t immediately recognize the name Vlad Holiday, you’re probably familiar with his old band, Born Cages, which rocked the city for the better part of a decade, and toured extensively, including being on the bill for 2015 edition of Warped Tour.

Holiday is now embarking on a solo career. For some this may seem like a scary proposition, but not for Holiday, who’s version of scary includes fleeing his birthplace of Bucharest, Romania after his family received death threats from their government.

With that in mind, working on a solo project doesn’t seem quite so daunting.

Holiday is currently putting in that work in his studio in Greenwich Village, and he recently released the first taste of his new music, a single titled “Children,” that you can listen to right here.


* Long Island isn’t exactly a traditional hub for blues music, but The Double A Blues Band are looking to change that. The Ahmad Ali led group released an album of plugged in blues earlier this year titled Standing on the Shoulders of the Blues, and you’d never know the foursome hail from the former, and future, home of the Islanders.

With a focus on paying tribute to the blues greats who paved the way, the band recently released the single “Riverhead,” which features fantastic guitar work, and soulful vocals.

Click play on the video, and check out some blues that are straight outta Long Island.


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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Stacking The Deck with Young Thieves
Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.

With a sound that’s pop in your headphones, and rock on the stage, Young Thieves are a band aiming to steal the spotlight in NYC’s indie music scene.

Consisting of Andrew Lynch, Alexandra Amor, Johnny Coryn (pictured L to R), and Dmitry Libman (not pictured), Young Thieves is actually a band of veterans, as Amor saw streaming success as a solo artist, and Lynch, Coryn, and Libman hit the stage at Warped Tour before linking up with Amor.

The foursome feel that while their other projects were rewarding, they’ve truly found themselves musically with Young Thieves. They recently released their first single, “What You Want,” after a full year together, and Amor enthusiastically calls the band, “The best experience I’ve ever had with music.”


I caught up with 3/4 of Young Thieves at the Think Coffee at the corner of Bleecker and Bowery to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about meeting Madonna, balancing classic and modern influences, and who was buying all those Nickelback albums.



Madonna

Do you have a Madonna story?

Alexandra: I do have a Madonna story, actually. I was able to meet her at her Project Revolution event.

I’m good friends with her sound engineer. It was awesome.

Her show was broadcast live on these projectors across the world at secret locations so her super fans were able to go watch it, and she only performed it once live, which was in New York City, and I was able to see it. She was definitely phenomenal.

And you met her. Did she have crazy rules about that?

Alexandra: I had just dyed my hair brunette at that time, and she only stands by brunette girls because she wants the blonde to stand out in press photos, so she was standing next to me, and one of my best friends, Kira, in all the photos. It’s pretty cool. I got to stare at the back of her head pretty close.

Andrew: That’s quite a level of stardom, deciding who you can and cannot stand next to. That’s gotta be pretty top tier.

So if anyone reads this, and is going to a meet and greet with Madonna, dye your hair.

Andrew: Wear a wig.



Bullet Boys

Andrew: Bullet Boys are, in a nutshell, what we would all look like if we all had really awesome ‘80s blowout hairdos.

Alexandra: And if I was a dude.

Andrew: Well, some of these guys look like girls.

Johnny: They all look like girls, basically, so it doesn’t matter.

Andrew: There’s definitely some androgynous sort of thing happening here.

Alexandra: I feel like you guys did have that hair, both of you guys, at one point.

Andrew: Oh yeah, my hair used to be real long, real real long.

If they made these outfits as pajamas, how many of us would get them?

Alexandra: All of us.

Andrew: I mean, I already own this, so for me it’s more like when am I gonna wear it.

Johnny: From the LA Gear collection.

Andrew: I’m still trying to find the right platform shoes to go with it. It’s kind of like an outfit in progress.



Run-DMC

Johnny: Everyone loves Run-DMC, they’re super great.

(Their music) reminds me of first moving to New York City (in 2010), and going on the trains. I was a fan of Wu-Tang and other East Coast rappers, but it was cool listening to hip-hop based in New York City while you’re going through the city. Run-DMC is the shit, man.



Huey Lewis

Andrew: He’s got a fantastic voice, a fantastic sound … I’m a big fan of him. The guitar playing on all that stuff if really good, too. A guy named Chris Hayes (was the guitarist).

A lot of the guys in the band don’t get a lot of the talk, or the rep, that they need. They’re a really really good band.

Johnny: My dad had this in the CD player all the time and he used to blast it.

Did he go full American Psycho when he put it on, and give a lengthy explanation of why it’s a great album?

Johnny: Oh no. He had no idea. My dad likes music, but if you ask him why he’s just like, “I like it, I don’t know.”

Do you each have an album that you can give the American Psycho treatment to, where you put it on and you want to give full descriptions the entire time, possibly while murdering someone, possibly not?

Andrew: Sure. I could do that with their album Sports. Great record. I feel like they really found themselves creatively.

Alexandra: Amy Winehouse. I have her on vinyl. I play it all the time. Back to Black.

Andrew: I really like the Eagles a lot. I’m sorta like a classic guy with my music taste. I like all kinds of stuff, but the classic stuff definitely gets me.

So you’re more likely to put on a Zeppelin album, or a Queen album, than something current.

Andrew: Exactly, but I try to listen to everything, especially being in this band, you need to stay current. I don’t think that you can draw everything you need off of old stuff, you gotta get a nice blend, but I definitely bring, especially with my guitar playing, I think I’m influenced by a lot of older stuff. I tend to stick with the classics. I dig that.



Soundgarden

This one’s a little sad.

Andrew: Soundgarden is a little sad. I would actually be curious to see how long ago it was that Chris Cornell passed away, because it feels like it was a month ago, but it was probably like a year ago.

I feel like the way that things are today, something major happens, and it’s the topic of discussion until something else major happens and pushes it out of the limelight, and that’s just kinda how everybody is now with social media, and news, and stuff like that.

I feel like (his passing) was a huge deal, and then everyone kinda moved on. It definitely was a big deal, though, especially for me. I like a lot of rock music, and I remember the reaction from the rock community was pretty intense. You never realize how much of an impression somebody has on a lot of other musicians that you like. Even though Soundgarden was never really my favorite band, I think that I listen to a lot of people who were probably influenced by, or in the same sort of wheelhouse as them.

Johnny: They’re always playing on classic rock stations, too.

Andrew: Honestly, all that stuff is probably one generation before me. I think me getting into anything like that, or even getting into Nirvana, was more of a post thought for me. I think that was just five years before me.

Once again, you have classic influences.

Andrew: I feel like that’s just from me playing guitar.

When you pick up an instrument does that happen, do you almost immediately start digging deeper?

Andrew: I think for guitar, I used to get Guitar World magazine a lot when I was younger, and there were definitely articles in there about modern people, but a lot of the things that are praised are from the ‘60s and ‘70s and ‘80s. For some reason that just happened to be the golden age of what people wanted to learn.

When I was growing up the first songs I was learning were like Ozzy Osbourne, and stuff like that. I wasn’t learning Blink-182, (although) I’m sure there were kids that were.

Johnny: My first song I learned was Creed. When I started playing drums, my first song from beginning to end was Creed. {sings} Can you take me higher!

Andrew: Creed was big, dude. They were pushing really hard. They had a great run. I don’t even want to say … Nickelback.

Nickelback had an album on the charts for like four straight years, and everyone’s like, “They suck!” Well, who’s buying all these records then?

Johnny: My uncle is.

Andrew: Everyone’s lying. Everyone’s saying that they’re not good, and secretly going to the record store right after that and buying the album.

Johnny: My uncle’s like, “Let me put on some background music,” and it’s Nickelback. Love ya uncle John.



George Michael

Johnny: ‘80s music is awesome. Wham! was the shit.

George Michael was awesome. I definitely like his music.

He also changed genres a lot. Have you guys done any genre hopping? Is that something you want to do?

Andrew: It’s tough to say now because we’re still trying to make our mark. I feel like we’ve definitely started things, found our focus of what we want to sound like, and I think anyone would have to establish that before you ever decide to branch into something new.

But before this band you all had other projects. How different were those projects from Young Thieves?

Alexandra: Completely, but it’s cool because we fused the different elements together, and also put a dance twist on it.

I was straight soul, then we incorporate the rock elements of (the band), so our tracks, when you listen to them, they’re mainstream, they’re very radio friendly, but then when you see us live it’s a totally different show because you have all the rock elements, and they fuckin’ shred. It’s really cool because you get two different experiences.

Andrew: I think everybody went into this trying to satisfy something that maybe they weren’t getting out of what they were doing before. I know me, Johnny, and Dmitry were in a band and kinda wanted to change things up, and change our sound a little bit. Then we were able to meet Alex, and sort of give her a platform to really express herself, and maybe branch out. We all love the fact that she had neo-soul influences, and R&B influences, and we met in the middle in a way.

If it wouldn’t have worked it definitely wouldn’t have worked.

Alexandra: {laughs}

Andrew: The first time it would have been like OK, we are just on totally different pages. But I think we found that we really did come to this place where we were all happy about the product that we made, and being like, this is satisfying this need that I had to get to this sound that we have now.

We’re still exploring it. We aren’t so rigid in our form that every track sounds like the next track. We try to have a little bit of variance. I think that’s important, but I also think having too much variance in genre can kinda make you seem a little unfocused. You need to know what your sound is, and I feel like right now we’ve found a good balance in what we sound like.


For more Young Thieves, check them out at weareyoungthieves.com, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Pop Shots – Back In The Saddle
Monday, April 23, 2018

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 Ariana Grande being back on our radios, to Drake being back at #1 … even though he never really left, to Lauryn Hill going back out on the road, and since this is Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.

* Ariana Grande released new music this past Friday, as “No Tears Left to Cry” gave fans their first taste of something new from her since 2016’s Dangerous Woman LP. As an Ariana Grande fan, I’m excited. As a man who’s pushing 40, it’s weird to admit I’m an Ariana Grande fan.

* According to TMZ, Maple Leif Garrett, aka Justin Bieber, reportedly fought a man at a Coachella party, allegedly punching the unnamed person after seeing him grab a woman by the throat. I foresee a huge raise to whoever in Bieber’s team managed to plant this “Bieber as a tough guy feminist superhero” story.

* To no one’s surprise, Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy debuted in the top spot of the Billboard 200 albums chart this past week. I guess she can now afford a few more pairs of those bloody shoes.


* In more chart news, Drake replaced himself at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 this past week, as his song “Nice for What” debuted at #1, knocking another one of his songs, “God’s Plan” – which had spent 11 weeks at #1 – out of the top spot. This reminds me of back in 2009 when Black Eyes Peas spent 26 consecutive weeks at #1 with two of their songs, “Boom Boom Pow,” and “I Gotta Feeling.” You know, I gotta feeling that in nine years Drake’s music will be just as fondly remembered as those two hits.

* Kendrick Lamar took home the Pulitzer Prize for music for his 2017 album DAMN. This marked the first time a non-classical, non-jazz album has ever won the award. I know what you’re all thinking … how is it possible that K-Fed didn’t win for “Popozao”?

* After appearing on Dr. Phil in 2016, Danielle Bregoli, aka the “Cash Me Outside” girl, became a viral sensation, adopted the name Bhad Bhabie, and launched a rap career, for which she’s been nominated for a Billboard Music Award. Up next, according to TMZ, is a reality show, which her team is currently pitching to networks. As a thank you for helping to launch her career, she should really have Dr. Phil on her show. C’mon, you know you want to see the incredibly amazing awkwardness that would be him attending one of her concerts.


* Lauryn Hill will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill with a 20-date tour. Of course, since this is Lauryn Hill we’re talking about, all those dates are subject to whether or not she shows up before the venues close. I swear, the most glaring part of her miseducation has been her inability to read a clock.

* In an interview that was aired on Coachella’s official live stream Vince Staples decided to remind the world of R. Kelly’s exploits, calling the R&B singer a “child molester” and a “piece of fucking shit.” In a related story, R. Kelly faces a new accusation of sexual misconduct from a woman who says he infected her with an STD during an eight-month relationship that began when she was 19 years old. Through her lawyer, the woman further alleges that she was “being groomed to join Kelly’s sex cult.” I really don’t think I need to add anything to this, do I?



* Finally, because I refuse to end this column with STD, and sex cult, news, here’s the latest from Echosmith. I remember interviewing them at The Studio at Webster Hall back in 2013 when they were opening for Tonight Alive. I think it’s safe to say they’ve done pretty well since then!


And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.

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The Hues Brothers – Phantom Vibrations
Friday, April 20, 2018

Take a heaping dose of Brooklyn hip-hop, and spread it over masterful production from one of the UK’s finest, and you get The Hues Brothers, a unique musical project from longtime friends Rabbi Darkside and Mr. Simmonds.

Rabbi Darkside has been a pillar of NYC’s hip-hop community since the turn of the century, and toured the globe numerous times, while Mr. Simmonds has a similarly long resume, and equally as stamped passport. Teaming up to become The Hues Brothers, they’ve combined their favorite sonic elements hip-hop, trip-hop, jazz, and downtempo to create a new sound – a sound that can be heard on their just released album Radio Activity.

The lead single, and video, off of Radio Activity is “Phantom Vibrations,” a cautionary tale about our plugged in world. Wanting to know more about the song, and the project as a whole, I caught up with Rabbi Darkside to ask him about all things Hues Brothers.

“Phantom Vibrations” is a song about the dangers of a plugged in, screen obsessed, life. When did you find yourself caught up in this lifestyle, and have your “Whoa, I need to disconnect” moment?

There was a night when I had a dream in the form of an Instagram feed. That was a really unsettling nocturnal wake-up call, and a sign that the imprint of phone use/social media had infiltrated my subconscious.

This technology, both hardware and software, is built on principles of addiction. They are designed to hook us to information loops, to validation cravings, and are linked to neurochemical responses.

Like all addictions, when we’re in the midst of abuse it’s hard to recognize the pitch of descent. There are so many holes to fall into with screens and apps and devices.

It’s about that feeling when we’re like, “Wait, what did I even come on here to do?” Every time I get that sensation it’s a reminder to unplug.

It's one thing to recognize a problem, it's another thing to solve it, and in the third verse you look to provide some solutions. Do you have a favorite cure for "Phantom Vibrations?

It’s about conscientious consumption, and making sure devices serve us as tools, not the other way around.

I have rules and boundaries, sacred spaces I try to keep – No phones in bed. Don’t touch it till after I’ve journaled and meditated in the morning. When I go for runs I use my iPod Shuffle 2 for music, and leave the phone at home. I take a social media fast for at least a month of every year.

Ultimately, it’s about moderation, which is tough for someone like me who is a person of extremes, and a working artist who is running a label while constantly promoting events that are tied to my livelihood.

Oh, but maybe the most powerful antidote – BOOKS. Analog reading and writing.


What have been some of your favorite reactions to the song? Have you had anyone tell you it inspired them to disconnect?

More so sentiments of … “connection.” Relatability, acknowledgement of a struggle lots of us feel, especially folks of my age range who knew life sans smart phones. But my favorite reactions may be from our video director, Frankie Turiano, who responded to the quite literal song lyrics with a visual concept that is abstract, metaphoric, and kind of disturbing, and from the Layerframe team (chiefed by Eena Daou) who did all of the incredible cover art/graphic design inspired by the music. They also came up with the term “neon dystopian jazz” upon listening, which is part of the album tagline – “Neon dystopian jazz for the boom bap futurist.”

For this project you've teamed up with UK producer Mr. Simmonds, and it features a bit of a different sound for you. I know you two have known each other for a while, but what inspired you to link up and become The Hues Brothers?

Indeed, we met in 2012 in NYC.

The seeds for this project were planted between 2013-2015, in as much as that we’d built a working studio relationship, and friendship. He moved to Seattle shortly thereafter. Not long after that I was like, “Man … we’ve got some unfinished business,” and in 2017 I traveled to the Pacific Northwest.

We holed up in his lab for a week and wrote and recorded this whole project.

I’d been very intent on doing



1. A single-producer album

2. That’s sample-free
3. A conceptual record that doesn’t have my name at the forefront


So the timing was great, and we were able to bottle up a vibe that you can really only catch when it’s music sun-up to sun-down. We’d record two songs before lunch, write and compose in the afternoon, catch wreck through the late-night hours, sleep on the studio couch, wake up, repeat.

His roots are in trip-hop, downtempo, and electronic music, as much as hip-hop, and my spiritual practice was merging with my study of theoretical physics, and my writing, in a way that produced a poetry perfectly suited for his textures.




As an indie hip-hop artist, do you feel you're more free to experiment, sound-wise, than your mainstream peers, or are there just as many constrictions due to preconceived expectations?

In growing as a musician and writer, I’m trying to do something different with every project, make something that doesn’t sound like anything I’ve done, let alone anything else out there.

I’ve been on wax since ’01 and I feel like I am just beginning to hit my stride as an artist.

In terms of indie vs. mainstream … I don’t think we can really differentiate sonically anymore. There’s tons of independent music emulating what’s on the mainstream channels, and vice versa. And damn, being “indie” is a promotional platform some artists have used in illusory ways to hype their ascent to the mainstream.

The trap – hmm subliminal pun? – I see a lot artists falling into is trying to tap into a trending sound to gain mainstream traction, and sometimes that falls flat with their fan base.

As far as expectations, I think there’s a difference between experimentation and reinvention. If you’re staying true to yourself, your core audience will ride with you as it expands, and part of my aesthetic is executive producing my own albums, meaning I can stretch as far in any direction I feel.

On stage I’m taking risks I never imagined – playing piano, rocking with brass bands, singing, freaking freestyles with various vocal styles.

I’m in this for a lifetime, and plan to keep evolving. And I’m not looking solely at hip-hop for the lead here. When it comes to legacy, and catalog, I look at David Bowie, David Byrne, Patti Smith, Miles Davis, Ursula LeGuin, Prince, Herbie Hancock, Boots Riley, bell hooks, Serge Gainsbourg, as well as peers like Eena Daou, Mtume Gant, Doron Lev, and Caits Meissner –genre benders who are creatives across mediums.

At the end of the day, if what I’m doing isn’t riveting to me, it’s not worth the energy.

You spoke a lot about growth, and reinvention. With that in mind, what do you feel you got out of the writing, recording, and performing of Radio Activity?

These sessions, and this album, are synthesis and salvation.

It helped me deal with a deep depression spell that was both post-presidential election, and post-break up.

It merged my meditation practice – literally … check “Oscillation” and Google “Kum Nye” – with my sci-fi fascination, with the need to make, and to make something very different.

This album is a 30-minute ruminating reminder to the self to listen to my heart, be present in my body and in the moment, stay attuned to ancestors, and move with haste and fearlessness.

But the recordings were just the beginning. The album spawned a creative collaborative windfall, from the cover art, to the music videos, to the bonus graphics assets, to the distribution partnership with Fat Beats, and at the end of the day it’s some MC/DJ two-turntables-and-a-microphone music that I got to make with one of my brothers, which is my bread and butter, and also a balance to the other live band production album I’ve got in the oven.

It also gave me a chance to inhabit a persona in the studio for a week, and catch that voice on record.

We envisioned ourselves as post-apocalyptic time-traveling G-men – Captain Kirk meets Thelonious Monk type-ish. I got to wax poetic, political, and personal while stepping outside of my comfort zone – one of sample-based music – into another dimension – one of synths and science – which, over the course of recording, became a zone of its own.

Mr. Simmonds’ skills as producer and world-class turntablist really shine as an instrument here, that’s why this is future jazz. On “Music & Dreams” there’s a turntable solo that you can’t tell me isn’t a 2018 Futureshock riff.


You know I’m not about to let the spelling of Hues go unnoticed. Tell me about the inspiration for the colorful name.

The inspirations for the album, yes. We did some digging in Seattle when I first got there and found a record from 1954 titled The Story of Jazz written and narrated by Langston Hughes. It’s presence in the lab was constant, and it was instrumental to our creative process.

As the sound and words of the album emerged we got more deeply hooked on the concept of “hues” – the exploration of space and time, worlds beyond worlds, parallel dimensions, the DNA of hip-hop music … and the homonym magic presented itself.

Finally, you’re an international traveler, and have been around the world a number of times. What places are left on your travel bucket list, and what do you hope to see/experience there?

It’s a great big world, and I want to see it all.

I dream to go to Australia, and New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Morocco, Zimbabwe, more of the UK, but with the state of the world, and the state of this country, my focus for the next bit of time for myself, and for the Say Word team, is to hit the U.S. road.

I feel like having conversations with audiences is our duty, and we are a nation in desperate need of exchange.

I’ve invested lots of time, energy, and resources building an international rep, and touring community, but if I’m going to continue living in this country I need to fight for its soul, be an ally and advocate for change and put my body on the frontlines, as both a white person and a revolutionary artist, because all of our future plans have the “apocalypse pending” asterisk next to them, which is captured in the spirit of this album.

“Only you can save your soul / only you can save the globe,” to quote myself from “Land Mines.” And I’m not just quoting myself, I’m speaking to myself.

For more Rabbi Darkside, and The Hues Brothers, check out Radio Activity on Bandcamp, and follow Rabbi D on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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How Music Journalists Deal With All Those Albums – One Writer’s Process

Back in the days of physical album mailings, opening your mailbox to see ten CDs meant you had a lot on your plate. Today, writers can easily receive ten links to albums in an hour.

It doesn’t take a math major to figure out that it’s impossible to listen to every album when they’re coming in that quickly.

Read the full column at Hypebot.com.

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NYC Scene Report – Strangers on the Internet, Modern Whale, & more
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

This week’s NYC Scene Report features an introduction to experimental pop newcomers Strangers on the Internet, a new video from indie rockers Modern Whale, classic NYC indie rock from Sleepyhead, and fresh new hip-hop from veteran emcee Sav Killz.

* NYC indie experimental pop duo Strangers on the Internet are brand new to this column, and the world, as they recently released their debut single, “Good Problems.”

For the duo, which consists of Lilly Wolfson and Alex Neuhausen, music would seem to be in stark contrast to their daily grind as coders, although, believe it or not, their 9 to 5 jobs have an influence on their art.

Wolfson went into detail about this while discussing “Good Problems” in a statement, saying, “I started writing this song when I began my job at Bloomberg. The company’s headquarters is in a skyscraper in midtown Manhattan and the sixth floor has this massive atrium that’s like a glass temple with steel ribs. Skyscrapers remind me of churches, metal and glass stretching upward and so on, and I wanted the song to sound like a hymn in places, with choirs and piano and strings.”

She continued, adding, “My therapist once gave me this book called Bullish Thinking. It’s basically a self-help manual for financial advisors who can’t cope with the stress of their jobs. It’s got stories of finance guys who killed themselves ‘cause they lost money for their clients. Some of that stuff found its way into the lyrics – the third verse gets pretty dark.”

With a mixture of late ‘90s / early ‘00s pop, as well as alt-pop, and electro-pop, “Good Problems” is a song you’ll have on repeat as we all get acquainted with these Strangers.


* Brooklyn doesn’t seem like an ideal place to go on a whale watching expedition, but if you love indie rock, it’s where you’ll find Modern Whale.

The trio recently released a new single, titled “The Dirt,” the video for which was produced by, directed, and stars Raviv Ullman (as seen everywhere from network TV, to MTV, to Disney, to HBO), and Martin Spanjers (Grey’s Anatomy, 8 Simple Rules), and also features John Beach.

The clip takes the viewer all over NYC, but Modern Whale still call Brooklyn home, as the band formed at Meserole Sound Studio, and their founder, Rob Guariglia lives in Bushwick.

Check out the video for “The Dirt,” and enjoy this whale that lives in Brooklyn.


* Ever hear the saying – what’s old is new? Well, that’s sort of the case with ‘90s indie rock band Sleepyhead. The band formed in 1989 in an NYU dorm room, released their first 7-inch single in 1991, and reached their initial apex with the albums Starduster (1994), and Communist Love Songs (1996).

This past week both of those albums were re-released by Drawing Room Records as part of a deluxe set titled Future Exhibit Goes Here. The set features re-mastered versions of both albums on vinyl, as well as an 11×11” booklet full of Sleepyhead member Michael Galinsky’s black and white photography from the band’s time on the road in the ‘90s, plus notes and details from all three members.

If you want to know what NYC indie rock sounded like in the ‘90s – and make no mistake, it sounded good – give Sleepyhead a spin. You can check out their song “Go West!” right here.


* In NYC’s indie hip-hop scene, two qualities that have always been respected are consistency, and hustle. Sav Killz has an abundance of both, and he’s ready to show them off once again with the release of a new single titled “Gettin To It.”

While Sav Killz remains consistent with his rhymes, production-wise “Gettin To It” is a bit smoother than his usual fare, which is traditionally steeped in gritty NYC realness. That said, it’s great to hear Sav rhyme on something a little different, and his ability to do so proves why he’s been a mainstay in the scene for well over a decade.

“Gettin To It” is off of Sav’s Bangers and B-Sides 2 mixtape, which is available both with, and without, DJ drops, via the All Elements bandcamp page, and you can check out the video for it 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.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
Stacking The Deck with K.Gaines
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.

It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that with Ticket to Elsewhere K.Gaines has put together one of the most ambitious projects in indie hip-hop history.

Five EPs, each with a different producer, set to be released over the course of 2018, and with each piece of cover art coming together to create a map that can lead listeners to hidden prizes around the country, the all-encompassing effort was launched with the release of the first EP in the series, Ticket to Elsewhere.


I caught up with K.Gaines in Grand Central Station – where you can buy plenty of tickets to … well, Connecticut, and various parts of New York – to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about a forgotten hip-hop beef, fluffy music, and some well known folks who reached the height of mogul-ness.



MC Hammer

MC Hammer was the first super big mega star for rap music where he was traveling with an entourage, blew $30 million – I remember he had the pool on MTV, and they hopped in, he had all his friends there.

On top of that, he was a consummate performer.

Watching him perform, it let me know that when you go to a show it should be an experience.

I saw him a handful of years ago, and he still has an energy level that’s insane.

To me he’s the hip-hop James Brown with the energy that he would bring to every show. James Brown was still doing 200-250 shows a year before he passed. This guy still brings all that energy, especially when he had the beef with Jay-Z. I wanted to see them battle on stage where he could do a dance, and out-dance Jay, or somethin’.

When was that beef?

It wasn’t a long time ago.

Somebody said something about something, and somebody took it wrong, and he decided to write a verse about Jay-Z.

He went hard at Jay, and I think Jay might have done one or two lines (in response).



Hall and Oates

I did not expect you to pick Hall and Oates.

Two of the greatest writers. They write some of the most fantastic songs.

I love writing, and they’re up there with another great writer that I really enjoy, his name is Michael Franks.

I’ve always wondered where they got the soul coming from.

These guys have written people’s backdrops to their lives. I know a lot of babies were made off their music, too.

I’m gonna play this on the ride home. I’m gonna play nothing but Hall and Oates. That’s what’s gonna get played today.

Their greatest hits album must be a double album.

It’s gotta be almost a triple album, and they still put on a great concert, too. I would go to their concert. (I’d) put on my ‘80s outfit, my fighter pilot shades, and have a good time.



Lionel Richie

Another great writer. Another great performer. He’s still doing it to this day, and he’s in his late 60s. He’s still rockin’ concerts in Dubai, Africa, Brazil, Argentina. (He’s an) inspiration.

As someone who is releasing multiple EPs this year, are you looking forward to breaking into international markets, and potentially touring overseas?

I haven’t really done too much overseas, so I’m looking at that.

The West Coast EP I’m doing, Ticket to Elsewhere, is very drum and bass, so I’m hoping they’ll pick up on it, and they’ll like it a lot out there in Europe.

I want to make a big enough name out here in the States so that by the time I get out there they’re familiar with the music, and I don’t have to fight to get people to know it as much as I had to fight out here to get people to know it. That’s what I’m working on now.

With the internet you could very easily blow up there because it’s easier to be heard now.

Yeah, and they look for authentic hip-hop. They don’t really care about the fluffy stuff. That’s what I call the new stuff – fluffy. They care more about the authentic stuff.

Do you think it’s because it took a little longer for hip-hop to get over there? Are they in their mid to late ‘90s now?

I don’t think they’re in their ‘90s, but I’m listening to a lot of their artists now, and they have a lot of good artists who are putting out really good music. They have something to say, and I like to listen to it, and hear what they’re doing across the water.

I think with this entire project, by the time that I complete everything, I’m definitely going to be over there doing a lot of shows.

Speaking of the project, I’m interested in finding out how five EPs turn into one piece of artwork, because I would think six would be the way to do that.

Yeah, but that’s the big puzzle. If we did it in six it would be easy to put together. With five you have to figure out how they gel.

For each album I have a specific producer from that region, and I also have a visual artist from that region. The one that did the album cover for Ticket to Elsewhere is Reef Kills. He has a big name. He has his stuff in like Lloyd’s, and different auction houses. On the East Coast EP I have DJ Rob Flow doing the production, Cernesto is doing the inside art, and the guy doing it on the right is Juan Carlos, he does MetroCards and mosaics.



Paula Abdul

Sexy sexy and more sexy. I had to put a little sexy in here. I had a crush on her.

I think we all did.

And she’s a dancer. She’s still choreographing a lot of good stuff. That’s another art.

When she did the cartoon one (“Opposites Attract”), I was blown away, because as a kid the cartoon is what grabbed me, then I saw her and she was like one of my first crushes.



KISS

Branding.

The whole thing about branding, and marketing, that’s why I did what I did with the five EPs, and making it a treasure hunt, because it’s part of the brand. When you see that Ticket to Elsewhere face I’m trying to get it to the point where when people see it they automatically think about the entire project, or they think about, “What else K.Gaines got comin’?”

I’m really big on the brand, making sure that you have something that people can remember, making sure that you have something that makes people say, “I want a piece of that. Whatever he’s doing, I want a piece of.”

KISS did that to an extreme level, with KISS everything.

Yeah. To even use their songs in a movie you have to pay them an enormous amount of money.

These guys branded themselves to the point where … rock gods, that’s what they were. They were rock gods, and their status was humongous. No one can mess with them.

I’m not sure if it’s true, but I’ve heard Gene Simmons owns one of the other band member’s names.

He’s ruthless. He’s gonna do what he’s gotta do to maintain everything. That’s the crazy thing, you have to be that ruthless. Something along the lines of … you look at people like Diddy, you have to be ruthless to be at that level of mogul-ness. That’s what I call it, mogul-ness. {laughs}



Muddy Waters

And now someone who is nothing like the last two people we spoke about, Muddy Waters.

Muddy Waters, man, he’s an icon. I chose him for multiple reasons. One, his music changed how people saw music, with the blues, and jazz. Also, Redman (had an album titled Muddy Waters). That all ties in.

I have a couple of (Muddy Waters) albums. I actually have a 72 with some of his stuff on it.

Watching his story, and to see what happened to him, and how he lived his life, is something that is inspirational. He’s an inspiration to me.


For more K.Gaines, follow him on Twitter, and Instagram.


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