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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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Pop Shots – What’s On Tap
Monday, May 21, 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 what DJ Khaled is currently sipping on, to what Def Leppard’s been brewing, to Rita Ora’s controversial beverage choice, and since this is Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.

* DJ Khaled has become a brand ambassador, and partner, for the ProSupps energy drink Hyde Power Potion. Based on recent interviews with Khaled, I think we all know one thing that drink won’t give you the energy to do.

* Dr. Dre lost his trademark fight against Pittsburgh-based OBGYN Dr. Drai (Dr. Draion M. Burch), who had the airtight argument of being an actual doctor, and Drai being his actual name. There’s no word on Dr. Dre’s thoughts on Dr. Pepper, but after this my guess is he’s more of a Mr. Pibb man.

* Def Leppard have teamed up with Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Company to craft Def Leppard Pale (6% ABV), which will be available at most stops on the band’s spring/summer tour, as well as at select bars and restaurants. Being that this is Def Leppard we’re talking about, I guess it wouldn’t be appropriate to make a two-fisted-drinker joke.

* A man who broke into Rihanna’s Hollywood Hills home, and spent 12 hours there while the singer wasn’t home, has been charged with stalking. 12 hours?!?! That sounds less like stalking, and more like squatting, to me.

* Rita Ora teamed up with Charli XCX, Cardi B, and Bebe Rexha for her new single “Girls,” and immediately became the center of a controversy. The issue – the song’s chorus of, “Sometimes, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls / Red wine, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls,” which some folks interpreted as Ora saying that alcohol has to be required for same-sex love. When asked for comment, UB40 said, “Red, red wine, goes to my head / Makes me forget that I / Still need you so.”

* The Billboard Music Awards took place last night. Congrats to all the winners, who already knew they were going to win, because the awards are based on album and digital songs sales, streaming, radio airplay, touring, and social engagement. Basically, it’s the math class of music award shows.

* Pete Wentz and girlfriend Meagan Camper welcomed a daughter into the world, and gave her the name Marvel. There’s a good chance it will blow comic book fans’ minds the first time Marvel travels to D.C.

* SiriusXM is hosting an exclusive, invite-only, concert experience this June featuring U2 at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. I just hope the Sandman is working that night!

* Robert DeLong has teamed up with K.Flay for his latest single, titled “Blue,” and if we could convince radio programmers to replace one of the 80 bajillion Imagine Dragons and Ed Sheeran songs currently in rotation with this killer collab, I’d be ecstatic.

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


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
Vid Pick: Stand Atlantic – Chemicals
Friday, May 18, 2018

Australia has an impressive history of being a birthplace of great rock bands. AC/DC, INXS, Midnight Oil, Crowded House, Men At Work, and Tonight Alive all hail from down under. The latest band looking to become part of that incredible lineage is Stand Atlantic.

After one listen to their current single, “Chemicals,” it’s pretty clear they’re well on their way.

Formed in 2015, Stand Atlantic – which consists of Bonnie Fraser (vocals and guitar), David Potter (bass), and Jonna Panichi (drums) – have hit stages all over the world, and currently have two EPs to their name, the most recent being 2017’s Sidewinder.

I caught up with frontwoman Bonnie Fraser, to ask her about all things Stand Atlantic, including the inspirations behind the tattoos the band had done in their video for “Chemicals.” During our conversation Fraser also told a supremely creepy story about an incident in Poland involving a band member’s lost cell phone that could easily be the basis for a horror movie.

First off, I have to ask, is there any chance you’ve worked on combining “Chemicals” with Bush’s “Chemicals Between Us”?

Look, not gonna lie, and at the risk of being accused of living under a rock – I had never heard of that song before, so the answer to your question is no, BUT ... anything is possible???? {laughs}

What’s the story behind the scene in the “Chemicals” video where members of the band are getting tattoos? Were these planned tattoos, or random acts of body art?

Okay so two stories – Potter’s tatty is a reference to a Simpsons episode where they go to Australia.

There's this game we play called “odds,” and Potter lost, so he respected the rules and got the tat.

Jonno and myself got, in hindsight, something pretty dumb, as well, to be honest. We got a wine bottle that says “Side-WINE-der.” Basically it was a tribute to our EP (Sidewinder), because it’s changed our lives, but as well as that, we spilled wine that was inside a box of our merch on tour, ironically the ONLY shirt we were selling that had the word Sidewinder on it. So yep, just a dumb pun. {laughs} Definitely don't regret the tat, though.

You have toured all over the world. What’s the closest you’ve come to getting arrested, or accidentally causing an international incident, while on the road?

Okay, so we're fairly well behaved people, I’m not gonna lie. {laughs}

I'd say the closest story we have to this was this one time when we were in Poland. Potter’s phone got stolen and we'd managed to actually track it from my phone on the “find my iPhone” app.

We were on this wild goose chase for like an hour in the pouring rain, following his phone through these dodgy backstreets of Poland. The guys ended up at this grim apartment block knocking on this guy’s door to get him to give the phone back. They were texting him, as well, and all the messages had the “read” thing popping up. It was just so creepy.

The guys finally gave up, and as soon as they left the phone started moving again, so whoever stole his phone was just watching the guys the whole time.

Looking back, I don't know WHY we thought Potter would get his phone back.

That is super disturbing! Keeping things on the road, but far less creepy, what are some of your keys for staying happy as a band, and not at each other’s throats, while spending countless hours together in a van?

Good question! We're still a young band, I guess, so we haven’t had too many problems with this yet, but just talking to each other if one of us is having a bad day helps a lot.

Keeping occupied, and lightening the mood ALWAYS (helps).

We're constantly making fun of each other, too. Nothing serious, of course, but I think we’ve all had a moment where maybe we’ve taken it a little too far, so again, everything comes down to communication. Just speaking to each other about anything we're going through has a huge impact.

As you noted, you guys are still a relatively young band, but that said, you’ve done A LOT over a short period of time. Have you had the chance to take a breath, and look at what you’ve accomplished so far?

Everyday we're just blown away by everything. To look at where we were in 2016 even, almost at the point of breaking up, and then to be where we are now, it’s just insane to think about. We're just so grateful that things have gone the way they have. So to answer your question – yes!

On your personal Twitter page your header image is of someone commenting “You’re nothing special.” That seems pretty harsh. I hope it’s not a comment that was left on one of your videos! Why did you choose this as your header photo?

This is literally the first time this has ever been brought up. I'm living for this question right now. {laughs}

It's actually my friend, Eliza, she sent it to me once in a conversation, and we had an ongoing inside joke of making cover photos of things we’d said to each other. To this day, neither of us have had the heart to change them, so it’s probably gonna stay there till the end of time.

Finally, pretending my entire knowledge of your home country comes from the Men At Work classic “Down Under,” is Australia really a place where “women glow and men plunder?”

Yeah, but I'm just here for the Vegemite sandwich.

For more Stand Atlantic, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
NYC Scene Report – Stringer, A Deer A Horse, & more
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

This week’s NYC Scene Report features a nostalgic song by indie rockers Stringer, hard rock outfit A Deer A Horse giving us the “Cold Shoulder,” a diamond studded single from indie pop newcomer Syrena, and electro-soul-pop artist KYOSi flipping the calendar to “Mid July.”

* Brooklyn-based indie rockers Stringer have signed with LA-based label, Wiretap Records, but all it takes is just one listen to their latest single, “Ghosts,” to know they’re still 100% pure NYC.

“Ghosts” – which is the lead single off of the band’s upcoming debut LP, due out this summer – is all about growing up in NYC, and being nostalgic for the past, while also being resentful of all the complaints about the present. It presents NYC nostalgia from all angles, and as an added bonus, it includes a killer guitar solo.

Click play, and rock out with Stringer.

* A Deer A Horse are one of the hardest working bands in Brooklyn’s indie scene. The hard rock trio performed nearly 100 shows in 2017, and will be touring throughout the remainder of 2018.

Their current road warrior status is in support of their upcoming album (release date TBA), the first single off of which is “Cold Shoulder.”

The band explained the inspiration for “Cold Shoulder,” and the video for the song, in a statement, saying, “The video was shot and edited by Brett Sullivan, who shot the entire thing with an iPhone. The song itself grapples with the feeling of loss of control. It describes a world where the dog walks you, the cards cheat you, the job kills you, the mouth feeds you. We wanted the video to convey this same feeling as viscerally as possible, and Brett's editing, effects work, and direction serve to bombard the viewer moment by moment, as it pushes faster and faster towards the breaking point.”

Don’t give A Deer A Horse the cold shoulder, click play on the video, and prepare yourself for some heavy music.

* Twenty year old indie pop artist Syrena is a newcomer to the scene, but she’s no newbie when it comes to performing. Her resume includes everything from being a world-class belly dancer, a fire eater, and a snake charmer, to doing singing telegrams.

The daughter of a top belly dancer who runs a belly dancing school, Syrena grew up in the East Village, graduated from arts magnet La Guardia High, and studied briefly at the Manhattan School Of Music before embarking on her music career.

Syrena’s first single is “Diamonds In My Head,” which she describes, saying, “‘Diamonds In My Head’ is about being bold, and having confidence in your own ideas and opinions. What’s inside your head is valuable.” She adds, “Power and confidence are big themes in my music. Maybe it comes from being a New Yorker, or maybe it comes from performing live since I was 3. If you doubt yourself, this city will eat you alive.”

Check out the video for “Diamonds In My Head” and experience the power and confidence of Syrena.

* With her latest single, NYC-based electro-soul-pop artist KYOSi has ripped a few pages off of her calendar and gone straight to “Mid July.”

A great song that features her fantastic production work, and trademark gorgeous vocals, KYOSi describes “Mid July,” saying, “It's about being blindsided by loss and grief, and realizing you have no control over whatever is causing that. It’s also a prayer for, and meditation on, acceptance.”

“Mid July” will be on KYOSi’s upcoming EP (release date TBA), and you can listen to the song 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.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
3 Reasons You Should See Von Grey Live
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Atlanta-based sister trio Von Grey perform a brand of pop that’s dark, but have a future that’s decidedly bright.

The classically trained trio of Annika (lead vocals, violin, synth, banjo), Kathryn (cello, Moog bass pedals, mandolin), and Fiona (lead vocals, guitar, violin, synth, percussion) (photographed L to R) had a show last week at Mercury Lounge in NYC, and after listening to their recorded work I was excited to check them out.

It didn’t take long to realize Von Grey is the type of group you tell everyone about after you see them live, and I’m looking forward to being in the crowd again the next time they hit the city. Here’s why …

1. Their dark pop meets folk style is captivating

The Von Grey trio are young – if my math serves me right, the eldest in the group is 22 – but they’ve been honing their craft for quite some time. The sisters formed the group back in 2013, and they’ve made significant developments in their sound along the way. Always having one foot in dark pop, and recently having experimented with mixing it with electronic music, the trio have now unplugged, and gone as acoustic as possible, giving their dark pop a slight folk influence.

Von Grey’s lyrics, and masterful use of stringed instruments, keep everything under the dark pop umbrella – during their set they joked that melodramatic is their forte – and when they’re on stage you can’t help but be completely locked in to their performance. There’s something about their combination of classical instruments, fantastic harmonies, and dark pop mixed with a dash of folk, that makes Von Grey a real attention grabber.

Speaking of which …

2. They’ll hook you right from the start

One of the biggest challenges for any indie artist is finding a way to grab the attention of the people who are having a few drinks, and engaging in conversation, while waiting for a different act to go on stage. Those are the people every band wants to make snap their heads around, and say, “Whoa, what’s this going on?”

Von Grey did a fantastic job of stopping conversations, and turning heads, when they opened their set with a medley/mash up of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire,” and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” Those are two songs you might not normally associate with each other, but the trio did an amazing job of seamlessly switching between the two using their own unique arrangement.

After that, all eyes, and ears, were on them.

3. They’re highly engaging both on and off the stage

Whether it’s their on stage banter – oftentimes led by Annika, who has a speaking voice that’s like something out of an AM radio programmer’s dream – or the way they interact with fans after the show, there’s a real genuineness about Von Grey.

When they speak, they have interesting/funny things to say, and they truly seem to enjoy all the post-show conversations, hugs, and photos (case in point, this pic of me with the band).

Obviously, their audience will eventually reach a size where the trio might not have the time for every conversation, hug, and photo, so you should probably catch Von Grey sooner rather than later. Actually, catch them sooner, and then catch them again later. You’ll want to see them more than once.

To find out when, and where, Von Grey will be performing next, check out their Facebook page for show dates.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
Pop Shots – A Look At The Charts … From 34 Years Ago
Monday, May 14, 2018

Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week I’m hopping into my time machine again, this time setting the coordinates for 34 years ago this week. Stepping out I see a 1984 that is, thankfully, completely different from the novel of the same name. Lionel Richie is at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Hello,” and the chart is filled with a bevy of classics we still crank up and sing along to today.

So let’s get into this exploration in chart history! Of course, since this is Pop Shots, you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.

6. Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time

Although “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – which was also on this chart at #65 – became the hit Cyndi Lauper would forever be known for (and that Weird Al would parody with “Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch”), “Time After Time” is actually a more … timeless … song. There’s a reason it’s been covered so many … times … and it’s time people realized this.

16. Night Ranger – Sister Christian

“You’re motoring / what’s your price for flight.”

It was one of the more epic lyrics, from one of the more epic rock songs of the era, and the slow build to it each time it comes around makes it ridiculously fun to sing along to. I’m not saying that I’ve done it, or friends of mine have done it, while in the aisles of various stores when the song has come on, but I am highly recommending everyone give it a try at least once in their life.

64. ZZ Top – Legs

The band that gave us the song “Tush” in 1975 continued to work anatomical music magic with their 1984 hit “Legs.” An undeniably great song that stands as a reminder of how fun the ‘80s were, “Legs” would likely be the source of controversy, and internet thinkpieces, were it to be released today … which is why we’re all glad it was released in a far less reactionary time.

69. Eurythmics – Here Comes The Rain Again

One of two Eurythmics song on this chart – they were also at #38 with “Who’s That Girl” – Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart combined bucketloads of talent, with an equal amount epic weirdness, to carve out a unique place in the music world that they, and only they, could inhabit, and thrive in.

There was no other band like the Eurythmics, and there never will be. They were true originals.

88. Huey Lewis & The News – I Want A New Drug

Just like Cyndi Lauper had two songs on this chart, one parodied by Weird Al, Huey Lewis & The News had two songs on this chart, and their hit “I Want A New Drug,” which came in at #88, was parodied by Weird Al (with “I Want A New Duck”).

“The Heart of Rock & Roll” was Huey Lewis & The News’ other song on this week’s Billboard Hot 100, coming in at #21, and we’d ask Patrick Bateman his thoughts on the chart success of the band, but we wouldn’t want the American Psycho to get all murder-y on us.

98. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax

Frankie Goes To Hollywood had some fun making up stories about the meaning of this song until they finally revealed what pretty much everyone already knew – it’s about sex. Duh!

The phrase “Frankie Says Relax” forever became a part of ‘80s pop culture, and is still seen on t-shirts to this day.

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


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
Vid Pick: Tami Neilson – Stay Outta My Business
Friday, May 11, 2018

Powerhouse vocalist Tami Neilson has a message for those looking to stick their nose where it doesn’t belong – “Stay Outta My Business.”

A big, bold anthem that combats criticism with confidence, “Stay Outta My Business” is the first single off the New Zealand, by way of Canada, singer’s upcoming album, SASSAFRASS!, which is due out June 1st.

Wanting to know more, I caught up with Neilson to ask her about “Stay Outta My Business,” as well as how social media has affected people being in each other’s business, and what one of her ultimate goals was for the video for the song.

“Stay Outta My Business” is a big, bold, soulful song that sounds like it has a lot of raw emotion behind it. What was going on in your life when you wrote it? (and yes, I note the irony of getting all up in your business while asking about a song titled “Stay Outta My Business”)

Haha! I try to avoid saying that in interviews.

It came out of a year of extensive international touring. (It was) the first time I've had to be away so much since having children, and while I have always experienced the usual types of sexism associated with the music industry – comments on appearance, capability, etc. – it never hit me in full force until I became a mother.

Those societal rolls we are assigned based on gender are so deeply ingrained, even though it's 2018 and we think we've made progress.

So I spent a good 18 months feeling weighted down by the judgements, and opinions, put on me by strangers. It was crippling, until I realized that these people don't know, or care, about me, my children, or my husband, and what brings our family the most happiness and fulfillment.

It took a lot of mental work until I came into my confidence, and this song was a celebration of that.

Do you feel that social media has changed the way people feel about being in other people’s business, and how much we should know about those around us?

Absolutely. We have people in our pockets everywhere we go, if we choose to, and I've realized that is the crux of it – it’s a choice.

Social media is an important part of my work, and my business. It's also an important part of my personal life – living on the other side of the world from my Canadian family and friends – so it's wonderful to be a part of each other's lives that way. However, I had to be more mindful, and intentional, with what I choose to share, especially as a parent who has a career in the public eye.

What inspired the quasi-grocery store backdrop that’s featured in the video?

I worked with my director, Anna Duckworth, on the concept. I wanted it to take place in a grocery store. I loved the juxtaposition of bold, glamorous, sassy women taking over a place that is traditionally viewed as predominantly for women in the role of the stereotypical Stepford wife – a place where a lot of gossip is spread, where you are judged for what you are buying, what you are wearing, if your children are misbehaving – and turn it on its head.

I notice there’s also a rotary phone in the video. When was the last time you’d used a rotary phone, and did you have a tough time finding one?

I haven't used one in a long time. We used to have an olive green one when I was a kid.

My wonderful production team, under the guidance of my producer, Morgan Leigh Stewart, sourced those props.

“Stay Outta My Business” is off of your upcoming album, SASSAFRASS! What else do you have in store for listeners with this release?

My albums are a mix of soul, rockabilly, blues, country, and gospel. That is the palette I always paint with, and all those genres are part of the same family, they were all born in the same place, so it feels natural to me hop from one to the other.

Your vocals are old school, and your vibe is awesomely retro. Do you have a favorite era of music, and if so, what attracts you most to that particular era?

I love the music of the 1940s-1960s. It was such an exciting, influential time in all of my favorite genres, and it has heavily influenced all music that has followed.

I love that it was all raw talent captured in a very simple way – real instruments played with vocal takes live off the floor. No Auto-Tune, no tricks, and limited technology. What you are hearing is so immediate, rough, and ready.

Music, and rotary phones, aside, what else would you like to bring back from the past, be it a look, a sound, a product, or an ideology?

While I love the music, and the beautiful aesthetic, of the 1960s – even in the most casual photographs people always look stylish! – it was an oppressive society for women and minorities, and we are still fighting for that equality today, so I'm grateful to be able to enjoy wearing the clothing, and listening to the music, while being a woman in 2018!

For more Tami Neilson, check out tamineilson.com, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments

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