Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist w/ over a decade of experience. Lover of good music, fringe movies, day baseball & chicken shawarma. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
G.T.P., aka Ghetto Transcends Potential, is a veteran rap group out of NYC, and if you find yourself longing for the boom bap era of hip-hop, you’re going to love their music.
The latest from G.T.P. is “Keep It Moving.” It’s a song you could easily imagine as part of a classic episode of Video Music Box. There’s a rawness, and an authenticity, to both the song, and the video, that make it pure New York hip-hop.
“Keep It Moving” is off of G.T.P.’s Waste Management EP, and should whet your appetite nicely for their next EP, titled, State Of Emergency, which will be released on August 5th, at a live event at DROM in NYC. Until then, check out the video, and keep it moving!
This week’s NYC Scene Report features the indie pop of Birch, something slightly downtempo from Obey City, some dope hip-hop from Creature, and the melodic indie rock of Sun Cut Flat.
* Brooklyn based band Birch is a modern indie pop group with a bit of an old school feel, and when I say old school, I mean classic 60s radio.
The project of singer/songwriter Michelle Birsky, Birch's debut is the song "Halfway," and it's quite an impressive introduction. The song was written in August of 2014, when Birsky spent two weeks by herself at her parent's house in Vermont, which is where she had spent the majority of her childhood. Lyrically, “Halfway” is about the places your mind goes when left alone for extended periods of time, like she was in the house on this particular trip.
"Halfway" is the title track of Birch's debut EP, which will be available on August 28th. For now, check out the stunning video for the song, and hear what revisiting a piece of her past inspired.
* Earlier this year, Brooklyn producer/songwriter Obey City released his latest EP, Merlot Sounds. I have to be honest, I've never tried to listen to a bottle of Merlot, but if it sounds anything like the new single off of the EP, which is "Airy" featuring Kelela, I'm going to start putting my ear to more glasses of wine.
Obey City’s electronic music production, and Kelela's beautiful vocals, work to create an undeniably cool vibe. Musically, the song has the feel of a slightly amped up version of downtempo soul, but with a bit of an 80s synth pop twist.
The video for "Airy," which was directed by Melissa Matos of the creative studio Trusst, features a collection of vignettes that are intended to match the song in tone, and emotion. Give it a look, and a listen. In fact, give it multiple looks and listens, as the song, and video, only get better with repeated plays.
* "What kind of rapper wears purple socks and Crocs?" It's a valid question, and one NYC indie hip-hop stalwart Creature asks on his latest single, "Warhol's Wig," which also features Kool A.D., and was produced by Preservation.
"Warhol's Wig" is a fun track off of Creature's recently released EP, Torn Together. It's also pure NY hip-hop. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who represents NY hip-hop more than Creature. A fixture in the scene for over a decade, Creature has been seen at more shows than some of your hardest working security people, and bartenders.
Check out "Warhol's Wig" and hear why Creature hasn’t just survived in NYC's crowded hip-hop scene, but has etched a name for himself in its history books.
* If you're into melodic indie rock, let Brooklyn's Sun Cut Flat be your GPS as they help you "Navigate" that musical terrain.
The collaborative project of Nick Lattanzi and Erik Kramer, who met in Boston while in college, Sun Cut Flat has begun to make a name for themselves in NYC's indie music scene, having released their full length debut, Copy Machine Dream, in 2014, and an EP, colorfully titled EP 01, earlier this year.
The band's latest is the single "Navigate," which is a laid back cut featuring deeply personal lyrics. As they sing, "I'll only be fulfilled when I'm making you proud," one can't help but think that everyone has at least one person in their life they feel this way about. Check out the song, and get to know Sun Cut Flat.
For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.
Last week Meek Mill threw a barb Drake’s way, making the claim that that Toronto rapper doesn’t write his own lyrics. Large swathes of hip-hop heads were up in arms over the notion that one of the most visible artists in the genre might not be writing his own work. The controversy, which is one as old as the genre itself, made it readily apparent that after 40 years of beats and rhymes, it’s time we developed a more nuanced view of hip-hop.
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 Taylor Swift doing an internet first, to James Franco attempting to be an author, to Nick Jonas’ wild and crazy night with drag queens, and since it’s Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.
* Over the years Taylor Swift has done a myriad of incredible things, but this past week she did something so unprecedented, so earth shattering, that it may go down in history as "the day the internet stood still." This is because Swift became the first person in social media history to admit they were wrong, and apologize. The landmark happening occurred after a brief online spat with Nicki Minaj over a tweet Swift thought was a thinly veiled insult to her. After some back and forth Swift realized her mistake, and tweeted a mea culpa. If she didn’t already have that whole “being the most successful pop artist on the planet” thing going for her, I think Swift could make a pretty penny teaching internet manners courses around the world.
* Because everyone likes to capitalize on a high profile beef, someone from Katy Perry's team must have seen the back and forth between Taylor and Nicki and thought, "Let's remind everyone that Taylor Swift's 'Bad Blood' is all about Katy." With that in mind, Perry, midway through the argument, tweeted out a jab to Swift. The tweet went completely ignored by its intended target. Since Perry might be feeling a bit down from that, I’d like to take this opportunity to offer her a hug. A hug that may go from comforting, to awkwardly long, but that’s just because I recognize that healing takes time.
* Selena Gomez announced her next album will be titled Revival, and will hit stores on October 9th. Hmm, that’s just six days before my birthday. This can’t just be a weird coincidence, right?
* Miley Cyrus will be hosting this year's MTV VMAs, which will take place on August 30th. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on Robin Thicke spending the evening multiple time zones away.
* James Franco is writing a book about Lana Del Rey, titled Flip-Side: Real And Imaginary Conversations With Lana Del Rey. The book is due out March 15th of next year, will clock in at just 100 pages, and being that it's about Lana Del Rey it will be able to be placed in both the Biography, and Fiction, sections of your local bookstore.
* During a performance at London's G-A-Y nightclub, Nick Jonas had two drag queens attach bondage-style chains to his arms and legs before he performed his latest hit, "Chains." There’s no word on if either drag queen was wearing Nick’s old Jonas Brothers’ purity ring.
* Psy, of "Gangnam Style" fame, was involved in a car accident in China when his Rolls Royce collided with a bus at an intersection. No one was injured, and the K-pop star left the scene in a Porsche that had been clearing the way for the Rolls Royce. Yes, that's right, a guy who invented a silly dance has a Porsche whose sole responsiblity is to clear the way for his Rolls Royce. So glad I bothered to go back to school for that master's degree.
* During a recent interview, Madonna, in an effort to show that artists don't have to stop making art at a certain age, said, "I like to compare myself to other kinds of artists, like Picasso." Personally, I feel Vincent van Gogh would have been a better choice for comparison, as most of Madonna’s music makes me want to cut off an ear.
* Demi Lovato has released a video for her bi-curious pop anthem “Cool For The Summer,” and it features lots of sweat, writhing, and a girl on girl kiss. Pretty much a typical Monday at the office.
And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.
Can a song be political, motivating, thought provoking, and jazzy all at the same time? In the capable hands of the Bop Alloy duo of Substantial and Marcus D it isn’t just a possibility, it’s a reality, as evidenced by their latest single, “Sketches of Pain.”
“Sketches of Pain” is a deeply personal track, and while the vibe is mellow, what Substantial is rapping about is anything but, as he openly discusses some of the struggles of being Black in America. Because of the musical vibe, however, nothing about “Sketches of Pain” comes off as preachy, instead it draws compassion out of the listener. This is a heck of an impressive feat. Of course, we should all be used to being impressed by Substantial by now.
This week’s NYC Scene Report features the alt-rock of Diet Cig, electro art-pop from longtime column faves Stranger Cat, something soulful from The Seal Breakers, and a the hip-hop infused reggae of Oogee Wawa.
* It's tough to win me over instantly, but that's exactly what New Paltz, NY, duo Diet Cig did as soon as I heard their latest single, "Sleep Talk."
Singer Alex Luciano's voice would have fit in perfectly in the alt-rock scene from the 90s, and the song's opening line of "I can't play instruments very well and I'll eat all of your cereal" is so beautifully honest, and real, that by the time you get to Noah Bowman's drumming you're completely ready to fully embrace the band.
"Sleep Talk" follows up Diet Cig's debut EP, Over Easy, and is set to be released as a 7'' this September with the song "Dinner Date." The record will be limited to 1000 copies on white frosted clear vinyl. There’s no limit on downloads, however, and "Sleep Talk" is available right now. Check it out.
* I've written about Brooklyn based electro art pop act Stranger Cat a number of times for this column, and I'm going to keep writing about Cat Martino’s musical project until she no longer qualifies as an indie act.
Stranger Cat has an incredible live show that creates an amazing vibe, as Martino's voice, and the production, have an atmospheric quality to them. There's a distinct beauty to every aspect of Stranger Cat's sound, which pulls you in, and really makes you feel what she's singing about.
Martino is currently midway through a tour that will wrap up on July 31st with a hometown show at Baby's All Right in Brooklyn. Before she hit the road, however, she hit the world off with the video for her latest single, "Sirens," which is off of her recently released full length album Into The Wilderness. Much like her music, the video is beautiful, artsy, and will capitvate you.
* If you're in the mood for something soulful, Brooklyn seven piece outfit The Seal Breakers have what you're looking for. The band was formed back in 2001 (originally named the Eagles Brass Band) when founder Craig Williams wanted to combine the music he heard in church with classic acts like The Ohio Players, Sly and the Family Stone, and Chicago.
Williams enlisted the help of some local teenagers, whom he took under his wing, having already had experience in the music industry. He taught them how to play brass instruments, and perform. The result of all of their hard work is a feel good sound that's equal parts uplifiting, and cool.
The Seal Breakers' latest is titled "Is It Possible?" Is it possible you'll like the song? I'd say it's not just possible, it's probable. Give it a listen, and hear for yourself.
* Coming straight outta Long Island we have Oogee Wawa, a hybrid band that combines elements of reggae, hip-hop, and soul, to create music that can best defined as really dope.
Oogee Wawa, which officially came to be in 2008, consists of longtime friends Jesse Lee Roenbeck, who is the band's emcee, JP Aceto on guitar and vocals, Chad Chadwick on bass, and Nick Loiodic on drums and vocals, and they're currently two full length albums, and a whole lot of live dates, into their career.
Speaking of their live show, Oogee Wawa opened for 311, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones this past Friday, and have a plethora of local dates lined up this summer, all the way through September 19th. For a taste of the Oogee Wawa experience, check out their latest single, "Jump Off," the video for which is below.
For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.