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
As all of you know, one of the things I love to do is inspire people to get out there and enjoy themselves at a show. There are venues all over the country where five to ten bucks can have you experiencing new indie bands, and discovering great artists you’ve never heard before. Previously, I’ve used the NYC Scene Report to show folks what one night in the city can sound like, and this week I’m doing it again, as I’m chronicling an evening in late January I spent at The Studio at Webster Hall enjoying Xombie, LTrain, Aligns, and Newborn, rocked a packed house.
* Leading things off for the evening was Newborn, a three man rock outfit from Coney Island. According to their bio, the trio landed on their name because they wanted something that would represent “a way of looking at life with constant marvel, the way a child does.” I don’t know about you, but I think that pretty freakin rad.
When it comes to their live show, I got a slight Soul Asylum vibe from Newborn’s performance. Partially it was the band’s lyrics, partially it was their demeanor, partially it’s that I think Newborn’s music and Soul Asylum’s music would work well together in a playlist.
Thankfully, there wasn’t a reenactment of the scene from the band’s incredibly witty video for “Runaround” where they’re performing to a crowd that’s in a zombie-like state staring into their cell phones. In reality, when Newborn performs they have everyone’s attention.
* Following Newborn were subway buskers turned rockers LTrain. With a name like LTrain, the whole former subway buskers thing is pretty obvious.
Now, as many of you know, I’m a sucker for a hard rocking band with a powerful female vocalist, so when LTrain hit the stage, led by the diminutive, but decidedly kick ass, Crystalla Gonzalez, I was all ears (and yes, I made a joke about hoping their set wouldn’t be interrupted due to train traffic).
Not only were they fantastic, they are a true New York City band, as their sound is a melting pot of multiple rock genres, as well as funk, and even their content is NYC-centric. Take, for example, their song “The Rent Is STILL Too Damn High” off of their debut EP Can’t Pay Bills. It doesn’t get much more New York than that!
* Up next were Brooklyn duo Aligns. According to their Facebook band page, the twosome have one interest – “To rock the f*ck out.” Being that rocking the f*ck out was the overarching theme of the night, not only were they in they right place, they had the right crowd.
Because of the placement of the drums on the stage (which was an unavoidable issue for everyone), visually it was a bit tough to see half of Aligns, as the drummer would only occasionally be visible through an ever-present cloud of fog. While the fog was more than likely from a fog machine, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if it had been revealed the drummer’s insane energy was causing his drum kit to smoke. Dude is an animal!
If you’d like some proof, check out this live performance video of Aligns from last year. Clearly they’re an indie tag team on the rise.
* Headlining the evening were NYC nu-metal rockers Xombie. Having been in the scene for over half a decade, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call them veterans. As veterans, they f*cking know how to put on a show!
With a mixture of classics that dated back to their first single, “Excuse Me Miss,” and included some of their more recent work, like “Rock Bottom,” Xombie also worked some new material into their set, showcasing the band’s evolution. That evolution has included getting even heavier into the metal aspect of their work, while still not skimping on the lyrics.
I always leave a Xombie show with my ears ringing (yes, partly this is my fault for not putting in my ear plugs in time), and having seen some madness in the crowd. This night was no different. A great time was had by all.
For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.
Everyone knows filling a venue to capacity, whether it fits 50 or 500, is the best way to endear yourself to a venue’s talent buyer, but not all artists are at a point in their careers where they can do that. How can an artist who’s just starting to build a fanbase get on those stages and develop those relationships with venues?
I spoke with eight venue talent buyers from around the country to find out what qualities make an artist someone they like to book, even if the artist might not be the biggest draw. According to these experts, here’s what you need to do.
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 Miley being a mentor, to Elton John performing at a train station, to Christina Milian being the latest addition to a TV musical, and since it’s Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.
* Miley Cyrus will be an advisor on The Voice for the show's upcoming tenth season. I'm now expecting this season to involve a bunch of singers partaking in rampant nudity, and licking everything in site. Actually, now that I've written that, The Voice might have my attention again.
* Taylor Swift has announced a partnership with Glu Mobile to develop her own mobile game. If this turns out to be a game based on her video for "Bad Blood," count me in!
* Much like Zayn Malik, Harry Styles might be thinking of a solo career, having officially split from his longtime management team, Modest Management, and signing with CAA’s Jeffrey Azoff. One Direction fans shouldn't worry too much about this hiatus from the group, though, as it won't be long before these guys figure out why Simon Cowell made them a group.
* Kesha won the first two rounds of what looks to be a 12 round fight with Dr. Luke, as a New York judge ruled to dismiss Dr. Luke’s lawsuits against Kesha’s mom, and Kesha’s manager. Dr. Luke had alleged Kesha’s mom was trying to extort him, and had forced Kesha to break her contract with his label, while his beef with Kesha's manager, Jack Rovner, was that he felt Rovner was jealous of him, and was trying to gain more money, and control, over Kesha's career. The entire situation stems from Kesha's 2014 lawsuit alleging Dr. Luke had sexually assaulted her. Up next is a court date later this month to determine if she can release music outside of Dr. Luke's company. Here's hoping she wins, because it would be a shame if her career were to "Die Young."
* During the evening commute one night last week, Elton John sat down at one of the pianos open to the public in London's St. Pancras station and gave everyone a free concert. In London that creates a crowd, in NYC 95% of the people would've thought, "Decent Elton John impersonator," and a few would have thrown him some spare change.
* Maple Leif Garrett (aka Justin Bieber) also gave an impromptu concert, of sorts, last week, jumping on stage at the Hollywood club 1 OAK to give an unannounced performance that also included an appearance from Tyga. Does it surprise anyone that Tyga's hanging out with a guy known for attracting teenage girls? It's almost as if he isn't even trying to hide it anymore.
* In more Maple Leif Garrett news, apparently Justin Bieber has a "spiritual advisor," and that advisor, pastor Judah Smith, has now scored an agent. Management 360 has signed the pastor, who has reportedly become a hot commodity among Hollywood's spiritual young folks. After hearing this news the Church of Scientology probably fired their publicists... or sent them to an underground dungeon for re-training.
* Christina Milian has been added to the cast of Fox's upcoming production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, joining Laverne Cox, Victoria Justice, Ryan McCartan, Adam Lambert, Reeve Carney, Staz Nair, Annaleigh Ashford, and Rocky Horror original Tim Curry. As someone who loves the original, I just want Meat Loaf to bust in on a motorcycle, mid-broadcast, and scares the bejesus out of everyone.
* Lady Gaga will be performing a tribute to David Bowie at the Grammys. The lineage of creativity, and general weirdness, there makes this booking damned near perfect. That said, with the number of musicians who have been dying, there's a chance the Grammys could just be a three hour "in memoriam" with the occasional award worked in.
* Finally, I had a "whoa" moment last week when I was sent the video for ARO's "Cocaine Style." She's the Osbourne daughter who wasn't on the reality show, and with "Cocaine Style" she's released one of the first stop-everything-and-pay-attention songs of the year. Slightly reminiscent of The Cardigans during their Gran Turismo years, "Cocaine Style" is equal parts melancholy and beauty (melancholy topic, and production, beautiful vocals). Here's hoping we hear more from ARO soon!
And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.
Late in 2015 brokeMC released a guest-laden mixtape titled #DEADBEATSmixtape. The latest single off of the project is "Leviathan," featuring Swordplay, and Ceschi, and now there's a trippy video to go with it that is equal parts artsy and mind-bending.
Artsy and mind-bending are also both good ways to describe the music of brokeMC, who never fails to impress, and constantly pushes hip-hop's boundaries. Check out "Leviathan" and hear, and see, what I mean. If you want to hear more, the full mixtape is available on bandcamp, and limited edition cassette.
If you throw a rock out of your window, there’s a good chance you’ll hit someone who claims to be a hip-hop artist. In such a crowded genre, one of the best ways to make a name for yourself is by having a memorable live show. But what actually makes for a memorable live show? Follow these six steps, and you’ll be well on your way.
This week's NYC Scene Report features new R&B from Ginette Claudette, blistering hip-rock-soul from Shinobi Ninja, a haunting, smoothed out, song from Stray Echo, and the latest from folk singer-songwriter Nick Nace.
* NYC-based R&B artist Ginette Claudette is only in her early 20s, but she's already experienced the full extent of the music industry roller coaster. The daughter of a Latin pop star in the Dominican Republic, whom she is named after, Claudette landed a recording contract with Universal Motown Records in 2010, only to part ways with them before releasing her debut EP, Everything's Coming Up Roses, in 2012.
Claudette followed up the EP with her first full length album, Tainted Emotions, in 2014, and this past December released an EP titled All The Way Back. The latest single off of All The Way Back is "Time." It's a smoothed out modern R&B song that can fit into both R&B, and pop, playlists.
Click play, and give Ginette Claudette a few minutes of your "Time." I think you'll find her radio ready, and on par with the young R&B singers making waves today.
* You'd be hard pressed to find a harder working band than Shinobi Ninja. Every time I turn around the Brooklyn based hip-rock-soul collective has another new single, video, or project, coming out.
For those who are uninitiated, Shinobi Ninja has created a sound that aims to inspire crazy amounts of emotion, and with their latest single, "Bang Bang," they do just that. The blistering punk rock, and metal, influenced song was built for mosh pits, and head banging. Of course, with a name like "Bang Bang" one should expect the latter!
"Bang Bang" is off of Shinobi Ninja's maxi-single, FunBang, and is available as a free download. Bang along with the video below.
Side note: I will take no responsibility for any damage you may cause to your desk. I'm not saying you may get so hyped you’ll smash a corner off of it, but I'm also NOT not saying that.
* Slowing things down a bit, up next is "Nu Erotic Ghost." No, that isn't the title of a Ghost Hunters show gone NC-17, it's the latest single from Brooklyn-based artist Stray Echo.
“Nu Erotic Ghost” was reportedly recorded in late night studio sessions, and started out as a ballad before turning into the smoothed out song that ended up being released. Speaking of its release, the song is off of Stray Echo's self-titled maxi-single, which came out in November of last year, and features two other tracks.
After listening to “Nu Erotic Ghost,” I’ve come to the realization that not all ghosts are scary, and the smooth erotic kind can really set the mood. Give it a spin, and enjoy a momentary haunting.
* You may remember that back in December I posted indie folk singer-songwriter Nick Nace's first solo EP, Avenue A & Heartbreak. The EP came after over a decade as one half of the indie folk duo A Brief View of the Hudson, and was inspired by Nace's desire to create something simple, direct, and from the heart.
"She May Be Insane (But I Love Her Like Crazy)" is the latest single off of Avenue A & Heartbreak, and Nace, along with director Victor Varando, and art director Amber Nigro, have created a heck of a video for the song. There are paper puppets, poisonings, and plenty of peril, all with Nace's "thrift store Leonard Cohen" vocals, as one of his friends once described his singing style, painting the picture.
Check out the clip. I'm absolutely sure you haven't seen anything like it before.
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.