New Releases

Ryan Montbleau and Tall Heights Cover “Helplessly Hoping”

"What a message and sentiment right now during a pandemic when every day is such a roller-coaster of emotion. All we can do is helplessly hope. The song's message will always resonate but it feels especially true right now."

Ryan Montbleau

Press Photo

Massachusetts artists Ryan Montbleau and Tall Heights team up on a beautiful version of CS&N's "Helplessly Hoping."

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MUSIC

Phoebe Bridgers Debuts New Song “Halloween” and More, Discusses New Album

Another new song, "Kyoto," is all about astrology, chemtrails, and sadness, and we'd expect nothing less.

Phoebe Bridgers, the astrology-loving wunderkind who solidified her place in indie folk royalty with 2017's Stranger In the Alps, is officially at work on her second album.

"The production is totally different to my first record. People still kind of think of me as like a folk artist, but on the first record, I truly was deferring to other people to produce me," she said. "I basically had these country folk songs. [On the new record] I do a little bit of screaming on what we've recorded so far."

Bridgers has had a busy few years. After a stint opening for Julien Baker, she joined the supergroup Boygenius (with Baker and fellow indie rocker Lucy Dacus), and the trio released an EP. Then she formed a duo with Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst called Better Oblivion Community Center, and the two released their debut last year.

She's been pretty quiet about her solo work, but this week she debuted a total of four new songs at various performances. These songs are called "Halloween," "Kyoto," "Garden Song," and "Graceland Too," as far as we know. Bridgers is an incredibly talented lyricist, and these songs show her interweaving modern themes like conspiracy theories and astrology with characteristically devastating refrains.

Phoebe Bridgers - Halloween (Live Debut) [2019] www.youtube.com

While we don't have a date for the next album, judging by these songs, it'll be worth the wait.

boygenius - "Salt In The Wound" (Live at WFUV) www.youtube.com

Popdust Presents

Cisco Adler Sings "Somethin' More"

The grammy-nominated artist unveils a new song.

Cisco Adler "Somethin' More"
MUSIC

Rosie Carney Talks Life After "Bare," And The Death of Her Rat Matilda

The singer sat down with Popdust before her show at Mominette Bistro

When 22-year-old Rosie Carney released her album Bare in January, BBC referred to the singers haunting debut as "quietly powerful," and compared Carney's aching voice to Joni Mitchell. But the Irish singer-songwriter didn't take time off to rest on her laurels and is already back in the studio.

"It's funny cause everyone is saying to me, 'so you released your first album how does it feel?' The truth is I'm already over it," Carney told Popdust. An industry veteran in her own right, Carney was signed to London-based Polydor records when she was just 15-years-old. "When I was signed there was a lot of pressure to come up with commercial music," Carney said, "I was told that I was signed for my voice and not for my lyrics." Polydor dropped her a year later. "I couldn't write anymore. I didn't know who I was writing for or what I was writing for."

Carney became depressed and struggled to rekindle her inspiration. She became ill and was physically unable to attend school. She dropped out when she was 16. As she recovered physically and emotionally, she forced herself to practice writing and loving her art for what it was, and tailored each work to her interests, rather than to the approval of others. "Kids can be so mean," she said. "I lost all my friends when I got signed. You couldn't give me enough money to go back to school and experience that again." By the time Carney was signed again to Color Study, she had learned how to tap into her creativity in a different way. "I tend to not go back and listen to my work and dip into my past, cause I learned you wouldn't wanna do that generally. I'm just trying to move forward." Carney spoke more on her life after Bare, and how she handles the stress of being back in the spotlight.

So what happened after Polydor dropped you? How did you find your way back to yourself?

I already wasn't very well when I got signed, and being dropped was literally my worst fear. So everything I did in the studio was born out of this fear. I was constantly thinking of what everyone else would want to listen to when I should have just been listening to myself. Then when my worst fear was realized I just completely lost sight of who I was writing for, especially since they told me I was signed for my voice and not my lyrics. So I had to learn how to write and create for myself.

In that year before you were signed again, how did you hone in on your sound?

I just really gave myself the creative space to experiment and figure out what was better for me. My early sound was never something I was really happy with, and being dropped I feel gave me the space I needed to figure out what I wanted to say.

I imagine being a 15-year-old signed musician caused a lot of backlash with your friends at the time.

I lost my friends. Being a teenager is such a hard time, and I became incredibly ill so I ended up dropping out of school anyway just because I physically couldn't go. I was also just away all the time writing and working.

Do you feel fans connect more to your lyrics now?

It's still crazy for me to think that I even have fans, but yes. They really do. A lot of them I connected with when I shared my story, and I just got so many messages about connecting and relating to my music. I feel a very nice sense of unity with them.

But you said that you don't go back and listen to Bare, I'm curious why that is?

I'd never be embarrassed by my work, but Bare was written about very specific experiences, and I just feel like I'm so past that now. I'll always be proud of it, but I don't want to necessarily dwell on it or relive it. I've already got five demos for my second album, I'm working on a demo with Thomas Bartlett tomorrow. I'm just really eager to get back in the studio.

When you were signed a second time did you feel like you had a better head on your shoulders?

I did. I produce my own music now, and I know now exactly what I want down to the smallest texture. I was given so much more control than I was the first go round.

When you go back to Ireland what inspires new material?

The moon. I always end up writing something about the moon. Trees. My god – did I really just say trees? *laughs* but the landscape of my hometown is just so beautiful.

Why the moon?

Well, some people feel that when there is a full moon they go crazy, and I've always just felt myself being pulled by the energy of the moon. It's just so lonely up in the sky.

Now that you're older and wiser, how have you changed the way you manage stress and expectations?

I just am honest with myself when I'm having a bad mental health day. Today I was actually feeling quite anxious.

New York will do that to you.

Seriously, it's so loud! I'm constantly on edge. So I pinpointed it in my head, marked it, and recognize that it'll pass and I'm not going to go crazy. Having pets around also helps.

I have four dogs at home, along with a chicken, a pig, and a horse. I can actually feel myself struggling a bit on this tour cause I haven't been around any animals. My beautiful dog Hemingway has pulled me out of so many dark times.

What makes him your dog?

We've always had 3 dogs, but I asked for one for my birthday that was just mine. So I went to the pet rescue center that was actually in the process of shutting down and this litter had just been delivered, and Hemingway has these big golden eyes. There is an old Irish superstition that golden eyes signify when a creature is possessed by the devil, which is ridiculous.

Is he possessed by the devil?

Absolutely not, but my other dog Murphy did kill my pet rat.

You had a pet rat?

We had two. Mine was named Matilda, and Murphy snuck upstairs and bit right into him and presented him to me. He's a Jack Russell Terrier so it's in his nature, but I was pissed. I couldn't exactly be like "fuck you!" though could I?

Be sure to catch Rosie Carney on her European tour. Tickets can be purchased here.


Mackenzie Cummings-Grady is a creative writer who resides in the Brooklyn area. Mackenzie's work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, and Metropolis Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @mjcummingsgrady.


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MUSIC

The New Era of The Head and the Heart

Charity Rose Thielen sits down with Popdust to talk about the band's newest album, Living Mirage.

The music of Seattle's pastoral-folk group The Head and the Heart has served as the soundtrack of every high school graduation slideshow and engagement video since 2009.

They've earned this place of honor in the tear-jerking life events of Americans with their thoughtful, sentimental songwriting and simple, joyful instrumentation. Their music makes you believe that maybe you really could be happy composting in a small cabin in the woods, maybe your boyfriend really would look better with a man bun, and maybe you really should get into hiking.

They rose to fame during the early 2010's renaissance of folk-rock, joining bands like Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers in leading the banjo resurgence. Listeners were suddenly interested in simple guitar and campfire harmonies once again, and consequently, The Head and the Heart independently sold 10,000 copies of their debut album before making a deal with Sub Pop and re-releasing the album in 2011.

Since then, the six-person group has released three more studio albums, including their latest from Warner Bros, Living Mirage. Charity Rose Thielen, whose ethereal voice, moving violin solos, and expert guitar plucking can be heard on every The Head and the Heart album, told Popdust that the newest album began differently than its predecessors. "There was a lot of uncertainty when we started demoing. We were in Joshua Tree with the initial intention of just making a few songs, but we ended up with a whole album. From there we bounced around places. We went to Tennessee, LA, and even Appleton, Wisconsin. More than ever before, the places informed what this record became. We treated each song as its own album, so it's definitely not a concept album, though of course there are threads throughout that keep it together and cohesive."

Living Mirage also differs in that it's the first album the band has made without co-founder Josiah Johnson, who recently left the band to become sober and pursue a solo career. "We lost a member and gained a new member for the first time," Thielen said thoughtfully, her voice tinged with something like reminiscence. "That definitely affected things with this record; we were all processing those changes while making the record. All that you can bank on when making an album is unpredictability. We always tend to be reactionary to the album that precedes the current album, and that stayed true, but there was also a lot of incredible experimentation this time. We had different producers for Living Mirage, and we went into a more minimal world, sonically."

One thing is definite: this latest album is a musical departure for the band. Gone is the feeling of delightful messiness that elicits visions of campfire singalongs and Birkenstocks. In its place is a collection of polished songs with strong pop sensibilities and a clearer sense of direction than ever before. It's the same band that fans fell in love with in 2011, but with an updated, modern sound that firmly secures them as one of the most sonically consistent groups in modern music.

When asked about this growth, Thielen explained that The Head and the Heart has always been comprised of "super unique people. We're very democratic and very different from each other, but I think that serves us. No one has any set role, so there is so much room to grow. This record, in particular, saw a lot of members stepping into new and different roles and trying new things, and I think you can hear that on the album. Basically, we take all these crazy different people and songwriters and finish each other's songs by filling in the blanks. We're very collaborative."

Despite the changes within the band, the stirring, poetic lyricism that has brought tears to thousands of eyes on songs like "Rivers and Roads" remains just as pervasive on Living Mirage. The band shines the most on songs like "Glory of Music," which features emotional vocal performances from Jonathan Russell and simple, expert production that emphasize the technical skill of the multi-instrumentalist band members.

Perhaps, most importantly, the same cathartic melancholy of their previous works remains on Living Mirage, but now there is a sense of newfound hope and a sense of celebration of progress. It's as if The Head and The Heart are declaring the beginning of a new era as a group, seizing their moment of painful growth, singing:

"I'm more than fine

I'm here today

The time is now

To find our saving, our saving grace"

Check out Living Mirage on all platforms today!

Living Mirage



Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.


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In 1969, Jim Morrison sat down in a now-famous interview with Rolling Stone to talk about the future of music.

"Some brilliant kid will come along and be popular," he said. "I can see a lone artist with a lot of tapes and electrical...like an extension of the Moog synthesizer – a keyboard with the complexity and richness of a whole orchestra." He went on to say there was somebody out there "working in a basement, just inventing a whole new musical form." Morrison rehashed this quote in some variation throughout the entirety of his career, and his vision has been widely referenced by many of EDM's forefathers. Skrillex sampled the quote directly in one of his early singles, "Breakin' a Sweat," with the track's production seemingly an embodiment of the specific sound Morrison had predicted, leaning into the idea that Morrison had foreseen Dubstep specifically.

When Skrillex emerged as one of Dubstep's earliest mainstream success stories, his robotic crunches and overwhelming stimulation consumed young listeners, and for many millennials, it was just mind-blowing that all this chaos derived solely from a computer. EDM's popularity skyrocketed in the States, with acts like Skrillex presenting—loud and proud—the limitless potential of technology in music. Many traditional instrumentalists were resistant. "Shout out to all the bands still playing actual instruments," Arcade Fire's Win Butler said during the band's headlining set at Coachella in 2014. During their 2012 Grammy acceptance speech, David Grohl of Foo Fighters also pushed back against the rise of Electronic music. "To me, this award means a lot, because it shows the human element of music is what's important...it's not about being perfect...it's not about what goes on in a computer."

Now in 2019, the overbearing sounds curated by Dubstep, Progressive House, and the like seems to have faded into the background. While in-your-face EDM is still extremely popular in its own circles, a quieter subtext has exploded across all music genres. Minimalistic production and soft instrumentation are now at the forefront of a quiet revolution in music. Lo-Fi hip-hop had one of the biggest years on record, thanks to YouTube's "study" playlists, with producers like Jinsang and Sleepdealer garnering millions of streams as a result. Defined by the inclusion of elements deemed "professionally unappealing," Lo-fi's gravelly production and crackling phonographic imperfections have inspired countless artists to believe that less is more and that artists no longer have to adhere to mainstream standards. While lo-fi's forefathers include The Beach Boys and Robert Steven Moore, the movement has exploded thanks to computers and the ability to tweak and share on a global scale. Lo-Fi rap is now very much a genre all its own, with off-kilter artists like Earl Sweatshirt deeply connecting with it. His highly-anticipated third album Some Rap Songs was lo-fi in its definitive form, and while it was a drastic shift in sound for the Chicago MC, the project put Earl at the forefront of a budding movement, one that prides itself on nostalgic introspection more than lyrical braggadocio. Pitchfork wrote, "On Some Rap Songs listeners are challenged to take him...in the form he is in now: a poet philosopher who is also the face of an emerging sound and scene."

New York up-and-comer JPEG Mafia is also an MC who relies on low-budget production and raw energy. While still minimalistic and underproduced by mainstream standards, JPEG's industrial distortion and eerie soundscapes have painted the MC as an ever-changing enigma. He usually DJ's himself at his performances and no two JPEG shows are ever the same. Yet the seemingly low-value set up is overlooked due to "Peggy's" raw chaotic energy as a performer. His intense vitality at last year's SXSW gave way to one of the festival's most talked-about performances, and during a potentially disastrous show in Ithaca, New York, the MC stumbled on stage completely debilitated by edibles, simply played his Spotify in the background as he rapped along to his songs, and threw himself madly around the stage. Even with nothing at his disposal, he turned a tame crowd into a mosh pit.

Minimalism has also permeated R&B, with amalgamative breakout stars like Jorja Smith, Blood Orange, and Cautious Clay finding different ways to combine avant-garde jazz and electronic music. "Lost & Found thrives on emotionally raw minimalism, with [Jorja Smith's] voice as the central instrument," Pitchfork wrote of the singer. Blood Orange's latest project, Negro Swan, was also described as a "minimalist emulsion," while Cautious Clay describes his creative process as an unfettered "stream of consciousness," with his voice also taking center stage. Each artist offers a different variation of a sound that seems completely unedited, bringing forth a raw vulnerability that intellectually transcends mainstream overproduced club R&B.

On the other side of the spectrum, Indie Rock has been reborn thanks to lo-fi production. Frankie Cosmos, Snail Mail, SALES, Jay Som, and Soccer Mommy are just a few artists who have redefined the genre in the last few years, driven, in part, by a generation that cares more for raw poetry and lo-fi experimentation than it does crispy guitars and a full-band sound. "What we're hearing now, with a wider range in the mix, takes the music to arresting new places – a thrilling development for those who...turn their ears to vocals first," wrote Pitchfork. For the first time in rock and roll, the band comes secondary, if at all, to the individual and what is being said. Even folk music, which for years has been stale and melodramatic thanks to Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers, is starting to find its footing again in a lo-fi world. Jessica Pratt and Helado Negro put out two of 2019's best albums so far, with the latter bridging the gap between lo-fi electronic and folk music and the former – whose album is fittingly titled Quiet Signs – offering only her soothing voice, the pluck of her guitar, and an occasional trickling of woodwinds and strings. Both projects are incandescent, powerful in their simplicity.

But the most captivating part of Lo-fi's expansive movement is that it has become the most inclusive sub-genre in music history. Indie Rock is now guided by young women, many of them queer or non-binary. Its implementation in Hip-Hop and R&B refreshed two genres that for decades have been plagued with sexism and masochistic ideals. Lo-Fi offers a platform for poetry, its introspection stirring young people to focus more on the individual, to think more deeply, and to re-evaluate what music can be and what can be said. "It is, at once, a continuum of the last generation and a clean slate," wrote Pitchfork. It is making an announcement just as loud as Dubstep. Some kid on a computer can create a flurry of emotions, grinding out tracks sometimes meant to captivate stadium audiences and at other times meant solely for a lonely teenager in his bedroom.


Mackenzie Cummings-Grady is a creative writer who resides in the Brooklyn area. Mackenzie's work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, and Metropolis Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @mjcummingsgrady.


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