Rising Star

REVIEW | Ariel Pink's twisted take on pop music

REVIEW | In Pink's latest record, Dedicated To Bobby Jameson, his fascination with pop music comes to the forefront.

Dedicated To Bobby Jameson...

In a 2014 interview with Vogue, Ariel Pink described his album pom pom (of the same year,) as "if you put Taylor Swift's 1989 in an old sudsy washing machine without separating the darks from the lights, you'd have pom pom." And this seems an appropriate way to describe the album, where Ariel Pink is most consistent is in his fascination and distortion of pop culture and music. The album is airtight, at times almost to a fault, but it does seem to be a sudsy and distorted take on Swift-esque bubblegum pop.

It's this twisted take on pop that makes Ariel Pink's music so compelling, and which comes to the forefront in Pink's latest album, Dedicated To Bobby Jameson, released earlier this month via Mexican Summer. Pink seems to be equally critical of and enamored by pop music and stardom, which we see first in the album's title.

Bobby Jameson was a Los Angeles based singer songwriter in the early 60's, but whose major rise to notoriety came through an incredible amount of media hype. Jameson appeared in huge print campaigns for publications like Billboard and Rolling Stone, claiming that he would become the next big thing in pop music. Jameson is an example of an industry creation of a pop star, notoriety through hype rather than actual music.

In Dedicated To Bobby Jameson, Pink gives his same sudsy treatment to 60's pop and rock. Instead of the hyper produced and airtight palette of contemporary pop, Pink has returned to the 60's style, the songs have slowed down, are a little more organic, and have more room to breathe. Songs like Feels Like Heaven and the title track Dedicated To Bobby Jameson use a sharp and melodic synth that sounds similar to the electric guitar of 60's psych rock

Though the album may be a track or too long, it's perhaps one of Pink's strongest albums to date, and one of my favorite releases of the year. The strongest song in the album comes about halfway through, in the seventh track titled "Another Weekend." In "Another Weekend" Pink sings about longing for an ex. The song slows down into the chorus as Pink sings, "feel a body, warm and close behind me / I turn around, but you are not there" - evoking the phantom limb-esque feelings after a breakup.

The music video for "Another Weekend" further takes on the 60's, Los Angeles aesthetic Pink seen in Dedicated To Bobby Jameson. The video is shot in grainy, retro film, and takes on the aesthetic of a 60's roller rink through cheap neon lights, disco balls, and cheap red leather couches. Meanwhile, we see Pink in an oversized vintage suit, snakeskin cowboy boots, and a large cowboy hat. The video serves as a perfect representation of the album as a whole - a psychedelic, neon look at the 60's era pop music machine.

For more on Pink, go to his website, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

Stream the album here.

Keep ReadingShow less

INTERVIEW | Neva Hosking talks being an artist in the digital age

ART | The Sydney based artist has grown a cult following on Instagram

"I think the internet has been invaluable for unestablished artists (especially the introverted ones...)"

For many teens - including myself - the way we access are is evolving. With the increased use of social media as the preferred method of exploring art, we are discovering new art via our iPhone screens. This has caused many artists to have to adapt their art so that it translates nicely onto a phone screen - and this adaptation is something that Neva Hosking has mastered.

The Sydney-based visual artist and current art school student creates beautiful and technically precise drawings that she shares on her Instagram - and has grown a cult following, raking in over one hundred thousand followers. And how does she adapt to being an artist in a digital age? Hosking employs a heavy use of negative space, and the selective choice of only creating drawings in black or blue - resulting in a feed that both pops from the blue while remaining minimal because of the negative space.

Should art have to be commodified as to receive likes and shares on Instagram or Tumblr? For Hosking, the answer is a selectivity when deciding which of her works she wants to share, as she is aware that some pieces just won't translate onto a phone screen. I sat down with Hosking to discuss her experience of being an artist in the digital age.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F9935986%2F980x.png&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fassets.rbl.ms&s=9&h=ad70931aba387f1fbf409988f4c98bd9b8c8ce6d0f87128e8f5f0907633316ba&size=980x&c=622249008 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F9935986%252F980x.png%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fassets.rbl.ms%26s%3D9%26h%3Dad70931aba387f1fbf409988f4c98bd9b8c8ce6d0f87128e8f5f0907633316ba%26size%3D980x%26c%3D622249008%22%7D" caption="" pin_description="" image-library="0" expand=1 photo_credit=""]


CONOR (Popdust): Many of your drawings are made on grid paper - is this an aesthetic choice? Functional? A little bit of both?

NEVA: Mostly aesthetic I'd say, I started collecting graph paper years ago, and would draw on it partly because it excites me, and partly because it's a lot less intimidating than a blank page. I'm especially into the old graph papers that had a practical use until everything became digitized, I feel like I can relate to them.

CONOR: Most of your drawings are made in either black, blue, or both -- what draws you to these two colors?

NEVA: I've always felt a bit overwhelmed by color so I tended to stick with the black and white and muted tones. Lately I've been a bit braver, fell in love with ultramarine and never looked back! I'm hoping this blue can hold my hand into a wider spectrum eventually, but at the moment I'm just obsessed with this color.

CONOR: Many of your drawings show a heavy interest in the subject's eyes, what about eyes do you find compelling or worth drawing?

NEVA: I think it's just a natural human impulse to be drawn to the eyes, it's how we read people and how they read us etc… Could potentially be overcompensating for my inability to handle eye contact in real life.

CONOR: Many of my favorite of your drawings depict faces covered in thin netting - where did this idea come from?

NEVA: It's really quite grim actually! Stems a lot from nightmares I'd been having about a specific murder (don't fall asleep to true-crime podcasts and forensic files ay) and my own feelings of entrapment and anxiety. I feel like I haven't managed to convey that very successfully yet, but still working at it. I've gotten a bit obsessed with nets visually and just wanna keep pushing it

CONOR: You recently shared on Instagram that "working with different materials has given me so much new energy, glad I got (temporarily) a bit fed up with drawing" -- what caused this frustration with drawing, and what different materials have you been experimenting with?

NEVA: I've really struggled with my attachment to drawing through art school, I've spent so many years teaching myself to draw and developing my style etc that it became more of an emotional connection than anything else. I felt like I was going around in circles and finally just thought 'sod this!' and started working with fabric and plaster and anything else that would keep me away from pen and pencil for a bit. I've been printing etchings onto cotton, embroidering nets with coloured threads and plaster casting etchings, having a lot of fun

CONOR: You have a very large following on social media - with over 100,000 followers on Instagram. How has your experience been as an artist in the digital age, and do you ever consider how a piece will translate onto a screen when drawing?

NEVA: Yeah totally, which is one of the reasons I don't share much of the work I'm doing in art school on social media, I don't want it to be influenced by the pressure of being ~consumable~, you know?

I think the internet has been invaluable for unestablished artists (especially the introverted ones aha) and I'm super grateful for it. I feel very connected to a bunch of artists around the world, gives me a constant supply of motivation and great advice (Caragh Savage, looking at you.)

Art theft is a definite negative that keeps popping up though. I'd like to think it'll improve as we adjust to a post-internet creative world, but it's been pretty disheartening. In saying that though, I'm pretty much constantly overwhelmed by how supportive and kind strangers have been, (in fighting art theft and in general) so there is always a balance!

CONOR: You also create some pretty awesome shirts for your website, does this come from an interest in fashion or just a way to showcase and sell your art?

NEVA: More from an interest in T-shirts than an interest in fashion I'd say, I've been collecting t-shirts I find interesting for a while and they've inspired me a lot in terms of how I make my own. But of course the side income has been super helpful, allows me to buy art materials that I wouldn't usually be able to and explore a bit more. Also just the idea that people want to wear something i've made is ridiculously lovely ahh.

CONOR: Who are some contemporary artists you are very excited about?

NEVA: I'm always excited about Julie Mehretu, Anthony Cudahy, Susan Worsham…. pretty much everyone I study with and my girl Alicia Jalloul in Glasgow who just graduated with some amazing work

CONOR: What are you doing when you're not creating art?

NEVA: Gardening! I just moved into a place with a proper garden for the first time, which is so exciting. Been spending most of my time taming it, planning a veggie patch, feeding the birds and sun baking with my bunnies (dream come true honestly)

CONOR: Thank you so much again for sitting down with us to do this interview, and what can we expect from you down the road?

NEVA: Thanks so much for having me! More textile work I think, more stitching, more plaster casting, more t-shirts!


WATCH | THE NATIONAL release new music video for "Guilty Party"

MUSIC VIDEO | The band shows a more electronic side in psychedelic new video

The psychedelic accompanying video might be my favorite part of this release.

Brooklyn based indie rock band The National have just released a new track titled "Guilty Party," along with the accompanying music video. The song comes off of their upcoming album Sleep Well Beast, which has already been a series of exciting releases.

"Guilty Party" - as well as some of the other songs which have already been released from the album like "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness" have shown a different side of The National - showing a more electronic side to their music. The song is still melancholy like many of their others, but this track follows a drum beat rather than a guitar melody.

Though I love the song, the psychedelic accompanying video might be my favorite part of this release. The video begins with the imagery that appears on the album cover - of a tall wooden house in the woods with a triangular roof, however here the image has been entirely over exposed, and is filled with blue. The video then shows revolving shots of young kids, seen through this same lens of overexposure and blue or red tints. We are then taken to an aerial shot, and see the woods and rivers of the town from above - in the same unnatural blue tint.

After again seeing the house - that is also in the album cover and is the profile photo for The National on social media - I want to know the story behind it, and how it relates to the songs on the album, and the content of the music video. The video shares many similarities with the other music video they have released for the upcoming album, for the song "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness." In this video, the viewer is going down a road which is being shown in very high contrast in black and blue. As we go down the road, the video turns into a series of dancing pixels - again showing a more electronic side of the band.

This electronic side seems to be a newer one. Their last album, Trouble Will Find Me (2013), followed a more traditional rock structure, with guitar led melodies. The album is one of my favorites of all time, but I am very excited about the band's new releases, and can't wait to hear the full album.

2017 has been a year for anticipated releases, and the new National album is no exception. In 2017 we've had the return of Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, and the (upcoming) return of MGMT - all coming back from several year long hiatuses. The new album, Sleep Well Beast, will be available on September 8th on 4ad, and if we're lucky we will get another release or two before then.

For more on The National, go to their website. Follow on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.


7 artists you can’t miss at FYF 2017

MUSIC | We spent some time looking at the lineup so you don't have to

"... I was blown away by the music I heard, and wished I had put some more thought into the experience."

At age 15 in I went to my first music festival - First City Festival in Monterey, CA. It took place days before I started my sophomore year of high school, in August of 2013. I was going with my dad and my twin brother as a summer send off. I still think that the lineup is one of the best in the last decade - the only problem being that I wasn't ready for it.

I knew some of the bigger names at the festival - like Modest Mouse, MGMT, and Washed Out - but I didn't really know any of the other names, many of which are some of my favorite artists today. I didn't spend much time looking at the lineup beforehand, and when I got to the festival I was blown away by the music I heard, and wished I had put some more thought into the experience. The lineup, with names like Beach House, Devendra Banhart, Avey Tare, and Father John Misty is a lineup I would kill for now. I spent some time on the FYF 2017 lineup to tell you some bands to look out for, to save you the time.

Keep ReadingShow less

REVIEW | WASHED OUT released two dreamy new singles after 4-year hiatus

MUSIC | Along with the new songs, they have also announced a new visual album titled Mister Mellow, and a tour

"It All Feels Right" and "Don't Give Up" became the perfect soundtrack to my summer of being 16.

I first found out about Washed Out (consisting of Georgia native Ernest Greene) when I was 14 years old - I had just ventured out of finding music only through what I heard on the radio or with my dad, and instead turned to discovering new music online. I stumbled upon their dreamy EP Life of Leisure - six ambient, beachy tracks that - though I had never before smoked weed - I assumed would be the perfect accompaniment.

A few years later, I rushed to by the vinyl of their sophomore album, Paracosm. Paracosm, with songs like "It All Feels Right" and "Don't Give Up" became the perfect soundtrack to my summer of being 16. The songs followed me through summer road trips, learning to drive, and lying outside with friends on sunny Los Angeles days.

Since the release of Paracosm, there has been a four year silence from Washed Out. In a 2011 interview with The Guardian Greene remarked that "there are parts [of being a musician] I really enjoy, but there are also parts where I wish I could just have a 9 to 5 thing. I could count the minutes on one hand where I've had time to myself recently so I can just, like, check my email. That's pretty sad."

Four years later (hopefully years filled with free time and ample email checking) Washed Out is back - with two new singles released this past week, titled "Hard to Say Goodbye" and "Get Lost." Washed Out is known for being a Chillwave artist. Chillwave (music with a dreamy, lo fi, psychedelic sound) having, of course, received some backlash - but Greene said in an interview with Pitchfork that he is "grateful [for the association,] because it defined me apart from millions of other kids in their bedroom making electronic music."

The two new singles seem to stray away from the Chillwave sound that Washed Out is known for, and seem more resemblant to synth pop. Though Chillwave is also known for being retro and vintage, which both of the singles possess in their cover art (both of which resemble 70's illustration) - the songs sound very current.

Washed Out has also announced a new album and tour. The new album - which will be a visual album named Mister Mellow - will be released via Stones Throw, and the tour will begin this July at the NorVa in Virginia, the dates of which are available on the Washed Out website.

Washed Out has also shared a dreamy trailer for the new album, which can be watched below:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeL2-J48e2E&feature=youtu.be expand=1]

The track list for the album has also been shared, which consists of:

01. Title Card
02. Burn Out Blues
03. Time Off
04. Floating By
05. I've Been Daydreaming My Entire Life
06. Hard to Say Goodbye
07. Down and Out
08. Instant Calm
09. Zonked
10. Get Lost
11. Easy Does It
12. Million Miles Away

After the four year hiatus, I'm glad to finally be hearing new music from Washed Out, and I can't wait for what's in store in Mister Mellow.


KEVIN MORBY looks himself in the eyes in City Music

MUSIC | Morby's new album, which released on June 16th, could be his best yet

Like in the album's cover, in City Music Kevin Morby looks himself in the eyes.

In the cover art for ever nostalgic singer songwriter Kevin Morby's new album City Music, released on June 16th, we see Morby looking himself in the eyes over his shoulder into a mirror. The mirror, dark and wooden, lies on a wooden dresser with doilies and framed photographs on top of it. With pearls of light spotted onto his face, Morby is the focal point of the image - the only part that is truly in focus. Curly dirty blonde hair frames his face, and the rest of the photograph disappears into a blur of gray scale - delineated only by the sharp darkness of the mirror's frame. If you zoom in on the bottom of the image, you will see, in tiny white font, "*Ten new songs, a Germs cover, and a Flannery O'Connor passage read by Meg Baird."

The cover art shows Morby in a different light than we are used to seeing him in. The image - taken in the format of a black and white film photograph - feels fitting for the retro sound he is known for, music that often can feel indiscernible from what was being made in the 60's and 70's on Laurel Canyon. The image is feminine, Morby is wearing a polka dot dress covered by a large white cotton sweater, and looking into a vanity mirror. The image is soft, and the light on his face is fuzzy. The image is soft - varying greatly from the album cover of Morby's 2016 album Singing Saw which was rated Best New Music by Pitchfork.

In the cover art for Singing Saw we see Morby dressed sharply in blue. Instead of looking at himself, in Singing Saw Morby is looking straight at us, the viewer. He is in the hills, hiking, with twinkling city lights in the far distance. Behind him is a fire - this fire imagery being mirrored in tracks like "Destroyer" and "Water." In Singing Saw, an organic album about destruction, we see Morby in a different light than what is seen in City Music.

Like in the album's cover, in City Music Kevin Morby looks himself in the eyes. He does so through the imagery and experience of moving to a new city, through feelings of exhaustion and overwhelm that come from being an outsider in society, and through the fictional upper Manhattan character Mabel.

In the album's opening track, "Come to Me Now," we are introduced to Mabel. Mabel is, as Morby explained in a track by track explanation of the album for NPR, "an old, reclusive woman… living in an unknown part of uptown Manhattan. Mabel spends her time alone and doesn't enjoy the sun. She draws the blinds and waits for the moon to come out, for the day to sink away and for the night to expose itself. Only then does she feel any relief." In "Come to Me Now" we become first exposed to Mabel, and to the imagery of being alone in a big city - a theme which remains present throughout the album.

The second song on the album, "Crybaby", is about estrangement and feeling distanced from society. As Morby explained to NPR, the song is about "existing outside of society and how, on a gloomy day, that can be exhausting - to feel so much - to be so sensitive to such an abrasive world. So why don't you cry, you crybaby?" Morby is looking himself in the eyes in "Crybaby" - the song is both sensitive and critical of the burden of being an outsider, and one of the strongest on the album.

Other tracks on the album sing of similar feelings of estrangement, and nod to musical and lyrical influences. In the album's third song, "1234," Morby pays homage to The Ramones - in which he literally names each founding member. The ninth track on the album, "Caught in My Eye" is a germs cover. The sixth song, "Flannery," is a reading of a Flannery O'Connor passage performed by musician Meg Baird, who is also featured in "Caught in My Eye". On the choice to include this reading in the album, Morby said to NPR that he found "the idea of someone who's never seen a city - not even from afar - seeing one in the distance for the first time and mistaking it for a fire" compelling.

We also get two more installments from Mabel. In "Tin Can" we hear about Mabel feeling trapped in her uptown apartment, with lyrics like "I live high, oh my tin can up in the sky, all those people down below, oh that city I long to know," and "I am a prisoner here, and I don't mind." The last we hear from Mabel is in the tenth track on the album, "Night Time." As Morby explained to NPR about "Night Time," "again, here we have Mabel, taking comfort in the nighttime happening in the streets below her, thriving off of the energy of others she cannot connect with and remembering friends from the past. All the while she is half-drunk, with sad songs playing on her stereo, daring the world to 'turn me on, don't turn on me'."

City Music has been one of the most anticipated releases of 2017, and it delivered. In a 2016 review of Morby's album Singing Saw journalist Mark Richardson wrote that "Morby's own albums keep getting better" - and that certainly seems to still be the case with City Music. After listening to City Music a couple times now I can't help but wonder if it's Mabel we're seeing on the cover.