Now six years removed from the release of the landmark Gin, one of the most important metal albums of the 2000s, anticipation had been building as Cobalt began preparing to write and record the long-awaited follow-up. However, late 2014 found the band, comprised of multi-instrumentalist Erik Wunder and vocalist Phil McSorley, embroiled in controversy after McSorley repeatedly used homophobic and misogynistic language in a Facebook comment thread. Wunder, to his credit, acted quickly, and shortly thereafter announced that McSorley was no longer a part of Cobalt, and that recording of the new album would continue with a vocalist to be named later.
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Todd Grebe and his wife, songwriter Angela Oudean, left Nashville for their native Alaska, not exactly barefoot and pregnant, but definitely leaving their days in her band, Bearfoot, behind. The next step for them brought them closer to their families and found them starting their own family, with a new baby. While returning home added familiarity, circumstances of leaving Nashville led them to return to sell their remaining items down there, and also made recording an album an easy farewell.
“I mean, Kill the Lights, it’s pretty depressing sometimes, I think.”
—Brian Girgus, Skyscraper, Summer 1999
”Girl you’re a king”
After six unsparing tracks, Kill the Lights theoretically could have ended in any number of ways: perhaps with a short ending piece to ease the listener back into a more emotionally stable place, or even something with a bit of uplift to offer a sliver of hope at the close of such a draining song cycle. What lowercase went with, of course, was an exorcism even longer and more violent than the one that came just before it (“Rare Anger”); one so idiosyncratic and genuinely messed up that it can even be a little bit frightening.
Pop Unmuted is a podcast dedicated to in-depth discussion of pop music from varying critical and academic perspectives. On Episode 13, Scott Interrante and Kurt Trowbridge are joined by music journalist Kira Grunenberg and Atlantic Records A&R consultant and music blogger Adam Soybel to celebrate the podcast’s one year anniversary by discussing pop anniversaries and pop nostalgia. The panel then talks about the latest single by the Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face” and its relationship to Apple Music. As always, we end with our Unmuted Pop Songs recommendation segment.
Alpine aren’t a mere pop group, no. This Australian sextet is comprised of people who are thoroughly obsessed with pop music, just as much fans as they are creators, and they have managed to synthesize those influences into one hell of a journey, one which has taken them all over the world.
Although formed in 2009, the group’s sparse full-length, A is for Alpine, didn’t come out until 2012, after which the six friends—consisting of singers Pheobe Baker and Lou James, guitarist Christian O’Brien, bassist Ryan Lamb, keyboardist Tim Royall, and drummer Phil Tucker—slowly began their ascent into pop prominence. Although still biggest in their homeland, their appearances on high-profile platforms like NPR’s famed Tiny Desk Concert series helped people get wrapped into the group’s lush sound, spare but pointed, James and Baker’s cooing harmonies helping give warmth to the group’s accessible, tranquil pop pleasures.