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.
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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.
Roots rock cult hero, Dex Romweber, first came to my attention in Flat Duo Jets, back when I was going to all ages shows in Atlanta and Athens, and hiding out in the bathroom to stay for the later 21 and older shows. The Dex Romweber Duo began with his buddy, Crash LaResh, and later with his sister, Sara Romweber (of Let’s Active and Snatches of Pink).
Dex Romweber Duo‘s last album, Images 13, derives its name from the cover art, an existing piece from Romweber’s own portfolio, not referencing the number of tracks (there are 12).
“You stand atop the spires / To see your vigil fires/Burn so far away / On a saffron mezzanine”
Skyscraper: …is it mainly a personal thing—for you to write songs as a personal experience?
Brian Girgus: Yeah, it’s weird, see sometimes I wonder if a lot of the things Imaad is singing about, he’ll say things in a song and I’m just like ‘’oh that’s weird, I know exactly what incident he is talking about right now”, and then other times he will just kind of paint these pictures of things that are potentials in his head or things that could happen or things that he had some dream about or something. What was the exact thing you asked me again?
—Skyscraper, Summer 1999
“You were a statue liar / Your schisms did conspire / The crumbled stones remain / Covered with bloody stains”
The back half of Kill the Lights is one of the more visceral album sides in any genre. Admittedly, “visceral” is one of those adjectives that get brought out a little too often in attempts to describe passionate records. For clarity’s sake, let’s double check Merriam-Webster’s definition: “coming from strong emotions and not from logic or reason”. When people writing about music use the word “visceral”, they are, more often than not, probably thinking of the first half of its definition, and not intending to demean the artist by suggesting they were neglecting logic and/or reason.
“I was really into [nu-metal/post-hardcore producer] Ross Robinson and how he would be recording and throw a chair at somebody to get a more aggressive performance,” says Jasamine White-Gluz when asked about her influences for the new No Joy album, More Faithful. At the Drive In, whom White-Gluz cites, is a surprising touchstone for a band most often compared to shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive and whose third-full length clears the fuzz for a strikingly pop oriented sound. Yet White-Gluz says it was all about moving outside her comfort zone.
No Joy finished its latest album in an isolated farmhouse in Costa Rica, stuck for days on end without wifi or television. The farmhouse belonged to producer Jorge Elbrecht’s family, and while Elbrecht was no chair thrower, he did push White-Gluz and her fellow band members into surprising places.
White-Gluz, who asked her producer to make her uncomfortable recalls, “I would have to sing my vocals with no reverb and do them over and over again and in front of people. On the last record, I was singing in a dark room and alone and you couldn’t really see me. It made me uncomfortable.” By the end, she says, “I kind of regretted wanting him to push me, but, I asked for this.”