WATCH | Adam Lambert & Queen dedicate new song “Two Fux” to Freddie Mercury

The new song harkens to classic Queen, and Lambert has never sounded so good.

Glamberts have been along for a ride of their lives: beginning with Adam Lambert‘s 2009 debut LP For Your Entertainment followed with the sharp, bombastic Trespassing (2012) and later, 2015’s criminally-underrated The Original High. The past several years, he has stepped into Freddie Mercury’s shoes quite magnificently as frontman of Queen on a global tour, which continues tonight (June 23) in Phoenix. Ahead of that show, however, the group stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live, and they premiered a brand new track, the brazen and sweeping “TwoFux,” in true Queen fashion. “No one gets me like myself. I’ve been this way since I was 12,” Lambert wails.

“This song is dedicated to Freddie himself,” Lambert declared over rowdy cheers, as the thick drums and blustering guitars swirled into view. With Brian May on guitar and Roger Taylor on drums, the performance was polished but reckless, soaring but intimate, passionate and fearsome. Check it out below:

Lambert and company also whipped out a version of “I Want It All,” originally found on the band’s 1989 studio album The Miracle, containing “The Invisible Man,” “Breakthru” and “Scandal.” The set also included renderings of “Don’t Stop Me Now” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (cuts on 1978’s Jazz).

If you were ever curious how Lambert fit into the group so well, the answer is quite simple: it was meant to be. “It was obvious to all three of us that this felt really natural. They liked what I was doing musically. It just felt connected. Then things snowballed. They said after that [‘American Idol’] performance, ‘Hey, we’re interested in doing something.’ I said, ‘Yeah, me too, but hold on a bit—let me get my album out.’ Then, one thing after another happened,” Lambert told Time earlier this year.

On the vast difference between sold-out tours with Queen and promoting his solo work, he shared, “A handful of the songs in the set are absolutely ridiculous—high camp. Because the audience already loves the song, I know I can push it as far as I want. It’s the most liberating thing. I wonder, whatever happened to watching an artist and having them make you laugh? Where is that in music? In the ’70s and ’80s, there was a lot of that. It was over the top. They weren’t taking themselves that seriously.”

RB/Bauer-Griffin

An official recording of “TwoFux” is slated to drop June 30.

For his next record, Lambert is aiming “to try something a little different than what I did before,” he noted. It’s a lot bluesier and earthier. I want to get back to live instruments—I like guitar and bass. I want to do it more for me.” While he has had a rather impressive career so far, he hasn’t quite reached the pinnacle many predicted early on he would. He mused on his place in modern pop music, saying “That’s the hardest thing about being somebody that’s been in the business now since ‘Idol’ seven years ago, which is where it all started. You’re a known entity—that’s a good thing. You have a built in fanbase. But sometimes changing people’s minds, or bringing them something that’s a new phase in your career, is a hard sell. Whereas people love discovery. If they love a new song: ‘I don’t know who the artist is, but the song is sick.’ I don’t know how much people are paying attention to talent these days—I think it’s about vibe.”

Check out Lambert and Queen’s second performance now:

PREMIERE | Haim are coming for you in “Want You Back”

Haim just released their music video for their leading single off their new album “Want You Back,” and it’s so boldly cinematic yet effortlessly pristine that we’re going to break it down like a screenplay for you. Sit back, relax, and rest easy in the knowledge that the girls are back and better than ever.

Characters (in order of appearance):

Danielle Haim: sings and plays guitar in Haim. Seen here in an incredible leather jacket, yellow graphic tee, and light-wash mid-rise jeans. Her shoes, which match her sisters’, are black leather heels – about two inches high. It’s an iconic look. She’s probably capable of saying something incredibly cutting, but wouldn’t unless you deserve it.

Alana Haim: drums and sings in Haim. Wears an evergreen-colored Queen tee and jeans similar to Danielle’s. Her shoes, of course, match Alana’s. She’s smiling, but also looks ready to incite a take-down. Be careful of her perfectly-timed dance moves and intense eye contact; you’re not ready for her.

Este Haim: The oldest, tallest, and blondest of the Haim sisters. Plays bass and sings in Haim. Is rocking an incredible striped cropped turtleneck, a combination of words used to describe a shirt that has rarely been seen in the history of the internet. She pairs this with a short black leather shirt with a single frill. It’s also incredible. Her gaze is the coolest and fiercest. Watch out for the authoritative wrist flicks and the totally perfect way she just, like, exists.

Scene:

A street in Los Angeles. Looks suspiciously like something near LAX, but is far too empty to exist in real life. This is definitely a magical street where the Haim sisters walk in unison and beg for your forgiveness while performing just enough synchronized dance moves to make you beg them to come back – even though the line “I’ll take all the fall and the fault in this” would imply that you did nothing wrong in the first place. The sky is nothing short of melodramatic, full of just enough sunlight to not be called “dark” and spotted with fluffy stratus clouds.

Open on Danielle, looking pensive near a streetlight. She is clearly waiting for something, which turns out to be her sisters as they silently begin marching down the middle of the street, safe in the tacit understanding that no car would dare to hit them. Small hand movements and later on fully coordinated skipping and spinning are pulled off in perfect time with the song’s already perfect instrumentation.

Each girl gets a verse (or in Alana’s case, the bridge) to have the camera to herself as she confidently struts on her way to get you back. They’re all giving off the most determinedly confident vibe that it would be hard to imagine anyone turning them down as they arrive. Besides, they literally stopped traffic. Who would say no to Haim? Not this writer, and certainly not anyone with good taste in shoes, songs, or women.

PREMIERE | Fall Out Boy is your “Champion”

Some songs are timeless, just as bopping and relevant no matter the decade you’re bopping to it. Then there’s songs like Fall Out Boy’s new single “Champion” which reek of the era in which it was made so strongly that you can almost hear the sound bites of Paul Ryan defending the Republican’s new healthcare plan playing in the background. “Champion” does not have any actual sound bites, but it may as well – between the marketing surrounding the release and the song itself, the sense of defiance and need for support and unity is unmistakable.

via Twitter

“Champion” opens with a lone electric guitar and a feeling of tension like the moment before a fight breaks out that Patrick Stump has perfected in Fall Out Boy’s sound over the years. (See “Sugar We’re Going Down,” “The Take Over, The Break’s Over” and “Uma Thurman,” to name a few.) Stump follows with vocals as aggressive and provocative as the mood would suggest. The pre-chorus and chorus, taken together, are like an anthem just dying to be screamed from cars and rooftops.

“We’re young enough not to know what to believe in. If I can live through this, I can do anything.”

The whole song is a deep, smashing hit, hinting more at the heroic ideals that their previous single off the new album Mania did. “Young and Menace” had a music video that was downright cinematic, featuring Brendon Urie in a monster suit and a small girl fighting off her demons in a trippy, neon-lit universe. “Champion” follows that vibe in a very obvious way with its call-to-arms.

The track also bears a striking resemblance to one of the band’s earlier releases off their 2013 release Save Rock and Roll. Both songs were the second singles in their respective release cycles, and both are defiant, empowering anthems with swelling strings behind them. “Champion” swapped out be orchestra for electric guitar, but the mood each evokes is still the same.

But while “Phoenix” was for Fall Out Boy, “Champion” is for their fans. Listening to “Phoenix” gave one the unmistakable understanding that Fall Out Boy was back and stronger than ever, and that they were ready to take up the full mantle of rock celebrity icons and sound good doing it. “Champion” is those rock icons stepping up to the plate not to grow and defend their legacy, but to protect the legacies and lives of their fans.

After American Beauty/America Psycho, it seems like Fall Out Boy are returning to the same mindset that carried them through the Save Rock and Roll era with aggression, rock, and dark guitar.With lofty goals from the band and high hopes from the fans, it’s likely the boys will at the very least surpass Katy Perry as motivational role models (if not in the “woke pop” genre).

A second ‘Game of Thrones’ season 7 trailer has been released

On the first day of summer, winter couldn’t feel closer.

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, anyway. The new season’s trailer unexpected dropped a few weeks ago and left the world hungry for more. It’s no surprise, then, that HBO decided to bless us with another trailer when we weren’t looking, when the battle for the Iron Throne and humanity was distant enough from our minds.

If the first trailer’s focus was the cornered Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), the arrival of conquering queen of the East Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), and the King in the North Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) gearing up for war, the new trailer focuses on these upcoming battles. We see Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) tearing up the battlefield, Daenerys’ dragons and army of Unsullied wreaking havoc, and enough brimstone and explosions to bring to rival any Wildfire that might remain at the bottom of the Sept of Baelor.

The end of the trailer, focusing on Jon Snow going head-to-head with The Night’s King and his White Walkers, is dubbed over by a monologue by Cersei, professing the lone wolf dying as the pack survives. After the new scenes, viewers are left with both a fun juxtaposition for these warm months and a chilling reminder concerning the world of Westeros as we know it: “Winter is Here.”

Watch the new trailer below.


E.R. Pulgar is a music writer, poet, image-maker, and once cried reading Virginia Woolf. Follow him on Twitter.

TV | Picts, Romans, and the immodernity of sexual politics in ‘Doctor Who’

In 1989, Doctor Who disappeared from our TV screens, not to return as a fully-fledged TV series again until 2005. The final story of the Classic Series (as it has now become known) featured cheetah people, a visit to a rundown part of West London, and the final canonical appearance of Anthony Ainley as The Master. It was written by the then thirty year-old Scottish writer Rona Munro, who has since gone on to great acclaim as a playwright. This week, nearly 28 years on, Munro makes her writing return to Doctor Who with The Eaters of Light. This makes her the only writer from the Classic Series to have now also written for the modern series. The results are really quite something.

The Doctor, Bill and Nardole are off in Roman era Scotland, on the hunt for the lost Ninth Roman Legion, which he and Bill have a bet about. As they hunt they come across a clan of Pictish people, who are none too pleased that there are Romans about, and the last few survivors of the Ninth, all of whom are young soldiers no more than eighteen years old. As they investigate, they find out that a seemingly unstoppable creature has been terrorizing the surrounding countryside, killing off the Ninth, and now the Pictish people too. The only way that it can be stopped is if everyone works together, but with the Romans and the Picts being mortal enemies, this seems unlikely.

This episode is an excellent use of Doctor Who’s central premise. In fact, it harkens back to the original reason for Doctor Who’s commission in the 1960s as a vessel for tangential learning about history. Munro, a long time scholar of Scottish history, uses this story as an opportunity to shed light on the early peoples of Scotland, as well as the more glossed over aspects of Roman history. It’s a fascinating insight into ancient culture, and is marvelously even-handed in its depictions of both sides of the conflict.

Eaters of Light is filled with little surprises. Bill and a Roman soldier have a fascinating conversation about sexuality, which also happens to be suitable for children to listen to. In response to him making polite advances on her, she says that she likes girls. Another Roman soldier then chips in that he only likes boys. The first Roman soldier then remarks on how charmingly quaint they both are, in that he likes both boys and girls. In less than five minutes we get a lesson in sexual politics, the history of same, and the relative immodernity of many steadfastly held modern sexual mores.

“…a gentler paced episode that trades on thoughtfulness and visuals, rather than plot adrenaline.”

Folklore, history and politics put aside, we are left with a story that is also still a good ‘monster-on-the-loose’ episode. Simple enough in basic construction, with a creepy-looking monster and clear sci-fi mechanics surrounding it, the story plays out, largely as a vessel for all the subject matter mentioned above. This is refreshing in Doctor Who, allowing for a gentler paced episode that trades on thoughtfulness and visuals, rather than plot adrenaline. The writing for Missy (who turns up again briefly) is also wonderful. Rona Munro’s return is most certainly a welcome one. With any luck, we won’t have to wait another 28 years for her next outing.

Next week: Mondasian Cybermen and… John Simm as The Master?!

Louis York is for the people in “Nerds”

Her hair is different, her clothes are different, and she runs with the intensity of a million suns to sit in a dark corner and listen to music to escape the real ills of her daily world. The she mentioned is the starring character in Louis York’s newest video for “Nerds” from their EP Masterpiece Theater-Act I. In the video, the young girl walks into the cafeteria, sitting alone in her mix=and match animal prints, patterns, and textures. She doesn’t seem to fit in, and although she tries to exude strength and continue to trek through the rest of her day, the isolation becomes more than she can bear. In this little closet, she listens to music, and is transformed into her careless self, a ballerina- graceful, uninhibited, and deserving of the spotlight. In this moment, the song transforms from a rock ballad reminiscent of the 80’s mixed with the 2000’s to a synthesized and smooth ballad. An interesting choice, sonically, but a choice that works, especially given the subject matter.

“Nerds isn’t just a song, it’s a call to action. We had to make sure the visual was equally as powerful. We all feel a little nerdy at times and it helps to have a song that reminds you that you are okay being who you are,” states New York Native Claude Kelly.

Social justice, self reflection, and self love are not new themes for multi-grammy nominated duo Chuck Harmony and Claude Kelly. The duo, working under the group name Louis York, summon the musical muses of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson in their personal works, believing that music should be used as a catalyst to changing the world. When thinking about their role in the landscape of music and the world, Chuck harmony adds, “We are actively trying to establish ourselves as intelligent musicians who can approach art creation in a way that’s not only commercially viable but that can also serve as a voice that speaks to the cares and concerns facing humanity.”

While the two have produced and written for Rihanna, Britney Spears, Bruno Mars, Ne-Yo, Fantasia, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and Celine Dion, it is refreshing to hear what they create as their own sound in this project. Take a look at the video, as the pair continue the use of art to promote social issues.

WASHED OUT released two dreamy new singles after a four year hiatus

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.

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.

PopDust Presents | SPENCER SUTHERLAND performs his latest single “Selfish”

“We’re from Ohio. We’re huggers.”

These are the first words I hear from Spencer Sutherland and his team when they enter the Popdust offices for his Facebook Live set and interview last week. The young man with so much talent certainly hasn’t let it all get to his head. While he may be focused on his quickly skyrocketing career, he is also remains humble and polite — an undervalued characteristic in the entertainment world.

Sutherland grew up in the small town of Pickerington just outside of Columbus, falling in love with music through the works of Elvis Presley and the Backstreet Boys. Now, he’s making music of his own. Sutherland has made his work well known throughout the country, having been featured in Teen Vogue, USA Today, and On Air with Ryan Seacrest, among other publications and media outlets.

He started out covering songs on his YouTube channel, covering everyone from Kendrick Lamar to Ed Sheeran, Drake to Bruno Mars, which have garnered thousands of views. In addition to his popular covers, Sutherland has also been recently releasing his own music. His latest single, “Selfish,” recently released a music video, as well.

The process of producing music has been diverse and fun for Sutherland. “Some songs kind of start with me just playing guitar and writing by myself. Some songs start in the studio with another person, a producer, and it’s a collaborative effort,” Sutherland says. “It’s different every time, but what I write about, are usually things I’m going through in my life, and that I think people going through the same thing can relate to.”

His almost 15,000 Facebook fans have definitely found comfort in his lyrics and songs.

All of his musical talents are now being recognized in a big way. Sutherland is a finalist in the Macy’s iHeartRadio Rising Star contest, which recognizes new talent in the industry in the Unites States. One lucky contestant in the Top Five will be the opening act for the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Festival held in Nevada this upcoming September. It’s all determined by fans making the effort to vote for their favorite contestant. You can vote for Sutherland here through July 9.

In addition to his music career, Sutherland is also a model, contracted with FORD Models, and also has a burgeoning interest in acting. However, he is adamant in saying that these interest will always play second fiddle to his music career. “It’s only interfered, like, twice in my life,” Sutherland says, noting how separate they are. “For me, music is number one all the time. It takes precedence over everything because it’s my passion.”

Throughout the rest of June, you can find Sutherland on the road, touring with the hiphop duo Round2Crew on The Pink Couch Tour. He will also be working on releasing more music, including a debut EP in the near future, and debuting other projects soon that he preferred to keep a little under wraps.

You can watch Sutherland’s acoustic set at the Popdust offices and our entire interview with him below.

Follow Spencer on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Rachel A.G. Gilman is a writer, a radio producer, and probably the girl wearing the Kinks shirt. Follow her on Twitter.

INTERVIEW | a Q&A with Rooney’s Robert Schwartzman

Rooney, the lovechild of Robert Schwartzman, has never wandered far from our hearts.

Starting up in 1999, the Los Angeles-bred rock band lived through four albums, two EPs, world tours with the likes of The Strokes and Jane’s Addiction, and even their own record label. Their sophomore LP, Calling the World, is as catchy as it is endearing – with an album cover reminiscent of the Doors (another product of LA) and a voice recalling the ghost of Weezer’s past, it’s no wonder we got enduring hits like “When Did Your Heart Go Missing?” Schwartzman (the brother of Jason Schwartzman, a long-loved Wes Anderson muse and somewhat of an acting God, at least in my eyes) has a versatility that’s kept Rooney afloat, never straying from the sound he’s crafted yet not afraid to evolve and grow past certain expectations.

If you were a teenager in the early 2000’s, chances are your music taste was finely crafted by the sounds of the O.C. soundtrack. The television series was the first of its kind, playing host to a variety of indie bands (Death Cab For Cutie, The Killers) that gave them access to a whole new type of world – one with an audience that fervently listened. Rooney was one such band that had an episode significantly revolve around them, catapulting them into the stardom they comfortably lead today. It is through this medium, a teen drama that ended way before it’s due, that I found Rooney, as well as several musicians I still keep up with today.

Rooney is a band with a past, but they don’t chain themselves to it. On El Cortez, sounds of pure indie rock goodness shine through, with lyrics of heartbreak, unrequited love and second chances. The first single, “Second Chances”, captures the growing variety of concepts and styles of Rooney into one charming 4:14 minute long track. Schwartzman’s songwriting lends itself to it’s own worldly level of creation, piecing together one big universe of neon lights and sweet, sweet guitar riffs.

When the opportunity arose, Popdust was honored to chat with Schwartzman about returning to Rooney’s roots, scoring the ultra-beautiful, ultra-left-us-starry-eyed Gia Coppola-directed Palo Alto, and the makings of El Cortez.


How was the recording process for your upcoming EP, El Cortez?

It was a blast making these songs. I’ve always wanted to record outside of LA, a destination album. I also have a love for downtown Las Vegas, so it seemed fitting when we stumbled into 11th Street Records in Vegas one night before our show at Bunkhouse Saloon and found this gem of a studio. While making the EP, we all lived in downtown Las Vegas at the El Cortez hotel during basic tracking. The rest of the album was recorded back in LA at my home studio.

“Second Chances” sounds like a return to Rooney’s roots – was this intentional or a natural progression of your songwriting?

It wasn’t intentional, I wrote and recorded this song years ago when Rooney took a hiatus and decided to release it solo. I always felt it would work on a Rooney album and wanted to start playing it in the Rooney live shows, to try a new version. We played it during the December tour last year and it quickly felt right at home in the set. The song really grabs you right away so it seemed it needed a place on this EP. Even better, it’s become the first single!

Rooney is often cited as being the first band to get a headstart through the popular series The O.C. Looking back now, would you repeat that experience?

It is true that this experience on The OC was new for bands at that time, even more novel was to have a band work its way into the episode plot. I didn’t know what to expect going into it, wasn’t really sure what would come of it, but it seemed different and very cool to be a part of the plot. I can say that the invite came from the show creators support of Rooney and the music we were making, so having us on the show came from a genuine place, not from some network or label pitch. If you put things in perspective, this is very competitive industry and trying to get visibility is one battle at a time. Being on The OC (or any film or tv show) was a new way for music artists to reach an audience, not dissimilar from how artists today put their songs in an advertising campaign, like Taco Bell, Apple, or a car commercial to reach people. Being on that show turned people onto Rooney, which is what it’s all about so I’m grateful for the opportunity. It’s easy to look back and judge something or wonder what would’ve happened had we not taken that show, good or bad. Opportunities like that don’t come all the time, so I’m very appreciative that Rooney was invited to be on the show.

What inspiration did you have in mind when it came to scoring the 2013 film Palo Alto with Blood Orange’s Devonte Hynes?

I wanted to make music that pulled on your heart strings. Chords that made you yearn for something, to put your hands up and give in to the confused emotions we feel. This is a story about a teenage girl trying to find her way at that age, in that community, searching for something. My cousin Gia directed the film and I worked on the music for her other projects prior to this, so I had an idea of that she would respond to. Gia loves Dev and his music so it was cool to see what he would make and then work on my own stuff. Together, each of our music contributions shaped the sound of the film.

A promotional still for Gia Coppola’s 2013 film Palo Alto, with additional scoring by Robert Schwartzman

How has it been venturing into the world of directing?

I love it. I love everything about it.

How do you decide which medium – music, film – to express a certain sentiment through?

I see all of these projects as outlets to express ideas. It’s not about this or that, picking one thing or the other, they all seem connected. The fact that film is so heavily reliant on music is very satisfying because I can bring Music ideas to these projects early on in the process. It’s fun to combine these creative worlds and find harmony in them.

You’re also getting ready to embark on a massive 37-date tour across North America. What are you most excited for when it comes to going back on the road?

I’ve been touring since I was 19 years old so it’s become like home. I love playing shows and visiting all these cities, keeping the flow on the road. I’d say I’m most excited about playing new songs and feeling the crowd. That’s really what it’s all about, interacting with the audience, connecting with everyone. There’s truly no other experience like it.

Courtesy of Rooney

Any funny memories of being on tour with the Strokes in 2002?

I just remember loving every second of it. Love those guys. They were very supportive and it goes a long way. We got to play on that tour with The Donnas and Sloan as well, so it was great all around.

What are you hoping El Cortez conveys to old and new fans alike?

I’m very proud of these songs. Super excited for people to hear them and work them into the live show. I think old and new fans can find something on this album that speaks to them. Really loved making these songs, playing these songs so it’s gonna be fun to get it out July 28th!


Find Rooney via Twitter, Instagram, and official website.

El Cortez is out July 28.

LISTEN | Smoke Season live for the “Good Days”

“Now, we don’t believe in anyone,” singer Wortman hisses.

Where have the good days gone? No, seriously–where are they? The days long before social media became the dirge of the earth; long summer days were spent down by the riverbank; and the local drive-in was the hot spot on a sweltering Friday night. Dead and gone, basically. Electro-pop duo Smoke Season, a Popdust favorite around here, reminiscence about those cherished memories that inch further and further from memory with “Good Days,” a beguiling and slippery floor jam. “We wanted to capture the bittersweet feeling of remembering times that shaped you into who you are today. Those events seem to slip by as they’re happening but their importance becomes so clear in retrospect. To us, this is the definition of soul-shaping,” the pair share about the song, which you can listen to in full below.

“Oh, the years flew by. Now, we don’t believe in anyone,” evocative lead vocalist Gabrielle Wortman slithers on the first verse, adorning a rather erratic production style, sitting between Lorde bite and big band–probably thanks to the work of saxophonist James Ragusa. Ragusa dresses up the song with a subtly sexiness, fit for recalling forlorn romance and the fleeting intoxication of a stolen kiss underneath the bleachers. “Loose unties, till we lost control. I think it’s time to go where the good days have gone to.”

“In time, even the boulders will be flat lines, like the wrinkles on our skin, signs from the outside looking in. A tear rolls down her cheek. I bet we won’t believe it,” Wortman later reels, mixing raw sorrow with a gliding but intense optimism.

“Good Days” follows the release of “Hello” earlier this year, which features a rather timely video (a Valentine’s Day release) “We’d always wanted to release ‘Hello’ for Valentine’s Day because it’s a love story, but after the election, the love story we were going to tell changed. Gender equality has always been an issue, but with the new rhetoric prominent now, we decided to focus on female empowerment,” Wortman told East of 8th about the visual. “We decided to put women at the center of their own narratives, rather than objectifying them.”

Screenshot from “Hello” music video

Splashed with ’40s-designed fashion and makeup–thanks to director Megan Duffy, Schon Magazine beauty producer Mynxii White (Stella McCartney, Marilyn Manson) and stylist Zoe Zhou (Beyonce)–the clip centers on a woman who “comes home, she takes a bath, a baptism of sorts, she comes clean, and each of the versions of her are different roles of femininity—whether it’s what society puts on us or whether we put it on ourselves,” explained Wortman. “The main character goes through these stages of femininity; we even joked that Jason’s role in the video is even a form of femininity, as if the character reaches ultimate masculinity in her journey to empowerment. The shot at the end of the character in the yellow dress, it’s like she’s put her armor back on, she’s the queen again, and ready for another round.”

Smoke Season are, reportedly, finishing up their debut full-length album, the follow-up to 2016’s excellent and propulsive Ouroboros EP.

Spin “Good Days” now: