INTERVIEW | Ratboys talk latest album

Earlier this summer, Ratboys brought on the feels with the release of their sophomore album, GN.

What started out as a project between friends turned into one of the newest indie bands to keep your eye on. Whether they’re singing about a beloved pet cat or a lost first love, Ratboys has mastered the craft of reaching into the deepest corners of our hearts and forcing a numbed generation to experience all the love and pain the world has to offer. Now, the band is hitting the road to share these songs with the country, some of their friends joining them along the way.

Julia Steiner from the band spoke with Popdust about their most recent release, heading on tour, and more.

How did you guys start playing music together as a band?

Dave and I met as university students, and very early on in our friendship we bonded over bands we liked and our mutual interest in playing music and writing songs. We started jamming pretty regularly in my dorm room, and by the end of our first year we made a little EP of songs to share with our friends. I visited Dave in his hometown near Chicago that summer, and we started playing shows, which we really enjoyed. So throughout college we kept writing and playing together, and by the time we graduated, we decided to pursue music together full-time.

You guys are in a list of many awesome Chicago-based bands that are flooding the music scene now. What’s in like being a part of that community?

Chicago is really thriving right now, it’s awesome. Living here and creating music here in the company of so many talented musicians really motivates us to make music that our peers will dig and that will stick out to audiences who go to tons of great shows all the time. It’s cool because there’s not really a ‘sound’ that I would associate with bands in Chicago right now, so it allows us to fit in and stand out at the same time. And it’s really helpful and fun to draw inspiration from so many bands in the area who all sound unique and have a their own things going on.

You have called your sound “post-country.” What does that mean to you, and what has influenced it?

To me post-country is indie-rock music that gestures toward the bygone elements of country music that are so pleasant and special but that have become lost in present mainstream country music. These elements include instrumentation such as the pedal steel, slide guitar, fiddle, and accordion, as well as an emphasis on narrative song structures and storytelling. I think the term post-country points out the fact that a growing number of young musicians – folks like (Sandy) Alex G, Pinegrove, The Fever Haze, and Fishplate quickly come to mind – have an interest in these sounds and this style of songwriting. Growing up in Kentucky, I listened to a lot of Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, as well as Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, and Shania Twain. As I was growing up I started noticing a difference between what I knew as country music from the 60s and 70s versus what country music had become by the 90s and 2000s, which was much more commodified and closer to mainstream pop music. Once I discovered groups like Wilco and Megafaun and Blitzen Trapper, I realized that there was a distinct space in between those two ends of the ‘country music spectrum,’ so to speak, and I set out to make music in that same space.

You recently released your sophomore album, GN. What was the writing and recording process for that like?

GN stands for ‘good night’ – there is a song on the record called ‘GM,’ though, which stands for ‘good morning.’ The writing and recording process was very enjoyable this time around, much more measured and planned out than our first record. Dave and I went to a house in Northern Michigan last May and holed up there to write and help the album take shape. That was really productive and fun for us because we were so isolated and focused on playing music together all day every day for a couple weeks. We then recorded the album back in Chicago after a long tour, so we were all really pleased to shift gears and be in one place and do our best to capture the songs. We tracked everything over the course of eight days, and mixed for another four days, so all in all it was a pretty quick experience. I liked that, though, because it allowed us to be deliberate and not overthink things. I’m really pleased with how the record came out.

There’s a real memoir-esque, storytelling aspect to your songs. Is this conscious on your part and what are the challenges of covering material like that?

It’s definitely conscious on my part – there are certain stories that I just find quite meaningful and powerful, so I want to share them and be deliberate about sharing them in an authentic way. I’m also really fascinated by the power of empathy and by the notion of memory, so I find it satisfying to reflect on those two larger ideas by writing about memories I have and/or memories of other people and their experiences. It’s challenging in a way because I want to honor those people and represent them honestly, but I would never want to impose or speak for somebody out of turn. I think that as long as that exploration comes from a place of respect, the end result will be a positive thing for everybody.

Do you have any favorite tracks off the album?

Definitely, I love ‘Crying about the Planets’ and ‘Westside.’ Those two are both so raw and different from any other song we have, I think they’re real standouts.

For your last album, you toured in Europe. What did you enjoy about that experience?

I loved trying different foods, taking stock of cultural differences and similarities, not being on my phone all the time, exploring different countries with my friends, going to IKEA twice in Sweden, going to the beach in Spain, grabbing a pint in Dublin, watching the NLCS at 6AM in Denmark, playing tug-of-war with a pit bull in Italy… There are thousands of things I could list. That five-week trip was the most fantastic opportunity we’ve had as a band; it was just unbelievably great.

You’re touring with some great acts all across the country. What have you liked about that thus far?

It’s great hearing quality music every night and getting to learn from our peers and be inspired by them. We love playing music and listening to music, so at the end of the day, getting to be surrounded by wonderful music is the best part of touring.

GN is released on Topshelf Records and is available now on Spotify and other streaming platforms.

Follow Ratboys on Facebook, Twitter, and Bandcamp.

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

Who’s the new man|Power Recap: Season 4, episode 6

“We need a resolution. We have so much confusion”

Every climax needs a resolution, and after the climatic
Episode 5 of Power, it’s easy to sound like Aaliyah on her 2001 self-titled album. After cliffhangers, revealed secrets, and growing character arches, it was clear that episode 6 would have to balance carefully answering questions and propelling the story without slowing the pace. Luckily for viewers, the cable hit had writers who accomplished that, answering some questions dating back to season one.

Tasha and Ghost’s first conversation after his release from prisonPhoto Courtesy of Starz

Who should be hurt? Who should be blamed?

Ghost (
Omari Hardwick) is home free, sort of, after killing a man and wants his wife and life back. Though he may be the luckiest guy in New York, escaping a prison sentence, trial, and getting his club back–life and possibly his wife have different plans. Tasha (Naturi Naughton) is unsure if the affair between the her husband and his mistress-turned prosecutor-turned martyr are over. Truth, which may be the only thing Ghost valued consistently throughout the series, is open, but as he walks around smiling, grateful, confident even, he is immediately greeted by two ghosts of his own past.

First there is Stern, who reveals that Tasha loaned money from his as a floater, and tells him he will forgive the loan if Ghost plays the face of his real estate business as he plans to gentrify while getting minority business loans. Ghost is blindsided and angry that he has to deal with the devil again, but that anger has to wait, because he then gets a call from jail. It’s Teresi, who we presume is Tommy’s biological father, eager to speak to Tommy. He warns Ghost that if that reunion doesn’t happen, then there’s will, as Teresi will tell the guards who really killed the prison marshal (
Charlie Murphy).

Who should be hurt? Who should be ashamed?

One thing Power does is push the boundaries on character development and relationships, especially with women. We see the soul-less Jukebox eager to put a hole in Taqriq’s (
Michael Rainey Jr.) head, and the first thought is “who hurt her? Why is she so evil?” though the internet has been calling for Ghost’s prodigal son’s death all season and we watched Kanan (50 Cent) kill his own son and moved on without a real second thought.

Next we have Lakeisha (
Lala Anthony), whose jealousy is on the precipice of hate against her best friend Tasha. With an open shop and a missing beau in Tommy, Lakeisha now equates Tasha for ruining every good thing she had going for her over the last few months. There is a “bye” that she utters after her meeting with Tasha that sounds so final, Tasha checks in with Tommy to see why he has gone missing in action. Of course, there is no answer, as Tommy is in Chicago with the suppliers.

It seems though, that the suppliers have questions of their own they want answered. Is Tommy willing to part with Ghost, and what happened to Milan? Turns out they did not order the hit on Milan as Tommy was told, and they want Milan’s killer to pay. As Tommy kneels, ready to die for a hit he didn’t put out, the moment comes where life flashes before his eye. His life, it seems, is just Holly. When the truth comes out that Tommy did not order the hit, but Milan’s henchman did, Tommy is set free to be the drug kingpin he wants to be, without Ghost in the picture. The first place he goes is to see the only other person who betrayed Holly as much as he had, her molester, her uncle. It’s now,we hope, the Holly saga is resolved.

Who should be hurt and will we remain?

While Stern, Ghost’s freedom, Tommy’s status as living or deceased, and the status of the club are resolved, the fate of Julio, Dre, Kanan and Tariq is still unkown. Julio is the enemy of Dre (
Rotimi), especially after he peeped the clandestine meeting between Dre and Kanaan. Dre takes his teacher pet rivalry to the ultimate level and has Julio killed by the gang he left bypassing the “blood in, blood out” rule. We watch Julio put up the fight of his life, but ultimately meets his demise. Though Dre’s secret may have died with Julio, the Kanan drama has not.

Kanan reveals that Jukebox has Tariq and will kill him unless he and Ghost come back with ransom money. They rob Tommy’s safehouse, Kanan kills the money washer, and they go to reclaim their son. There’s a synchronicity from the moment Ghost and Kanan meet until their departing that hints that their working relationship may not be over. There is a love for Tariq that they share that Kanan admits he didn’t have for his own biological son. Kanan admits this all as Jukebox demands he confess to Tariq that their friendship was a con, ensuring that Tariq’s final moments are miserable before she shoots him. This scene is a cinematic beauty. There’s this perfect triangle in a blank room, where at any moment, Jukebox, Kanan, or Ghost can be the perceived head, yet Kanan and Ghost always remain parallel, on the same mission to save the boy. In the end, it is Kanan who puts the bullet in Jukebox to save Tariq, and before he runs away with the money, he looks at Tariq and tells him he will see him around. A promise he is sure to take up. But Tariq is shell shocked, and as Ghost hugs his son, Tariq’s arms lie stifly at his side and he doesn’t connect with his father in what may be Michael Rainey Jr.’s best and most understated pereformance on the series so far. Kanan may have saved Tariq’s life, but he broke his heart.

Brittiany Cierra is an entertainment and travel journalist and On-Air host highlighting where culture, music, film, television, and current events intersect. When she’s not writing about people, places, and things, she’s dancing on them or marketing them. Follow the journey on twitter and Instagram.

LIVE | The Church of Frank Ocean comes to NYC

Muggy and damp with meaning. This was the scene Friday evening as the first night of the second-ever Panorama Music Festival drew to its close. Billed as Coachella -in-New-York-City, the publicity team linked to and is being sold under the Goldenvoice banner, the live music brand founded by Gary Tovar under the California sun in the late ’90s. It was also the second corporate music festival brand to hit the city, dueling with Live Nation like overlarge Godzillas, destroying whatever independent music culture existed in its wake.

But whatever. New music is for chumps. That’s why, working class hero that I am, I arrived on the first say whist the sun was setting over a New York City skyline that not even our real estate mogul President can get right. Calamity struck almost as soon as I entered the pavilion. One of the three ensconced stages had collapsed to the ground and hordes of escaping commoners were littering the festival ground. There would be no DJ Shadow spinning his latest record that isn’t Endtroducing….. Unfortunate. I caught MGMT instead.

(Doug Van Sant)


I had not come for a good time. I had come for MGMT’s Infamously Bad Live Show and, suffice to say, I was satisfied. No, they didn’t quite just stand around while Andrew Van Wyngarden beat a cowbell, as if disappointed anyone showed up. No, it was bad in such a curious, pedestrian way that watching it felt like a relieving palette before experiencing the pounding and very rare aura that Frank Ocean would be bring to the stage later the in the evening.

Trotting up to the stage like a low-rent Noel Gallagher, he didn’t hesitate before unloading his Wonderwalls: any passive observer enjoying a pre-headline lunch would hear the thick, cloying syth riffs of “Time to Pretend” jarring through the evening sky. Besides Andrew and Ben Goldwasser, the duo was joined by shambling congregation of ’70s outfits, the whole thing giving off the collective impression of a glam rock revival band, boredly shamming it on the sidewalk. Putting in even more of an effort were the video game visuals behind them, an nauseous board of Tron landscapes that were having even more fun than the Wesleyan U. pair.

Tyler, the Creator

The evening’s first former Odd Future performer (seriously, savvy stuff, Coachella people), Tyler, the Creator was also one of the few festival acts selling something that didn’t come out last year. In fact, Flower Boy, his fourth record, just came out a few weeks ago. It’s already got some note as his most acclaimed offering, a grown-up record from the performer known for spewing rape fantasies as performance art. I had seen Tyler before: in his OF days of burning down the house with his friends who also happened to be hip hop’s leading names. Minimal stages that felt like the street corners of the imagination.

With larger fanbases, come larger responsibilities. His new album’s titular iconography, a bed of surreally-enlarged sunflowers hung behind him where his hype-man/DJ hid. This was like an Edenic version of LA, everything cast in a permanent sunset glow. Fortunately, it happened to be sunset. His festival slot also gave him a chance to debut some of Flower Boy‘s best tracks live: “November” was revealed to be as angry as it is mournful about the end of his Odd Future days, “911 / Mr. Lonely” is a call to communal arms and its chorus becomes strangely powerful when shouted en mass: “I can’t even lie, I’ve been lonely as fuck.”

(Chris Lazzaro)


Very much has been written about Solange Knowles’ afrofuturist-informed live show for A Seat at the Table, listed as last year’s greatest album by any critic who felt like her sister didn’t need any more acclaim. Her ability this year to transform that record, which rendered a very contemporary political dialogue into the deeply felt and very personal beat and rhythm of contemporary R&B, into a newly invigorated expression of ’70s-era black liberation remains nothing less than remarkable. Throughout festival season, she has brought with her the pyramids that once graced the cover of Earth, Wind, & Fire albums and used them as a platform to reclaim an artistic space whose idiosyncrasies she wanted to make hers.

The chorus of an anthem like “”F.U.B.U.” is, by definition, possessive: it is a sound that communicates in the common language of pop music but argues for something more nuanced than peace, love and understanding. Live, with an engorged ensemble of powerfully talented musicians, it becomes a righteously defensive chant, something both a part of our time and part of an enshrined past.

(Doug Van Sant)

Frank Ocean

Would Frank Ocean headline festivals if he had played anywhere else in the past three years? It’s a vaguely meaningful question: forget about Billboard chart positions or Spotify streaming numbers. Is the real game about manufacturing scarcity?

He strolled onto stage followed by the festival’s cameras, directed, this time, by Spike Jonze, who tracked his every movement, complete with an anachronistic ticker in a far corner, projected onto the big stage that Ocean eschewed. Ocean, instead, performed, on a platform that projected fifty-feet into the audience and ended on a small soundstage. In one sense, this was the bedroom half of bedroom pop, but in front of thousands of people. The frantic intimacy of “Solo” pitched low, minimal gravitas, but still, somehow, still hitting an emotional home run.

His New York show was, the ultimate test of Ocean’s headlining prowess. There was no Brad Pitt to capture clicks from the night sky, nor were any notable guests loudly called upon (besides Jonze’s silent involvement, indie wunderkind Alex G (Sandy) appearing later as part of Ocean’s small backing band). Larger guests could have been called upon: fellow former OF-member Tyler, the Creator had performed little more than an hour earlier and their collaborative discography are enough for an entire album of emotive R&B but, maybe, having another star would make this less about Ocean’s ability to turn Blonde;s compressed interiority into anthems and less about the DJ Khaled-strength of his rolodex.

Like Solange, Ocean made one of the most acclaimed albums but, also, one without any major radio hits. A flatting of the discography that, live, felt atmospheric. Every moment of Ocean’s set seemed to beckon some moment of the past year of our lives, some second of extended contemplation that drove us away from the pressing news cycle tumult. For an hour, maybe, we were in Frank’s world.

(Nikki Jahanforouz)

TOP 5 | What movies come out over the July 28th weekend?

The weekend movies are here, but are you on vacation?

For the last weekend of July, we see a small lull in blockbusters. It may be because we are deep into vacation season and this week may traditionally not do as well. Even still, we have the Top 5 ready for your scrutinizing eyes. One of the most interesting is the lead trailer for the sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth.” It is such a beautifully shot trailer and brings up a topic we often ignore. Global Warming is real. The denial of which is ludicrous, most likely those who sacrifice the survival of the planet over financial gains. Find some other, less heavy films for those needing just a little entertainment. Enjoy!


Regal Cinemas

A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change into the heart of popular culture comes the follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution. Former Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight, traveling around the world to train an army of activists and influence international climate policy. Cameras follow him behind the scenes — in moments both private and public, funny and poignant — as he pursues the inspirational idea that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.

PG |1h 38min | Documentary | Buy Tickets – An Inconvenient Sequel

Directors: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk | Stars: Al Gore, Barack Obama, Donald J. Trump


Sensual and savage, Lorraine Broughton is the most elite spy in MI6, an agent who’s willing to use all of her lethal skills to stay alive during an impossible mission. With the Berlin Wall about to fall, she travels into the heart of the city to retrieve a priceless dossier and take down a ruthless espionage ring. Once there, she teams up with an embedded station chief to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.

PG-13 | 2h 17min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | Buy Tickets – Atomic Blonde

Director: Luc Besson | Stars: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna


Hidden inside a smartphone, the bustling city of Textopolis is home to all emojis. Each emoji has only one facial expression, except for Gene, an exuberant emoji with multiple expressions. Determined to become “normal” like the other emojis, Gene enlists the help of his best friend Hi-5 and a notorious code breaker called Jailbreak. During their travels through the other apps, the three emojis discover a great danger that could threaten their phone’s very existence.

PG | 1h 26min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy | Buy Tickets – The Emoji Movie

Director: Tony Leondis | Stars: T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris


Follows a variety of New York characters as they navigate personal relationships and unexpected problems over the course of one day. They grapple with the mundane, the unexpected, and the larger questions permeating their lives.

Unrated | 1h 24min | Drama | Buy Tickets – Person to Person

Director: Dustin Guy Defa | Stars: Michael Cera, Abbi Jacobson, Philip Baker Hall


In 1950s France, Gabrielle is a passionate, free-spirited woman who is in a loveless marriage and falls for another man when she is sent away to the Alps to treat her kidney stones. Gabrielle yearns to free herself and run away with André.

R | 2h | Drama, Romance | Buy Tickets – From the Land of the Moon

Director: Nicole Garcia | Stars: Marion Cotillard, Louis Garrel, Alex Brendemühl

Full list of movies in theaters this weekend:

Friday, July 28, 2017

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dan Victor is editor in chief of Popdust and producer of Popdust Presents. He is also a music producer, bassist for Low Profile (live hip hop) & The Coldpress (indie rap) and front-man for Ductape Halo (indie rock). Follow on Youtube.

(Sources: IMDb, Movie Phone, Fandango)

INTERVIEW | Bad Bad Hats on Music, Tour and More

There’s something to be said for a band that is just as excited to talk to you as you are to talk to them.

This charm is certainly present with Bad Bad Hats, a group of friends who started working together after meeting in college at Saint Paul, Minnesota. They started creating indie rock music that had enough heart and happiness to it to set it apart from every other trio on the scene. Their EP “It Hurts,” followed by their album Psychic Reader, went on to do well and carve out a bold place for the group on the scene.

Now, two years after their last release, Bad Bad Hats has just gotten out of the studio, and after finishing their summer tour, they are preparing for the release of their upcoming second record. Kerry and Chris spoke with Popdust about being on the road, being in a relationship and being band mates, and what the future of their band might hold.

How’d you get started as a band?

Chris: Well, we were at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and that’s where Kerry, Noah, and I met. We met Connor about a year ago playing music in Minneapolis.

Kerry: We all made music independently, and I had written a song I wanted to do a duet on. I knew Chris could sing, so I asked him to sing on it. And though that song was unsuccessful, it led a beautiful songwriting partnership.

You guys have an album and an EP out. What was the writing and recording processes for those projects like?

Chris: So, the “It Hurts EP” was the first thing in 2012, and that was me and Kerry in a rented duplex recording ourselves, mostly Kerry songwriting and me playing instruments.

Kerry: We recorded those ourselves in a tiny room, mostly with acoustic instruments and Chris programmed all the drums. We were sort of limited by our space. We sent it away to be mixed and mastered at Tiny Telephone, and they did a great job. But then for our full-length album, I think we’d had enough time with just the two of us, because we’re used to writing and making demos at home since Chris and I live together, so we were feeling like we needed some more perspective. So, we decided to work with Brett Bullion, who has a studio in Minneapolis, and recorded there with him for our first full-length. On that album, I wrote all the lyrics and most of the melodies, but Chris had written some of the music and Noah had written baselines, so it was nice to have others to break-up just me and my head space.

It’s been a couple of years now since the album came out. Have the songs changed for you?

Chris: I think I like a few of them more than I did before we released the album. They weren’t the hits, and now songs like “Cruella” are the most fun to play.

Kerry: For a lot of the songs, because we recorded it track by track, we put more instruments and sounds than are actually happening on stage, which is cool. If you have the album and you come see us live, it’s a different experience. We kind of struggled at first to figure out how to play some of these songs. So, “Cruella,” we decided needed something a little more excited at the end, so I play a solo that isn’t on the album. A song like “Midway” was also really tricky because people really like that song and we wanted to do it justice. I think we’ve settled into a nice version of it. I still really like all of those songs, and I’m glad they’re standing the test of time for us.

You two are getting married. What’s it like working together and having that personal relationship?

Chris: It’s good, it’s good. You know, for as hard as it is to be together all the time sometimes, it also lends to a really close relationship and you’re on the same page about a lot of stuff.

Kerry: And it’s been nice to run this “business” together, to feel like business partners. It’s nice to have the same goals in that way. And we’re also really lucky, even if we spend too much time together, to be able to tour together, to not be apart from each other for weeks at a time, which is often what happens when band have significant others at home.

Chris: And we have two guys in the band who don’t mind being third and fourth wheels.

You’re all from all over the country. What’s in been like to tour all over the states since you all have personal connections?

Chris: It’s really nice. We get to visit a lot of people and stay in people’s houses all over the country.

Kerry: It’s been fun. We have spent time in all of our hometowns. We’ve gotten to have days off and we drag each other to our high schools and the places where we worked. Like, “This is where I worked!” “This is the mall where I saw A Walk to Remember!” As we play more together and just get closer, the band becomes more special, so it’s been nice to share our histories.

When are we getting a follow-up album?

Kerry: We don’t know a date, but we finished recording out second full-length album a couple of months ago. The songs are written, recorded, and we should have some mixes back soon. We’re in the process, it’s coming.

Chris: The end of this year or next year.

How did the process for this album differ from the last?

Chris: I went into it thinking, “We’re working with Brett again, we know exactly what we’re doing, it’s going to be so easy.” I think Brett kind of challenged us to do it differently, which I really appreciated in the end. He made us play a few songs live, which we had never done before. He helped us not do the same album again, which is probably what we would have done.

Kerry: At the same time, I think Brett has a good sense of the kind of songs that we write, and letting my vision as the songwriter and front person come through. I think the songs are still true to the way I intended them to be heard, but along a path that we maybe wouldn’t have gone down.

Chris: But we had still worked with him, so we had the same kind of language.

Kerry: If Psychic Reader is like driving to the beach with the windows down, singing along with your friends, then our next album, is like driving home from the beach with the windows down, a little contemplative, having a heart to heart with your friends.

Chris: And hopefully we’ll tour the whole country a few times. Our biggest goal is to go on tour in Europe.

Bad Bad Hats are currently on tour through September 2, 2017:

JUL 27 – THU – Atwood’s Tavern (Cambridge, MA)
with Photocomfort TICKETS RSVP

JUL 28 – FRI Milkboy (Philadelphia, PA)
with Carroll TICKETS RSVP

JUL 29 – SAT – Tralf Music Hall (Buffalo, NY)
with Blind Pilot TICKETS RSVP

JUL 30 – SUN Tralf Music Hall (Buffalo, NY)
with Blind Pilot TICKETS RSVP

SEP 1 – FRI Minnesota State Fair (St Paul, MN)

SEP 2 – SAT Minnesota State Fair (St Paul, MN)

Follow Bad Bad Hats 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.