Review | ROZES sets the Knitting Factory on fire

ROZES can make you feel a lot of different things without really trying. During her headlining stint at the Knitting Factory on Saturday night (April 29)–which played out much more like a rave than anything–the starlet, known for such collaborations as “Roses,” a featuring vocal with The Chainsmokers, gripped the stage like it was her last day on earth. In many ways, she possesses the same wild-child, free-for-all spirit of Kesha, a kindred sister of sorts. “One weekend to the next, you’re trying to get it right,” ROZES masks behind weekend binges and a toxic relationship that whittles her life down to nothing more the bone and ash. “Matches,” her new single with Cash Cash, the brash and unwieldy producer duo from New Jersey, has already collected north of seven million streams on Spotify, and it’s rather easy to see why: she ignites that song in fearless way onstage. She slinks between arena rocker and sensitive, vulnerable muse. “How did you break my heart without even trying?” she later toils.

Her hour-long set was littered with cuts from her 2016 eponymous debut EP. She rarely came up for air, but when she did, the crowd hung on her every word, enthralled by her stage presence and humility. The only thing holding her back at this point is a solo chart hit; the shininess of that distinction is a double-edged sword, undoubtedly, but a necessary one to forge a long-lasting mainstream career. She is currently living in the shadow of The Chainsmokers, who have hit new levels of superstardom with the release of their debut full-length (packed with other stellar vocalists). It’s tragic but the nature of the industry which undervalues women and downplays their contributions. But ROZES’ time is coming, and we’re completely ready for it.

Earlier in the evening, Boston alt-rock performer Adam Jensen rose to the occasion of priming the bubbling, trippy crowd for the night’s eclectic sonic palette–shifting between fiery anthems like “The Mystic” to the echo-flicker of “Marijuana Breath.” He was a man of few words, but the music told the attendees all they needed to know about him: he’s unapologetic, decisively creative, thoughtful, reckless and intense. Other standout moments included the thumping wallop of “Sandcastles,” “Drugs” and “Tombstone,” a ragged ode in which he wails “can you hear the warning? Yeah, I sold my soul. I’m a bad man, write it on my tombstone.”

Rodes Rollins shifted the focus to breathy, moody, dark-pop. “This is the first time I’ve played this material with a full band,” she admitted. But you couldn’t tell. She was quiet but menacing (in the best, most satisfying way possible), and simply dropped breadcrumbs for the audience to nibble on. “Young and Thriving” honors Lana Del Rey but moves the needle even further into new wave, with sinister synths tugging at her vocal. She held the music close to her chest and whispered for the audience to inch as near as possible: before pummeling them with brooding, soul-shaking stories.

Interview: Blaire Alise & the Bombshells on “My Eye”, their latest LP

You can say Blaire Alise knows what she wants to sound like – she’s been writing since she was fifteen. The Detroit native started her own band, the Bombshells, as soon as she realized what she wanted to do. My Eye, their latest record out now via Carlin Nashville, is a sweet and summer-y return to the days of yesteryear. It is a record of “self-discovery and growing up recorded over the past 2 years” – more importantly, it is a record that captures Blaire Alise to the fullest.

Over the span of a ten-song tracklist, Alise uses vocal layers of harmonies that call back the sounds of Beach Boys past. It’s easy to tell who she aspires to recall, but it’s not playing it safe and staying in the shadows of those who’ve done it before her. Instead, she combines various melodies to capture a feeling that’s distinctly her own.

Popdust was curious about the influences behind such a new yet old-school sound, so we sat down with Alise to find out more.

Read on to our interview where we discuss Alise’s influences, favorite New York spots and the inspiration behind “Rolleiflex” – watch the video below:

“My Eye” has such an impressive array of sounds, from early 60’s rock to bubblegum pop. What can you tell me about the writing process behind it?

I wrote the songs on the album over the period of a year and a half, so it kind of started as I got out of high school as well as transitioning to New York and living on my own. I think I just grew as I wrote the songs and I think that’s kind of interesting because it really reflects who I am at different points and there’s been a lot of change in the past couple years. We would just go into the studio every couple of months and record so it was a few songs that grew into many over the course of a year and a half.

That’s interesting – I also just moved to New York a few months ago so I know what you mean. Does it remind you of that period of time where you just got here and you were figuring everything out?

Yeah, definitely. There’s definitely a lot about the anticipation of going – like the initial excitement – and starting to record the album and all of that. You know, there’s a harshness to it too, like loneliness and confronting that.

How did the Bombshells come together?

I started the band five years ago, actually, when I was 15. I had just been writing these songs and getting more confident so i got these guys to be the Bombshells. Over the course of five years, I’ve had a lot of different Bombshells come and go – some from Detroit, some from Nashville, some from New York – so it’s been a lot of fun working with a lot of great musicians and traveling. It’s like… as long as I’m in the band, it’s still my project [laugh]. We started in Detroit, so it grew from there. I was really influenced by the Detroit music scene so that all played a huge part in forming the band.

You began writing music at 15. Was there a song that made you go, “this is what I want to do”?

I’m a huge Beatles fan, since I was in diapers! That was really the first music that I remember loving. My parents would always play “Here Comes the Sun” for me when I was a child and I loved it. At my fifth grade talent show, I played “Let It Be” on the piano – i was obsessed. But when I was starting high school, I started to learn more about Lesley Gore, that was a huge one for me. I learned more about Motown music and early soul stuff and from there I sort of took it and ran.

What was the inspiration behind “Rolleiflex”?

I was reading about different cameras and I just loved the word – Rolleiflex. It’s just such a fun-sounding word. I had written another song three years ago called “Rolleiflex” and it wasn’t really working, but last year I was just playing the melody and thinking about different memories and the practice of capturing them. I feel I try to document everything around me all the time – I’m always taking pictures on my phone.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

Beatles, Leslie Gore – I’m also a huge Monkees nerd. I love the Monkees. Beach Boys with all the harmonies… but you know, as I kept discovering new music and going deeper and deeper I started loving the Velvet Underground and Wire and Television, all that kind of stuff. A lot of Detroit rock.

What have you been listening to lately?

I love the Lemon Twigs album that came out last year. I think that album is so fun and it’s crazy that they’re just teenagers! I’ve been listening to the new Whitney album a lot. i love the new Father John Misty. I’ve been learning a lot about more recent music, because lately I just want to take everything in. There’s so many good albums coming out.

I know you’re based in New York, so I figured I’d ask you some of your favorite spots… favorite record store?

I’ve been working at Rough Trade, so of course i’d say Rough Trade! I’ve been helping out with events, so it’s been really cool. You can find anything you want – including awesome shows. I love Rebel Records, they have a lot of cool 45’s.

Favorite venue?

I love hanging out at Baby’s All Right, I always have such a fun night when I go there.

Favorite thrift store?

I’m not as much of a thrifter as I am into going through more curated vintage stuff. I love Screaming Mimi’s – I found this bright orange velvet romper, it was the find.

What’s next for Blaire Alise & the Bombshells?

We’re doing one of the Wild Honey Pie showcases. I have a new music video coming out for “Telemono”, the first track off the album, and I’m really excited about it. We’re also having a really big record release show May 4th at Trans-Pecos in Bushwick, so it should be a lot of fun! It’ll be a great night.

Keep up with Blaire Alise & the Bombshells via Twitter, Instagram and Official Website.

My Eye is out now.

Remembering Charlie Murphy-The big brother of comedy

“Comedians are people who embarrass themselves in style.” -A.D. Posey

Today, father brother and comedian, Charlie Murphy passed away in a New York Hospital while battling Leukemia. While his exact diagnosis date is unclear, it is certain that he has been battling this disease for a few years, as a 2016 appearance on Good Day LA shows a thinner Charlie Murphy channeling his energy to entertain, like a true performer. As TMZ reported this morning, Murphy was recieving chemotherapy treatment and his family actually thought he was getting better, even joking that they not call as much. That’s what comedians do, especially comedians turned actors. They entertain, putting all of their physical and emotional turmoil to the side to bring joy and laughter to others, while still causing the world to contemplate reality-just look at Robin Williams, Chris Farley, and Bernie Mac as a few examples.

Giphy

While Charlie was first introduced to the world as, “Eddie Murphy’s big brother”, he quickly became known as an engaging standup comedian with an infectious laugh. His true skill, which he displayed in every facet of his professional (and I’m sure personal) life was his ability to tell stories. You know that saying, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”? Murphy was the physical manifestation of that. With a look, a tone, he could tell a story in a way that no one else could, to the point where even his laugh could make you burst from the belly with t before he even told a joke. While he wrote for a lot of Eddie Murphy’s most successful films, and had a successful career in standup and movies before then,the Dave Chappelle show highlighted his knack for retelling a tale, being a cornerstone in the show’s funniest skits. Even as himself, when Charlie told a story, the people were entertained. Add in his real encounters with Prince and Rick James (both of whom confirmed the stories were mostly true) and you have a life meant for comedic re-enactments.

“He’d walk up to any chick and lick the whole side of their face, man.”- Charlie Murphy on Rick James

One of my favorite interviews is this piece for Esquire. A free form retelling of someone’s life, the “What I’ve Learned” series was like reading a conscience exercise or diary entry of a celebrity if they were as honest with themselves as they were at fifteen. Two years after the death of his wife (from cervical cancer in 2009), Charlie talked about knowing she was the one from the moment she saw her, and telling his family that same night, in front of her. It was evident Charlie loved his life, his wife, his family, and the discipline he sought out at a young age after a quick lesson from the judicial system and some Karate. “People with black belts have good moral standards. I never met a drug dealer at the dojo,” might be the funniest and truest thing he said in that interview.

“I mean, you know where you got that shirt. And it damn sure wasn’t the men’s department”- Charlie Murphy to Prince

Most recently, Charlie was filming for the newest season of the Starz hit “Power”, a job former costar and fellow comedian Donnell Rawlings said was supposed to be his. While it is easy to feel sad and shocked at the loss of this great comedian, I always think about how people would want you to honor them in their passing. A man who said he tried comedy and can’t remember a week he was without a stage since wouldn’t want you to dwell in his death. He’d want you to laugh, re-live some belly aching Charlie Murphy moments and be jealous that he is playing shirt versus blouses with Prince. I know I am.

1. When he rolled through Snoop’s GGN

This guy is an amazing storyteller.

2. When he shared his list of the five wackest rappers

I know he’s not trying to be funny, but my God he is.

3. His Chapelle Show Extras

4. Charlie Murphy talking about Prince’s reaction to the infamous Chapelle Show set

Is anyone else hoping that the fiercest, funniest game of basketball is going down in heaven right now?

5. You know you are funny when all you have to do is laugh

6. Honorable Mention- Eddie Murphy Impersonating Charlie Murphy

May he continue to live on through his family

Interview: Party Nails dances to her own sadness on debut EP

“San Junipero,” a remarkably joyous episode of hit Netlfix sci-fi drama Black Mirror, is a stark reminder of the obsession with youth, capturing the flighty spiritedness of two 20-somethings falling in love in ’80s America. Of course, it’s cloaked in a much larger conversation of the deadly implications of industrialization and technology. But it’s the closeness by which the episode weaves together the stories of Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) and Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) that is both charming and tragic. That seems to be the approach synth-pop starlet Party Nails undertakes with her music–her debut EP, Come Again, dances between heartbreak and freedom, of feeling every scar and being liberated by them. “Even for music that isn’t very lyrical, it means a lot to hear joy and sorrow in the same phrase,” she reflects over a recent phone call. She speaks in poetic terms, retelling a moment in which it hit her like a bolt of lightening. “The other day, we had Beethoven on in my house. I was like ‘damn, this is that.’ There was a time when that was mainstream music. I’ve always been fascinated with that bittersweet, happy/sad thing.”

But, as she points out, it’s not a new, revolutionary idea. “As far as pop music and lyrics and making it all relevant, that’s where my work is. You can’t just be ‘I feel bad’ and have a good beat and have that hit you. I want it to feel like someone’s almost reading their own journal to themselves,” she tells Popdust. “It’s not always my exact experience. It’s a conglomerate of experiences. Sometimes, though, it is my exact experience.”

Recalling the first song she ever put out, the blustering heartbreaker “Break,” Party Nails (born Elana Belle Carroll) says it “was literally straight from my broken heart. I was like ‘I don’t know what else to say, this is all I can say, this is how I’m going to sing it.’ Somehow, it worked out. But the trick is being able to do that all the time. We’re not just waiting for inspiration to strike. You draw upon other people’s stories and what you perceive other people’s experiences to be.”

“There’s something empowering about being able to dance to your sadness. I always turn to [Robyn’s] ‘Dancing on My Own’ as the complete reference for that feeling because that’s what that song really is,” she continues. “There’s an amazing acoustic version that she does that is so heartbreaking. And it’s such a fun song. It’s an anthem of ‘everyone have fun tonight,’ basically, without anything too risqué in the lyrics. She says herself that it is a really sad song. When you hear it, acoustic, you’re like ‘oh…it really is.'”

Come Again dresses up her brokenness and transition with glossy synths, new wave stylized production and “Borderline” era Madonna hairspray. It’s fun, wild and free–but doesn’t skimp on the heavy stuff. “The one thing I wanted to capture is the new wave side of the ’80s. I hear it now and then, but I mostly hear reverbs and chorus guitars, which I love modern production inspired by ’80s production,” she says of the EP’s musical storyline. “These songs are also a nice jumping off point to grow from. New Wave is so fun to me. It’s literally dance music and punk music mixed together. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to sound like that. [laughs] There are people who hate the B-52’s and I’m like ‘whattttt.'”

Landmark films like Blade Runner and The Breakfast Club tapped into those idealisms of escape and euphoria, which subsequently bled over into the music scene. “The spirit is the people behind it really being in it. That’s not to say artists today aren’t in their music. I just think there’s a little bit of fear of being too different that affects people’s work. I don’t know if anyone realizes it’s happening,” Carroll notes. “It’s not quite a full performance; they’re not quite unleashing. They almost do. When you listen to older music, those people were struggling to get things into the world and they didn’t know what would happen. A lot of band origin stories are crazy. It affects the music. That’s part of what you ought to be giving people, a real experience. That recording is going to be forever. You might as well put some blood, sweat and tears into it.”

From the gritty title track (which opens the record) to the rhythmic empowerment bookend (“One by One”), Carroll drives her words into the air, swiveling between honoring the past and pushing the boundaries out and away. She might not have a hit single (yet) but her wisdom is insightful. “There’s something to be said about being able to really hone in on a few key elements of a song and try to write a simple hit song. You can’t just put all this stuff in the blender and hope that you are going to get something. There still needs to be people behind it. I believe that’s the best thing for listeners. You don’t want to just mute people’s emotions by giving them a bunch of work that never really goes there.”

Carroll then explains the story behind her stage name Party Nails, her obsession with Johnny Cash and Madonna and building her live show. Dig your teeth into our exclusive Q&A session below.

What’s the story behind your stage name Party Nails?

I was looking for a name really quickly. I was writing songs with this guy, and we were both doing other projects. We were trying to figure out something that we could do that was new and different. We needed to come up with a name for this batch of songs. It’s not a very glamorous story…but I did end up seeing these girls at a party. A friend from Mexico City was visiting in Green Point where I was living at the time, and we visited her. She was with all these people from all over the world. They were having so much fun relating to each other when they were doing their nails and getting ready to go out.

I just loved this idea that this meant so much, even though it doesn’t. Doing your nails doesn’t change anything about your connection with somebody or how you look, really. It ended up being this huge armor for them. Totally based on their own experience, not based on getting noticed; it’s not like doing your face or your outfit. It’s literally for yourself. Something about it just made sense at the time. It’s stood the test of time, as well. I’m happy we stumbled upon that name.

How did this EP start?

I had put out two singles at the end of 2015. Since then, I was like I’ve gotta do an EP. It never felt like the right group of songs. I had tons of songs from that period. We were constantly meeting people and writing and coming up with new ideas since then. At that time, it was like “OK, obviously, people like this in some shape or form, it would be great to continue to release work, so that it’s a consistent operation.” But I really wanted to make sure the group of songs we did put into the world was something I could come back to years later. I didn’t realize this at the beginning of the process, but over time, Madonna’s first release [1983’s self-titled LP] really helped me figure out the things I wanted to touch on. “Borderline” is one of my favorite songs.

The first release she ever did was just a really simple thing but had so much energy behind it. She really made use of her resources at the time. It’s five or six songs, “Lucky Star” and “Burning Up.” Not to say my music is any way like Madonna’s, but I really did want to do something like that. I wanted it to feel very up and like I’m introducing myself. I wanted it to feel like years from now I can be like “that was so fun starting there.” As opposed to a batch of more serious songs or something that’s more well-rounded as far as tempos and moods. I wanted it to be a bang.

How did you narrow down to these five songs?

My two producers, Caleb Shreve and Jon Siebels, and I have a very vast relationship that’s not just producer/artist. We work as a team on a lot of music together. We just communicated a long time about every song that was happening and which songs we were excited about and wanted to show other people. We mostly wanted everything to feel like really sound, good pop songs. We didn’t want it to be any more complicated than that. We had a couple other things we thought that up until the very last minute would be included, but it’s easy. You can only have five before it becomes a short full-length record. Everything we couldn’t put on there, we are saving for the next release.

In an interview with The Young Folks, you talked about growing up on Johnny Cash. That’s so cool.

It was amazing. My in-house listening (until I started listening to my own music) was Bob Marley and Neil Young. That’s what my parents always had on. When I was a teen, I became really obsessed with old school blues like Blind Boy Fuller, who was my favorite, and I was really into Gary Davis. From there, country music was born through a more complicated series of events, but I became obsessed with Johnny Cash. As far as what I like about songwriting and to do, it’s so similar. Basically, it’s about heartbreak, but it’s upbeat (most of the time), and you come up with these great, simple ways to say something like “I’m wild; I’m lonesome; and I’m blue.” There are these rhyming couplets. It’s like pop music now. You figure out one or two hooks people can take away and relate to.

When I started playing guitar, in the little town I lived in, my guitar teacher created a community of musicians that came out of the woodwork. When I was 13, he was like “Elana, here’s this guy who has played country music his whole life.” He was this old man, and his fingers were blue from the calluses. He had to play a 12-string guitar because his calluses were so deep, and they wouldn’t press anymore. Suddenly, we were playing country music. It was great. My teacher had been trying to teach me chord progressions and bass lines and how it all comes together and make a song pretty quickly. It kind of demystified it, in a way. Then, we listened to a bunch of Johnny Cash records.

Were you drawn to any other country artists?

I really like Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams. I love Patsy Cline. She’s technically country but a little more glam. Dolly Parton is incredible. When I was younger, “Jolene” was one of the songs I’d always do. It’s such an incredible song.

You had a previous record deal. What were some of the lessons you learned from that?

The one thing that I’m happy to have under my belt now is I want to be my own boss. It’s not a new idea. It’s something a lot of artists admire. They take the time to create their own little world, and once it’s self-sustaining, they are able to grow it larger through other deals. As opposed to finding a support system and hoping that all your ideologies align in such a way that you can start putting out music. It was a big commitment to figure that out. I don’t have any time or money as a resource. It’s very much a day-to-day thing. I’ve worked like a dog at thousands of day jobs at this point. Not everybody in the music business does that.

There’s a lot of people who have the time and try it out and may or may not hit upon success. That’s totally fine. It’s just that there aren’t a lot of role models that I meet in my life who do that. It did take me a second to realize “oh, I am to willing to commit in that way and in order to do that, I need to make sure I’m surrounded by people who understand me and are willing to work with me in that sense.” That’s what I’ve found with Caleb and Jon and all the people we’ve brought together. That’s been the biggest turning point for me.

You’ve also previously discussed the challenge of pop music and learning to perform onstage. Was it difficult to translate any of these songs to the live setting?

Yes. Our live setup is relatively simple. It’s just drums, bass, guitar. We’re able to be flexible, so the guitar player or I can switch instruments and pick up keyboards and have it ready. That’s basically it. We don’t have multiple synths or percussionist. I try to keep it really simple so there’s not a lot of choreography. We can be energized. Having those parameters helped me make decisions about how to organize things and focus on singing the parts really well. The songs are definitely challenging.

With her Come Back EP gaining steam on Spotify–each track has collected thousands of hits so far–Carroll plots an upcoming tour. “We’re going to be in New York at some point this year. We’re going to start hitting cities a little bit between now and then,” she teases. “We are in the planning stages of some really exciting shows. Hopefully, we’ll have another release by summer, as well.”

Looping back to the pluck of the ’80s, she considers her placement in culture’s overarching infatuation with youth. “I was on a bus with a bunch of high schoolers the other day. I was just like ‘it’s so bizarre how beautiful youth is.’ That’s what [director] John Hughes was doing with his stuff. It made me think, too, about Party Nails and pop music and fashion and Madonna. I don’t know if you saw Madonna’s Billboard Speech. She basically talks about how we’re obsessed with youth and that it’s a miracle she still has a career.”

Take a listen to Party Nails’ Come Again EP below:

Rupert Grint finally admits to being Ed Sheeran, just like we all knew all along

Since Ed Sheeran rose to prominence, people have been comparing the singer-songwriter’s look to that of Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint (who played Ron Weasley in the popular film series).

Now, Rupert Grint has finally taken off the mask he’s worn since the end of the Potter movies and admitted that he is Ed Sheeran in a very funny video for MTV After Hours With Josh Horowitz.

Horowitz announces his guest, “the great Ed Sheeran” who comes out with his signature black-tape-X-guitar (though Sheeran actually plays a Little Martin 3/4 size guitar). Sheeran then takes a few deep breaths before announcing “I can’t do this. I want to say something. The truth is… Ed isn’t real.”

The shocked audience reacts as Ed Sheeran takes off his sleeve tattoos and passes off his guitar, revealing that he is Rupert Grint after all. Grint admits that “After Potter,” he just wanted to stretch his talents and “create some real magic, so I created a character with the voice of an angel.”

Grint hasn’t lost a step from his Weasley days. His admission (of actually being Ed Sheeran after all this time) is hilarious. “I didn’t expect everyone to think he was real! He become my greatest activity and the bane of my existence.” Sheeran’s fans look distraught as Grint goes on with his big reveal. “I hate cats… All of them. Mine, Taylor’s. I’m allergic to them.”

[Editor’s note: I’m rolling on the floor laughing at this.]

At this point, Josh Horowitz can take no more. A fan shrieks in agony, and Horowitz confronts Grint/Sheeran: “WE NEED BOTH OF YOU, DAMNIT. WE NEED RUPERT AND HIS ICE CREAM TRUCK BUT WE ALSO NEED ED AND HIS SOULFUL BALLADS! THINK OF ME, THINK OF THEM!”

Grint breathes deep, before accepting his fate: “Give me that damn guitar,” then tells the host he’s “not Rupert, Ed.”

To think, after all this time, Ed Sheeran was just Rupert Grint wearing fake sleeve tattoos. But they’re both so amazing.

Here’s the video for Sheeran’s song “Lego House” which features the Parent Trap-double acting Ed Sheeran/Ruper Grint, or whatever his name is.

Are you in disbelief over the Rupert Grint/Ed Sheeran reveal? Let us know in the comments below, and follow Popdust on Twitter and Facebook for more insane celebrity conspiracy theories.

McDonald’s Twitter throws shade at Trump; how will Donald respond?

In what McDonald’s representatives claim to be a hacking incident this morning, the McDonald’s Twitter account posted some pretty incendiary things about Donald Trump.

There sure is a lot of hacking going on these days.

The Trump-damning tweet was shared over 1,500 times before McDonald’s deleted it. Now, the conservative Twittersphere is afire with #BoycottMcDonalds hashtags and Euro-Twitter is full of “I’d love to see Americans not eat McDonald’s” jokes. But does McDonald’s have a beef with Donald? Will Donald have a beef with McDonald’s? Only time will tell.

But who was behind the hack?

While the McDonald’s corporation maintains their innocence, people everywhere are wondering who was behind the hack. Was it even really a hack, or did a McDonald’s social media manager make a colossal mistake? Did Snoop Dogg authorize the cyber-attack as retaliation against Trump for his Tweets yesterday? Was the creepy Burger King behind the hack, intent on stealing Ronald McDonald’s client base for his own empire?

How will Trump respond?

The real thing on everyone’s mind is how Donald will retaliate. After flaming former pals Snoop Dogg and Meryl Streep, will Trump take on the multi-billion dollar fast-food chain? Trump was famously photographed eating a Big Mac on the campaign trail last year, but at this point, is there anyone he won’t turn on?

If Trump goes on a Tweet-storm about how McDonald’s is an evil, failing corporation tomorrow morning at 6am, remember that he’s probably just projecting insecurities about his own evil, failing corporation.

B-rrr!: 5 hot songs to help you survive this week’s Snowstorm Stella

All across the Northeastern coast of America, cities are bracing themselves for a wild blizzard that’ll begin around Monday night.

Reporting here from Popdust HQ in New York City, we’re getting ready ourselves for anywhere from 11 to 20 inches of snow, which will certainly spell a few weeks of slip-and-sliding on our daily commutes to work. Have no fear, because we’ve rounded up some new music for y’all to listen to, hopefully while under the safety of a warm blanket and some cocoa.

Alex G, “Bobby”

I showed my friend this song, and I don’t think anyone could describe its vibe better: “this sounds like I’m in the middle of West Virginia, trying to forget about someone.” Alex G has been quite the indie darling for a while now, with a whole slew of albums like 2015’s Beach Music that wear Wilco and Modest Mouse influences on its sleeve, like your ex-boyfriend from Brooklyn wears his dad’s dirty overalls with a $200 coat while rolling cigarettes because they’re more “cost-effective.” But in this new single “Bobby,” the singer-songwriter from Philly goes the country route, with some sweet background fiddle playing well with his rusty guitar twang and somber vocals.

Frank Ocean, “Chanel”

Is Frank Ocean going to start releasing music more often? Is this song his attempt at going for a more poppy, mainstream hit before touring festivals in the summer? Did he have to reference “Issa Knife” in the chorus?

Whatever the answer is, he’s released another great song with all the necessary Frank Ocean elements, and then some: clever turns of phrase, harmonizing all over the place with himself, song structures that morph into three different things within the span of three minutes. And who knew Delta had thousand dollar gift cards?

Playboi Carti, “woke up like this”

For someone who was starting to reach Frank Ocean levels of invisibility, Carti gave us his biggest surprise yet this past weekend: he released not one, but two songs! “Lookin” and “woke up like this” are both Guaranteed Fresh™ Playboi Carti, with matching guest features by Lil Uzi Vert. But it’s the latter that caught my attention, with a groovy guitar synth and Carti’s trademark so-laidback-he-might-fall-asleep flow, the song has already got 1.8 million streams on Soundcloud while only being released three days ago. Give it a listen below to see why!

Nadia Reid, “Preservation”

Mixing her earthy vocals reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, with an atmospheric production that sounds like a Midwestern dreamscape, Nadia Reid opens her album Preservation with this ballad named for it. Sweet but hurting guitar strumming comes in and out of the fog all throughout this song, while her voice neither peaks too much to try and steal your attention, nor fades away long enough to lose it. As an intro, this certainly sets the tone for an ethereal car ride of an album by the New Zealand songstress.

Smino, “Father Son Holy Smoke”

Following in the steps of an Anderson .Paak or a Chance The Rapper instead of Future and 21 Savage, Smino goes in on this four-minute track, seamlessly spitting and singing over a subtle, laidback bass groove. Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, but based out of Chicago, the rapper has just released his debut album blkswn., with “Father Son Holy Smoke” as one of the big singles to take off from it. Great single cover, even better single.

Teenager tries to crowdfund parking ticket, everyone loses their minds

16-year-old Ashley Mathieu-LaFrance has been taking heat on social media for attempting to crowdfund a $250 parking ticket on GoFundMe.

Raise your hand if you were ever 16 and did something stupid. Keep your hand up if you ever got a ticket in your teenage years. Now, keep it raised if you ever needed help paying for something (anything, ever) and asked others to help.

Mathieu-LaFrance, a high school student who accidentally parked in a handicap space, was more than willing to pay the fine, but like most high school students, couldn’t afford the $250. After she started a GoFundMe to raise a couple bucks from her friends, some people (who are assholes) decided that her crowdfunding efforts should be for naught; harassment started pouring in.

One Redditor even went so far as to ask “So she doesn’t have a job, but has a car which presumably requires gas, insurance and maintenance. Why not get whoever is paying for those expenses to pay for the ticket?” An article published by the New Hampshire Union Leader reports that Ashley is the child of a single mother who makes $25,000 a year (barely enough for one person to scrape by in 2017, if you’re counting).

Cyberbullies (to be clear, if you’re harassing a 16-year-old girl via the Internet, you’re definitely a cyber bully) have called this girl lazy, entitled, spoiled trash. This 16-year-old wasn’t “asking for it” by posting her parking ticket on GoFundMe, the only thing she was asking for was a little help. In an age where the American Dollar is worth less in America than it ever has been, a child asks for help and is called “stupid” and told that she should whore herself out to pay for a parking ticket. No matter how you look at it, if you’re calling a teenager names on the Internet, you should take a look at your life and ask yourself where it all went so wrong that you need to harass a teenage girl.

Mathieu-LaFrance’s GoFundMe campaign has already exceeded its $250 goal, with more than a few people offering their sympathies to Ashley for dealing with haters. In an age where people say “We need more compassion and positivity,” few follow through, and it’s sickening to see sexist, craven trolls taking out frustration for their own impotence on a high schooler.

So there’s a man in Canada who’s eating a picture of Jason Segel everyday

A 19 year old has been eating pictures of the actor for the last three weeks straight

The world is a very strange place currently, and with the sheer amount of insane things occurring socially and politically it’s hard to gage exactly how weird things have gotten. But to give you a small example of exactly what we’re dealing with here, a 19-year-old Toronto man has gone viral with his plan to eat a photo of actor Jason Segel everyday until the actor eats one photo of him. Yup you read that correctly, a man is videotaping himself eating a printed out picture of the star of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I Love You, Man while promoting the hashtag #EatMyFaceSegel. And if you’re thinking, “Oh this is just some cry for attention they’ll give up in a couple days”, know this experiment is currently going on day 21.

Understanding the depths of what is going on, the question I’m left to ponder is should we be laughing or terrified? The man in question is Noah Maloney, a college student part of a comedy troupe that has seen their profile heightened exponentially since beginning his experiment. Because of this, it’s easy to write Maloney and his team off as absurdist comedians in the vein of Eric Andre, willing to push their limits and the limits of their audience in pursuit of a laugh. Maloney himself has been notably low key about the entire endeavor, claiming to hold no strong feelings about Segel and just selected him for the sake of randomness.

Yet as he maintains his commitment to enduring the challenge until he gets his validation from the former How I Met Your Mother star, its easy to see this getting from weird to scary pretty quickly. Segel has become increasingly more private life, only sporadically using social media, so it may be a long time before he engages with Maloney’s challenge if he ever does. And at the same time any person whose willing to stare silently into camera and chew on a piece paper with your face on it silently before ending the video with “Hi, Jason” isn’t exactly the person I’d want to invite over to hang with. That’s not even including the fact he was also filmed getting Segel’s name tattoo-ed on him.

Still with over 600,000 views for the challenges first video, Maloney has proven there is an audience for performers dreaming of making it big eating pictures of other performers. And if that doesn’t inspire you… well that’s probably a sign you’re a sane, productive member of society.

Why “Adventures With Pat” is the best series on the web

Do you have a friend who literally makes wrong, obnoxious choices, all-day-every-day?

If you answered yes (or even if you answered no), you’re going to freaking love Pat. Pat (no last name) is the star of Adventures with Pat, a webseries about Pat’s daily trials and tribulations escapades misadventures. Pat is normal twentysomething who lives in New York City, trying to live his life. The only problem? Pat is a total moron!

Here’s the first episode of Adventures with Pat, where Pat gets stoned and stuck in a stairwell:

“We’ve been in here for 45 minutes bro, we’ve gotta get out.” Are you laughing yet?

The best part of Adventures with Pat is that every episode is less than a minute long, meaning you can take less than sixty seconds out of your stressful day to have a laugh at Pat’s expense. In some recent episodes, Pat has done some serious cross-promo for brands like Dos Toros Taqueria (the ultimate spot for NYC burrito seekers). Check out his Dos Toros shoot:

So who is Pat?

It turns out Pat isn’t Pat at all! The actor who plays Pat is 25-year-old Guy Blelloch, who is a rising star in his own right. A (the?) Creative Director for Jerry Media (an offshoot of FuckJerry), who also directs videos for Young M.A., is an accomplished editor, and produces parody music videos for YouTube.

We reached out to Blelloch, who told us “[Pat is] essentially me if I were to make all the wrong or obnoxious choices that I joke about making on a moment to moment basis.” He also mentioned that through his work with Young M.A. he is “hoping to learn a lot in regards to character building and bridge the worlds between music and new content.”

If Adventures with Pat is any indication, Blelloch is definitely one to watch. You can follow him (and check out more of Pat’s hilarious capers) at @apiecebyguy on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!