REVIEW: Alder & Ash – “Clutched In The Maw of the World”

The cello flirts lovingly with you, then roars and lunges forward, bearing its teeth.

The composition in question is “A Seat Amongst God and His Children,” the second song and most transfixing moment on Montreal artist Alder & Ash’s sophomore release, the appropriately titled Clutched In The Maw of the World, out July 28 on Lost Tribe Sound.

It starts with a gently thrummed but somehow ominous rhythmic pattern, a wispy line of melody, and then lashes out – a slashing lead cello line that sounds like the amplified edge of a razor scraping over metal, with a distorted loop of grungy notes keeping time. There, it wails like a beast after triumphantly pouncing on its prey. After a moment of calm, briefly sated, the cello starts to stab at your ears again and the aural animal goes back in to finish the bloody feast.

The images this blend of ambient/experimental and post-classical music brings to mind are appropriate. On its Bandcamp page, Alder & Ash frames itself as “a counterpoint of two extremes,” with the music divided between “stillness, introversion and penitence” and “violence, cacophony and angst.” You can’t say the performer doesn’t deliver on his promises. This is brutal listening, indebted as much to acts like ambient duo High Plains as it is to black metal and post-rock. And it is beautifully accomplished in its missions.

On “All His Own, The Lord of Naught,” the loops have a slithering quality to them as the cello waxes vaguely Middle Eastern, a hint of scales giving way to the throaty aftermath of a scream. Then, there are the melancholy moments – the somber title track, which feels, at times, as if it is too depressed to even muster the strength to lament, or the beautiful, album-closing “The Glisten, The Glow,” which displays an eerie, somewhat tragic resolve over the spare, lulling plod of its looped “percussion.”

Alder & Ash does a hell of a lot with a cello and a loop pedal alone and, for further evidence, Lost Tribe also is reissuing its first LP, the previously digital-only Psalms for the Sunder from 2016. Both records make for riveting, if occasionally uneasy listening, the Romantic giving way to the Neurotic, the beauty dramatically drawn black by the stain. Here’s the pull-quote: if you’re a student of storm clouds, you owe it to yourself to find this stuff.

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POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE VIDEO PREMIERE: DARLING WEST, “After My Time”

The last twelve months of Darling West’s musical career can hardly be described as anything less than fantastic. Since the release of their second album, Vinyl and a Heartache, they have played concerts all over the world, been listed on the biggest radio channels in Norway and appeared on the Top 100 Country charts in the U.S.; they’ve been played more than two and a half million times on Spotify, been booked to the biggest festivals in Norway and Americanafest in Nashville and won a Norwegian Grammy.

Despite all this, the band have no plans of resting on their acquired laurels, and now they’re releasing two songs from the album they plan to issue in early 2018.

They haven’t changed their style during the last year, but you could still hear a new and revitalized Darling West. The band are still playing their sweet Americana/country/folk, but there’s a lot more drive in the music and the melodies are catchier than before.

The first taste of their forthcoming album are the singles “While I Was Asleep” and “After My Time.” And the video for “After My Time” is now here – for you to view and listen to as a Popdose exclusive premiere.

As mentioned above, the last twelve months have been pretty great for Darling West, but there’s nothing that indicates that the next twelve won’t be even better.

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The Popdose Interview: Lisa Mychols

The moniker “The Divine Miss M” has already been taken, but to fans of indie pop music, few could even remotely stake a claim on the tag. Lisa Mychols is one. She has been involved with the California power pop scene for some time, both with various bands and as a solo artist. Her name is familiar to devotees of the International Pop Overthrow festivals and compilations. She’s also a firm supporter of the transforming power of creativity. This has been discussed again and again at her website, Mycholsfabulousplayground.com.

Popdose had an opportunity to share a few minutes with Lisa and discuss what’s in her present and future.

You took a bit of a hiatus between the last album and what, I hear, is work-in-progress for a new one. How are the new songs coming along and when is a projected time for when they’ll come out?

I’ve been writing so many new songs lately that I can’t seem to keep up with myself. Sadly, I’ve previously held off releasing anything much due to the old program in my head saying, “It must be a full length 10-12 song album and to be released all at once.” (Yaaaawwwwwn.)

I’ve been in the studio a lot this year working on original music with my wonderful musical team, and so far we’ve released the singles, “He’s Got Me Dreaming,” “Don’t Wanna Close My Eyes,” and “Loving You Baby.” All of these singles can be found over at the Lisa Mychols CDBaby store. (ED: See address at the bottom of this article.)

Also recently released have been “Asleep Beyond a Dream” for The Co-Op Communique Volume Three and “Almost Didn’t Happen” for the upcoming This is Rock and Roll Radio Volume 4 compilation. Yay!

You’ve been involved with music for some time, been in several bands and released highly regarded solo work as well. What are some of the things that you see in your music now that could have only come from your experiences?

That I can pretty much create anything I want! Each project I’ve been involved with have been like wings for me. Each venture has shown me how far I can take anything!

As an independent musician, you have to handle nearly everything involved with putting a record together, getting it out there, and getting it seen. What are the most important steps for an artist when it comes to getting the work in front of the eyes and ears of the audience?

To educate ourselves in the business of the independent artist. There are some great books and resources out there right now! Do what works, do what feels right, stay genuine and aligned with intentions, and remember that failures are really just lessons!

What is your recording process? You play guitar and so does regular collaborator Tom Richards, but how do you put it all together? Do you have guests or is it a “closed shop”?

These days, I usually bring in a song to either Tom Richards (The Waking Hours, The Hour Zero) or Steve Refling, and they collaborate with me, forming it in to something really special and unique. It’s really fun actually, getting to co-create with people I really admire and trust! Plus, they are both incredible musicians.

The one thing I have noticed is that you are one of the most positive people I know of currently making music, especially in the indie music sphere. A lot of folks have gotten jaded by their current career/success path. I’m curious about how you keep that focus and positive spirit going, especially during the low times all creative people face…

I educate myself: I read a lot! I read other perspectives. Seriously, knowledge is power. Knowledge is confidence and faith. It’s back to remembering the intention of the art, intention of the music, intention of service (what am I giving/how am I serving) and, of course, gratitude for the gift of “being” creative. I get to create!

What personally drives you to create? Is it a determination or is it compulsive — meaning, the thing you insist on doing versus that which you’re just drawn to doing and there’s no stopping it?

Definitely inspiration. When it hits, it’s unstoppable — I guess I’ve had some kind of “inspiration receiver” in me open for so long that I don’t know how to turn it off, how to not create. Sometimes I think I consistently over-create!

Will you be doing some touring for the new music?

I just had this conversation with Tom (Richards)! But, of course, right now we are still in the studio and haven’t made those plans just yet.

You contributed to the Songs Bond Songs compilation last year (it was released this year). The song you chose was the theme from “The Man With The Golden Gun.” Why did that song draw your attention? Tell me more about how that came together.

Andrew Curry chose the song for us, actually. I love Lulu and her version. I love every moment of recording that song — we just had so much fun with it, and it inspired us to make a video in support of the song. A great compilation all around and I think everyone did a fantastic job making it a super strong release!

You can find out more about Lisa Mychols at Mycholsfabulousplayground.com and hear her new music at https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/LisaMychols1

Dizzy Heights #22: In Another World, He Could Wear a Dress

I know that the lyric is ‘Where your life is seen through cracked spectacles,’ but it has always sounded to me like, ‘Where everything is typical.’ A ‘Scuze me, while I kiss this guy’ moment in Brit Pop if ever there was one.

This is another show that came together in blocks. A producer, a city, a word in a song, a movement…I try to leave my options open. And Pop Will Eat Itself, The Jayhawks, Bell X1, and Paul Young are thankful for it. At least, I hope they are.

Oh, and the word I was looking for when talking about the last song? “Entranced.” I got close, but didn’t quite get there.

Thank you, as always, for listening.

POPDOSE PREMIERE SINGLE: POPULUXE, “Garage Sale”

Popdose is very proud and pleased to bring you this brand-new single from pop-meisters Populuxe.  This divine trio knows a thing or two about angular sounds, skwered lyrics to make you think and a great sense of production.  The ascerbic wit of Rob Shapiro’s words tell you he’s none too pleased with the current state of affairs in a wonderfully subtle manner and that he’s definitely studied the works of Andy Partridge…!

So take a nibble at the new sounds that Populuxe has to offer.  This is, yet again, a sweet ride…:

 


POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE VIDEO PREMIERE: ANTON BARBEAU, “Secretion of the Wafer”

 

The joyful maven of neo-psychedelic pop and general weirdness, Anton Barbeau, is back again – hard at work on finishing up his newest release, an E.P. of covers – plus this one original, which Popdose is pleased to present to you visually.  Here’s Anton in his own words on the song and the video for “Secretion Of The Wafer”:

“Japanese sex robot in blonde wig sings the greatest song ever about crowd funding.”  There’s your headline. Meanwhile, about the video…  It’s got chickens! In slo-mo! And Jesus and Mary! And a Spanish band!  It almost has a pair of identical twins in as well.

This version of the song is from my new EP on Fruits de Mer, Heaven is in Your Mind.  The other songs on the E.P. include my covers of Bowie, Big Star and Traffic tunes, but “Secretion…” is as all-me as I can get. I wrote it on the shore of the lake pictured on the E.P. cover, in Graus, Spain, during the filming of a documentary about me that is, at the moment, all footage, no plot.  Oh, that’s my life story!

Hope you enjoy the film we made. It’s got chickens!”

What more can you ask for?  For Christ’s sake, it has poultry.  Now dig in…

Heaven Is In Your Mind is currently available

http://www.antonbarbeau.com/index_new.html

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross: Episode Twenty One

Radio City with Jon Grayson and Rob Ross:  Twenty One!  (Which makes us legal…)

On this twenty first installment of the well-loved podcast, Jon and Rob jump into the fire with evaluating the new compilation of the late Chris Bell; the new album from the dynamic Chris Price; the overlooked quality of songwriting in the 1970’s; a deeper conversation about D.W. Dunphy’s Co-Op Communique Vol. 3, featuring a previously unreleased track by Rob Ross (!); the ongoing of musical vault raids and can it continue; the un-memorability of the pop music “heroes” of the last decade versus the timelessness of The Beatles; a review of the charity-focused tribute album to Sun Records; the disgraceful display of Chicago’s Pride Parade; politicians in New York City not doing their jobs (ahem); the topsy-turvy trip to Germany by Donald Trump and, of course, the free-form “In Our Heads”.

As per usual, kick back, relax, have a coffee and enjoy – it’ll make you think.

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross: Episode Twenty One


The podcast will be on the site as well as for subscription via iTunes and other podcast aggregators. Subscribe and let people know about Radio City, as well as Popdose’s other great podcasts David Medsker’s Dizzy Heights and In:Sound with Michael Parr and Zack Stiegler.

The Popdose Interview: Graphic Novelist Greg Ruth

Call them “comics” only if you need to. It’s the shorthand we’ve used for about a century for stories told through sequential art, but not all “comics” are alike. So it is with Greg Ruth, the acclaimed creator of The Lost Boy, co-creator of Indeh with Ethan Hawke, and highly prolific artist. His preferred mode: moody black and white, highly detailed, with each panel opening up to a world of its own. Ruth is embarking on a new project with Hawke now, and his 52 Weeks Project of art based on a single source of inspiration is neck deep in the White Lodge at Twin Peaks. Popdose spoke with Ruth on a number of subjects, which was more difficult than it should have been since we can hardly turn away from his artwork.

Your 52 Weeks Project this time is focused on Twin Peaks. First, could you explain a bit what the 52 Weeks Project is, and second, what drew you to Twin Peaks as the subject, aside from the revival at Showtime?

Well, I started the self-assigned weekly drawing thing, The 52 Weeks Project, as a kind of codified act of playing hooky a few years ago mainly as a way to keep the art-making fresh and interesting for me when it had become a full time 9-5 rigorous job, and was starting to feel like a grind. So it was a way for me to start off the work week with desert, rather than Brussels sprouts, if you know what I mean. It really did the trick and then of course ended up being such an essential and integral part of work… what was really supposed to be a lark, became a children’s book I did with President Obama, at least a dozen cover jobs, a music video gig, work for Criterion, and a bucket of other companies, and a weekly source of added income and a successfully overfunded  hardcover book we did through Kickstarter.
 
I guess I turned play into work again… but it remains a vibrant sandbox because at its core it’s still basically just drawing what I want regardless of need beyond that impulse. So the fun remained. I’ve done a lot of variances to date, Dune, Mummies, Gods, Coal Miners, etc… but essentially they’ve always been portraits. I’m a wild man for a good portrait, so that overall ethic has tied all of them together. And I do it whenever I want and cease it whenever I like- so it’s a set deadline that I also get to ignore when I chose. Usually that happens when a series runs its intended course, or if the steam dissipates. The recent Dune series, for example will be ongoing, been though I’ve had to put the brakes on it for a few months. The White Lodge– my Twin Peaks series, cycled through after about two dozen portraits from the original series and was recently revived as The Return began airing. So you just never know. 
 

I guess what drew me to the subject of Twin Peaks was simply an enthusiasm for the material- it began airing back when I was a freshman/sophomore at Pratt, and was a total phenomenon. It was by miles, the most artful and insane piece of tv we’d seen since The Prisoner, and none of us could believe it was on network tv. (For you kids out there, back in those days we still really only had three or four stations to chose from. Yes, cable had it’s thing, but they weren’t making original content yet). It was amazing to see how this campus literally shut down for a couple of hours as everyone scrambled around whoever had a tv in their dorm room for us to crowd around to watch an episode. The visual language of the show was so rich and became so iconic, as did the characters and so it was a natural thing to want to do portraits of each of them for the original series. The Return is a whole different animal in many ways, and inspired an unexpected reviving of The White Lodge drawings entirely by accident. I had done this one drawing of Cooper footing in the box that Jeff Lemire grabbed, and I honestly thought that would be it. But each week I’d come away wanting to do another, and so without planning, I had a whole new series rolling out- I think I’ve done ten now to date. 

Unless my information’s incorrect, I hear you might be planning a new project with Ethan Hawke. You and he collaborated on the graphic novel Indeh. How did that pairing come together?

Ethan saw Conan: Born on the Battlefield in Forbidden Planet in NYC, was struggling with how to tell this story of the Apaches he’s been working on for years, and had an a-ha moment I think in looking at the book. He reached out, we had lunch- I always like to talk about how I didn’t intend or expect to be doing this with him, but really just thought we’d have lunch, it’d be a nice moment, snd then we’d get back to our lives, etc…. Well that one hour meeting turned into a 3+ hour meeting of the minds and I walked out of there committed to the project. We got on like a house on fire- I think as a surprise to is both. We were and still are like two kids in a sandbox together and all these years later, he’s like a brother to me. I personally, had not planned to partner up like this- I had just come off of The Lost Boy, and was eager to continue assuming the lonely life of a creator-owned comics guy… he’s such a brilliant story guy. We’re both share a real passion for reading, watching, editing and constructing these stories, digesting them, parsing them out, etc. It’s likely a terrible bore for others around us. But it’s been a total partnership- unlike most projects like this where some celebrity drops a story off at the editor’s desk and then returns to his thing, Indeh was a hand in hand walk until the very last moment. I never expected to have so much fun working with another before; it’s a very intimate and vulnerable thing, and this new one even more so.

We fully intended to follow Indeh up with its second part, largely on the basis that we supremely desired to tell Lozen’s story that got cut from the first book, but while we were doing the book tour for Indeh, we started writing a new father/son coming of age crime story that grabbed us fully and now that’s what we’re doing next, again for our amazing editor, Gretchen Young at Grand Central/Hachette Books. It’s very reflective of our parallel lives as fathers to 15 year old boys, autobiographical in terms of it’s setting and time in Texas where we were both born, and is a great bit scary for us which is what attracts us to it so strongly. We could have never made it without having first proven the level of trust we instilled in the process of Indeh, because it’s so damned personal and close to the bone. We’re writing the script now. It’s called Meadowlark

I’ve seen a few things that discussed your art process and it is both fascinating and a little scary. You don’t pencil sketch first — instead, you go straight to the paper with ink and brush. That seems like there would be a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong, but it clearly works for you. How did you come to adopt this regimen?

It’s called “impatience.” The thing that grabbed me so fully about the sumi — particularly as a response to having done a 5-issue graphic novel thing in ballpoint pen, which was tedious beyond comprehension — was its immediacy. True sumi dry brush drawing is just instantaneous, though doing a good one takes a lot of practice getting there. It’s immediate, gestural involving the whole arm, and always yielded surprises. So, coming off something so microcosmic and fussy as ballpoint pen into sumi was like a dive in a cool pool during a hot summer. Twenty years in now and here I am, though I confess to having returned to the microcosmic in some way through this new graphite series I’ve playing with these last two years. 
 

Things go wrong all the time with the sumi, but you just wad up the paper and throw it over your shoulder to do it again.  It’s different each and every time, and I’ve done innumerable cover paintings with it, two graphic novels, both Indeh and The Lost Boy, and a video for Prince with it. The 52 Weeks Project itself was largely a sumi thing until very recently.  

The other thing is that (also, unless I’m mistaken), the panels for your stories are done full-size, and then scanned and placed onto a page digitally. That sounds like a really interesting way to get maximum detail into each panel. How do you go about coordinating the pages to work out the compositions?

My editor for The Matrix comics, and dear friend, Spencer Lamm, and the Wachowskis thought it was bugnuts crazy. I actually made the switch over after doing my last on-page comics panels for a short story for them entitled A Path Among Stones. The second 22-page story I did, Return of the Prodigal Son, was my first go at this new full-scale single panel drawing, and computer assembly experiment. The sumi just lent itself to larger drawings, and since I would invariably screw up at least one or two of the panels on the page before, doing it this way didn’t mean having to glue down replacement panels.
 
It also really opened up the whole editorial side of comics making in that by working this way the story could be changed and edited fully all the way up to press. If I didn’t leave enough room for a word balloon, or the text changed, no sweat. If a panel worked better cropped, or an image reversed, or zoomed or simply needed a fix, it was so much easier to do. It meant the writing of the book continued well through the entire process where it used to get stuck once the art was being executed. It’s a lot more work to be sure- a lot more drawing, as my bulging flatfiles will attest, but it’s what was absolutely best for the books, which always has to be the leading edge.
 
The Lost Boy seems like a movie waiting to happen (or, as the current case may be, three movies). What was the impetus to write it?
 
I’ve heard that a lot with regards to The Lost Boy, and likely with my work generally: that it’s very cinematic. And my comics really are informed by cinema, absolutely. Unlike, I think, comics that are trying to emulate movies, by relegating themselves to wide screen panels like a storyboard for a film, I aim to be more true to the medium unto itself, but import over some of the cinematic language, cutting of scenes, layout of the world building in those terms. I’m a kid parented by a shit-ton of tv and old movies growing up and that bell rings still through all I do in art. 
 
I guess the impetus was a combination of feeling like kids weren’t getting enough thoughtful and serious storytelling they deserved. I had just had my first son and it changes your priorities a lot. I had begun to delve into children’s picture books at the time, but since I always think of these grand gestures and long form narratives, and I had formed some strong opinions about the place of scary stories in children’s literature.
 

(I wrote a pair of long form articles on the subject called Why Horror Is Good For You, And Even Better For Your Kids originally for Muddy Colors, and then again for Tor.com.)

While currently there’s just the first book out there, I did draft and map out the full trilogy all the way to the end. The second book following in part Walt’s post-villain life as an outcast living alone in the Kingdom, and the aftermath of the events at Harker’s Drop, particularly what really came back with them looking like Tabitha, and book three, which ties the entire secret history of the town and it’s relationship with the Kingdom culminating in this terrifically massive confrontation with these ten story tall Willow Tree women. Let’s just say whatever weirdo notes were sounded in the first one gets ramped up by a factor of ten.

These last two books, if I get the opportunity to do them, are really one big story split in half, and structured in a way with the first so if they were all put together they would read rather seamlessly as a whole epic.

The Scholastic Books of my day are much different than the ones of today, post-Twilight. When you delivered The Lost Boy to them, what was the reaction? While the story is meant for younger readers, it is a dark kind of story.

Well, initially when I brought The Lost Boy to Scholastic, Graphix!, its graphic novel imprint was literally just getting off the ground, the entire structure there was different, Harry Potter was just rolling out, and then we had the crash in ’08 which fundamentally changed everything. Not sure how or if Twilight had any impact whatsoever to be honest, certainly not with me in any noticeable way. I still haven’t seen the films or read the books to be fully honest.
 
So the calculations about it were never something that existed insofar as I recall. It was received extremely well, but only after a long series of insanities to get us to the end game. I think it went through at least 6-8 editors? The crash just upended the whole industry and things were really unstable for a good while after… layoffs, hirings, staff changes, market changes… it was like surfing a pair of conflicting tsunamis some times.
 
But David just acted as this incredible lighthouse through it all and brought me in, assigned Adam to the project, and it just took off like a rocket after. It was a herculean task wrestling this story down. I often refer to it as having to take the Black Forest in Germany, and turn it into a single bonsai that still felt like the whole forest. Adam was incredible to that purpose, and we became good friends  as result. The whole of that team at Scholastic really feels familial in a lot of ways. I always make sure to stop in and see them whenever I can.
 

But it brought me my first NY Times bestseller listing, and really changed a lot for me in a million different ways. It is a dark and challenging complex story, but I think kids are such sophisticated readers- especially these days- and are rarely rewarded with such material, I just couldn’t resist putting my money where my mouth is. Scary stories aren’t for every kid no doubt, but for those who really love them, it’s a special kind of honor to please them. The support, the letters and cosplay and all the support from Scholastic has been such an incredible affirmation. Kid’s lit is still an area I am really devoted to and look forward to returning to after Meadowlark– which, despite centering around a kid, is in no way whatsoever meant or intended for children — it’s a rough edged frenetic noir piece that literally pulls no punches. 

You’ve said previously that you were never really into comic books per se. You didn’t like the open-ended, soap opera nature of them. But Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns changed that. The idea that you could tell a single story that starts and conclusively finishes got your attention. What did that change in your mindset?

Well, largely that was a response to the time I grew up where being able to follow a comic through on a monthly basis was near impossible for me. There wasn’t the direct market like the one that exploded on the scene later in the ’80s, so it wasn’t possible to follow those long arching stories. But generally I do like endings- I think like the way death stalks our lives, each and every one of us, and brings it focus and value, stories that just run forever lose a lot of punch. If you know Superman won’t die, or even if he does will come back, than your ability to relate to him gets cleaved by half right away. The dispensing of mainstay character safety in George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books really changed things for me when I first read A Game of Thrones. Killing Ned was like ending Captain Kirk, or murdering Bruce Wayne: it just shook the foundations of what stories could do, and made everything dangerous and threatened in a way that brings a terrific level of meaning and value to the story. 
 
So The Dark Knight Returns, Mai The Psychic Girl, Watchmen, etc. were pure revelations for me, and helped reintroduce me to the medium of comics in a way that lives on today. The way the market changed, the old comic shop market collapsing and the reduction of Marvel and DC into essentially being IP farms for their parent corporation’s film divisions really afforded and opportunity for the book world to take the medium under its wing and start to finally, after generations of insane self-immolation, take the medium seriously and start growing up and catching up to where it has been driven in other cultures like Europe, Japan and Latin America; where it has such a vibrant and diverse playground to run about in.
 

I could never have sold Indeh or even The Lost Boy, or Meadowlark in the old comics industry dominated world, and we’d have never seen such legitimately literary masterpieces come like Persepolis, Essex County, March, Boxers and Saints, Smile, or the dozen other excellent genre busting stories we get to have now. While the mid 1980’s-early 90’s were a true renaissance period for comics, and an incredible time to come up in, there has been no better period in American history to be making graphic novels than right now. Forget the superhero stuff, the myriad of other environs has never been richer. Indeh‘s been out just a year now and has already been translated into, I think, six different languages. It’s an amazing time. 

Could you go into the materials you use?

Pretty simple really: paper, sumi ink, or graphite pencil. Scan and assembled in Photoshop. I will often use watercolor, crayon or color pencil, and gouache too, but all of it get scanned in to be dealt with digitally. Even though I letter my comics digitally, it’s via a font I built based on my handwriting, with word balloons and tails also hand drawn and scanned in so that there’s a consistency throughout the story, and everything is of a piece with itself.
 
But I am pretty minimal and uncomplicated or precious when it comes to materials, which I suppose should be clear by my years-long experiment with ballpoint pens. There’s a tendency with artists to indulge in the minutia of materials, the hand-pressed linseed oil aged in the skull of a family enemy for a decade, and the siphoned through a laudanum spoon that makes it responsible for your work excelling. But I honestly think it doesn’t matter what you work with as long as you work with something. You can make a book a million times more resonate with ruled paper and a Ticonderoga #2 pencil than one made with the most Ferrari of materials.
 
It’s not the hammer you bang, but the arm that wields the hammer that really matters. So, I tend not to be too reverential about materials. That said I do love the Blackwing Palomino, Pearl, and 504 pencils to death because they are like drawing with compressed velvet, and that liquified sumi ink that comes in those green grenade shaped bottles from Aitoh. When I find a material that works, I tend to be extremely monogamous about them clearly. 
 
Thanks to Greg Ruth for sharing his work and process with Popdose.com. You can learn more at www.gregthings.com and Greg’s books are available at Amazon.com.

POPDOSE PREMIERE: Tremble, “Thorns”

A collaboration of a high-powered trio, each with his or her own unique musical perspective, singer Kelly Sweet, and songwriter/producer/musicians Haywire (who’s worked with Miley Cyrus) and Ajax (Collective Soul, Duran Duran) came together after a backyard fete to become Tremble.

As you might imagine just from their resumes, the sound they add to the mix is eclectic but not entirely disparate. Take their latest single, “Thorns,” for instance. Its driving pulse echoes what might have been pumping out of nightclubs in the ’90s. In fact, the whole track has just the perfect late-’90s/early-2000s tilt to reawaken a bit of nostalgia, but it’s wholly wedged in today’s musical landscape. (It probably helps that the ’90s are in a renaissance, too!)

Sweet’s mega-pop vocal lends itself well to the lyrics, particularly the driving chorus with its optimistic method: “If you don’t know darkness, then you can’t see the light / When the shadows fall, I won’t leave your side.” In the video, that dark/light dichotomy is explored well through the black-and-white filter. Sweet dances in a desert, flanked by her two collaborators; in a somewhat simplistic setting, the song really shines.

Take a peek at Tremble’s “Thorns” below — making its Popdose premiere today!