An intimately vulnerable and stunningly cinematic affair, Under the Rug’s sophomore album ‘Dear Adeline’ is a truly beautiful, heart-wrenchingly human breakup record: A collection of raw, honest songs that power through life’s darkness to once again see the light.
Stream: “Dear Adeline” – Under the Rug
Loss affects us all in different ways: Some fold into themselves for a long time, whilst others dive headfirst into anything and everything that can keep them occupied and away from their emotional scars. For Under the Rug’s Casey Dayan, the concurrent loss of his mother and dissolution of his relationship sent him down the road of intimate reflection, self-discovery, and world exploration. He dove in and out at once, and by the time he truly came up for air, his band had ten achingly emotional and radiantly dynamic songs that captured, in vivid, visceral detail, his intimate dealings with grief, personal growth, and more. An intimately vulnerable and stunningly cinematic affair, Under the Rug’s sophomore album Dear Adeline is a truly beautiful, heart-wrenchingly human breakup record: A collection of raw, honest songs that power through life’s darkness to once again see the light.
are you surprised
to hear from me now?
The neighbor’s been quiet
since mamma died
Polly’s closed down
I’ve had a long, long time
to think of this, what I would say
if I could ever reclaim the voice
that once was my own
that you took away
A smoker sings through a hole in his throat,
a rotten bird is cooking on the road.
Independently released February 25, 2022, Dear Adeline is an unapologetically candid opening up of a broken heart – not to mention a stunningly colorful, cathartic offering from Austin, Texas trio Under the Rug. Formed over a decade ago, the band of Casey Dayan, guitarist Sean Campbell, and drummer Brendan McQueeney put out their debut album Pale King in 2019 to considerable local applause. The group’s pop sensibilities, mixed with an undeniable alt rock ethos, lends their music an undeniably catchy spark – as well as a bit of an edge. That combination isn’t easy to find (nor is it always there to tap into), yet the trio’s debut presents nine songs (and one bonus track) that make expert use of that ethos while maintaining a sense of authenticity and uncompromising honesty. We recommend giving the full album a listen in your spare time.
With this experience to go off, perhaps it is no surprise that Under the Rug’s sophomore album would so prudently take on some of life’s hardest facets. Dear Adeline has been billed as “a ten-track collection of emotive, dynamic indie rock that chronicles grief, tumult, and healing after the loss of a loved one and simultaneous dissolution of a romantic relationship.” Its material is raw, real, and unfiltered.
“Dear Adeline is a record about getting over a breakup,” vocalist Casey Dayan tells Atwood Magazine. “My mom was schizophrenic and passed away around the same time my ex started having some pretty serious psych challenges of her own. Then I found out she and my then-best friend were sleeping together. It was a lot, and for a while I didn’t know what to say about it all. I felt kind of immobilized. It was a big, complex thing — mental illness is a complex thing. I know because I grew up around it. I buried a lot of my own feelings about it for a long time. Then I wrote this record. The first few songs we wrote for Dear Adeline were written right after my mom died and my relationship ended and are really reactionary, and then the rest I wrote as I was figuring things out over the last few years. Each song on the album is a different stage of dealing with those events.”
“I wrote a lot of these songs twice,” Dayan adds. “At first, they were very self-deprecating. I told myself over and over that the situation was complicated. I tried really hard not to blame my ex or my friend, but the songs never lie. They were flat and cold and limp and so I put them away for a while and wrote some other singles. Then, one day, The Mountain Goats’ “No Children” popped up on my Spotify and I fell in love with the abandon of just letting yourself get angry. All of a sudden it was like a hose I couldn’t turn off; the album just happened. I think, by then, I had avoided writing anything for so long that these songs were so ripe they just fell off the tree.”
For Dayan, this album captures not only his band’s considerable growth over recent years, but it’s also been his own vessel of cathartic renewal – that thing allowing him to start moving on from trauma.
“I imagined Adeline hearing these songs when I was writing them,” he says, explaining the album’s title. “Like an open letter, maybe. I was also on a Leonard Cohen kick when I started writing it, and I liked how immediate “Chelsea Hotel” felt. There’s something vulnerable about having an “I” and a “you.” When I hear songs like that, it makes me feel almost voyeuristic, and art’s supposed to make you feel, right? I wanted to put people there.”
As for the record’s maturity compared to Under the Rug’s debut? “We grew a lot between this record and the last,” he says. “We’ve been studying music hard (we do marathons of 8 hour days, instruments-in-hand the whole time). We picked up new instruments: mandolin, accordion, piano, slide guitar. We worked with new players. The arrangements are emotive and complex—they serve the songs better than on our past records, in my opinion. The playing is cleaner. The small moments are smaller and the big moments are bigger. As a body of work, it’s wacky diverse, but it’s also another step forward along the path of developing this musical vision we have. I think it’s very Under The Rug in a lot of ways.”
Diving into the mud, Dear Adeline is sure to tug at the heartstrings. Highlights abound on the journey from the opening title track through the soaring finale, “Some Kind of Hell.” From gutting outpourings (“I Was Wrong”) and vast orchestral upheavals (“My Best Friend”) to groovy, catchy sun-kissed rock songs (“Feathers in the Sun”) and captivating reckonings with profound loss (“Go to Sleep”), Dear Adeline is a stirring thrill throughout.
“I fall in and out of love with different songs of ours all the time, [but] ‘Stuffed Monkey Farewell’ is one of my favorites right now,” Dayan says. “It starts out so disarming and then relentlessly builds and builds into this huge, orchestral string arrangement (mostly Brendan being a genius). It all just creeps in until I’m like, Wait, when the fuck did TROMBONE get in here? The first couple listens to the final mix gave us goosebumps.”
I bit off my fingernail
when I saw its bobbing monkeytail below the scum
sent a piece of sensitive mail
to the wrong place
watched the mailman drive away
I dove in with my hoodie on and my hood filled up with goo
a piece of kelp got my leg and held me until I resigned my shoe
I met eyes with a passing gull, laughing from
and as if in some laugh-track bit, it snatched up its tail
and then it vanished
behind the bluff
Fate herself had phoned me with an order to let ya go,
but I lay there, unmoving, even so.
– “Stuffed Monkey Farewell,” Under the Rug
As a lyrically forward artist, Dayan cites “Eating Carrots” as having some of his favorite lyrics. “[It’s] the only one I didn’t write,” he beams. “On that little interlude, Sean sums up feeling like shit after a breakup better than I could in nine songs: ‘Why did I get up this morning? I knew it was gonna suck. What’s the point of going to bed tonight? ‘Cause tomorrow’s gonna suck too.’“
Under the Rug defy their name by sweeping it all out into the open.
Seldom can you find an album so diverse, yet cohesive in sound; so raw, yet sonically finessed; so touching, yet searing at the same time. Loss drives us to extremes, and Under the Rug have more than found their footing in the throes of heartache and grief.
“I just kind of hope some people think, ‘That is what it feels like getting over someone,’ Casey Dayan shares. “There’s more there, but that’s what I’m comfortable asking for. I was coming out of a dark life moment, so there’s some challenging stuff in there, too, some death, some questions get asked. Hell, for the super fans, it goes deep: there are motifs—birds, snakes, monkeys, dreams, sides/faults—that we spent time intentionally sprinkling into the songs like easter eggs for folks to find.”
“For us? Musically, we’re ready to grow again. We’re all ready for the next thing. We’re ready to go deeper, push the envelope further, take new risks. Personally, I was ready to put a lot of this behind me years ago. Making an album like this, I learned, is a great form of therapy. I’ve thought through that dark period in my life more times than I can count now and I feel enormously happy lately. I’m actually very excited for what comes next. I’m ready.”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Under the Rug’s Dear Adeline with Atwood Magazine as Casey Dayan goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of the band’s sophomore LP!
Stream: ‘Dear Adeline’ – Under the Rug
:: Inside Dear Adeline ::
After months of feeling snuffed out, I decided I was going to write it all down anyway, the only way I knew how. That’s where that line, “A smoker sings through a hole in his throat” came from. It all started to well up, and I let myself get upset about it. I think I’d been burying it.
Finally, I came to this conclusion that, You know what? If everyone involved in what went down had to reckon with the choices they made, my reckoning would be empirically smaller than theirs. So let all our evils circle back around, equally.
It was the beginning of this album writing itself, and it was such a liberating moment!
“I Was Wrong”
I took this song, which was originally about me having made mistakes with Adeline, with my old best friend, etc., then I scratched the whole thing out with a red pen and started over.
The only thing I was wrong about, I realized, was blaming myself for what had happened. I was allowed to be upset! It was healthy to be upset! I guess, in a way, this song ended up being about self-doubt, and overcoming that.
“My Best Friend”
Similarly, I had written a song about my old best friend, but, in realizing that that person wasn’t my best friend anymore, I also realized I had gained a new best friend: myself.
This song ended up writing itself into a song about taking care of yourself. That, even in your worst moments, your self is always there for you. That idea helped me so I’d like to think it could be helpful for a fan.
“Stuffed Monkey Farewell”
This song is about throwing my ex’s stuffed monkey into a river. There really was a stuffed monkey that I hung onto after we broke up. It lived in the trunk of my prius.
I don’t know why, but every time I wanted to chuck the thing, something told me not to, to wait. It kind of haunted me. Then, one day, I decided to get rid of it (I burned it in the music video for Go To Sleep, which, with all the monkeys, might make more sense to some fans after reading your review). I felt like that moment of finally letting the object go was enormously liberating. So that’s what this song is about…how hard it is to let go.
I wrote a little phone poem after my mom passed about a dead bird I saw on the side of the road in a small warf town in Monterey. I was drunk and stopped in front of the bird and just started crying, reeling in the ole’ “everything dies and that’s awful and unfair.”
Years later, I was talking to our mix engineer Dave Peters, who’s kind of a genius, and he commented on the song, saying, that bird was there, in a way, so you could have that thought, and that gives its death some kind of meaning. In some kind of way, too, the death of my relationship gave this album meaning, and the death of my mom, even, gave the rest of my life some meaning. Maybe that’s all a bit precious, but I believe it.
Sean had a breakup of his own around the time we wrote this album. We all sacrificed a lot to build the 2600 square foot recording studio we were running back in 2016. Hell, we were living in it to afford it. We had no windows, no light, it was mathematically sound treated, so it was approaching completely silent.
Sean was living in what was basically a storage closet. The girlfriend finally gave him a “band or me” ultimatum (bad ultimatum). Anyhow, one night, we got three-sheets-to-the-wind in the studio, talked it all out, and I happened to hit record on voice memos before he riffed out that lyrical masterpiece. I dropped my sticks so I played the drums with my hands.
“Go To Sleep”
“As Long As You’re Here”
I was re-reading Much Ado About Nothing. Benedick has some awfully-salty zingers in that play, especially the one we repurposed for this song. It basically says: I hope a priest comes and exorcises Beatrice, because as long as she’s here on earth, people are dying and going to hell on purpose just so they don’t have to be here.
I love putting mean words to pretty music.
“Don’t Look Down”
We wrote this in maybe a half hour or so, right before me and Adeline broke it off. It just wrote itself. It was just kind of how I was feeling that day about things, about making art, about getting older, about Adeline. Things were so bad in my relationship, I was imagining how things would be if we got married, how unhappy I’d be.
I think there’s this be-thankful-for-what-you-have mindset that can be really terrible.
Maybe don’t sometimes. Maybe don’t be thankful for what you have. Maybe want a little. Maybe be willing to throw the monkey away and start over. So many people have told us not to pursue making creative music, that it’s impossible. That it’s cutthroat.
This song is saying: do what you love. Shut out the crummy people. Focus. Find a way to make it work. Like the dead bird, we’re all going to die! So soon! Don’t just ostrich your head into the sand…you’ll end up somewhere you hoped you’d never be. Maybe this song is something I tell myself?
This song is so hard to talk about. I was reading a bunch of gazals, which is a kind of arabic poem…well…wikipedia might do a better job than me: “A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain.”
Anyway, this is one of those songs that’s so complex, part of me wants to just say…well…listen to it, but it gives Adeline her moment (sung and co-written by the incredible Ken Pomeroy, who I highly recommend checking out), and then borrows some lofty ideas from Hafez and those gazals: that one person’s pain is everyone’s pain. That there aren’t really any divisions between living things. That we all came from the same place and are going to the same place.
Both sides of the Adeline relationship are expressed and then that line is kind of blurred.
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