Like a shiny unicorn of the indie pop world, Connan Mockasin is the type of musician who has earned himself a number of adjectives and associations, often whimsical and colorful in nature. His 2011 record, Forever Dolphin Love, set the precedent for this; it was full of unconventional words, strange voices, and fictional characters, giving one the impression that he is one who floats off early and often into the ether, with one foot grounded in this world and one in another. As a result, media and press often generalize Connan Mockasin to be an "oddball" -- an assertion that he finds "kind of a bit weak", for he doesn't in fact feel odd... Connan Mockasin Band Interview With his latest 2013 full-length, Caramel, Connan Mockasin's music has taken in soulful influences to become a fair degree more grounded and accessible -- but it seems that he still has trouble shaking the character judgments heaped upon him. Caramel is conventional compared to Forever Dolphin Love, but it remains fairly unconventional in the world of indie soul and R&B, full of moments that might be difficult to relate to from outside perspectives. But talk to Connan Mockasin for any length of time, and one learns very quickly that his motivations and attitudes towards music-making -- and life, in general -- are actually much, much simpler than most would predict. The bulk of his decisions are based upon impulses rather than deep considerations, and flowing from moment to moment without preconceived expectations or concerns for consequence is his general mode of operation. Indeed, it is one that very few people can relate to -- which is perhaps why it is so very "odd" -- but to understand this is to understand the essence of Connan Mockasin's creative genius.

One-upping his quirky reputation with some tasteful humor, Connan Mockasin plays the lurking lover in this music video for "I'm The Man, That Will Find You" off of his latest record, Caramel. In it, he executes humorously sensual moves galore, with the major winner being a well-timed tumble down a mega-miniature set of stairs. Get your smile tickles on and stay tuned with an interview with Connan Mockasin, coming next week. Caramel is out now on Mexican Summer.

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of indie pop highlights across a selection of styles, updated every month to keep you on your wiggly toes.
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Death Vessel - "Mercury Dime"

The type of song that just demands to be adored, Death Vessel's "Mercury Dime" flies through all jingle-jangling worlds of sonic pleasure, using titillating adjectives like "mercurily blue" to paint a scene that relates human forms to nature. Androgynously-voiced frontman Joel Thibodeau confounds and entices simultaneously on the band's forthcoming full-length album, Island Intervals, which comes out February 25th, 2014 on Sub Pop Records. This is just to wet your appetite for this neo-folk ambiance; catch them on tour this March.  

Metronomy - I'm Aquarius Music Video
We've coincidentally been featuring a string of sci-fi and space-related music videos as of late, but Metronomy's music video for "I'm Aquarius", directed by French director Edoud Salier, is definitely the most polished of the bunch. Rolling with the punches of singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joseph Mount's use of astrological references galore, this music video is like a sci-fi book cover turned motion picture style. Retro spaceships float over spacescapes painted in bold strokes, until they finally touch down in a new land, not unlike a modern ancient Egypt, and timed perfectly for the song's ending half, which worms out into ethereal spaces.
Metronomy - I'm Aquarius Music VideoMetronomy - I'm Aquarius Music Video

Pearls Negras
Get your heads spinning with these tracks from Brazil's girl-pop-rap group, Pearls Negras, who have a new Biggie Apple mixtape out now for your consumable pleasure. Somehow the nitty-gritty of these jams, their harsh Portuguese delivery, and the fact that these bitchez be from the super real streets of Rio blows this shit out of the water even more explosively than any potential English counterparts. Incredible, in the best of ways, and if the heavy beats and mad lip service aren't convincing enough, check them out in the booty shorts and spandex-heavy music video for "Pensando em Você" ("Thinking About You"), which is also translated below. (PS - Don't be too thrown off by the halfway-point pop song in the mixtape; they're probably just showing you they're more than just one trick ponies, in true K-Pop fashion.)

Every year, we interview a number of musicians and artists about the intimate details and philosophical underpinnings of their album cover artwork. It's an ever-massive undertaking, but we make sure to include every genre, from doom metal to disco, minimal electronic to mainstream pop, with the intention of highlighting the best visual art, regardless of why or who created it. You can see entries from previous years here, and browse 2013's entries by either scrolling down or selecting a category below. > Narrative & Mythological Album Covers > Photographic Album Covers > Illustrative Album Covers > Mixed Media & Collage-Based Album Covers

As the Northern Hemisphere goes full blast into the wintry days, those in the Southern Hemisphere are in for hotter and sweatier times, perfect for feel-good sounds that scream of sunshine and socialization more than darkness and hermitude. South African Music - Feel Good Mixtape Curated by UmliloAfter our experimental foray into South African house music proved to delight audiences domestically and abroad, we've invited the androgynous genre-hopping musician Umlilo to offer up a hand-picked selection of noteworthy South African musicians, as marked with the seal of approval by a local. So before we launch into the mixtape, complete with Umlilo's thoughtfully written track descriptions, please enjoy his latest music video for "The Elements", which shows off his interest in fashion, gender-bending, and explorations of vocal styles galore.

Umlilo - "The Elements" Music Video

Out with the old, no matter how good it is! Here's our comprehensive list of Top Albums of the Year 2013, schizophrenic as always to reflect the diverse tastes of our staff, though there is some overlap. It's highly recommended you check out every release here, as each has its own creative strengths.
Matthew Carter - electronic, experimental, metal, pop, rock Vivian Hua - dance, indie, pop, psychedelic, soul Troy Micheau - classical, electronic, experimental, instrumental Judy Nelson - dance, electronic, indie, pop, psychedelic, soul Elizabeth Perry - indie, mainstream, pop, rock Peter Woodburn - classical, instrumental, metal XUA - electronic hip-hop, mainstream, pop Albums of the Year 2013

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of indie pop highlights across a selection of styles, updated every month to keep you on your wiggly toes. This month, Gardens & Villa and Dum Dum Girls return, Howard Ivans of GAYNGS and The Rosebuds goes solo, and JMSN, Starlight Girls and The Slims show that they really, really know how to do their own thing.
+++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POPS! COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS Gardens & Villa - Bullet TrainPhotography by Neil Favila

Gardens & Villa - "Bullet Train"

Returning with the introductory single from their February 2014 Secretly Canadian release, Dunes, Southern California's Gardens & Villa seem to be on a brand new tip of exploring death and life in the fast lane. Californian at heart and name-dropping Los Angeles and The Bay Area like rapstars, "Bullet Train" dishes out Prince-like funkiness and manages to one-up the band's previous use of falsetto-laden vocals and flute-playing majesty. My favorite track from the record, "Bullet Train" is just one quick glimpse into an album full of reflections on being and becoming.