Another year of our favorites in Top Album Cover Artwork, and once again, we interview musicians and artists on the often-underappreciated work that goes into creating a product that not only tickles your ears, but speaks to your eyes and hearts. Album artwork, though often only viewed on tiny screens...

For the sixth year in a row, we present to you a rundown of the best CMJ​ Music Marathon shows to scamper to across town, with a wide selection that includes pop, hardcore, electronic, soul, and indie acts, including Shigeto, Briana Marela, Empress Of, Lushes, Gemma, and Gilligan Moss....

On this, the international day of canibus, we bring to you a mixtape courtesy of the creators of Desert Daze, a psychedelically-minded festival held in the deserts east of California. Taking place in the aptly-named Mecca, Desert Daze is what you might traditionally come to expect from an American psychedelic...

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
To pay proper homage to the musical grandness of 2013 and to usher in the new year 2014, we've once again decided to call upon our tastemaker friends to compile their favorite up-and-comers throughout the Pacific Northwest. Here, James Scheall, Cameron McCreery, and Katherine Humphreys of Seattle's stylish boutique shop and venue Cairo throw out their wide-ranging picks for Seattle bands to watch. Those who are interested in the Portland scene can also check out the list compiled by the innovative nightclub, Holocene, here.
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Cock & Swan __ soundcloud.com/cockandswan

Cock & Swan’s Ola Hungerford and Johnny Goss are a couple of weirdos making beautifully intricate, often kaleidoscopic pop music. Layers of analog synths and bass guitar provide a hazy, warped framework for Hungerford’s subtle, dreamy vocals to build on. Their 2013 LP, Secret Angles, sounds like something you’d find under a stack of scratched-up Boards of Canada and Broadcast CDs, in the best way. Trippy in the least annoying way possible. - CAMERON MCCREERY

Black Hat __ blackhat.bandcamp.com/album/covalence-ep

Nelson Bean's music as Black Hat exists somewhere in the strange, hazy middle-ground between dance music and noise. Harsh drums and lurching bass give way to droning synths and eerily beautiful melodies in a constant vortex of sound. There is a definite darkness to Black Hat’s music, but it’s more than just a gothy occult obsession; there is a very natural, very real darkness at work here, one that will draw you in and never let go. Hypnotic head nods 'til the end. - CAMERON MCCREERY

La Luz __ laluz.bandcamp.com

Melancholic oohs and ahhs drift sweetly from rain to the Puget Sound, sung by the harmonious spirits of La Luz, who are taking the foggy beaches and rainy side-streets of Seattle by storm. Not only can they hang ten with their epic surf rock shredder tracks, but they've somehow have perfected the balance of drifter sadness and hilarious campiness. Not to mention, they totally survived an insane car accident and have bounced back like it’s no one’s business. Pick up their cassette via Burger or their LP via Hardly Art. - KATHERINE HUMPHREYS
A lot of the problem with viewing the universe as being comprised of matter comes with the idea that it's devoid of conscious experience somehow. More and more, little by little, we're starting to wake up to the insane limitations of this philosophy. Renders people humorless if you ask me. Nothing adds up, which creates profound existential desperation resonating throughout the collective psi-grid of humanity. There is no explanation for why anything happens, so we instead focus on how things go down in obsessive detail. Not to knock this approach, as it creates order by combining with the mystical chaos of internal infinity. Too much mystic psychic sizzle and you'll get torn to shreds, but when you look at only shared perceptual experience, you're editing out the vast majority of reality. It's all dark matter through those eyes. Endless blacked out pages on a declassified UFO report. What I've found is that by shifting models of reality interpretation just slightly from conceiving the world as being made of matter to one comprised from conscious experience, coherent macro concepts of conjoined narratives learning lessons throughout cycles of shifting lifetimes starts to take shape (which I talk about all the time on Facebook; friend me). When you start looking at things through the neo-Occult lens regarding the meaning of our existence as participants in a small cog of a much larger 5th dimensional art creation device, things begin to click into place on an even deeper level. Try it; it's fun. What works about this model is the fact that art is getting more plentiful and expansive by the day. Whether or not that was the purpose, that's what's happening. The average person now spends their time lost in a greater collective imagination in a way that wasn't even possible a decade ago. We've entered the era of the information addict. We're turning ourselves increasingly inward and tying together disparate narratives without asking why we're so unconsciously compelled to veer in that direction. I'm more helplessly entrenched than anyone, spending my time existent in my own celestial enclave of sonic enchantment. Fact of the matter is, more people are taking psychedelic drugs at this point in history than ever before. The loosening of the pot laws is just going to ensure that trend continues to spike upward. Unsurprisingly, this has created a congruent upsurge in fantastically brain-altering tunage. I can't even begin to keep up with it all, and I'm an obsessive music weirdo. For all intents and purposes, there are an infinite number of great albums being made every single year, but I'd say Joe Sixpack isn't truly aware of that fact. I can't imagine any of the records on this list sold a ton, which is sort of the problem and why you need geeks like me. Next time you want to trip out on the weekend rather than getting blitzed drunk, go pick up any of thesem and they'll serve to lift you on high rather than binding you to the lower dimensions. Now, I almost apologize, because there really should be more trip-hop and electronic freak outs on here in general -- that's where drug music is heading and has been since I was a kid. But I've listened to a lot of the higher profile releases this year and most of it was decent, and little of it struck me as sufficiently psyche-warping. I've got to dig deeper next year. I will say that Seattle's Debacle Records consistently brings the strange vibes (Editor's Note: See the mixtape they made for us earlier this year) -- and as if intentionally living up to our newly minted west coast weed city status, more great psychedelic albums came out of Seattle this year than ever, so this list is also a bit heavy on that because no one else is really talking about it. You've been warned.
As Record Store Day celebrates its 6th anniversary, with vinyl sales posting decade high numbers in 2012, there's no reason to think the yearly event won't continue to expand in 2013, making the dash for collectors and fans alike an even more chaotic experience if you're looking to score the most rare or exciting vinyl. Here are some of the releases we're most excited about. Now if only we had the bank accounts to match our wish lists. View the complete list of recommended releases.

Brian Eno X Nicolas Jaar X Grizzly Bear

As far as superstar collaborations go, this year's Brian Eno X Nicolas Jaar X Grizzly Bear 12" is as exciting as they get. Not only do the three artists bridge decades worth of musical output in their own right, their creativity and collective mastery has surely inspires countless others. This Warp Records package finds Jaar remixing Brian Eno's "Lux 2" and Grizzly Bear's "Sleeping Ute." All 2,000 of these 12" double A-sides should go quick, as this is no doubt one of the most anticipated releases of the event. VINYL INFORMATION Designed and printed by Edwin Pickstone & Ivor Williams on a FAG Control 525 Swiss-built semi-automatic cylinder proofing press in Glasgow. Type was a mix of 35 line sans condensed and 50 lined grotesque super-condensed and was left 80% black, deliberately broken print to echo the sentiment of remixes carrying the remnants of the original.

 

BRIGHT LIKE NEON LOVE TRACKLIST A1 Time Stands Still A2 Future A3 Saturdays A4 Saturdays (Reprise) A5 Going Nowhere B1 DD-5 B2 That Was Just A Dream B3 Zap Zap B4 The Twilight B5 Autobahn Music Box B6 Bright Neon Payphone B7 A Dream

Cut Copy

Before the release of In Ghost Colours in 2008, the thought that Australian electro poppers Cut Copy would soon become a transcendent and influential dance act seemed impossible. It was only their second record in four years, and their debut Bright Like Neon Love was a faded memory, only ever charting in their native country. But it was a critical darling of sorts, heralded as something akin to Daft Punk, The Human League and New Order. And while Record Store Day won't propel Bright Like Neon Love to soaring sales numbers, this year's reissue of the 2004 record will hopefully cement the album's legacy to a newer generation almost a decade later. 4,000 of these 12" long players will be pressed and released by Modular.

 

TAME IMPALA EP TRACKLISTING A1 Desire Be Desire Go A2 Skeleton Tiger A3 Half Full Glass Of Wine B1 Forty One Mosquitoes Flying In Formation B2 Slide Through My Fingers B3 Wander

Tame Impala

Tame Impala's Innerspeaker burst onto the scene in 2010 with it's crunchy, psychedelic guitar work and overall retro tinted sound. Bold but not overstated, Innerspeaker re-established proper rock 'n roll in a lot of ways for the coming decade. But in 2008, the band's self-titled EP was really what set the group on this path. While it maybe doesn't have the bravado and polish of Innerspeaker, or last year's Lonerism, the Tame Impala EP does feature a great deal more for diehard fans who originally missed this record. Modular will release 5,000 of these 12" records, all pressed to red vinyl.

 

While thousands of miles are covered, some of our favorite jams from friends will send ripples from our ears to your toes and cripple all bummer vibes to a pulp. All bands on this mix are friends, favorites, and/or involved in current or future releases with Aye Aye Aye Tapes...

A 23-track mixtape to celebrate two unofficial SXSW showcases taking place the same evening in 2012, designed to facilitate inner and outer harmony through dance rhythms and psyche-altering compositions....