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
Shine 2009 - Our Nation Album Review Shine 2009 Our Nation Cascine / Modular Recordings (2013) Shine 2009's sophomore LP, Our Nation, is hard to pin down. Through sampling, instrumentation, and lyrics, Mikko Pykäri and Sami Suova, the Finnish duo behind the album, manage to simultaneously evoke spacey lightness and earthly percussiveness, welcomed nostalgia and contemporary immediacy. The effect is strange but infectious. While assimilating us, for example, to the band's stylistic combination of R&B backing vocals and psych synths is no small feat, Our Nation's lyrics and overall cohesiveness may offer something even more lasting.
Keep Shelly in Athens At Home Cascine (2013) There are no shortage of bands stitching gauzy female vocals to muscular machine drums and effects-laden guitars. Bands like Nite Jewel, Chvrches and Pure Bathing Culture have been dominating mixtapes and airwaves for several years. What separates Keep Shelly in Athens from the pack? Are they sincere, or merely bandwagon-hopping? On their inaugural flight, At Home, Keep Shelly in Athens rummage through three decades of electronic sounds – the '80s, 90s, and '00s. But what could have ended up as an awkward patchwork of unrelated genres is instead the refinement of the ore of inspiration, into a polished gem of pop perfection.

CASCINE: The Sound of Escape Now

This mixtape is an ode to the tender elegance and unbridled wanderlust of every springtime renewal. It's our way of saying: goodbye endless winter, hello brand new sunshine. Music for floating overseas through seasons of change, following the cyan expanses, or just heading out to the open sky. This is the sound of innocence won back. Take a deep breath, and jump right in. Curation and descriptions by Sandra Croft, Cascine's publicist.

www.cascine.us

 

As it is every year around this time of year, the music party that needs no introduction is upon us. For SXSW 2013, in addition to our own annual psych and dance-oriented house party (this year's is called FEEL YOU and comes with a handy-dandy mixtape), we've gone through and written up our top picks for official bands as well as our top unofficial showcases! Read on!
Youth Lagoon Trevor Powers' vocals remind me of Daniel Johnson both the physical sound and the earnest lyrics. Then he takes these simple melodies and opens them up inside lush, shimmering layers of live and electronic instruments. RACHEL HAYS
--- YOUTH LAGOON - WONDROUS BUGHOUSE ALBUM REVIEW 03/13 - 10:40pm @ Stubb's (NPR Showcase) 03/14 - 5:00pm @ 1100 Warehouse (Pitchfork Party) 03/15 - 4:00pm @ Hype Hotel (Stereogum Range Life) 03/15 - 5:30pm @ Red Eyed Fly (After the Gold Rush) 03/15 - 12:00am @ Club de Ville (Paradigm Showcase)

 

Poolside The band basically spells out relaxation with their name choice. Their music videos and album art reiterate that fact; the video for their song "Slow Down" is perfectly California cool. - JUDY NELSON
--- POOLSIDE FESTIVAL LIVE SHOW REVIEW MON, MAR 11 - 8:00pm @ The Mohawk (Transmission Entertainment Showcase, 912 Red River) MAR 13 - 5:20pm @ Cheer Up Charlie's (Spaceland Showcase, 1104 E 6th St.) MAR 13 - 9:30pm @ The Tap Room (School Night Showcase) MAR 13 - 1:30am @ Red 7 (Windish Showcase, 611 East 7th St.) MAR 14 - 1:35pm @ Flamingo Cantina (Under The Radar Showcase, 515 E 6th St.) MAR 14 - 6:00pm @ Sonos House (606 E 3rd St.) MAR 15 - 4:00pm @ Red Eyed Fly (Another Planet Entertainment Showcase) MAR 16 - 4:00pm @ Lustre Pearl (97 Rainey St.)

 

Flying Lotus Years ago, I was at SXSW and dying from crippling food poisoning. I was at the Warp Records showcase, more or less ready to die, when Flying Lotus took the stage and revived me. One-man electronic shows aren't always compelling, but with his tricked out beats, spastic visuals, and just general mythology, Flying Lotus is one of the best electronic solo acts to see. VIVIAN HUA
03/12 - 12:00am @ AMOA Arthouse at Jones Center (Plus an unannounced surprise performance!)

 

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles, updated throughout every month to bring you the best of the funk.
+++ FULL POST + TOP POPS! COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

 


James Blake - "Retrograde" James Blake is back with Overgrown on April 8th. Embedding this is a tricky feat -- as the last time I embedded a James Blake track with the following review, UMG scolded us and demanded the video's removal -- but nonetheless, here it is, for all of your soulful listening desires. Slight electronic texturing still exists here -- he hasn't given himself up completely, certainly -- but this is as soulful as we've ever heard Blake, and this track is most definitely a slow-burner and a grower, grower, grower.

 

Psychic Twin - "Strangers" (Polyvinyl Records) Psychic Twin seem to constantly deliver on impressive one-off tracks, and "Strangers" from their upcoming Polyvinyl-released 7" is no different. Upbeat synth frolicks and fancy fleeting vocals delight while entering the noggin hypnotically. Polyvinyl is really chasing the dance pop tip lately, and I'd personally say that Psychic Twin are one of their most exciting prospects. Unfortunately, these tracks can't be embedded right now, but you can enjoy "Strangers" via Soundcloud or hear additional Psychic Twin tracks we have posted here. They will be playing at our SXSW 2013 show; announcement coming Monday.

 

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. Here's a cheerful post with Sub Pop Records' Still Corners, Born Gold's Teenage Sweater, and UK musician Chad Valley, of Jonquil, featuring Glasser's Cameron Mesirow. SEE ALSO +++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POP COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Chad Valley

Glasser's Cameron Mesirow turns everything to gold with her New Age delicacy, and Twin Shadow's George Lewis Jr. churns out fanatic fans like none other. So it is that both musicians take the '80s pop-inspired tracks of Hugo Manuel (aka Chad Valley) to the next level. The comparison to "'80s pop" is not used lightly here; Chad Valley pretty much epitomizes the genre, complete with the most straight-forward pop vocals you've probably heard in a while. "Fall 4 U" and "I Owe You This" come from Young Hunger, out on Cascine, and the whole record boasts additional contributions from similarly-minded guest stars include El Perro Del Mar, Active Child, and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. Full tracklisting to follow, along with an upbeat remix by Lissvik. Chad Valley Ft. Twin Shadow - "I Owe You This" Chad Valley Ft. Glasser - "Fall 4 U" (Original)

 

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. Two female-fronted records from Taken By Trees and Southern Shores offer their unique spins on tropical-influenced experimental pop and release their records on the same day (October 2) via Secretly Canadian and Cascine, respectively. SEE: FULL POST + ALL TOP POP COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Taken By Trees

Victoria Bergsman, former frontwoman of The Concretes and the female voice on Peter Bjorn And John's "Young Folks", is now stepping into a new light with her newest project, Taken By Trees. Her debut record, Other Worlds, will be released on Secretly Canadian on October 2nd and highlights a sunshine-filled period in Bergsman's life, when the Hawaiian Islands and falling in love played a crucial role in changing her artistic trajectory. Two singles have been thus far released for the album -- the stereotypically dream pop "Dreams", with a music video you can see HERE, and the dubbed out dance jam, "Large", which you can hear below. On Other Worlds, Taken By Trees is innovative at times and derivative at times, but "Large" is a hint of Bergsman's better tendencies. Simply drawing from tropical influences is often not quite enough -- especially in this current tropical pop-saturated atmosphere -- but when tropicalia is slathered in manipulations and unexpected tendencies, that's when it really shines, and Bergsman does so well here. Taken By Trees will soon be on tour with Jens Lekman, whose latest you can hear HERE. See full tour dates at the bottom of this post, and expect our full review of the record soon.

 

Remix City Sifting through mountains of remix trash so you don't have to, in an attempt to find the ones that contribute to their originals. Erika Spring of Au Revoir Simone releases her solo project, with a remix by Jensen Sportag, and Chicago's Another offers up an entire remix EP, with standouts from LUST and Ambinate.

 

Erika Spring - "Hidden"

Singer and keyboardist of Au Revoir Simone, Erika Spring, has just released a self-titled EP from the experimental pop label Cascine, which is curiously a record label guided by intuition. A quick browse through their catalog reveals a series of clever, often female-fronted forays into gentle pop music. "Hidden", Erika Spring's first single, comes with a burning underlying synth line that adds a depth to its already sultry qualities. The remix by Jensen Sportag throws a mellow haze atop it, in some senses, while picking up its dancing in the bedroom potentialities.
Erika Spring - "Hidden" (Jensen Sportag Remix) Erika Spring - "Hidden" (Original)