Youth Lagoon Wondrous Bughouse Fat Possum Around the time Trevor Powers was set to release his first record for free, before Fat Possum or any other record label came calling -- or rather, begging -- there was an insatiable desire for home-recorded dream pop. Atlas Sound, Wild Nothing, Real Estate... the list goes on and on, an endless wealth of nostalgic-tinted, lo-fi recordings that fans, websites, and magazines couldn't get enough of. As a result, Youth Lagoon's initial rise always felt forced, and his debut nothing out of the ordinary, a collection of expected music. But now, as time has passed and tastes have shifted, Powers' brand of estranged psych ambiance somehow stands alone. And he wouldn't have it any other way. In talking about his debut, The Year of Hibernation, Powers consistently brought up the fact that his music is dictated by what haunts him, not by any contrived sense of nostalgia, no matter how retro or en vogue his songs may sound. The ability to escape the misappropriation of The Year of Hibernation proved vastly important in the growth of Youth Lagoon, but Wondrous Bughouse ushers in a new era for the ambitious musician.
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SUMMARY: "Instead of the mostly personal stories Powers was so insistent on telling throughout The Year of Hibernation -- an exercise no doubt necessary for his overall maturation -- Wondrous Bughouse is a much more outward-facing record."

 

Toro Y Moi Anything in Return Carpark Records Anything in Return is the record that Toro Y Moi is going to really break through with. Not because it is necessarily his best, but because the media machine has been buzzing in overtime to get him into the upper stratosphere of ultimate hipness. This process will be helped by the fact that Toro Y Moi's music has become accessible to more than a select group of Pitchfork readers as his career has progressed. He's added more genres (funk, dance, electro-pop, R&B) to his repertoire -- and while this can be a liability in some cases, TyM has managed to make it on the whole a strength. It's his time, and he's ready for it.
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Our third-annual album cover art feature uses interviews with artists and musicians to highlight the philosophical, thematic, and conceptual significance of great album cover artwork. THE BREAKDOWN    12 Collage + 14 Digital Illustration, Drawing, Design + 19 Illustration, Painting, Drawing + 8 Black And White Photography + 22 Color Photography + 6 Deluxe Packaging + 10 Fashion, Sculpture, Installation _____________________________    91 Album Covers For 2011 Best Of 2011 Album Cover Art

Apteka - Gargoyle Days
Despite never having met one another, Portland designer Dylan McConnell and Chicago's Apteka have grown a well-fitting artistic relationship through the years. McConnell's album cover for Gargoyle Days may be their most gripping collaboration yet.

QUOTES FROM: DYLAN MCCONNELL, DESIGNER ADAM LUCAS, APTEKA'S GUITARIST AND VOCALIST THEMES & CONCEPTS "We had worked with a sorta paranoid, dark op-art theme in the past for posters and albums (with a brief interlude of lopping off girls' heads). High contrast and fluid -- that's what I was going for." - Dylan McConnell COLLABORATION "We've been working with Dylan pretty much since the band formed. He's done all our cover art, and most all of our show posters so far. Things clicked from the beginning. He just has a knack of taking what we're doing musically and expressing it in a visual way. The funniest part is that we've never really met. He lives in Portland, and we're in Chicago. A mutual friend turned us on to him, but we've never had the chance to meet in person. It's all been through email. Which is kind of a weird way to communicate artistic intentions, but somehow it works, and he’s become this mysterious fifth member of the group." - Adam Lucas Record Label Carpark Records The Artists Design - Dylan McConnell Mediums & Materials Collage, Digital, Typography (hand-drawn)

The Bumbershoot Festival always throws together one of the more eclectic line-ups in the nation, with a fair combination of "must see"'s, "I've heard about them"'s, and "who the hell are these people"'s spanning across all genres in the musical world. So, with a packed schedule, and a surprisingly gorgeous...

The Pictureplane tour stop in Los Angeles saw him as an addition to Check Yo Ponytail 2, a recurring Tuesday night coalition of IHEARTCOMIX and The Echoplex. Word on the street was that UK's Holy Other had to drop from the bill due to illness -- or so Holy Other's...

Prior to its release, Washed Out's debut album, Within And Without, had been so widely hyped and over-anticipated in the internet world that it was almost nauseating. Yes, the few songs that were released a few months prior to the actual album drop were great. And yes, Washed Out is definitely a forerunner in the movement known as "chillwave." But who could tell if the full album itself was going to be a wash or not? (Pardon the pun.) Within And Without is one of many rare cases in which the hype actually does live up to final product. Within And Without is a satisfying listen because it is an example of a completely well-rounded album.

Listen to "Amor Fati" - DOWNLOAD MP3

I can't dance. Usually this isn't a problem. At most shows I go to, try anything more than a head bob, and the rest of the crowd is embarrassed for you. But it's hard to hide my self-consciousness at electronic shows like this. As everyone loses it on the dance...

With every one-word, disgustingly pleasant band name, like Houses or Lovers, comes a flood of inferred qualities -- those of washed out Polaroid aesthetics, massive synth usage, and healthy doses of male-female vocals. It is almost too convenient, then, that the Los Angeles-based male-female duo Kisses shares all -- yes, all -- of those same qualities. But unlike the aforementioned bands, the duo's debut album, The Heart Of The Nightlife, has more than just a couple of good jams. It delivers quality disco pop throughout.

 

Listen to "Bermuda" - DOWNLOAD MP3

The chillwave genre can be hard to pin down these days, but merits discussion in this review, as Small Black is one of the genre's most promising acts.  Heavily layered synths, excessive reverb, fuzzy overdubbed vocals, and down- to mid-tempo beats are common traits of your average chillwave act. The brilliant...