Ron Morelli's L.I.E.S. (Long Island Electrical Systems) is like a techno factory. It's easy to picture powerful pistons and sparking conveyor belts producing these roughly hewn beats. Across 2 discs -- one of collected singles and another of new material -- 19 producers from the L.I.E.S. family bend and warp techno, disco and every hue of house music, then pack it in styrofoam and cotton before shipping it off. L.I.E.S. has been called "Workingman's Techno", due to the no-nonsense approach to their productions, as well as their relentless release schedule. They have put out over 30 releases in 2013, and compilations like Music For Shut Ins are essential, providing a snapshot of not only where L.I.E.S. stands, but it also gives an interesting insight into electronic music as a whole.
L.I.E.S. (Long Island Electrical Systems) - Music For Shut-Ins

"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.
+++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POPS! COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

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

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, Gina Altamura and Van Pham of the innovative, multimedia-minded nightclub Holocene give us the scoop on Portland bands to watch (and see their 2012 list here. Those who are interested in the Seattle scene can view the picks of the stylish boutique shop and venue, Cairo, here.
  SEE ALL POSTS RELATED TO: PORTLAND MUSICIANS + HOLOCENE PORTLAND

Aan __ www.facebook.com/weareaan

I've believed wholeheartedly in the exceptional talent of Aan's Bud Wilson ever since I first heard his emotionally riveting avant-rock back in 2009. Fast-forward to the present, and Aan is experiencing a well-deserved breakout year. After extensive touring -- including a string of dates with the Smashing Pumpkins -- the band is in top form. Even in mid-size nightclubs, Aan puts on a show fit for an arena with their sheer dynamism and technical skill. Bud is a multi-faceted crooner, capable of delicate romance and ferocious vitriol alike, and he deftly charts a course across this wide emotional territory: a map of Amor Ad Nauseum (the title of Aan's excellent upcoming debut LP). With the recent addition of Brainstorm's Patrick Phillips -- ecstatic West African-influenced guitar shredder -- to the live band, I can only imagine 2014 will be even more exciting for this group. - GINA ALTAMURA (Editor's Note: Aan will be playing Holocene's next film score series, Fin De Cinema, on Purse Candy and Philip Grass; they will be scoring the Japanese animation, Night on the Galactic Railroad. See more details here. Their next record, Amor Ad Nauseum, drops February 1st, 2014.) ++ SEE: ALL POSTS RELATED TO AAN

Phone Call www.facebook.com/phonecallsound

An incarnation of Portland's favorite disco sons, Strength, Phone Call kicks it up a couple of decades with their hard-hitting hip-hop beats, and introduces more assertive synth lines in lieu of Strength’s guitar-heavy grind. It’s unabashedly -- if not absurdly -- sexy, with plenty of space for singer Bailey Winters’ charismatic swagger to shine through. There’s a little Prince, a little JT, and a gleeful dive into the deep reaches of boogie funk crate. Some wear your sunglasses at night/Miami Vice vibes or at least they’ll make you think that it’s getting a little hot in here... But there’s no mistaking: they’re here to make us dance, and maybe leave the place with somebody tonight. - VAN PHAM (Editor's Note: Phone Call play Holocene on New Year's Eve, with Le1f, Shy Girls, and PWRHAUS... along with DJ slots from Miracles Club and Radiation City. Details here.)

Natasha Kmeto __ www.natashakmeto.com/

Natasha Kmeto is a total badass. Unpoetic I know, but nonetheless the most satisfying descriptor for this futuristic soul diva. She's an expert at working a crowd, and as a solo performer relying on electronics, this is especially impressive. As a producer, her adventurous bass music is powerful and entrancing, while her vocal delivery is more captivating still. Her unabashed reflections on the vicissitudes of love and the trials of artistic ambition are belted out with incredibly authentic emotion, lending her music an immortal quality of spiritual resonance. - GINA ALTAMURA ++ SEE: ALL POSTS RELATED TO NATASHA KMETO + NATASHA KMETO INTERVIEW

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.
  SEE ALL POSTS RELATED TO: SEATTLE MUSICIANS

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

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

Saâda Bonaire - Self-Titled Album Review (Captured Tracks)The information boom of the last 15 years has given people a thirst for crate digging. What started on illicit pirate blogs has blossomed into a healthy industry of re-issue labels, and still, the race is on, to find the dustiest, mustiest rarity that no one has ever heard. Captured Tracks are drawing ahead of the pack, with their Shoegaze Archive series and now the Fantasy Memory imprint, curated by the seasoned vinyl archaeologist Andy Grier, of Thieves Like Us. This binge of eclectic listening has opened our ears to totally unknown movements like European coldwave, minimal synthesis, mutant disco, funk, and every permutation of world music. In this rich and ripe polycultural climate, perhaps we are finally ready to receive the worldbeat exoticism of Saâda Bonaire. Even after 15 years of listening to absolutely everything, Saâda Bonaire are entirely eclectic. The project began at a club night in Bremen as a pop-art project between DJ Ralph"“von" Richtoven and two vocalists, Stephanie Lange and Claudia Hossfeld. Inspired by the cross-cultural fusion of Afro-Caribbean music in America, and Rai and West African music in France, Saâda Bonaire sought to combine underground dance sounds of its day, 1982, with their own local flavor, Turkish and Kurdish folk music. They recorded the lead single, "You Can Be All That You Are", which combines brittle synthpop and slippery digital funk with Middle Eastern instruments and detached, incantatory vocals. It's a stone-eyed groove, perfect to transfix the intercontinental, and all was going well. Unfortunately, it was the only single the band would record. Their A&R man for EMI had a reputation for going over budget, had spent five times his allotment on Tina Turner's Private Dancer, and was already three times overspent with Saâda Bonaire. EMI put out "You Can Be As You Are" b/w "Invitation" and pulled the plug, and the rest is history.

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