Side projects: so many musicians these days seem to have at least one other creative outlet outside their primary endeavor. Whether it's for reasons of inspiration, camaraderie, money, a need to stay busy, or any combination thereof, keeping a couple irons in the fire seems to be the thing to...

Kevin Martin has been at the forefront -- and the margins -- of extreme electronic music and bass culture for over two decades. He's worked in genres as diverse as jazzcore, industrial, grime, dub, and dubstep, while staying rooted in the punk/post-punk ethos, making some of the most adventurous and aggressive music across a staggering array of monikers, pseudonyms, and collaborations.The Bug - Kevin Martin Musician InterviewWith this year's Angels & Devils, the highly anticipated follow-up to 2008's London Zoo, Kevin Martin has resurrected one of his most beloved and influential projects, The Bug. London Zoo employed an arsenal of extreme bass weight, grime-y urban vocals, and abstract sci-fi electronic to reflect the paranoid, claustrophobic world of CCTV London, and the album caught the attention of the wider world at a time when the simulacrum of the internet and social media was really building a head of steam. This brought Kevin Martin's dystopian worldview to a wider audience than ever before, right in the midst of the dubstep explosion. While the rest of the world was busy subverting dubstep's militaristic potential into a formulaic commodity, The Bug sounded fresh, distinctive, weird, warped, and wonderful. As electronic music has become increasingly codified and quantifiable in the mainstream, this placed Kevin Martin in a precarious position and raised the question: just how would he build the follow-up to London Zoo?

 

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. Dreamy sounds get unique filters through the eyes of sensational pop artist Beca, indie R&B-influenced BE/\R//FVCE, and doo-wop youngster Kirby Kaiser.
SEE ALSO +++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POP COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Beca

Beca caught our eye earlier this year with her single and music video for "Fall Into Light" (see our interview with Beca and the music video directors). The lady is now back with "Born To Fly", which features sensual percussive rhythms that balance out breathy, feminine vocals, the combination of which lies somewhere between babymaking R&B material and water-cruising audio-oasis. Her upcoming EP of the same name will be released November 20th via This Is Music LTD.

 

2012 marked the 16th anniversary of United States of Consciousness (USC)'s annual Halloween party, Freak Night. One of Seattle's premiere electronic music massives, Freak Night has seen multiple venue changes through the years, beginning in spaces like indoor soccer fields (1998)1 and floating to and from miscellaneous warehouse and events spaces like Fremont Studios (2006)2. Yet these days, it always seems to end up back at its most high-profile venue, WaMu Theatre in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood. WaMu Theater, formerly known as the Exhibition Hall, houses Freak Night's multiple rooms comfortably, with a layout and configuration that seems to change from year to year as the event grows and shrinks accordingly to industry flux. And now, with electronic dance music (EDM) bigger than ever, Freak Night has followed suit, with 2012 housing the largest population for the festival to date.
By the time I arrived at WaMu Theater, it was 11:00pm and I was quite surprised to see a rather large line outside the venue. Due to needing to pick up my press pass and hop in quickly at a nearby art show, I managed to avoid the line completely, but heard through text messages from friends that the line was completely not moving, despite the fact that the doors has supposedly opened at 7:00pm. No one knew what was happening and the only rumor I heard was that someone had been caught with narcotics for sale. When I returned an hour later after popping by a nearby art show, the line had disappeared and everyone was hurriedly ushered into the venue with brisk ID checking and the most laughable patdowns imaginable. USC events are usually fairly stringent with their security so this was a surprise; I can only imagine the effort was sped up in an attempt to please partygoers. (Unfortunately, though USC later issued an apology3, many people let their disatisfaction get the best of them and let that circumstance color their entire experience.)

 

The first annual CounterPoint Music and Arts Festival was held about 20 miles South of Atlanta, GA on a well-established horse farm along the Chattahoochee river. The venue was nestled upon green-topped pastures and surrounded by woodlands and a scenic waterfront, altogether under a spacious sky. In the festival foreground stood a monstrous dual main stage for quick back-to-back set transitions. The mid-ground had carnival rides, live art installations, event sponsored amenities, and local goods and food vendors galore! (The jumbo turkey legs and lamb crepes were delicious!) Lastly, two whopping tents were situated in the background, along with a water-filling station that constantly had a line that seemed comparable to one for the latest iPhone release.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY IWALLY PHOTOGRAPHY
It seemed very appropriate for me, as a first-time festival camper, to attend the first ever CounterPoint! Festival goers not only brought their camping essentials, but more importantly, they brought an electrifying energy and all the feel-good vibes the east coast had to offer. Some even made the trek from California! I admired their dedication and gave them some well-earned candy bracelets. There was an undeniable multi-dimensional sense of community that was brought on by the shared love for connections with like-minded people, an escape from our daily realities, and above all, the love of music. I went in with no intentions of reviewing any specific acts, but instead I was going to attend as many sets as I could, well-known or otherwise, and would cover those that left a lasting impression. Those include Crystal Castles, Beats Antique, Skrillex, Zoogma, Adventure Club, and Abakus.
Bumbershoot still remains one of the more diversely curated festivals in the nation. That is probably why they referred to it completely as Seattle’s Music & Arts Festival. In its 42nd year, the 2012 edition was not lacking in diversity, as the main headliners over the course of Labor Day Weekend varied from Jane’s Addiction to Mac Miller and Skrillex. With six musical stages, and a wealth of other stages hosting comedy acts, readings and various panels, it is impossible to catch everything over the weekend. So here are the highlights instead, not in any particular order of awesomeness.

 

M83

M83 acquired quite a bit of hype this past year. In fact, 2011 may have been THEIR year. With their hit single "Midnight City," it seemed like nearly everyone was jumping on the M83 band wagon. The funny thing about that is the band has actually been around for years; they released their first record in 2001. Securing a spot on the main stage for Bumbershoot 2012, M83 played to an audience packed with fans and those simply curious about the band. After witnessing this performance, I can tell you that I've truly never seen anything like it. The intro was a spectacle all on its own with lasers and complex flashing lights that even I have a hard time describing. Both lead singer Anthony Gonzalez and keyboardist/back-up singer Morgan Kibby were extraordinarily entertaining. Their vocals were nearly spot-on with their record, but not in a lip-syching kind of way like we're used to at the award shows. The instrumental drum solos were riveting and exciting. The performance was everything that I hoped it would be, but I'm afraid to say that it is unfortunate that all many are remembering is the crowd of kids rushing to the floor and causing mayhem break loose. You can read all about that mess here. - KATIE NGUYEN

 

 

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

This funk/soul band has been around since the mid-'90s, but if you didn’t know any better you would assume they formed in the early ‘70s. Carried on the shoulder by the spectacular voice of Sharon Jones and then brought to the forefront by the impeccable revivalist sound of the Dap-Kings, this big band lives up to all they hype their live show comes with. Despite playing on the main stage of the Key Arena, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings were able to generate energy in the crowd that transported you straight back to a seedy bar in Motown Detroit. Their music is approachable by individuals of all ages, as are their tributes to the various dances of the '60s and '70s, which are like an instructional video led by Sharon Jones herself. Her spirit is infectious, even if you weren’t alive to experience the origins of the music the band aims to bring back to a new century. Sharon Jones’ energy, charisma, and stage performance are liable to make her and the Dap-Kings the best set of any festival they attend, and Bumbershoot was no different.

 

Multicultural Sounds travels the world for contemporary reinventions of cultural staples. Spain's Grammy-winning Ojos De Brujo tackle every genre under the sun in their remix album, and Montreal/Los Angeles by-way-of Iran's Niyaz talk humanitarian ideas on their latest, Sumud.

 

Ojos De Brujo

Barcelona's Ojos De Brujo (aka Eyes Of A Warlock/Sorceror in English), certainly know how to release a multicultural slaw of dub, electronica, tropical, ragga, everything, and more of everything. Antagonistic male rapping cuts into female vocals singing Spanish with a Middle Eastern warble and flair; dubstep takes over with stereotypical wobbles at times, only to fall into ragga beats; tropical rhythms and flamenco influences creep in until all things are indistinguishable and challenging. This is global dance music at some of its best, and it's a pleasing surprise Ojos De Brujo are a Grammy-winning act. At right, stream the equally Latin and Indian-influenced "Todo Tiende", remixed by Los Chicos Altos, and watch the animated music video of the original. See full post for a megamix of their entire remix album (which is well worth it to dive into!)
Ojos De Brujo - "Todo Tiende" (Original)

 

In the latest dubstep-inspired track by Brooklyn's The Mast, vocalist Haale Gafori took full directorial duties and turned scenes from her mind into a stark music video for public consumption. Covered with powder for a heightened ethereal effect, Los Angeles-based dancer Pandora Marie pop and locks her way in and out of Gafori's vocals, as monochrome simplicity eventually projects into full-color silhouettes that pulse in time with glitchy beats. In the brief Q&A below, Gafori describes the creative process for "UpUpUp" from start to finish, and you can expect to see this video in our upcoming Motion & Movement In Music Video panels for Bumbershoot and MusicfestNW.

 

 

Remix City Sifting through mountains of remix trash so you don't have to, in an attempt to find the ones that actually build on the originals in meaningful ways.

:PAPERCUTZ & Stalker

Portugal's :PAPERCUTZ have a new album dropping July 10th, entitled The Blur Between Us on Sounds Of A Playground. It comes with two remix EPs, including a remix from Chicago producer Stalker, which you can check out below (along with a remix of Grimes' "Crystal Ball", album cover artwork from Aëla Labbé, and full-length tracklisting. THE BLUR BETWEEN US TRACKLISTING 01- Into The Storm 02- Before The Day Reigns 03- Rivers 04- The Fourth Wall 05- Echoed 06- Redenção 07- Silent Passenger 08- In 09- Between 10- Porcelain Beauty 11- Redenção (Reprise) 12- Where Beasts Die

 

:PAPERCUTZ - Rivers (Stalker Remix) :PAPERCUTZ - Rivers (Original)

 

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

"Eery. Melancholic."
Dum Dum Girls - Only In Dreams
Art director Jeff Kleinsmith and photographer Shawn Brackbill capture the shadowy residue of an out-of-body experience.
QUOTES FROM: JEFF KLEINSMITH, ART DIRECTOR THEMES & CONCEPTS "Dee Dee from the band... had a very specific idea in mind, but I feel like it isn't my place to speak for her on this." CREATIVE PROCESS "There is a phenomenon called astral projection or astral travel which is the idea that there are two bodies - an astral body and a physical body, and there are some who believe that the astral body can travel outside of the physical one. There are some pretty famous photos depicting the astral body leaving the physical body, and Dee Dee wanted to make her own version with herself as the subject. Again, she would know better than I what this particular imagery means to her. Well, I LOVE the image. It is one of the most interesting images I've worked with in a long time. That's not exactly some high-minded insight, but it's how I feel about the image. Dee Dee never told me if it has personal meaning to her. I know she was going through some things, so it's possible that the image is directly related to that." THE EXTRAS "Tthe only thing to mention is the silver foil stamp on the front and back and maybe the old-style packaging. I'm referring to when LPs were first made, they were actually raw cardboard which was cover by a thin printed paper skin -- as opposed to printing directly on the cardboard. Most modern packaging is done this way, and this piece was done in the old style. Also, there is a 22" x 22" foldout poster inside along with a snazzy CD dust sleeve." Record Label Sub Pop Records The Artists Art Direction & Design - Dee Dee & Jeff Kleinsmith Photography - Shawn Brackbill Mediums & Materials Photography, Postcard, Computers

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,...

A spectrum of musical madness that represents our tastes from large to small, mainstream to obscure, spaced out to reasonable. There's no way in bloody hell you'll love every release on this list unless you have a million personalities living in your puny body, but chances are great that you'll...