Album Covers of the Year 2014
In contrast to modern patterns in music consumption comes our annual Album Covers of the Year feature, where, instead of forgetting album artwork even exists, we hyperextend ourselves to assert that it is an artform that is vitally connected to the spirit of the music. This feature, which is divided at times into thematic elements and at times into artistic medium, incorporates interviews with not only musicians, but also artists involved throughout the artistic process. We pride this list in being diverse and multi-faceted, as well as philosophically exploratory. See all of our entries from previous years or get started by choosing a category below. Happy travels through the artistic universe we've crafted for you.

September 22nd officially marks the end of summer 2013 in the Northern Hemisphere — and to celebrate the passing of time, we’ve decided to create a timeline to forever remember the songs currently trending on our site, as well as take a look back on the music that has colored...

Watching a singular man or woman perform behind a stack of electronic equipment can sometimes really fail to really pull the heartstrings; it's easy for a showgoer to disconnect when there's a lack of connection between musical output and the actions a performer is making onstage. To combat this, electronic musicians have, in recent times, turned to innovation in the multimedia sphere to add an extra bit of oomph to their live sets. On Flying Lotus' latest tour for Until The Quiet Comes, he worked with long-time friends and animators to create Layer 3, a one-of-a-kind audio-visual experience that takes showgoers through three-dimensional worlds of tunnels, silly cartoons, metaphysical imagery, and biological forms. But more on that later, for his set with Thundercat had much more to offer than just a visual experience; it possessed a massive amount of novelty all-around.
May 24th, 2013 @ Roseland Theatre - Portland, Oregon
"I think as we get older, that idea of magic is just taken from us. There's just less of it and less of it... I really try to just kind of dabble in things that feel magical." -- Steve Ellison of Flying Lotus

 

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!)

 

In our 2012 Album Covers of the Year feature, we once again get our hands on everyone we can. Through interviews with designers, musicians, labels, and plenty of others, we take a close look at just how many hands are in the pot when it comes to the album artwork process. Inside this feature are 98 album covers spanning a wide array of sonic and visual styles, each selected for its own unique contribution to the world. They are not ranked; instead, they are broken down into sections based on conceptual underpinnings or artistic mediums, and then are displayed on spectrums. Get started by navigating into any of these six sections: Geometric & Pattern-Based Classically-Influenced Narrative & Symbolic Photography & Manipulations Painting & Illustration Collage, Sculpture & Mixed Media You can also see last year's at 2011 Year-End Respect For Album Cover Art
 

 

There is a moment on the new Flying Lotus record -- let's call it the first five seconds -- when one has to decide whether to climb aboard Steve Ellison's shimmering magic carpet for the next half hour (or century... drugs like this tend to distort time a little) or to simply survey the beautiful landscape he's laid out on his newest album-trip, Until the Quiet Comes. I say this because like all Flying Lotus records, there are a myriad of experiences to be had within the layers of subtle details, ranging from active to passive and or up and down to goddamn spiritually ecstatic.

 

Flying Lotus has just released a short film to promote his upcoming record, Until The Quiet Comes, and we feature it below, along with an oldie but equally goodie -- Shabazz Palaces' short film for their 2011 record, Black Up. See both videos after the jump.

 

Flying Lotus

Director Kahlil Joseph has put together a nearly 4-minute-long short film that begins with haunting images of violence upon urban youth. That destruction, though, soon turns into liberation via dance and resurrection, with three tracks from Flying Lotus -- "See Thru To U", "Hunger", and "Getting There", that feature Niki Randa and Erykah Badu -- providing a female-driven backdrop that hints towards the possibility of second chances and better decisions. Until The Quiet Comes will be released October 2nd in North America and October 1st elsewhere.

 

Shabazz Palaces

Shabazz Palaces' short film for 2011's Black Up is longer, at nearly five minutes, and a bit more spastic than the Flying Lotus promo. Its images, which duck out from the grit of New York City into expansive nature, are an excellent visual pairing for the music of Shabazz Palaces, which combines urbanity with organic instrumentation and African influences. It's no wonder that this film bears resemblance to the piece Kahlil Joseph did for Flying Lotus; he directed this one, also.

 

What some of us might call the Pacific Northwest's best music festival -- and maybe the next and more relaxed SXSW -- is Musicfest NW, a multi-day spread across Portland's best venues. Featuring diverse and exceptional booking, this year's picks have been written by three writers, each with unique tastes, to do the festival justice.

 

Hot Snakes

Wednesday, 11:00pm @ Roseland Theatre Relatively newly reformed band Hot Snakes saddened the post-hardcore world (and beyond) when they exited the scene after the release of their last record, Audit In Progress. Catch them while you can. - VIVIAN HUA

 

See all Previews & Picks For WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5

 

Purity Ring

Thursday, 11:00pm @ Berbati's Canadian electronic duo Purity Ring released a fantastic debut album called "Shrines" on 4AD this summer. Though full of mystical electronic layers, the duo's music has a very fresh and pristine sound apt for their band name. Megan James' tender voice sparkles among a bright and absorbing waterfall of percussive sounds and beats. - KARLA HERNANDEZ

 

See all Previews & Picks For THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 6

 

Music & Movement in Music Video

Friday, 6:30pm @ Holocene This panel will explore how dance and movement intersect with modern music videos. Select music videos will be screened, followed by an open community dialogue with associated dancers, directors, and musicians. Topics covered may include differences in dance styles among different musical genres, trends of modern dance in contemporary music video, and spontaneity versus choreography in the creative process. A related brochure, featuring Q&A with directors and musicians, will be distributed with further information about the participants and videos screened. SEE ALSO: MOTION & MOVEMENT IN MUSIC VIDEOS EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT

 

Black Mountain

Friday, 11:30pm @ Doug Fir Black Mountain are one of the best psych-rock bands out there because no matter how far out the songs get into space, the band always keeps your feet grounded onto Earth. - PETER WOODBURN

 

 

See all Previews & Picks For FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7

 

Moonface

Saturday, 12:00am @ Dour Fir Lounge The lesser of Spencer Krug’s numerous projects, Moonface have quietly put out three impressive albums over the course of the past few years. It’s less Wolf Parade and more Sunset Rubdown, if you’re familiar with Krug’s other work, but it also brandishes its own dark, loud mystique. This year’s With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery showcases the groups imaginative and unique song writing skills, a heavy and heady album that deserves praise. With all the rotating, busy pieces in the band it’s worth catching Moonface when you can, as they might not ever come around again. - ERIK BURG

 

See all Previews & Picks For SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8

 

Bleep is a column focusing on varying degrees of electronic music news, videos and MP3s. For this week, I'm tired of some forerunning trends in glitched out electronica that often possesses, I feel, little to no human qualities! Instead, I will be focusing on electronically-minded musicians who build their work primarily off manipulations of analog sounds. Most recently, such individuals who have captured my heart have included Co La and Kone; now, a submission from the unknown Glass Boy and the epic Flying Lotus both fall under this same heading. This mixture of soulful passion with experimental electronics -- not just in an intentional sense on the part of the artist, but in an aural sense that translates to the listener -- is what's highlighted in this post. (That and a new Lindstrøm track!)
++ SEE ALL: BLEEP POSTS or MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Flying Lotus

Flying Lotus' latest, "See Thru To U", comes from his upcoming album, Until The Quiet Comes, which drops October 2nd. Erykah Badu is featured on the track, and the album sees other guest stars like Niki Randa, Thundercat, Laura Darlington, Niki Randa, and most famously Thom Yorke of Radiohead. With such a lineup and such a powerful track record, Until The Quiet Comes is pretty much guaranteed to be sick as all hell, with killer artwork to boot. After the jump, you can stream the first album single "See Thru To U", check out a full list of tour dates, learn more about the special versions of the vinyl, and hear his Adult Swim series single.