With a lead singer as versatile as Highasakite's Ingrid Helene Håvik, it's not difficult for the band to evoke landscapes as diverse as a country road, a spacey sky, or a western plain. On their debut full-length album, Silent Treatment, the Norwegian musicians pioneer the "adventurous brand of indie pop" they've introduced on earlier recordings, emphasizing unusual vocals effects and genre contrasts. Having unbelievable clarity and the ability to turn on a dime, Håvik's voice carries a lot of power on Highasakite's debut LP. The first lyrics of the album's opening track, "Lover, Where Do You Live?", emerge out of the emptiness suddenly and intensely, against a nearly a cappella backdrop. This pattern sets the tone for the rest of the album, with vocals so solid and controlled you feel as if you could graph their progression visually. Meanwhile, complex instrumentation evolves over the course of each track, varying in degrees of intensity with a wide range of effects. Hollow horns, finely tuned upper register guitar parts, shimmering synths, and big indie drumming create alternatingly dense and sparse instrumental sections through which Highasakite transitions seamlessly.

ENGLISH TEXT & INTERVIEWS BY KARLA HERNANDEZ
Imagine an ordinary day. You're driving home from work, maybe listening to the new Gardens & Villa track -- or perhaps that one Vampire Weekend song that you pretend not to like, or something more classic like The Beatles. You then stop at a red light, and the car next to you is blasting mariachi music. Annoyed, you instantly think to yourself, 'Why is it so loud? Why is the singer wailing? What is the singer even saying?' Something unfamiliar shows up, and instantly a barrier goes up. It's okay. We all do it, to varying degrees. Maybe at that Chinese restaurant where you dined last night, the moment the server went into the kitchen and started talking really fast in Mandarin, you gave your friend a funny look.
SPANISH TRANSLATION BY JEAN-CLAIRE PELTIAE
Imagina un día ordinario. Estas conduciendo del trabajo a la casa, quizás escuchando el nuevo tema de Gardens & Villa, o tal vez esa canción de Vampire Weekend que finges que no te gusta, o algo más clásico como los Beatles. A continuación, te detienes en un semáforo en rojo, y el auto al lado tiene música mariachi a todo volumen. Molesto, de inmediato piensas, "¿Por qué lo tienen tan alto? ¿Por qué esta gimiendo el cantante? ¿Qué está diciendo el cantante?" Aparece algo desconocido, y en este instante se forma una barrera. Todos lo hacemos, en grados diferentes. Tal vez en ese restaurant chino donde comiste anoche, en el momento que el mesero entro a la cocina y empezó hablando rápido en Mandarín, le dio a tu amigo una mirada rara.
Considering the large populations of immigrants that have lived throughout the past hundreds of years in the United States, it's odd to think that something as simple as language can create disconnections between us. Going back to Gardens & Villa, Vampire Weekend, and The Beatles, we listen to these bands without giving it a second thought. However, their music would not exist today without the cultural blending that occurred decades before them.
Considerando la gran población de inmigrantes que han vivido en los Estados Unidos a través de los últimos siglos, es extraño pensar que algo tan simple como el idioma puede crear desconexiones entre nosotros. Volviendo a Gardens & Villa, Vampire Weekend y los Beatles, escuchamos estos grupos sin pensarlo. Sin embargo, su música no existiría hoy sin la mixtura cultural que ocurrió décadas antes de su aparición.
 
Blues and jazz were born in African-American communities, and rock mixed R&B with country, blues and folk. The Beatles received a lot of attention for incorporating the sitar in some of their songs, while Paul Simon was influenced by music from South Africa. Who knows where modern Western music would be today if our musical ancestors did not explore and experiment with mixing their own regional music with that of other areas? These were musicians who traveled to different regions of the world and were inspired by the music of other countries. Now, these other countries are affecting contemporary Western music through immigration. To use the United States as an example, immigrants here are changing the DNA of communities, job markets, schools, public policy, and the economy. Musicians who are immigrants or children of immigrants are finding their feet, heart, and minds in two worlds. Not only is their worldview different; the way that they communicate is literally different.
El Blues y el Jazz nacieron en comunidades afro-americanas, y rock mezcló R&B con country, blues y folk. Los Beatles recibieron mucha atención por incorporar el citar en algunas de sus canciones, mientras Paul Simon fue influenciado por la música de Sudáfrica. ¿Quién sabe donde estaría la música occidental hoy si nuestros ancestros musicales no hubieran explorado, experimentado y mezclando su propia música regional con la de otras áreas? Estos eran músicos que viajaban a diferentes regiones del mundo y fueron inspirados por la música de otros países. Ahora estos otros países están afectando la música occidental a través de la inmigración. Usando a los Estados Unidos como ejemplo, los inmigrantes aquí están cambiando el ADN de comunidades, mercados de trabajo, escuelas, políticas públicas y la economía. Los músicos que son inmigrantes o hijos de inmigrantes están encontrando sus pies, corazones y mentes en los dos mundos, sus dos países. No solo su visión global es diferente; su forma de comunicarse es distinta literalmente.

This past winter season has been sheer insanity in North America, with overwhelming snowstorms galore, polar bears being taken indoors, and more, more, more. What better time, then, to use music videos to explore the beauty of wintry landscapes? In Dan Huiting's work for White Hinterland's "Ring The Bell", Casey Dienel can be seen tunneling through ice caves and fascinating skull-lined passageways; Joe Baughman's work for S. Carey's "Fire-scene" is a naturalistic treat that shows off the diversity of the Pacific Northwest, as he captures what winter looks like in the desolate spaces where the waters and deserts of Eastern Washington State merge.

"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.
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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.  

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

"The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the very first time." - Friedrich Nietzsche
Bjorn Torske - KokOn his new EP Kok, occasional Röyksopp collaborator, Bjørn Torske relies on our abilities to remember, rather than forget, as the spur to engagement with and enjoyment of his music. Concerned, amongst other things, with aural and spacial effects, the record is born of experimentation with different instruments, objects, and their sonic footprints within different acoustic spaces. Merging a lo-fi folk aesthetic with elements of outsider experimentation this is an interesting progression from his last release of 2007, Feil Knapp. Whether through voice, instruments, or electronically-produced sounds, these emissions are deployed and recorded in various spaces to form an inspirational trigger in the creative process. Through this process of what is known as "worldizing", Torske seeks to escape the straitjacket of reverb plug-ins whose room emulations and mathematical logarithms are often predictable.

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

Cate Le Bon - Mug Museum Album Review Cate Le Bon Mug Museum Wichita Recordings / Turnstile Music / The Elite Meat Supply (2013) For those of you who are familiar with classic BBC children's television programmes from the 1970s, the guitar work on Cate Le Bon's Mug Museum might remind them of the timeless landscape of Trumptonshire. Lying at the core of her new album, the interplay of these simple melodies combines to produce a music box complexity that clicks and shifts direction, calling to mind childhood memories and, perhaps, the comfort of established and familiar order. For the uninitiated, Trumptonshire is the fictional bucolic county in which the towns of Chigley, Trumpton and Camberwick Green were located. The essential subtext for the Trumptonshire trilogy was the encroachment of modernity and modern ways on the rural idyl. Each town had its own series, and, like fly on the wall documentaries for felt and foam puppets, it followed the daily lives of the people who lived there. For example, in Camberwick Green, there was the laid back and possibly alcoholic, cider drinking, farmer-come-windmill owner, Windy Miller, who was subtly at logger heads with the go ahead farmer Jonathan Bell and his modern mechanical farm. An important component of many childhoods in the UK, Trumpton, Chigley and Camberwick Green were reassuring for children whilst never becoming saccharine: there was always the threat of unwanted change on the horizon. Every character had their own song, sung by the legendary Brian Cant, that detailed either their personality or daily job of work. On "Mug Museum", this circular and childhood musical sound is complimented by a variety of other musical influences, all reinterpreted and deployed with imagination. There is some Beefheart and a dash of The Velvet Underground, such as on the twangy chaotic guitar, side drum beat driven and empty spaces of "Cuckoo Through The Walls". You might even find a sprinkle of Japanese musical phrasing, as in the track "Duke". There is also the laid back anthem that is "Are You With Me Now?", which recalls Bob Dylan in its rousing chorus.

After their collaboration on The Belle Game’s first music video proved natural and compelling in narrative, director Kheaven Lewandowski and the band decided to once again work together on the music video for "River", from their debut album, Ritual Tradition Habit. Much less upbeat than the previous track, "River"'s finds its setting moving from Western countrysides into Japanese cityscapes, as it follows a male sex worker – also known as a rent-boy – through neon-lit streets and into a realistically-documented underbelly of the city. The result is both sensual and raw, leaving viewers curious to know more about the subculture. Lewandowski and The Belle Game’s Adam Nanji discuss the formulation and execution of the music video, as well as the social ideas it stirs up, in the bi-lingual English-Japanese Q&A interview below. Japanese translation by Katch, Matt Erik and Yoshiko Sanda 日本語翻訳:三田佳子、キャッチ・マシュー

This newest list of musicians includes the Blues musician who probably did more than any other one person to jump-start my interest in older music: Big Bill Broonzy. The fun of listening to somebody who recorded seventy years ago is that you can start to piece together who they influenced and who they worked with, giving you more to listen to. It sent me down a rabbit hole that I haven't even begun to crawl out of. Hopefully, I never will.
See all Forgotten Gems & Dusty Classics Posts Big Bill Broonzy

Big Bill Broonzy

Big Bill Broonzy, born Lee Conley Bradley, was my gateway to blues music. I discovered Broonzy while reading an R. Crumb comic when I was about thirteen years old and decided to investigate. Broonzy's birthplace has been the subject of dispute, though Robert Reisman claims that he was born in Arkansas. Likewise, the year is in dispute as well; Broonzy claimed that he was born in 1893, but subsequent research suggests 1903. Regardless, he moved to Chicago in 1920 and began playing guitar for so-called "rent parties" and for Paramount Records, where he sold poorly. Broonzy's style was all over the place: he varied from country blues to hokum (blues with sexually suggestive lyrics) to small groups reminiscent of rhythm and blues.1 After WWII, his music declined in popularity with black audiences but began to grow in popularity with white audiences once he began touring as part of a folk group with Studs Terkel. Broonzy spent his last years touring in the United States and Europe. His European tours were particularly successful and numerous British musicians -- one being Bert Jansch -- cited him as an important influence. He died in 1958 of throat cancer, leaving behind hundreds of recorded tracks. "I Can't Be Satisfied" might have been the first blues song that I ever listened to, so it seems fitting that I include as part of a Broonzy mix. "Key to the Highway" was recorded in 1940 and was one of his most popular songs as well as a later hit by Eric Clapton. "John Henry" is a great example of the kind of music Broonzy was playing toward the end of his life. Big Bill Broonzy - "I Can't Be Satisfied" [audio:/mp3/Big-Bill-Broonzy_I-Can't-Be-Satisfied.mp3|titles=Big Bill Broonzy - Decatur Street Tutti] Big Bill Broonzy - "Key To The Highway" [audio:/mp3/Big-Bill-Broonzy_Key-To-The-Highway.mp3|titles=Big Bill Broonzy - How Can Cupid Be So Stupid] Big Bill Broonzy - "John Henry" [audio:/mp3/Big-Bill-Broonzy_John-Henry.mp3|titles=Big Bill Broonzy - Jazz Battle]