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...

In his second music video for MGMT, director Tom Kuntz -- one of the geniuses behind the classic "Tokyo Breakfast" sketch -- incorporates humor the way he knows best: by using a wide net of characters with endless bite-size appeal. Sun-baked hippies, suited businessmen, three-dimensionally-rendered babies and skeletons... and so randomly on... repetitively hammer home MGMT's message that "Your life is a lie", in the most colorful way possible.

Califone Stitches Dead Oceans (2013)Califone - Stitches Album ReviewPeople go to the desert to find themselves. Califone's honey-baritoned lead singer Tim Ruttili went looking for himself in the endless sands of the American Southwest, and with their latest, Stitches, returns with the band's most vital and compelling record since 2003's Quicksands/Cradlesnakes. Stitches was recorded at various locations across Arizona, Texas and Southern California, where Rutilli's been living for the past few years. This is the first Califone record to be recorded outside of their native Chicago; they've traded steel and chrome skyscrapers for wide open skies and the promise of the sea. This translocation has had a profound impact on Califone's music; Stitches radiates stillness and expansiveness, the aural equivalent of driving in the sun across the Mojave, or watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.
Califone - "Stitches" - DOWNLOAD MP3 [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Califone-Stitches.mp3|titles=Califone - Stitches]

Jessy Lanza Pull My Hair Back Hyperdub (2013)Jessy Lanza - Pull My Hair Back Album Review - HyperdubIn the future, androids will cruise lounges looking to score with flesh-and-blood humans. When the couples will go back to their climate-and-dust-controlled apartments and begin pairing, the soundtrack that will start auto-playing in the background is Jessy Lanza's Pull My Hair Back. Like the Barry White of the cyber-generation, Lanza spins out smooth, sultry soul. Yet unlike White, whose deep voice anchored his music, Lanza's breathy, whispery soprano blends into the background, becoming another instrument in a silky sonic sheet you want to roll around in naked until the sun comes up. Befitting an album that will serve as the soundtrack to futuristic human/machine boogie nights, there doesn't seem to be an actual organic instrument on the album. Instead, the synthesizer and drum machine reign, and they manufacture a surprisingly warm and sultry soundscape — think Tangerine Dream all sexed up. At once spare yet lush, this is electropop with a brain — and a soul.

MusicfestNW 2013 began for me like every other MusicfestNW experience. I consistently respect the festival's curatorial efforts, which always yield at least a handful of acts I am excited about, and an even larger smattering that I don't exactly care for but greatly approve of from an objective standpoint. This year, however, I decided to take it preeeeeetty easy, both because I've seen many of the bands in the recent past and because I wanted to save myself for the rest of the September festival whirlwind (Decibel Festival and TBA Festival are still on the horizon). The positive news to report is that I saw no filler acts at this year's MusicfestNW. Every act I saw was fantastic... but here are my top three.

Royal Canoe

It seems that every other year, I find an indie pop band that I instantly fall in love with. I need not hear an entire record to know these folks resonate with me; I need only the first track to sense familiarity. In 2009, that band was Nurses; in 2011, it was Gardens & Villa. 2013's candidate for "band I'm going to pimp out to all my friends" is Royal Canoe. The six-piece Winnipeg-based band traveled across the country to play an opening MusicfestNW slot for !!!, and despite the fact that very few people in the crowd seemed to know who they were, Royal Canoe were instant crowd-pleasers and dance-insinuators. They rolled through tracks almost exclusively from their recent LP, Today We're Believers, with one exception: the ridiculously sex-groovy "Summersweat" from their 2012 EP. Twas a set full of falsettos balanced by deep mutated vocal effects, and topped off by -- not one, but four -- vocalists harmonizing or shouting gang vocals as necessary. Also notable were the double drummers, one of which triggered numerous sounds on an electronic drum pad, and a series of sick ass synths that sprang awesome leads like unstoppable leaks. Royal Canoe are the first indie pop band I've seen in a while who truly seem like they are doing something irreplaceable. Their set is something wholly and bizarrely themselves, and unparalleled. As if in response to my bitching just the day before about the fact that live shows rarely wow me anymore, in Royal Canoe swooped, to uphold my high expectations for them. I'm only sad that even with all my proselytizing, I failed to rouse up much interest from my friends, who were busy with other MusicfestNW events. They missed out. Learn more about Royal Canoe in my interview with them.

Devon Welsh isn't just looking for applause at the end of a Majical Cloudz song. He'll gladly accept it, nod his head a few times, and give the audience a hint of a smile, but for Welsh, the Majical Cloudz live set is about much more than that.Majical Cloudz "When you play a show, you want people to feel something," Welsh told Pitchfork's Jenn Pelly in a recent interview. "It's much better to communicate something than for people to just be like, 'Oh this is cool.'" As Welsh performs -- he's strictly the lead singer of the two-piece group that includes Matthew Otto on synth and sound mixing -- he slowly rotates his gaze throughout the crowd, moving at a snail's pace from left to right and then back again. You won't see him shutting his eyes or staring off into the distance, because his priority is ensuring that each word coming out of his mouth is fully digested by the crowd. He doesn't just casually look out into the crowd to gauge his audience, either. He stares into the eyes of every onlooker, and when his pupils fall on you, it feels like an intimate and intensely personal performance.
August 27th, 2013 @ The Echo in Los Angeles, CA

Bumbershoot Festival signifies a lot of things for Seattle, but the main mark of Bumbershoot is that fall is upon us. The annual Labor Day arts festival in downtown Seattle traditionally comes with both good weather and the need for umbrellas, aka a bumbershoot. Bumbershoot’s place in music festivals across the nation includes one big distinction; it name isn’t merely the Bumbershoot Music Festival, but the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival. The addition of arts is noticeable, for as much music stretches across multiple stages in Seattle Center, there are just as many comedians, writing panels, art exhibits and impromptu busking performances on the festival grounds.

Gary Numan

Bumbershoot has always done a great job of getting some old school acts to show their face, and the crowd make-up is always funny because of it. Those watching Gary Numan were no different. Numan has been churning out music since the late '70s, but the majority of today's youngsters know him for the chart-topping hit "Cars" and its early, slightly rudimentary use of electronica in music. I am also one of those ignorant youngsters, aware of who Numan is and his contributions as one of the pioneers of electronica and gothic rock, but with really no idea what he truly sounded like outside of "Cars". To almost put Numan's performance in a nutshell, I'll direct you to the tweet I sent immediately into his set (ignore my typo please, and for my shameless Twitter plug, follow me here). As dusk set, the lights were blaring for Gary Numan, who even at the age of 55, contorted his body for dramatics at angles I haven't hit since I was four-years-old. Gary Numan was just heavy as shit, and it was awesome. Even "Cars", which he launched into about five songs in, was heavy as shit and all of it was unexpected for my ignorant ears. Gary Numan's performance was watching all the precursors for Trent Reznor laid out right in front of you, and almost seemed like a live-action History Channel viewing. Bumbershoot has always been the best about scheduling these kinds of acts, and it was the perfect way to end the first day of music.

Los Angeles-via-Portland's STRFKR are a band people love to hate, but I like to give props where props are due. "While I'm Alive", from the band's latest album, Miracle Mile, may be my favorite song of theirs yet. Groovy basslines and sweet echoes of, "I love my life," are posi-well, but the track's prime attraction lies in a high-pitched vocal wail, perpetuated throughout guitar notes during the track's introduction and hook. Given the dynamic quality of the aforementioned vocal line, any successful require music video would need to acknowledge its brilliance with equal measure. Luckily, director David Terry Fine's collaboration with the Seattle dance troupe Can Can Castaways executes this with flying colors. (We're talking one of the swellest dance moves I've seen this year, next to the headless-arms-waggle at 2:05 of this So You Think You Can Dance number). Much like the life-affirming concept of the music video, stills from "While I'm Alive" are plenty nice-looking, but show off very little of its glowing essence, which lies in living movements both subtle and bold. In this Q&A with David Terry Fine, he touches on the experience of working with STRFKR and Can Can Castaways, as well as the appeal of body movement.
 

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, FYF Fest brought together an impressive group of bands once again, always managing to make it seem like it's a family reunion with its mix of veterans (My Bloody Valentine, Charles Bradley, Roky Erickson, and Flag), newcomers (Lemuria, Fear Of Men, and Poolside) and even that one eccentric, but awesome uncle (Jonathan Richman). No matter your taste, it is not hard to find something that you like, or discover something that you never knew you would like. August 24th and 25th @ Los Angeles Historic State Historic Park in Los Angeles PHOTOS BY KOURY ANGELO

Charles Bradley

You wouldn't normally expect to see a funk/soul singer like Charles Bradley at a mostly indie rock/garage rock/electronic festival, but after catching his set, you're thankful that FYF Fest had the insight to have Bradley on the lineup. Clocking in at 64 years old, Bradley had some of the best energy and moves of the entire weekend. Songs like "Confusion" and "Crying in the Chapel" were raw and hit you at the core of your soul. Accompanied by a great band, which included a horn section, Bradley transcended hipster boundaries and showed the gritty and honest passion that all music should carry.

 

Toro y Moi

For any artist whose music is heavy on the electronic side, it can be easy to hide between a laptop or a pyramid of synths. But in the case of Toro y Moi, it was nothing like that. While the sun was still out at 6:00pm, it was refreshing to witness Toro y Moi's set, which was full of amiability and charm. Whether or not you were familiar with Chaz Bundick, the brains behind Toro y Moi, he and his band welcomed you with open arms. Bundick stood in the center between two keyboards while his hands moved back and forth effortlessly; he kept a cool and calm demeanor, and it was evident that he was very comfortable in his environment. While the majority of the set was dedicated to songs from Toro y Moi's latest album, Anything in Return, some old favorites like "New Beat" were also thrown into the mix. What made the set special is that you could easily and freely dance to the infectious beats and cascading synth notes, but at the same time, also feel your brain be stimulated with the intricate layers.

Music video director and writer Saman Kesh is a man with a digitally-enhanced vision. A master of weaving curious theories and tales in with his fast-paced music videos, Kesh uses playfulness and modern technologies as a vehicle for pushing forth interesting ideas. His latest music video for Placebo's "Too Many Friends" is an interactive mystery story narrated by none other than Bret Easton Ellis. Though it is the first in a series of three videos for the band, it is a strong testament to Kesh's remarkable eye and conceptual mind; "Too Many Friends" is so intriguing that it at times dominates a viewer's focus and relegates the music to the background. In this retrospective, Kesh offers commentary on a selection of hand-picked works -- both award-winning and not -- as well as on collaboration, general nerdery, and the future.

Placebo - "Too Many Friends" Music Video (2013)

INSPIRATION BEHIND THE TRILOGY: "All three take place in different eras, and all are unified by examining a given social interaction based on the respective social norms of that particular time period."
As the themes in the “Too Many Friends" video (rich, drug-using youth, as far as I can tell) seem to work well with Bret's general literary themes, I'm curious: at what point was he chosen in the storyboarding process? How directly did you work with him and what was that like? We were always interested in using Bret's voice for the narration, as he brought an academic quality to the table. He became involved when we were in the editing phase of production. As far as recording, it was quite simple. I went to Bret's house with my producer Ross Levine, and awesome sound recorder Michael Miramontes, who both worked on The Canyons w/ Bret. I sat on the floor next to him and directed him line by line. He is actually quite a natural, though [he] was a bit nervous that he didn't have it in him. Overall... Bret's a stud :)

 

Was the amount of interaction from viewers voting on what happened in the music video about what you had expected? Did you receive any interesting responses or find any amusing patterns? I knew most people were never going to write their answers down, but surprisingly about a 1/3 of viewers seem to jot at least a letter down. Option C is for those geeky and analytical people that I would probably call friends if I met them.