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.

FESTIVAL PREVIEWS COMPILED BY JUDY NELSON AND VIVIAN HUA

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 Pacific Northwest's premiere music festival, Decibel Festival 2013, has come and gone, with another half-week stint of dream electronic music lineups for all. The type of festival that non-Seattle music lovers drool over and Seattle music lovers take amazing late-night advantage of, Decibel has come a long way in the ten years since its inception... and with this review, we celebrate the best of year 10's acts, which include a party sounds by JETS, the collaboration between Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum, Machinedrum's visually-entrancing new live show, neo-classical-meets-electronic composer Nils Frahm, and goofy electronic pioneers, The Orb.
Photography by Lizzy Eve

JETS = Machinedrum & Jimmy Edgar

It can be a bit surprising how successful after-parties at Decibel Festival are -- especially considering they always begin at 2:30am, and sometimes on weekday nights. Thursday evening (or Friday morning at 3:30am, if you wanted to get all technical about it) was JETS' headlining slot at the Leisure System Afterparty, and it was my most anticipated show of Decibel Festival 2013. Still, I didn't really know what to expect from the duo, comprised of Machinedrum and Jimmy Edgar, since JETS is a relatively new project and the amount of material they have out in the world is quite tiny. I knew from their dearth of recordings that they know how to make bangin' party music and that they at least somewhat have metaphysical interests -- but it was only after seeing them perform at Neumo's that the tie between the two seemingly disparate elements actually began to make sense. JETS create a whipped-up blend of DJ sensibilities for the complex listener -- but their adept copiloting of an atmosphere filled with entrancing sonic trickeries also makes them appealing for the complex dancer. Upon first taking the stage, JETS reminded me of futuresonic explorers in electronic hyperspace, and I nearly expected the mixer that both Machinedrum and Jimmy Edgar laid their hands upon to turn into a brightly-colored glowing orb. Well, it didn't, and the sci-fi sounds soon faded, but what they gave way to was a challenging set that remained in a constant state of transition. Beats shifted again and again at perfectly-timed yet completely unpredictable intervals, and even better were the moments where JETS dropped down low -- sometimes obviously and sometimes almost imperceptibly. While beats continued, repeating vocal samples would brew up from beneath, bubbling up through otherwise dense layers of sound, in the form of subtle mind suggestion cues telling you to "dance", or some variation of the same. Such is a subconscious trick that JETS have mastered, with effects that one might not even notice immediately. When I go to electronic shows, I sometimes get bored of my own dance moves because the music remains so static -- or conversely, because the music changes with such a jitter that it loses momentum or leads to abrupt transitions between dance styles. Not so with JETS... and this, coupled with the sly vocal mind-control mechanism previously described, may be the most successful aspects of their approach. They are seamlessly dynamic -- to a point where it almost hurts because it is so good, and you're so tired, but you just can't stop dancing. The way in which JETS can inspire a melting away of a crowd, leaving only the purity of sound -- made their set godamn transcendent -- and that is not an adjective I use lightly. - Vivian Hua

The more I look into Decibel Festival 2013, the more pumped I get about its representation of sounds -- classic, indie, techno, house, classical, disco; somehow this year's fest hits on almost every bit of my musical interests without becoming redundant. With so much going on, it is certainly hard to choose where to put one's mental and physical energies... so I've taken the liberty of choosing my top showcases for each day, to help those of you with passes to hop around gleefully, and those without to best use your money and time. Last year's festival featured some of my favorite shows of 2012; I expect this year to be no different. Happy tenth birthday to one of the best fall festivals around!
BROKE BUT WANNA GO TO DECIBEL? REDEFINE is currently giving away tickets to the upcoming Little Boots dates in Portland and Seattle! The Seattle date is a Decibel Festival date, which includes Little Boots, Light Asylum, Young Galaxy, and MNDR show at Neumos on Friday.
JUMP TO: WED, SEPTEMBER 25 THU, SEPTEMBER 26 FRI, SEPTEMBER 27 SAT, SEPTEMBER 28 SUN, SEPTEMBER 29

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013 ___ BACK TO TOP

NOTABLE PICKS > FACTORY POP w/ Peter Hook & Light, ADULT., Nightmare Fortress @ Neumos > ABSTRACT EARTH PROJECT Wax Tailor, Blockhead, Little People, Rena Jones @ Showbox at the Market > HYPERDUB RECORDS Kode9, DJ Spinn, Ikonika, Jimi Jaxon, Zach Walker @ The Crocodile ***

* TOP PICK * Like Klockwork Showcase w/ Ben Klock, Light Years

Q Nightclub (1426 Broadway Ave.) – 9pm Doors / 21+ / $22 Advance or FREE with Decibel Pass Attend the Like Klockwork showcase, and you're pretty much signing up just to see Berlin's Ben Klock, for the man is going to be playing for three-and-a-half-hours. It's not exactly a feat as he has been known to play sets up to ten hours long – but this will be a rare treat for Seattlites looking for bumping techno at the relatively new and sonically well-equipped Q Nightclub. Klock, a signee to the well-reputed Ostgut Ton record label, is a regular DJ at the internationally-famed Berghain nightclub in Berlin, with the likes of folks like Marcel Dettman and label owner Nick Höppner. Dominated by steel and concrete and known for its extremity, the club is, in particular, a “platform for purist techno", according to Höppner. The techno Klock and Ostgut Ton churn out is one not just to be listened to, but experienced (for it's not every type of music that yields the types of quotes as the one on the right) – and as the days begin to turn grey and Seattle enters into fall, one can only hope that the dark, pulsing creative energies that Berlin is known for will seep its way into the way into the Pacific Northwest. Opening the showcase will be Australia's Light Year, who will, with his wide-ranging repertoire, flow from relatively melodious and vocal sample-driven house into more atonal sounds, easing listeners into the transition from sundown to techno night.

In this first installment of Music Art Trends, a column detailing stylistic commonalities across music media, we highlight electronic musicians Oneohtrix Point Never and Jimmy Edgar's respective collaborations with artists Takeshi Murata and Brez. In the music videos for "Problem Areas" and "Hot Inside", animated three-dimensional objects are the main focus (and in the case of Jimmy Edgar's "Hot Inside", one can also find another popular sub-theme often found in music art these days: that of finely-manicured female hands).

 

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!)

 

As a staff, we all have our own unique musical tastes. Sometimes those tastes overlap stylistically and sometimes they veer off into strange directions galore. Below are our top album lists of 2012, separated by writer and summed up with genre tags. Vivian Hua - dance, electronic, indie, funk, metal Judy Nelson - dance, electronic, indie, pop, psychedelic, soul Ryan Pangilinan - pop, soul, pop-punk, punk Peter Woodburn - electronic, hardcore, metal, instrumental