For the sixth year in a row, we present to you a rundown of the best CMJ​ Music Marathon shows to scamper to across town, with a wide selection that includes pop, hardcore, electronic, soul, and indie acts, including Shigeto, Briana Marela, Empress Of, Lushes, Gemma, and Gilligan Moss....

"It’s kind of fun to have this open-ended series… It’s really just the psychological triggers that you do with yourself. No one is actually imposing restrictions or boundaries on you, but at times, you feel like you have a place, a repository to fit these other ideas, that doesn’t lose...

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.
Like a shiny unicorn of the indie pop world, Connan Mockasin is the type of musician who has earned himself a number of adjectives and associations, often whimsical and colorful in nature. His 2011 record, Forever Dolphin Love, set the precedent for this; it was full of unconventional words, strange voices, and fictional characters, giving one the impression that he is one who floats off early and often into the ether, with one foot grounded in this world and one in another. As a result, media and press often generalize Connan Mockasin to be an "oddball" -- an assertion that he finds "kind of a bit weak", for he doesn't in fact feel odd... Connan Mockasin Band Interview With his latest 2013 full-length, Caramel, Connan Mockasin's music has taken in soulful influences to become a fair degree more grounded and accessible -- but it seems that he still has trouble shaking the character judgments heaped upon him. Caramel is conventional compared to Forever Dolphin Love, but it remains fairly unconventional in the world of indie soul and R&B, full of moments that might be difficult to relate to from outside perspectives. But talk to Connan Mockasin for any length of time, and one learns very quickly that his motivations and attitudes towards music-making -- and life, in general -- are actually much, much simpler than most would predict. The bulk of his decisions are based upon impulses rather than deep considerations, and flowing from moment to moment without preconceived expectations or concerns for consequence is his general mode of operation. Indeed, it is one that very few people can relate to -- which is perhaps why it is so very "odd" -- but to understand this is to understand the essence of Connan Mockasin's creative genius.
One-upping his quirky reputation with some tasteful humor, Connan Mockasin plays the lurking lover in this music video for "I'm The Man, That Will Find You" off of his latest record, Caramel. In it, he executes humorously sensual moves galore, with the major winner being a well-timed tumble down a mega-miniature set of stairs. Get your smile tickles on and stay tuned with an interview with Connan Mockasin, coming next week. Caramel is out now on Mexican Summer.
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
"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 dancing toes. This month, the delightfully mysterious Connan Mockasin presents new tracks alongside soulful female musicians Tei Shi and My Midnight Heart, while Belgian Fog, Widowspeak, and Jungle. offer up more.
+++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POPS! COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

Connan Mockasin

If you know what's good for the inner reaches of your unknown mind, get privy to to the music of indie pop's mysterious Connan Mockasin. His upcoming LP, Caramel, is an 11-track record of his spin on lo-fi, almost Ariel Pink-esque bedroom pop -- but Mockasin's spin is always a bit of a strange one. In his singularly cryptic way, he has described the new album's premise, saying, "It starts with the dolphin leaving, and the boss who is so in with love with the dolphin is sad, and then it kicks into the new album, and he is happier. But there’s a car race and a crash." Those of you who have heard his last record, Forever Dolphin Love, will understand the reference. Those of you who haven't... GET ON IT; he made it because his mother told him to. True fact. My interview with him will be published shortly -- but in the meantime, enjoy these two tracks or stream the entire record, out November 5th on Mexican Summer! Photography by Jen Carey
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
 
Peaking Lights Lucifer Mexican Summer Peaking Lights' very popular sophomore release, 936, received a large amount of acclaim two years ago. The laid-back, dub-influenced style of their third full-length, Lucifer, has an overwhelming reggae influence that is not exactly an expected progression, but provides a rather smooth transition nonetheless. One notable distinction between the two is the lack of an obvious "single" on Lucifer. It works together nicely as an album, but I had trouble picking out one song in particular that I wanted to listen to constantly.
SEE FULL REVIEW OF PEAKING LIGHTS - LUCIFER

 

SUMMARY: Compared to Peaking Lights' last album, 936, Lucifer is much more like a fun-loving, peaceful tribute to a new life, despite the dark aspects of naming an album after the devil.

 

SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS A recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body. This post features Peaking Lights (Mexican Summer) and Woods (Woodiss Records) -- both bands with new records and upcoming tour dates together.

 

Peaking Lights

Not sure what it is about Peaking Lights and fairly painful record covers, but at least you can count on them for some laid-back psychedelic jams. Their latest single, "LO HI" takes the band into more bizarre and percussive territory, but maintains Indra Dunis' signature vocals, and a selection of baby squeals may or may not be a hidden homage to Timbaland and Aaliyah (because if not, they might just be confusing). You can also get a bunch of DJ edits at Gorilla Vs. Bear, from a fine chap who calls himself a fine name: $layron. Lucifer is out now on Mexican Summer and Weird World! Plus some remixes below from their previous Remixes 12". You can hear the rest on the band's SoundCloud. Yum!!!