SVN SNS RCRDS stands for Seven Sons Records; we're a small independent music label from Paris, France, founded in 2010 by David Gamelin and myself, Alex Poveda. A couple years ago, Thibault Signourel, Editor for the French webzine Hartzine, joined us in the adventure. Originally the label was just supposed...

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
Out with the old, no matter how good it is! Here's our comprehensive list of Top Albums of the Year 2013, schizophrenic as always to reflect the diverse tastes of our staff, though there is some overlap. It's highly recommended you check out every release here, as each has its own creative strengths.
Matthew Carter - electronic, experimental, metal, pop, rock Vivian Hua - dance, indie, pop, psychedelic, soul Troy Micheau - classical, electronic, experimental, instrumental Judy Nelson - dance, electronic, indie, pop, psychedelic, soul Elizabeth Perry - indie, mainstream, pop, rock Peter Woodburn - classical, instrumental, metal XUA - electronic hip-hop, mainstream, pop Albums of the Year 2013
High Wolf Kairos: Chronos Not Not Fun Records, 2013High Wolf is obviously no stranger to complicated instrumental composition. On his most recent release, Kairos: Chronos, he creates a work that is at times elusive, consistently impressive, and stimulating enough to provide ample room for contemplation amidst its contoured layers, contrasting soundscapes, and subtle chord progressions.
The immediate density of Kairos: Chronos is striking. Whereas instrumental music normally relies on forward motion and significant musical transitions -- layering different parts as the song goes on, altering their course, and then perhaps disassembling them -- High Wolf's compositions are much more dimensional. He does not just layer one part; he layers many parts: everything from the bottom register's bass-y synth, to the percussive section's plethora of ever-changing electronic and real beats, to the upper register's ethereal and stringy synths and distorted electric guitar parts. In doing so, he creates a lush wall of sound that beeps, shimmers, and grooves, moving inward and outward, as well as back and forth.
 
Maria Minerva Bless EP 100% Silk (2013) On her website, Maria Minerva (née Juur) tells us that once she left home, it was easy to do it again. Indeed, for her, home is wherever she lays her head and finds a wifi password. This impermanence and transience hovers above her music like a ghost, belied by the Euro disco and dance pop stylings that she deploys. It is this combination, of the fugitive and the substantial, of the common and the uncommon, that gives her music both its reach and dynamism.

 

From its wavy slow-motion intro alone, one can tell that the music video for Xander Harris' "Night Fortress" is bound to be a rainbow-colored adventure into bizarre costumes and texture-melting acid trip territory. The best part, though, is that it's not walls or environments melting here -- that would be too boring -- but rather, bobbing and weaving dancers that dissipate and reform while in a static environment, their bodies changing by way by way of sharp refraction, color dodges, and ripple effects. It really is a video that gets better with repeat viewings, and the dance moves are just tantalizing.
Says director Melissa Cha of the concept:
"For me, 'Night Fortress' conjured images of deranged, alien characters skulking around a strip mall dystopia. It's really great when a song immediately inspires imagery -- Xander Harris' music definitely has that effect. The initial concept was a madwoman possessed by decaying suburban landscapes. Whether or not that comes across doesn't matter so much anymore. It was really just a starting point -- something to think about during the shooting process."
The track comes from Xander Harris' The New Dark Age of Love record, out on Not Not Fun. You can watch the video after the jump.

 

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!)

 

An oasis for mythic musics at SXSW 2013, FEEL YOU is all about creating clarity, harmony and POSI VIBES in an oft-overwhelming week of chaos. Our focus is on music that muddles introspective psychedelia with exuberant dance, so expect revelry and epiphanies....

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
 

A spectrum of musical madness that represents our tastes from large to small, mainstream to obscure, spaced out to reasonable. There's no way in bloody hell you'll love every release on this list unless you have a million personalities living in your puny body, but chances are great that you'll...