"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, Gauntlet Hair pay homage to noise pop vibes and Pure Bathing Culture get adorable, while Grumbling Fur and Dubais present a psyched-out jam and lo-fi offering, respectively.
+++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POPS! COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

Pure Bathing Culture - "Pendulum"

Portland favorites Pure Bathing Culture, comprised of guitarist Daniel Hindman and keyboardist Sarah Versprille, have done the boy-girl music partnership thing to great success. After blowing up the local scene with humble fanfare, they've taken the same type of reverb and cutesiness that has become grotesquely overdone in the indie pop genre and gone on to offer something just a bit more. It's hard to detail just what that something is in words -- but it's a feeling evoked, of genuine pleasantries and not of fads, of beauty in wispy, fleeting moments, to be celebrated. A reminder of the passing of time in this way, "Pendulum" is the opening track of their upcoming full-length, Moon Tides, which will be released on August 20th via Partisan Records.

 

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
 

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. Two female-fronted records from Taken By Trees and Southern Shores offer their unique spins on tropical-influenced experimental pop and release their records on the same day (October 2) via Secretly Canadian and Cascine, respectively. SEE: FULL POST + ALL TOP POP COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Taken By Trees

Victoria Bergsman, former frontwoman of The Concretes and the female voice on Peter Bjorn And John's "Young Folks", is now stepping into a new light with her newest project, Taken By Trees. Her debut record, Other Worlds, will be released on Secretly Canadian on October 2nd and highlights a sunshine-filled period in Bergsman's life, when the Hawaiian Islands and falling in love played a crucial role in changing her artistic trajectory. Two singles have been thus far released for the album -- the stereotypically dream pop "Dreams", with a music video you can see HERE, and the dubbed out dance jam, "Large", which you can hear below. On Other Worlds, Taken By Trees is innovative at times and derivative at times, but "Large" is a hint of Bergsman's better tendencies. Simply drawing from tropical influences is often not quite enough -- especially in this current tropical pop-saturated atmosphere -- but when tropicalia is slathered in manipulations and unexpected tendencies, that's when it really shines, and Bergsman does so well here. Taken By Trees will soon be on tour with Jens Lekman, whose latest you can hear HERE. See full tour dates at the bottom of this post, and expect our full review of the record soon.

 

After their controversially poppy second album, Odd Blood, Yeasayer returns in 2012 with Fragrant World, which has potential to be equally controversial. Beginning at its highest point with a nostalgic coupling of "Fingers Never Bleed" and the album's second single, "Longevity", Fragrant World flaunts its best early on. These two tracks, along with the subsequent' Blue Paper" and album single "Henrietta", may please early adopters of the band's music. The ethereality and restraint that were present on the band's first release, All Hour Cymbals -- but intentionally shed on their rambunctious second, Odd Blood -- are present here. These tracks feel nostalgic and stand apart from most of the remainder of the record, in that they maintain a thread of stylistic consistency among them. They even seem to share a bit of lyrical cohesion, centered around a preoccupation with time -- be that of the past, present, or future.
SEE FULL REVIEW FOR YEASAYER'S FRAGRANT WORLD
SUMMARY: "Fragrant World may be just as controversial as Yeasayer's last, as it is a shape-shifting record that redefines its quality with every listen."

 

With a drab color palette of greys and and blues, reminiscent of somber films like A Single Man, comes the music video for Antony And The Johnsons' emotive new track, "Cut The World". At just under 5 minutes, the music video features some well-known faces and figures, like William Dafoe, Marina Abramovic, and Carice van Houten. The slow-moving mini-drama finds its main strength in singular facial expressions, moods conveyed by slight gestures, and focuses on minuteia. And with this brief description, you should watch this video (along with the one for the philosophical "Future Feminine" -- both available after the jump), as it is a miniature cinematic achievement in music video form.

 

Directed by Nabil

 

With every new album they release, Yeasayer's fame grows rich with new haters and new fans. Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical about their opening single, "Henrietta," and still am -- but they could be doing worse, and the new single, "Longevity," definitely pleases me at least a little bit. Be warned: the direction they're heading is definitely hella pop -- more similar to Odd Blood than All Hour Cymbals, by a long shot. So, those of you who are mourning Yeasayer's past need to just get over it, and they'll tell you that in their "be here now" affirming "Longevity". Both "Longevity" and "Henrietta" can be heard below via prismatic vignettes -- or music videos, for laypeople -- created by video artist Yoshi Sodeoka. For the latter, the band themselves recommend drugs. Fragrant World comes out August 21st on Secretly Canadian.

 

See Yeasayer - Fragrant World Album Review

Yeasayer - "Longevity"

 

Whim is a weekly collection of media focused on independent rock/pop/garage and everything surrounding it. This week we feature the incredible new Grizzly Bear track, an Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti cover, a brand new Jens Lekman cut and more. So yeah, it's been an insanely busy week for music junkies. And a good one too.

 

Grizzly Bear

Putting some of my personal fixations with Grizzly Bear aside, the release of their brand new song almost imploded the internet last week. "Sleeping Ute" is taken from the bands yet-to-be-titled album, due out later this year on Warp, and is an explosive mix of scaling guitars and the band's collective vocal range. It's incredibly reminiscent of member Daneil Rossen's Department of Eagles project, digging into darker, more cathartic sounds on the third verse. It's different from "Two Weeks," which is kind of a bold statement considering the success of that song and Veckatimest as a whole, but "Sleeping Ute" is expansive and brilliant. So for now at least, they have my attention.

 

Portland director Sean Pecknold has put together a brand new video for Here We Go Magic's "How Do I Know," starring experimental dancer Janet Pants. In the middle of a desert landscape or along the side of pools, Miss Pants comes to life like a wind-up robot, full of awkward moves and strange puppet-like animations that make a lyrics like, "How do I know if I love you?" seem to demand an emphatic "ALL OF THIS!" for an answer. Pecknold was first introduced to the music of Here We Go Magic on a road trip, and a line of synchronicitous experiences led to his directing the film. Here We Go Magic's upcoming record, A Different Ship, is out now on Secretly Canadian.

 

 

Bands don't always show signs of aging by their third album, but Here We Go Magic have grown up with their latest, A Different Ship. The band was never loud and brash before, but they seem to have taken a turn for the drastically mellow on this album. They have clearly become more in touch with their later "Yo La Tengo phase" than their mystical, vibed-out phase of yore that was on trend with indie experimentalists like Animal Collective. In this vein, my initial recommendation for the album's title track of would have been the super relaxed "Made to Be Old," although in the end I see how the trippy, feedback-laden "A Different Ship" was appropriate. Walk with me while I explain.
HERE WE GO MAGIC - A DIFFERENT SHIP ALBUM REVIEW CONTINUED BELOW

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles.

 

Gardens & Villa

We've covered these Santa Barbara groovesters quite a bit, but their trajectory this year is upwards-bound at an intense and exponentially-terrifying rate! If you haven't seen them yet, now is the time; constant touring and being on the road have catapulted them to new heights of live performance expertise, just in time for showing off to Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre at Coachella. We've just posted a series of live tour videos on YouTube, with more to come. Scope out unreleased track "Avalanche" below, from their show last year at Holocene in Portland. They will be returning again to Holocene after Sasquatch, on May 30th -- to play with another band we support: Swahili. Stream a demo of a new Swahili track, below.

 

Read our interview with Gardens & Villa Watch "Spacetime" Music Video Stream more Gardens & Villa Live Videos On REDEFINE'S YouTube Channel GARDENS & VILLA TOUR DATES 4/26 - Oakland, CA - The New Parish 5/11 - Monterey, CA - Cal State/Black Box Cabaret 5/24 - Davis, CA - Sofia Thai Kitchen 5/25 - Eugene, OR - Sam Bonds Garage 5/25 - George, WA - Sasquatch Festival 5/30 - Portland, OR - Holocene 6/1 - Santa Barbara, CA - Santa Barbara Bowl ^ 6/23 - St. Paul, MN - River's Edge Music Festival 7/7 - Quincy, CA - High Sierra Music Fest 7/8 - Quincy, CA - High Sierra Music Fest

Swahili

Playing with Gardens & Villa in Portland on May 30th, for a MusicfestNW kick-off party, as mentioned above. Here is a rough demo of Swahili's latest track, "Mokomokai."