Outlands - Love Is As Cold As DeathWe all come from somewhere. Outlands, the duo of Melissa Smith and Mark Arciaga, are obviously more concerned with where they're going than where they've been, as evidenced by the fact that they hail from Virginia but currently reside in LA. They're willing to travel thousands of miles to find somewhere that suits them, somewhere they belong. And you can hear this same sense of adventure, this quest for self, for something unique and personal, on Outland's debut LP for LebenStrasse Records.

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.

"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 wiggly toes.
+++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POPS! COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

Death Vessel - "Mercury Dime"

The type of song that just demands to be adored, Death Vessel's "Mercury Dime" flies through all jingle-jangling worlds of sonic pleasure, using titillating adjectives like "mercurily blue" to paint a scene that relates human forms to nature. Androgynously-voiced frontman Joel Thibodeau confounds and entices simultaneously on the band's forthcoming full-length album, Island Intervals, which comes out February 25th, 2014 on Sub Pop Records. This is just to wet your appetite for this neo-folk ambiance; catch them on tour this March.  

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

To pay proper homage to the musical grandness of 2013 and to usher in the new year 2014, we've once again decided to call upon our tastemaker friends to compile their favorite up-and-comers throughout the Pacific Northwest. Here, Gina Altamura and Van Pham of the innovative, multimedia-minded nightclub Holocene give us the scoop on Portland bands to watch (and see their 2012 list here. Those who are interested in the Seattle scene can view the picks of the stylish boutique shop and venue, Cairo, here.
  SEE ALL POSTS RELATED TO: PORTLAND MUSICIANS + HOLOCENE PORTLAND

Aan __ www.facebook.com/weareaan

I've believed wholeheartedly in the exceptional talent of Aan's Bud Wilson ever since I first heard his emotionally riveting avant-rock back in 2009. Fast-forward to the present, and Aan is experiencing a well-deserved breakout year. After extensive touring -- including a string of dates with the Smashing Pumpkins -- the band is in top form. Even in mid-size nightclubs, Aan puts on a show fit for an arena with their sheer dynamism and technical skill. Bud is a multi-faceted crooner, capable of delicate romance and ferocious vitriol alike, and he deftly charts a course across this wide emotional territory: a map of Amor Ad Nauseum (the title of Aan's excellent upcoming debut LP). With the recent addition of Brainstorm's Patrick Phillips -- ecstatic West African-influenced guitar shredder -- to the live band, I can only imagine 2014 will be even more exciting for this group. - GINA ALTAMURA (Editor's Note: Aan will be playing Holocene's next film score series, Fin De Cinema, on Purse Candy and Philip Grass; they will be scoring the Japanese animation, Night on the Galactic Railroad. See more details here. Their next record, Amor Ad Nauseum, drops February 1st, 2014.) ++ SEE: ALL POSTS RELATED TO AAN

Phone Call www.facebook.com/phonecallsound

An incarnation of Portland's favorite disco sons, Strength, Phone Call kicks it up a couple of decades with their hard-hitting hip-hop beats, and introduces more assertive synth lines in lieu of Strength’s guitar-heavy grind. It’s unabashedly -- if not absurdly -- sexy, with plenty of space for singer Bailey Winters’ charismatic swagger to shine through. There’s a little Prince, a little JT, and a gleeful dive into the deep reaches of boogie funk crate. Some wear your sunglasses at night/Miami Vice vibes or at least they’ll make you think that it’s getting a little hot in here... But there’s no mistaking: they’re here to make us dance, and maybe leave the place with somebody tonight. - VAN PHAM (Editor's Note: Phone Call play Holocene on New Year's Eve, with Le1f, Shy Girls, and PWRHAUS... along with DJ slots from Miracles Club and Radiation City. Details here.)

Natasha Kmeto __ www.natashakmeto.com/

Natasha Kmeto is a total badass. Unpoetic I know, but nonetheless the most satisfying descriptor for this futuristic soul diva. She's an expert at working a crowd, and as a solo performer relying on electronics, this is especially impressive. As a producer, her adventurous bass music is powerful and entrancing, while her vocal delivery is more captivating still. Her unabashed reflections on the vicissitudes of love and the trials of artistic ambition are belted out with incredibly authentic emotion, lending her music an immortal quality of spiritual resonance. - GINA ALTAMURA ++ SEE: ALL POSTS RELATED TO NATASHA KMETO + NATASHA KMETO INTERVIEW

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

"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 wiggly toes. This month, Gardens & Villa and Dum Dum Girls return, Howard Ivans of GAYNGS and The Rosebuds goes solo, and JMSN, Starlight Girls and The Slims show that they really, really know how to do their own thing.
+++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POPS! COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS Gardens & Villa - Bullet TrainPhotography by Neil Favila

Gardens & Villa - "Bullet Train"

Returning with the introductory single from their February 2014 Secretly Canadian release, Dunes, Southern California's Gardens & Villa seem to be on a brand new tip of exploring death and life in the fast lane. Californian at heart and name-dropping Los Angeles and The Bay Area like rapstars, "Bullet Train" dishes out Prince-like funkiness and manages to one-up the band's previous use of falsetto-laden vocals and flute-playing majesty. My favorite track from the record, "Bullet Train" is just one quick glimpse into an album full of reflections on being and becoming.

Tei Shi - Saudade EP Album ReviewTei Shi Saudade EP Self-Released (2013)Ever wanted a female artist with awesomely soulful vocals to make cool, interesting, and meaningful music? Now you have one. On her latest EP, Saudade, Valerie Teicher, aka Tei Shi, makes an impressive debut, exposing herself musically as well as emotionally, with powerful and lasting effect. The majority of Saudade is a cappella, with only minimal instrumentation and well-chosen electronic effects that highlight Tei Shi's stunning, cavernous voice. Low and versatile, her vocals, such as those on the EP's standout track, “Adder(f)all," vibrate in your ears with an immediacy second only to if she were physically present and singing directly into your ear. Punctuated with occasional dance beats, sparse percussion, plucked electric guitar, maracas, or bass synth melodies, her voice slowly encompasses you, wrapping itself around you like a fog and settling hooks into your heart with each subsequent layer of breathy harmony, before tugging on them repeatedly in cyclical patterns. Given the emotionality of her voice -- its notes of longing, anger, and passion—every loop, harmony, suspension, and resolution is amazingly spot-on, carrying with it the gravity and precision of choral music and evoking its same sense of controlled chaos.

"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