No one seems to be able to stop talking about Kendrick Lamar this year, and while we are no different from the rest in that regard, we've naturally made the effort, as usual, to put together an Albums of the Year list that is typically unconventional and probably features quite...

"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.
With wide-reaching arms and hungry ears, each of our writers has compiled his or her top albums of the year, for you to peruse our eclectic, atypical, and only occasionally overlapping tastes. You'd be well-served to check out every single record here.
Vivian Hua - dance, indie, pop, psychedelic, electronic Troy Micheau - metal, electronic, experimental, ambient Jason Simpson - pop, soul, electronic, ambient Ian King - electronic, ambient, instrumental, pop Peter Woodburn - ambient, metal, garage, indie Judy Nelson - dance, electronic, indie, pop, hip-hop Albums of the Year 2014
Inventions Band Interview
Having culminated in a house on the Oregon coast, Inventions' self-titled debut may not be a psychedelic record in any traditional sense, but set and setting seemed to have definitely had an effect on the outcome. The endless shimmering slate, the breeze-tussled grass, the stoic stone behemoths wading in the tide: against this backdrop, Matthew Cooper of Eluvium and Mark T. Smith of Explosions in the Sky coalesced their energies into eight songs that bring something unexpected out of each of their established sensibilities. Invigorated by a vibe of spontaneity, Inventions unveils subtle surprises over time. Floating and fluttering amid the vapor trails of keyboard and guitar are intriguing sounds and tics not tethered to either Cooper or Smith's main projects. Unique to the album as well are the dominant beats on "Peaceable Child" and "Recipient", neither resembling the cacophonous live drumming of Explosions nor the pulse-tapping undercurrent of Eluvium. Where both of those bands' work can often present like complete statements, Inventions also sets itself apart in how open-ended it feels; a breathing, growing, glowing thing. A natural thing. So natural feeling, in fact, that it's almost surprising how long it took Cooper and Smith to decide to work together...
Hauschka - Volker Bertelmann Composer Interview
Poor Pripyat never had a chance. A city along the northern edge of Ukraine thrust into existence in 1970, its fate was unfortunately tied to the neighboring Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, whose employees filled its houses. Pripyat barely saw sweet sixteen before its raison d'etre blew, leading to its full evacuation. Empty to this day and enveloped by nature's reclamation, the city has become, in recent years, a destination for the marginal but growing business of disaster tourism. Volker Bertelmann, who has been composing music under the name Hauschka since the mid-2000s, is a musician who would consider visiting Pripyat; his latest album, Abandoned City, takes its guiding inspiration from such spent locations. "Pripyat" is the second track on the record, and eight of Abandoned City's nine songs are named after different cities that have all been left behind at some point for one reason or another. "Agdam" references a war-ravaged city in Southwestern Azerbaijan, and "Elizabeth Bay" a deserted mining town in Namibia. An additional unreleased track is titled "Hashima Island", based off of an abandoned island in Japan "where they also shot a lot of apocalyptic Hollywood movies because it... still has a lot of skyscrapers that are totally empty."
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
Many people in the United States will say that post-rock has played itself out -- but to just go ahead and label things as straight up post-rock is really the more played out aspect of the criticism, for what exactly makes post-rock? Generally speaking, it's instrumental music prone to rising crescendos and plummeting musical valleys. The methodology of how various bands get there is often the same, but often times, despite a similar approach, you'll get wildly different results. Athens, Georgia-based Maserati and Boston, Massachusetts-based Caspian each passed through Seattle on different tickets, separated by a few days. The two bands, both instrumental and both hanging out with the post-rock cloud looming over their heads, are prime examples of how varied the genre can sound. It isn't quite played out yet, and these two bands prove it.

 

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
 
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Bleep is a column focusing on varying degrees of electronic music news, videos and MP3s. In this post, '80s sci-fi influences electronics are given their due as Majeure and Chrome Canyon churn out analog synth-layered landscapes like nobody's business.
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Chrome Canyon

We begin with the well-reputed New York-based musician Chrome Canyon, whose latest record, Elemental Themes, will come out on Stones Throw on October 9th. This music video for "Branches", directed by the solo artist Morgan Z himself, was inspired by the visually-stunning Koyaanisqatsi, for which you can view a trailer below. Unlike Majeure, to follow, the sounds of Chrome Canyon occasionally has more terrestrial grounding to tie it back to earth as we know it. This comes in the form of chopped vocal samples, straight-forward drums, live bass and guitar, and occasional Bach-like compositions of madness. Not to mention the elusive sounds of the Theremin. Elemental Themes tracklisting to follow after the jump. CHROME CANYON - "BRANCHES" KOYAANISQATSI TRAILER