"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles, updated throughout every month to bring you the best of the funk.
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James Blake - "Retrograde" James Blake is back with Overgrown on April 8th. Embedding this is a tricky feat -- as the last time I embedded a James Blake track with the following review, UMG scolded us and demanded the video's removal -- but nonetheless, here it is, for all of your soulful listening desires. Slight electronic texturing still exists here -- he hasn't given himself up completely, certainly -- but this is as soulful as we've ever heard Blake, and this track is most definitely a slow-burner and a grower, grower, grower.

 

Psychic Twin - "Strangers" (Polyvinyl Records) Psychic Twin seem to constantly deliver on impressive one-off tracks, and "Strangers" from their upcoming Polyvinyl-released 7" is no different. Upbeat synth frolicks and fancy fleeting vocals delight while entering the noggin hypnotically. Polyvinyl is really chasing the dance pop tip lately, and I'd personally say that Psychic Twin are one of their most exciting prospects. Unfortunately, these tracks can't be embedded right now, but you can enjoy "Strangers" via Soundcloud or hear additional Psychic Twin tracks we have posted here. They will be playing at our SXSW 2013 show; announcement coming Monday.

 

Well, it's now past the supposedly prophesized Mayan apocalypse, and of course no obvious signs of eschatological judgment have been wrought down upon us, which was much to be expected. There is something else we need to address though, before we can just write this shit off for good. If you were paying any attention to what those of the neo-spiritualist ilk were saying for the last decade or so, the conversation always involved a shift in consciousness rather than a rogue asteroid raining fiery death from above. Nobody said it'd be instantaneous.
 
Prophecies regarding a sudden massive shift in the perceptual limitations of our species always struck me as being beyond improbable. Whereas I'd be the first to admit that more of us these days are getting turned on to the higher cosmic functionalities of our brains, I'd also point out that it's probably little more than a numbers game. There are more people, period. I'd wager that for every turned on occult-dabbling tripster, there are two new closed-minded evangelical sex repression nutsos. Occultist super freaks just don't proselytize, and they probably blew their money on drugs and albums rather than bribing politicians, so there's that. Our society still revolves around boring after all and will for some time to come. What the fuck are you going to do? But it's not like all hope for a revolution is lost, the times -- they are a-changin', after all. Terence McKenna foretold a spike in novelty leading up to 2012, and it's not like novelty hasn't been spiking. The great singularity might have to wait, but technology has opened up consciousness to a new array of bizarre potentialities, the implications of which we can only barely conceive of at this point. At the heart of all shamanistic extra-dimensional informational summoning rituals lies the evolution of language from spoken word to projected internal telepathic metaphor, the language of our dreams. Meaningful scenarios projected from mind-to-mind, manifesting as direct experience. It's where we're headed with all these interconnected smart phones, tablets, and such. A picture is worth thousand words and now we can send each other videos instantaneously with our shiny new synthetic telepathy. Videogames continue to increase in complexity replicating alternate reality scenarios in our heads ad infinitum. Think of how rapidly our lives have changed in comparison to our parents' and even our grandparents' generations. Your everyday world can now be filled with an increasing array of deliciously magickal shenanigans. Marijuana has now been legalized in two states, one of which just so happens to be my home state for the last 11 years: Washington. This is the biggest victory in the war of consciousness I've seen in my lifetime, and something I never saw coming as a cynical 18-year-old stoner. What no one's saying about this matter is that one of the fundamental tenets of Western occultism involves a focused practice of weed-based sex magick, which is now totally legal. People are going to figure it out eventually. Combine that with a wide array of art-summoning gadgets, and you're well on your way to re-programming yourself into the next age psychic stratosphere. In the next fifty years or so I'm sure we'll debate whether or not 2012 was the beginning of a widespread shift toward a higher order of knowing. Again, these things take time. People have been fighting for pot and gay rights forever, and the defenses have finally started to crack. LSD in next. More importantly, the fact that we're finally starting to recognize the environmental nightmare brought forth by our materialistic insanity is more than a good omen. I know what's been shown to me. We've dug ourselves a hole that we can only fly out of through a psychedelic mindgasm portal. It's where we're headed. The environment's going to force our hand on this one. The UFOs aren't going to just stop lighting up the skies, the storms aren't going to stop hitting and then where the fuck are you going to turn? Sorcery, that's where.
Say what you will about 2012, but since consciousness is comprised of linguistic information, the idea of a coming apocalypse in itself propagated some rather delicious undercurrents of sound rippling through the Akashic record this year. I've never written more than a top five list in my life, but when I was thinking back on the insane amount of mind-bending albums that dropped in the last 12 months, I was kind of in shock. Most of this stuff's fairly obvious, at least in my world. Was it people like Terence McKenna and his mechanized Timewave Zero prophesies, inspiring people like Grant Morrison to write the great Invisibles hypersigil, that summoned this record deluge of psychoactive soundscapes into motion? I have no idea. Did the Mayans get in every band's head and subconsciously encourage them to bring their A game in 2012 as it might be their final chance? Whatever happened, it appears a software update embedded itself into our collective psyche and we went berzerk. An aspiring mystic could use any one of these mind-warping albums to put a hex on their internal mind tunnel and help elevate our collective superstructure heavenward. One might now use these recorded sound patterns in conjunction with the aforementioned pot based sex tantra quite legally in a hip music town like Seattle if one were so inclined. I've been told by the gods that it's a very "time safe activity". Reach for the stars true believers, or to quote Seattle's THEESatisfaction: "Let the musicians, be your physicians."
 

Our third-annual album cover art feature uses interviews with artists and musicians to highlight the philosophical, thematic, and conceptual significance of great album cover artwork. THE BREAKDOWN    12 Collage + 14 Digital Illustration, Drawing, Design + 19 Illustration, Painting, Drawing + 8 Black And White Photography + 22 Color Photography + 6 Deluxe Packaging + 10 Fashion,...

In this video created by and for Adult Swim, scary new Mister Rogers introduces Mastodon into a world of destructive puppets and toys which mangle, demolish, torture, and pummel with all of the ferocity of Dante's Inferno. Suck it, nostalgia. ...

The last time REDEFINE caught up with New York's Nightmare of You, the Long Island quartet had just released their self-titled debut and were on the verge of hitting it big. Alongside tourmates like Fall Out Boy and Gym Class Heroes, Nightmare of You were able to gain a wide variety of fans across the board, appealing to new jacks who discovered pop-punk recently, as well as people who grew up with British-inspired pop music. Then, nothing.
August 2009 Interview
Well, not entirely nothing. The band shortly split with East West Records, a subdivision of Warner Brothers operated by Triple Crown Records founder Fred Feldman. They kept their boutique imprint, The Bevonshire Label, and independently released the melodious EP, Bang. On August 4, 2009, the band's latest album, the tongue-in-cheek-titled Infomaniac, came out, with Nightmare of You on the a full U.S. tour supporting their newest opus. Unlike its predecessors, which recall the peak days of '80s dance jams, Infomaniac relies heavily on dub-inspired grooves and highlights the group's heavy-on-hooks-and-sarcasm approach to pop music. "I think the sound is constantly in flux... we're always experimenting with new things, and we have very many influences, so it's kind of hard to commit to one kind of music," says singer and guitarist Brandon Reilly. Reilly and guitarist Joe McAffrey are the chief songwriters of Nightmare of You, and their audio visions have been able to guide the duo from an idea to a cult favorite. "I think Joe and I find it a bit boring when you have this equation to how you make records," adds Reilly. When asked about their songwriting approach for their new album, Reilly and McAffrey explain that they reduced the amount of synths, horns, and electronic effects that were heavy on their debut, which helps the band with their ability to recreate the songs in a live setting without compromising what people would hear through their speakers or headphones. "That's how we ended up producing the songs," says McAffrey. "We just kind of go with it, and we don't plan things to be a certain way," says Reilly. "We just see what happens. Adding to the band's shift in sound is their new rhythm section, comprised of drummer Michael Fleishmann and bassist Brandon Meyer. Reilly and McAffrey have also positioned The Bevonshire Label to be a fully-run record company for the band's affairs, unlike other bands in the music scene who've been granted their own vanity labels. "A vanity label is just a logo," says McAffrey. "You have to look at what's behind that. Who are the players on that team who are pushing the product? "For us, The Bevonshire Label currently just releases Nightmare of You albums. Considering that we're pretty passionate and serious about our music, we do the best job we can... It's very much a learning process." INTERVIEW CONTINUED BELOW Along with gaining new members and pushing their records through their own label, the band is regaining the momentum that slowed following their break after the release of Bang. "We're definitely realizing that we have to work really hard, and we're not in a position to be lazy," explains McAffrey. "We did a U.S. tour off of the EP as well," adds Reilly. "Just sorting out whether we were going to self release [Infomaniac]. We were talking to a few labels, and we weren't sure of what the plan was yet. "Ultimately, we decided to it ourselves," he continues. "It takes a lot to fundraise the money." Getting back to the van, Nightmare of You began a heavy touring schedule midway through 2009 by supporting Saves the Day and Alkaline Trio before heading off on their own marquee tour. Now with Infomaniac in stores, fans can expect to see a lot more of the band in the coming months.