We've finally made it to the bitter end of 2020, and believe it or not, human beings are still making amazing art in the midst of crisis and a pandemic. After a five-year hiatus, our Album Covers of the Year feature is back with a deep dive of artwork from...

"I had a big manifesto of 'no's' at the beginning, [of things] that I didn't want to do." As a composer, violinist, and multi-instrumentalist, Christopher Tignor has, since the early '00s, led the New York City-based instrumental groups Slow Six and Wires.Under.Tension. Up until recently, however, he'd had little interest in...

With each passing year, Northside Festival ups the ante, taking over more northern Brooklyn venues and gaining more and more international recognition. Now in its 8th year, the festival added their Innovation track a few years back, which seems like a smart move considering that the tech industry conference economy...

Another year of our favorites in Top Album Cover Artwork, and once again, we interview musicians and artists on the often-underappreciated work that goes into creating a product that not only tickles your ears, but speaks to your eyes and hearts. Album artwork, though often only viewed on tiny screens...

On their newest LP, Electric Balloon, New York's Ava Luna offer a solid rock and R&B framework infused with the pulse of experimental music. The result is something they call "nervous soul" -- experimental rock that is as texturally interesting as it is emotionally invigorating. As soon as Electric Balloon begins, its simple grouping of rock instruments offers a cool, open, and vintage-inspired sound. With heavy power chords, musical interlude-tracing guitar licks, funky bass lines that make you want to dance, and a percussion section featuring everything from cymbals and tambourines to maracas and woodblocks, Ava Luna tap into many of the classic and modern rock instrumental mainstays that would be right at home on a Black Keys album and which (at least for me) cannot fail to please. Add to this awesome, soulful, R&B-reminiscent vocals by Carlos Hernandez and light, edgy female vocals that dart in and out of the album's gritty backing instrumentation, and you've already got a soundscape that is engaging all on its own.
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
Diane Coffee - My Friend FishDiane Coffee My Friend Fish Western Vinyl (2013) Capitalists would have you believe that you need a million dollars and a luxurious studio to create a masterpiece. They would hate the fact that Diane Coffee, the solo project of former child voice actor and drummer for Foxygen, Shaun Fleming, was able to record this psych/soul/gospel-infused gem with pots and pans and detuned guitars in his New York apartment in two weeks, while recovering from the flu.
CMJ Music Marathon 2013 is the time of year when one runs through the streets of the Lower East Side, hopeful that you will be able to get into a jam-packed venue to see your favorite band -- or maybe discover a band that you haven't heard of will become your favorite band. It's also the time of year for those of us who are not 25 or under try (in vain) to re-live our wild partying years, and for those of us that are 25 and under to stay up until 4 AM partying with the band that is sleeping on our couch. CMJ 2013 is one of the last of the big festivals of the season, so make the most of this indie music feast for the senses! Here are some of our picks for bands to put on your "must see" list:

Father John Misty

Saturday October 19, 2013 10:00pm - 11:00pm @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 North 6th St. Brooklyn, NY 11249) Having recently seen Father John Misty at Newport Folk Fest, I can guarantee this will be a good time. Otherwise known as J. Tillman, he released his debut album under the Father John Misty moniker in 2012. He plays a blend of indie folk and alt-country that is alluring to even the staunchest anti-country music fan, especially those that are into the recent trend of the classic rock throwback. - Judy Nelson

 

Shy Girls

Wednesday October 16, 2013 9:45pm - 10:15pm @ Tammany Hall (152 Orchard St. New York, NY 10002) Thursday October 17, 2013 8:45pm - 9:15pm @ The Delancey (168 Delancey St. New York, NY 10002) A unique indie take on soul and R&B mixed with electronica, Shy Girls were just covered in our Top Pops! section here. The Portland based project of Dan Vidmar has amassed a ton of media attention West Coast, and will attempt to do the same here in NY during CMJ. - Judy Nelson
"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, we rope in a lot of notable artists with new songs on the horizon... be it the Micachu-produced Tirzah, R&B vocalist Jessy Lanza, 18-year-old Brazilian-French producer Dream Koala, or the tried-and-true sounds of BRAIDS and Julia Holter. Also included are tracks by Foxygen member Diane Coffee and Arts & Crafts artists The Darcys.
+++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POPS! COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

Jessy Lanza - "5785021"

As a hardcore lover of R&B in the '90s, I'm a fucking hard sell when it comes to the indie R&B revival that slinketh around these days. I need more than just a pretty voice; that helps, but a hook needs to catch me, and not in a shallow way, either. On "5785021", probably the best track on Jessy Lanza's upcoming release, Pull My Hair Back. Tender vocal melodies that slink and out of upper registries couple with background synths reminiscent of Art of Noise's "Moments in Love", without being actually derivative. Pull My Hair Back comes out September 10th on Hyperdub; stay tuned for a full album review.  

Tirzah

I can recall a time far, far away... back in 2009, when my musical playlist was dominated by tUnE-yArDs and Micachu and the Shapes, in their lo-fi heydays. Since then, Micachu has been back here and there in small doses -- though with nothing as earthquaking as the debut Jewellery record, I would argue. So it is with great delight that I stumbled upon the I'm Not Dancing four-track EP from Tirzah, which was produced by Micachu and features some of her distinctive drum sounds and general aural simplicity. The EP is out now on Greco-Roman. The Grant Amour-directed music video for "I'm Not Dancing" is also delightfully awkward and fitting for the album title.  

Call it a spiritual treatise, a visual masterpiece, or whatever you like -- but Alejandro Jodorowsky's 1973 film, The Holy Mountain, has inspired musicians dating as far back as members of the Beatles, who played an instrumental role in funding and distributing the work. In this timeline of artistic individuals...

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, Sculpture, Installation _____________________________    91 Album Covers For 2011 Best Of 2011 Album Cover Art

"Eery. Melancholic."
Dum Dum Girls - Only In Dreams
Art director Jeff Kleinsmith and photographer Shawn Brackbill capture the shadowy residue of an out-of-body experience.
QUOTES FROM: JEFF KLEINSMITH, ART DIRECTOR THEMES & CONCEPTS "Dee Dee from the band... had a very specific idea in mind, but I feel like it isn't my place to speak for her on this." CREATIVE PROCESS "There is a phenomenon called astral projection or astral travel which is the idea that there are two bodies - an astral body and a physical body, and there are some who believe that the astral body can travel outside of the physical one. There are some pretty famous photos depicting the astral body leaving the physical body, and Dee Dee wanted to make her own version with herself as the subject. Again, she would know better than I what this particular imagery means to her. Well, I LOVE the image. It is one of the most interesting images I've worked with in a long time. That's not exactly some high-minded insight, but it's how I feel about the image. Dee Dee never told me if it has personal meaning to her. I know she was going through some things, so it's possible that the image is directly related to that." THE EXTRAS "Tthe only thing to mention is the silver foil stamp on the front and back and maybe the old-style packaging. I'm referring to when LPs were first made, they were actually raw cardboard which was cover by a thin printed paper skin -- as opposed to printing directly on the cardboard. Most modern packaging is done this way, and this piece was done in the old style. Also, there is a 22" x 22" foldout poster inside along with a snazzy CD dust sleeve." Record Label Sub Pop Records The Artists Art Direction & Design - Dee Dee & Jeff Kleinsmith Photography - Shawn Brackbill Mediums & Materials Photography, Postcard, Computers