It’s not a year in music without at least one good bout of hand-wringing over someone’s controversial album cover, and 2012 has been no exception. The album cover is something of a dying art form these days, although the return of vinyl in recent years has revived it somewhat — but still, in an age when we get more and more of our art in a digital form, it gets harder and harder to attract people’s attention. If nothing else, the covers in this feature most certainly do the attracting-people’s-attention bit just fine — whether they’re actually any good or not is a judgement we’ll leave up to you. (Warning — one of the images that awaits you below is pretty spectacularly NSFW, and if you’ve been following the ongoing shitfight between Death Grips and their former label Epic, you can probably guess what it is.) … Read More
Ariel Pink’s new album Mature Themes is out this week, and it’s as strange and idiosyncratic as ever, mixing killer pop songs and curious whimsy in roughly equal measures. Pink’s more pop-tastic moment have always led us to think that somewhere inside him was/is a huge international pop star just waiting to get out. (Whether Pink is inclined to let this inner pop star out is, of course, another matter entirely.) Anyway, either way, hearing Mature Themes got us thinking about other indie types who, in an ideal world, could/should be chart-destroying megastars. The lines are blurrier than ever these days, of course, and there have been plenty of genuine crossover acts drawn from the ranks of the indie world, if that term even means anything in 2012 — M83, Feist, even (whisper it quietly) Bon Iver. Who might be next? Read on. … Read More
New York-based visual artist and musician Michael Alan — known for his uniquely complex drawings and paintings, as well as his wild yet beautiful paint and art material-splattered “living” installations — is collaborating with renowned art-rocker Ariel Pink on two new songs to soundtrack the latter performance series. Listening to the tracks, which are meant to be presented together as an operatic part A and B, the pairing seems completely natural given both Pink and Alan’s predilection for strange samples, varied vocals, and original lo-fi sound.
“Ariel is the king of lo-fi art music,” Alan explains. “It’s very hard to tell when his music was made; it becomes timeless. And within my art, I constantly play with time and hopefully, we can delete time together.” Click through to check out our exclusive premiere of part B, as well as the initial song in their collaboration. … Read More
The last couple of weeks have been a pretty dire time for album releases, but happily, there’s respite to be had in August — there’s a fair selection of worthwhile records due out over the next four weeks, and as ever, we’ve pored over the release schedules to bring you our selection of the 10 best, along with a quick roundup of other notable upcoming releases. There’s an eclectic selection to be found after the jump: everything from cerebral piano-led ambience to neo-dreampop and the return of Ariel Pink — and at least one genuine album of the year contender. (Spoiler alert: SWANS.) Let us know in the comments section what’s on your shopping list for August. … Read More
Boys & Girls, the debut album by Flavorpill faves Alabama Shakes, is out today. The band’s rise to prominence has been one of the more heartening stories of 2012, and not only because their music is great and entirely deserving of all the acclaim that’s been showered upon it. No, we’re also delighted to see Alabama Shakes somehow achieving full music industry buzzband status, with their decidedly un-hip rock ‘n’ soul sounds turning up in the most unlikely places (like MTV’s Buzzworthy blog). They join the ranks of similarly incongruous buzzbands from over the years, musicians who’ve ridden a wave of hype despite being unfashionable, unmarketable or just plain unlikely candidates for success. We’ve selected some other such bands after the jump — who did we miss? … Read More
Last night, morbid curiosity compelled us to check out the debut episode of Platinum Hit, a song that has Jewel and Kara DioGuardi searching for America’s next top songwriter. Allow us to save you some time: it’s terrible. We’re not sure whether the problem is the hyper-styled yet uninspired contestants or the show’s tight time constraints, but we feel confident in saying that it’s no Top Chef. The first challenge had the musicians composing odes to Los Angeles — and, despite being New Yorkers, the songs were so nauseating that we couldn’t help but feel for our friends to the west. That has inspired us to help heal their pain by rounding up ten of our favorite songs about L.A. They aren’t all happy, but at least they’re listenable. … Read More
1. Interesting fact: only 13 percent of Wikipedia’s contributors are women, reports the New York Times. The Wikimedia Foundation vows to increase the number of women contributors to 24 percent by 2015.
2. After taking home top honors at last night’s SAG Awards, The King’s Speech is now considered the front-runner for Best… Read More