Photo: Natisha Shpaner.

Videos for Mary Ocher’s moving avant-pop reflect on a violent world

Music can still have something to say. Not just a hackneyed protest song or music that wears politics like dress-up, but – something to tell you. When it hits you, you can sometimes feel a bit weak in the knees. That was the impact for me of Mary Ocher’s new album, two tracks of which get video treatments. The songs themselves have a message, but then their meaning becomes even more stark in the music videos – reason to share them here. I’m slightly self-conscious that the way I knew about this album was initially in being asked through a …

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Adult Swim has a free noise album you don’t want to miss

It’s that time of the year again: weeks of hearing Christmas songs on repeat plus the untimely death of George Michael, and your ears are probably oozing peppermint goo while you cry yourself to sleep. This calls for some seriously aggressive noise album. You know – like a palette cleanser. Well, here’s one, and it’s free – from Adult Swim. “Noise” album? Cartoon Network? Okay, the combination sounds unlikely. But if you were expecting some lame hipster compilation that sounds like “noise music” just means someone fell asleep on their guitar pedalboard, think again. It’s actually damned good. And it’s …

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horselords

Enjoy the sweet sound of guitar just intonation on this album

Sorry. I’m terrible at writing headlines, actually. I’m also mostly terrible at writing reviews. So let me just say that if you haven’t heard Horse Lords, the Baltimore-based indie band, since their 2010 founding, you deserve to. And they make a great argument for why alternative tunings really do matter in music.

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arcade

A tour of musical inspiration in Moscow from Pixelord, Novation

Bridging the worlds of bass music and video games, Pixelord is a Siberian-born artist transplanted to Moscow. In a new video from Novation, he takes the English manufacturer on a tour of his sources of inspiration in the Russian capital. This is of course by no means a complete tour of Moscow or its scene – that’s like having one person show you around The Netherlands for nine minutes. (Actually, literally like that.) But you do get a nice little taste of Alexey Devyanin’s personality, in the midst of a new album he’s working on.

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Horty Shooter

Idyllic nature meets heavy beats on an emerging Paris label

We talk about the idea that online democratization should be unearthing new musical gems – but you have to find them first. CDM contributor Zuzana Friday is scouring the Web, looking for the collectives and labels and artists who stand out of that virtual noise. First up: Paris’ Lpc. With the growing popularity of contemporary (post)techno, there have been many collectives, platforms and labels forming around the globe who want to promote and share their own angle on this music, its aesthetics and its attitude. Amidst that overwhelming superabundance, one of the collectives that genuinely deserves your attention is a …

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verbatim

If Record Store Day is Dead, Maybe We Can Celebrate Music

Record Store Day has come and gone over the weekend. But 2015 will surely be remembered as a year in which Record Store Day did less to increase the visibility of vinyl records so much as to increase the visibility of how much everyone has grown to hate Record Store Day. And that seems it’s time for a post mortem – and a call to action. I watched closely the reports from this weekend, just to see if there was anything positive – and there was. For every Foo Fighters (Grohl was this year’s ambassador, weirdly), there’s something with more …

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generalmidi

MIDI Piano Roll Turned Into Platformer: Adventures of General MIDI

It turns Logic Pro into a game level editor. It makes a standard MIDI file into a terrain of platforms to explore. As you navigate, your footfalls on piano roll-visualized notes procedurally generate sound effects and music. And it turns General MIDI — and Super Midio, and my personal favorite, the SysExorcist — into heroes. It’s Adventures of General MIDI, a platformer made from MIDI files. And it’s the creation of Will Bedford, who quips that he fails miserably at his own game in the YouTube video and gives up at the end. Even more unlikely (arguably), it’s built in …

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Attempt to Make A Music Award That Matters, But Winning Act Calls It ‘F***ing Insane’

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Amidst award shows like the Grammies, Canada’s Polaris Awards seemed to be something different. As Internet over-abundance has made some feel big media has grown yet more powerful, Polaris seemed oozing with indie cred. Metric, Purity Ring, and Metz played the award ceremonies. Tegan and Sara, Zaki Ibrahim, and A Tribe Called Red got shortlisted. There’s even a cute infographic explaining how the selection process works, and it seems legitimate. (One potentially-bad sign: cloned, hipster-like characters in the image, vintage eyewear present, people of color entirely absent. But designers will be designers.) Past …

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Playable 8-bit Game as Promo, and Okkervil River’s Nostalgia-Drenched Wonderlands

The standards for advance promotion of an album may be getting a little … intense. Photos? Track listing? Advance music video? Streaming preview? How about a complete, playable adventure video game in your Web browser, free, with charming graphics and an original chip music soundtrack adapting the songs from the record in 8-bit form? Due out Tuesday, September 3, Okkervil River’s LP “The Silver Gymnasium” isn’t shy about its nostalgia factor. The whole record is a re-imagining of frontman Will Sheff’s 80s childhood. That might be a bit much were the browser game not so beautifully executed. Sheff created the …

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