Artlux Mag’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

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When not discussing Miley Cyrus, the hype machine suggested Kanye West and Arcade Fire were the primary gravitational forces of 2013. And while Yeezus and Reflektor were great records, the time and energy journalists devoted to Kanye rants and Arcade Fire dress codes could have been spent covering a wealth of genius material that flew under the radar. With that in mind, and with the acknowledgment that ranking art is a pointless (though oddly fun) endeavor, Artlux presents its top 10 albums of 2013.

10. Serengeti – Saal

King of character study and frequent Sufjan collaborator Serengeti put out a lot of music in 2013. His record under the guise of Chicago bratwurst enthusiast Kenny Dennis received the most attention, including praise from Thom Yorke, but it was the underhyped Saal alongside German producer Sicker Man that showed Geti at his most raw and revealing, singing of a recurring night terror involving his deceased girlfriend and showing up at an ex’s wedding wearing a fake nose.

9. Young Fathers – Tape Two

Artists who make music described as uncategorizable  are often doing something right. Scottish trio Young Fathers are hip hop at their core, but their experimental lo-fi odyssey routinely features elements of African music, soul, reggae and more. Their second EP on Anticon is equal parts beautiful and grimy, highlighted by the melodic might of “I Heard” and adventurous tumult of “Queen Is Dead”, which sounds like a synthy post-apocalyptic dance party set in the Grand Bazaar.

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Rickolus – Troubadour (Review)

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Released by Circle Into Square

Over the course of 13 years, the last film projectionist in Florida spent his spare time recording an album a day in a green shed in his Jacksonville backyard, piling up roughly 4,748 albums according to legend. Somewhere along the way he got married, had a daughter, made music with indie rapper Astronautalis, and went on the occasional tour. This man is Rickolus.

The singer-songwriter, who emerged into cult consciousness with the obscure-yet-praised Youngster and Coyote & Mule records, had the audacity to drop a double album in the age of dwindling attention spans. This album is Troubadour, split into the acoustic Roads and electric Towns.

Drawing inspiration from Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth, Troubadour is Rickolus‘ abstract exploration of love as the highest spiritual experience and serves as a meandering epic poem to his wife. His witty, emotive palette lends itself to a beautiful sonic sadness even when the subject matter itself doesn’t occupy the same space, as evidenced by songs such as “White Whale” and “9th Street to San Pablo”.

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Blackout Poetry: A Case Study in Artistry, Originality, and Creative Genius

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Photo by Jessie Roth

I was a junior in high school when I made my first blackout poem. The piece was taken from “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” a book I’m pretty sure I never actually finished, and the poem was about what my sixteen-year-old self called “insomnia.” Honestly, I just liked staying up really late and assigning a name to the antics of enjoying the early morning. Blackout poetry was trending across the Internet and after finding an example on some user’s deviant art page, I decided to try my hand at it. Of course, at the time, I thought my own painfully mediocre finished product was something of a groundbreaking masterpiece. It wasn’t. I took a black marker to the first page of a short book about teen life and crossed out a few lines, and I was hardly the first person to do it. I knew that. But I was shortsighted and sixteen, so I considered my efforts inspired. What I didn’t know was that a surprisingly long and rather remarkable history lay behind the “hip” medium of blackout poetry, or that my interest in the craft would sustain beyond eleventh grade.

Now I’m a junior in college and I still make blackout poems sometimes. I’ve been doing this for upwards of four years, which is more than I can say about the rest of the long list of activities I’ve “dabbled in” while attempting to “find myself” as a “meandering young adult.” I like it because it’s both fun and fascinating to pull words out of another human’s word bank and reconstitute meaning in my context. I don’t claim to own any of the words on the pages of novels, newspapers, or magazines I have repurposed any more than the initial author can. Language is a communal experience, varied among cultures but always, always belonging to all. These ideas can be traced back to Gertrude Stein’s experimental language-based writing in the 1960s. Language writing seeks to subvert traditional poetic expectations in terms of form, content, and meaning. In a radical literary uprising, Stein and her fellow Language poets tore down a literary patriarchy preaching linearity, coherence, and feeling and replaced the preexisting ideals with nonlinearity, open-ended interpretation, and a heightened appreciation for the nonsensical. In short, Stein carved out an alternative niche for forward-thinking, curious writers so as to reinvigorate the literary tradition and encourage a new kind of creativity.

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Weekend Links

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Happy winter solstice!  Are you ready for a change in seasons?  I’m in San Diego right now which certainly makes facing the elements easier.  It had been snowing in NYC for a few days before I flew out so I anticipate being greeted by snow capped streets when I’m back in about a week.  If you’re staying in or are relaxing at home, here are some weekend links to explore.  This feature will be posted on Fridays but I made an exception to post this on the first day of winter in the midst of being a busy bee for Artlux.  Enjoy!

1.  Stereogranimator now lets you use your Flickr photos (as well as the collection of stereographs available) to  edit into a 3D anaglyph and animated GIF

2.  5 Habits of Creative Masters

3.  The Brighter Side Of Darkness: For Some, The Night Inspires

4.  Real Life Instagram

5.  From nude models to computer generated animals

6.  Turn Creative Fear Into Fuel

Holiday Gift Guide 2013 {Creativity}

We’re currently still focusing on the updates for 2014 and though it has been a lot of work so far it is well worth it!  In the mean time, here are some ideas for gifts this holiday season (or for any occassion) to get those creative gears going.  Learn to make your own root beer, hack a disposible camera, read about applying creativity, and more.  Have you given gifts to spark creativty?  What are some of the things you use for yourself?

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1.  Sketchbook Project or other project entry   2.  642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto   3.  Root Beer Brewing Kit    4.  Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon   5.  Aqua Notes Waterproof Notepad   6.  Pocket Microscope   7.  Disposible Camera Hack Kit   8.  Removable Chalkboard Wallies   9.  Message in a Bottle Flashdrive   10.  Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley

Editor’s Letter: December 2013

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It has been quiet over here, hasn’t it?  Let’s catch up and talk about future directions.  Artlux was born almost two months ago and is undergoing so much growth already.  Most of this has been happening behind the scenes and has built up to what is a refined vision for the magazine.  This weekend will be spent implementing the ideas and designs that have been brewing over the past few weeks.  Here’s what you can expect starting Monday, December 9:

  • An updated version of the site
  • Regularly posted articles in all main categories
  • New categories: Interviews, Giveaways, Freebies, Tutorials, and more
  • More updates on existing social media platforms and new ones
  • Interesting Friday links to peruse throughout the weekend
  • An Editor’s Letter every month to communicate our vision and status
  • Sneak peeks at more exciting things we’re launching in January 2014!

We’ve received some really great and useful feedback about Artlux and we’re working to enhance and improve current content as well as bring in new things to the mix, including what it means to be creative in addition to art and contemporary life.  Thank you for the support and patience with this new endeavor thus.  Let us know your thoughts, comments, feedback anytime – we listen!  We hope to see you here on Monday – until then, enjoy the weekend!

Looking forward,

April