Album Covers of the Year 2014
In contrast to modern patterns in music consumption comes our annual Album Covers of the Year feature, where, instead of forgetting album artwork even exists, we hyperextend ourselves to assert that it is an artform that is vitally connected to the spirit of the music. This feature, which is divided at times into thematic elements and at times into artistic medium, incorporates interviews with not only musicians, but also artists involved throughout the artistic process. We pride this list in being diverse and multi-faceted, as well as philosophically exploratory. See all of our entries from previous years or get started by choosing a category below. Happy travels through the artistic universe we've crafted for you.
Bear In Heaven - Time Between Music Video
As the Humans of New York Tumblr has been gracious enough to show the world, the population of New York City is one that is multi-ethnic, socioeconomically diverse, and resilient. Summarizing New Yorkers with blanket statements is difficult, but one thing is for certain: not a night goes by in The City That Never Sleeps that isn't worthy of documentation, exploration, and observation. For the "Time Between" music video, Bear In Heaven enlisted the help of director Nick Bentgen, who spent long nights hanging out with strangers and visiting the homes of acquaintances in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, to collect what must have been hours of observational footage. He then wove together an abstract piece of visual poetry, which plays off of the track's dramatic percussion to create a striking portrait of the beautiful and bizarre nature of New Yorkers. It's a video that just keeps on giving, views after subsequent views. In this highly informal, laugh-and-compliment-heavy Q&A interview with Bentgen and Bear In Heaven's fashionably late Jon Philpot, both banter about their thoughts on late night New York City, how confounding human nature can be, and what exactly defines a "best pizza". You can see our previous two interviews with Bear In Heaven here. Bear In Heaven - Time Between Music Video

 

Dub Thompson - No Time Music Video Dub Thompson - No Time Music Video
Drawing obvious inspiration from timelessness and less obvious inspiration from Aleister Crowley's Thoth tarot deck, director Vinyl Williams takes Dub Thompson's "No Time" and turns it into a multi-level philosophical exercise. Williams explores the slippery nature of existence by using both HD and analog techniques, which ebb, flow, and spin within a mad cycle, in such a way where beginnings and ends are indiscernable from one another. Timelessness, indeed. Read on as he speaks to his process and collaborating with the band.
Dub Thompson - No Time Music Video Dub Thompson - No Time Music Video
This past winter season has been sheer insanity in North America, with overwhelming snowstorms galore, polar bears being taken indoors, and more, more, more. What better time, then, to use music videos to explore the beauty of wintry landscapes? In Dan Huiting's work for White Hinterland's "Ring The Bell", Casey Dienel can be seen tunneling through ice caves and fascinating skull-lined passageways; Joe Baughman's work for S. Carey's "Fire-scene" is a naturalistic treat that shows off the diversity of the Pacific Northwest, as he captures what winter looks like in the desolate spaces where the waters and deserts of Eastern Washington State merge.
Every year, we interview a number of musicians and artists about the intimate details and philosophical underpinnings of their album cover artwork. It's an ever-massive undertaking, but we make sure to include every genre, from doom metal to disco, minimal electronic to mainstream pop, with the intention of highlighting the best visual art, regardless of why or who created it. You can see entries from previous years here, and browse 2013's entries by either scrolling down or selecting a category below. > Narrative & Mythological Album Covers > Photographic Album Covers > Illustrative Album Covers > Mixed Media & Collage-Based Album Covers
Califone Stitches Dead Oceans (2013)Califone - Stitches Album ReviewPeople go to the desert to find themselves. Califone's honey-baritoned lead singer Tim Ruttili went looking for himself in the endless sands of the American Southwest, and with their latest, Stitches, returns with the band's most vital and compelling record since 2003's Quicksands/Cradlesnakes. Stitches was recorded at various locations across Arizona, Texas and Southern California, where Rutilli's been living for the past few years. This is the first Califone record to be recorded outside of their native Chicago; they've traded steel and chrome skyscrapers for wide open skies and the promise of the sea. This translocation has had a profound impact on Califone's music; Stitches radiates stillness and expansiveness, the aural equivalent of driving in the sun across the Mojave, or watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.
Califone - "Stitches" - DOWNLOAD MP3 [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Califone-Stitches.mp3|titles=Califone - Stitches]
In our 2012 Album Covers of the Year feature, we once again get our hands on everyone we can. Through interviews with designers, musicians, labels, and plenty of others, we take a close look at just how many hands are in the pot when it comes to the album artwork process. Inside this feature are 98 album covers spanning a wide array of sonic and visual styles, each selected for its own unique contribution to the world. They are not ranked; instead, they are broken down into sections based on conceptual underpinnings or artistic mediums, and then are displayed on spectrums. Get started by navigating into any of these six sections: Geometric & Pattern-Based Classically-Influenced Narrative & Symbolic Photography & Manipulations Painting & Illustration Collage, Sculpture & Mixed Media You can also see last year's at 2011 Year-End Respect For Album Cover Art
 
Dead Oceans' Sun Airway, comprised of Philadelphia's Jon Barthmus and Patrick Marsceill, is are not only indie pop extraordinaires, but are musicians with an understanding of aural-visual relationships. The choices they make in selecting collaborators result in visuals richly sympathetic to their musical output and evoke the same sense of wonder and romance that their music does. The album cover for Sun Airway's 2012 release, Soft Fall, is adorned with a beautiful woman caught beneath a stringed web of falling flowers, porcelain china, and fine silver. It was painstakingly crafted by Japanese art collective NAM. In the bi-lingual Japanese and English interview and feature below, Barthmus and NAM's art director and designer Takayuki Nakazawa offer their perspectives on the creative process, as we further explore the work of both parties.
JAPANESE TO ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS BY MORGAN HARKNESS Takayuki Nakazawa (NAM): Our aim was to perfectly match the world of Sun Airway's music and take that world of sound and enlarge its image visually. I believe that the music and the cover visuals that go with the creation of an album have an extremely intimate relationship. Music and visuals have the power to overcome country and language to convey a message. Creating something so intimate between the US and Japan was an incredible experience, and most of all it was fun! We would like to take this opportunity to extend our appreciation to Jon Barthmus for inviting us to this wonderful project. 私達が今回目指したのはSun Airwayの音楽の世界と完全にマッチし、さらに音の世界をビジュアルによってイメージの視覚的拡大をする事でした。アルバム制作における音楽とカバービジュアルは本来とても密接な関係性をもっているものだと思います。音楽やビジュアルは言語や国境を超えて伝達していく力があり、今回、日本とアメリカの間で密な相互関係をもって制作が行われた事は、私達にとって大変良い経験で、なによりも楽しかった!このような素敵なプロジェクトに私達を誘ってくれたJon Barthmusさんに、この場をお借りして感謝をしたいと思います。

 

I'm a sucker for diverse bills on shows. I know less musically inclined or adventurous individuals take comfort in seeing the acts that they know, but I have always found that some of my favorite bands are the ones I was completely not expecting to see live. If anything, seeing different styles keeps concert-going fresh. That is why when A Place to Bury Strangers and This Will Destroy You AND Dusted came to town I declared it the best show of June. In no way was my excited ultimatum of fantasticness off from the truth.

 

June 11th, 2012 @ The Crocordile in Seattle, WA

Dusted

Dusted is the new solo project from Brian Borcherdt from Holy Fuck. It is a lo-fi project that is as far away from Holy Fuck's electronica driven dance beats as possible. Setting up under a fuzzy wash of light guitar droning, Borcherdt played a set of songs off of the new debut album Total Dust. Some songs were a little bit forgettable, but when Dusted was going, especially on songs "(Into the) Atmopshere" and "Dusted", the band was a grand surprise as the opener.

 

Remember in grade school when there would be those school-wide hearing and vision test days? Gauntlet Hair is sort of like that, except the exact opposite. Instead of trying to identify soft beeps, you're assaulted with some of the nosiest, most distorted guitar tracks I've heard in modern music. But...