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
 
The other day I saw this graphic on Facebook: And it occurred to me that I got the promo for Sandrider's debut, what, about a year ago? Seriously? Holy fuck? When I thought about the slew of other releases I'd gotten from Seattle's Good to Die Records in that span I kind of couldn't believe it. Typically as you get older, time speeds up -- but in regards to this action, the exact inverse was happening. It felt like this had been going on forever. Quite a lot of fantastic shit from a label in its inaugural twelve months or so. Since I don't want to get yanked from the distribution list, I figured I'd better earn my keep and write a retrospective here.
Truth be told, despite being a lifelong fan of loud rock (I grew up in the freaking ‘90s), I must profess my profound disappointment in how incredibly trendy craptastic thrash metal became in the early ‘aughts. I know nu-metal was heinous and a backlash was obviously necessary, but I guess I just grew up listening to shit like Barkmarket, Drive Like Jehu, Cop Shoot Cop, and Soundgarden rather than Slayer and Titanica. Slayer have a good song, I get it -- it's just never been something I geek out on in anything more than small doses. All in all, that stuff strikes me as sort of dumb-fuck-white trash-y a lot of the time (not that there's anything wrong with that, just not my vibe). As Kim Thayil stated in a recent interview with regards to Soundgarden: "We've always tried to explore how to make this really heavy, aggressive music without sounding like a bunch of knuckle-dragging meatheads.” Exactly. Which is why I think Good to Die Records is resonating with a lot of folks so far. It's all loud music, but none of it succumbs to cookie monster/chug-a-chug metal genre clichés. Also, let's face it; to this day, you still can't read an out-of-town article about a Seattle group without grunge coming up in some capacity, even if it's about a lesbian trip-hop. What most people don't conceptualize is that because of the supposed "grunge explosion” in the ‘90s, crap tons of artsy people moved here, and a lot of them brought an amplifier-worshipping, booze-chugging blue collar spirit with them in droves. The fading mirage is what attracted them in the first place, often subconsciously. The word becomes flesh, as they say. What are you going to do? Ever since I've lived in Seattle, which has been over a decade now, there's always been a thriving scene of stoned underground agro super freaks. So leave it to an unabashed Pearl Jam fanboy to point out to us all that music louder than louder than love not only never went away in the Jet City but also spread to Portland and just kept spitting out kids.
To follow are my top five albums from Good To Die's first year (or so… excluding Sandrider; methinks I've covered them enough already).

 

There's something about the Seattle water that breeds a polarizing beast with has two voices: one indie-woodsy crooning and one gritty, dirty growling. Our friends at the Emerald City's Good To Die Records have just released a Summer 2012 compilation pimping Pacific Northwest bands we know and love. Though Good To Die's roster is so small that the 13-track mixtape has some doubling up, it is full of heavy hitters that have really made themselves known on the local hard rock scene and beyond, including Absolute Monarchs, Sandrider, Dog Shredder and Monogamy Party, Deadkill, and Brokaw. Stream and download the entire mixtape below, and it follows with special attention on two of the labels newest signees, who happen to be offering exclusives on this mixtape. From Portland comes the dapperly-dressed, anti-Bible-thumping Gaytheist, and the punishing and screeching Rabbits.

 

 

SEE ALSO: Monogamy Party - Pus City Album Review Sandrider - Self-Titled Album Review Sandrider Live Show Review Dog Shredder Live Show Review Sandrider on Albums Of The Year 2011

 

Sometimes, just to remind the ears what a lifelong habit of going to concerts will do to them, you have to drag yourself to a semi-local weeknight rock bill. After all, all bands have to get their start somewhere, and for the majority of bands with the rocking and the...