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.

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
 

Voyeuristic eyes take one through sexually deviant territories in the Thee Oh Sees' "Lupine Dominus" and Kasper Bjørke's "Bohemian Soul". Both music videos contain similar themes and color palettes, but one is reminiscent of methy eye bags and Vegas Old Strip-style filthiness; the other travels halfway across the world to offer a beatific view of Thai ladyboys. See the full post to view both music videos and to hear additional tracks from both artists.

Thee Oh Sees - "Lupine Dominus" Music Video

Kasper Bjørke - "Bohemian Soul" Music Video

 

2010 has come and gone, leaving in its wake a magnitude of amazing album artwork. This year, we decided to speak directly with the forces behind the album artwork about creative processes and inspirations. A massive feature with over 90 interviews with musicians and artists....

One would think that a band like The Fresh & Onlys, which has relied on a home tape machine to record material for two full-length albums, more than five 7" records, an EP, and a few cassette tapes, had found a working formula for their recordings. However, when it came time for the San Francisco band to record its third album of effervescent garage tunes, the band members were left unsatisfied with working from home, instead desiring to try something different.
"We got really concerned about being too redundant, at least sonically," says Shayde Sartin, the band's bassist. "It's kind of good to challenge yourself with a new environment."

In the hopes of expanding their spectrum and making the music sound bigger, the band--which also includes Tim Cohen on vocals, guitar, and keys, Wymond Miles on guitar, and Kyle Gibson on drums--turned to Tim Green and his San Francisco-based Louder Studios. Green is a member of the band, Fucking Champs, and also played in the renowned punk band, The Nation Of Ulysses. His work behind the recording boad is just as impressive, having included clients like Tristeza and Sleater Kinney . However, it was Green's work with The Melvins and Lungfish that most impressed Sartin.

"I love how he records sonically," Sartin says. "I like how he records guitars. I like how he records vocals. So, it seemed like an obvious choice. I felt really comfortable to go work with a person who had some kind of acquaintance."

The Fresh & Onlys is still a young band, having been formed in 2008 as a project between Cohen and Sartin. So, it is nice to hear the band members already wanting to expand their horizons. For the third album, which is entitled Play It Strange and will be released on In the Red Recordings on October 12, the band really wanted to focus more on the production aspects , starting with recording the songs on their own, allowing Green to become familiar with the material before recording anything at Louder Studios.

"By the time we got in there, he knew the songs, and he knew that we like to work fast," Sartin says. "He likes to work fast. We had the songs figured out. We kind of wanted to get in and get the physical parts done and then work on the sonics a little more. He was really good at facilitating working on the color of the songs."

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Warm Slime is the latest nugget of psychedelic garage sludge from the Bay Area's Thee Oh Sees. For years, this quartet of tripsters have been alchemically fusing '60s pop, dirty Detroit-style rock, and homegrown Bay Area psych into a veritable witches' brew of tunes. Their...