frWe've finally made it to the bitter end of 2020, and believe it or not, human beings are still making amazing art in the midst of crisis and a pandemic. After a five-year hiatus, our Album Covers of the Year feature is back with a deep dive of artwork from...

Thirty years ago (July 12, 1990, to be exact), Northern Exposure premiered on network television. The six-season series depicts life in a fictional small town called Cicely in the wilds of Alaska. It does not shy away from the spiritual nor the surreal, in employing extended dream sequences, fairy tale...

Effortlessly eternal, Jack Name's Weird Moons harnesses the same joyous commitment to polyglot musical experimentalism of the likes of Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall. Simultaneously evoking both the creaky wonder of lo-fi bedroom recordings and the organic richness of early 1970s "big board" recording studios, such as L.A.'s Sound City, it displays a masterful understanding of both songwriting and audio craft. These elements, coupled to his obvious exuberance at the creative potential of the arts at his disposal, make for an intoxicating and powerful mix. Enigmatic, and prone to the same promiscuity of naming that keeps fans of the Parquet Courts on their toes, Jack Name has released recordings under several different monikers. This choice is, we are told, a conscious one, reflecting as it does his current feeling that, regardless of status (he has worked with the likes of Ariel Pink, Cass McCombs and Tim Presley), his identity is only as important the sonic explorations he undertakes. It is fitting then that this man of many appellations should make such an album as this, with its many facets and styles.
 
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.
M. Geddes Gengras - Ishi Album Review (Leaving Records)
Ishi, the newest synthetic slow-burner from LA-based M. Geddes Gengras, is based on the story of "the last wild Indian" named Ishi, who emerged from the wilds of Northern California in 1911, at the age of 49. M. Geddes Gengras may be best known for two acclaimed collaborations with Sun Araw, but he's quite accomplished in his own right. He's played in some of the noise underground's most famous exports, such as LA Vampires, Pocahaunted, and Robedoor, as well as releasing a slew of solo records, mostly revolving around synthesizers and improvisation. On Ishi, Gengras' modular synths simulate the sensation of wandering through a city crowd for the first time, where the ladies' fashion is like so many colorful birds; where the endless stream of faces becomes a babbling brook. It's almost too much to take in; it's overwhelming, so it just becomes a colorful blur of humanity.
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
In this stop-motion animation for Pure Bathing Culture's "Dream The Dare", director Hayley Morris -- along with illustration help from Caleb Wood -- turns what PBC describe as "psychedelic emotional imagery" into psychedelic visual imagery. Full of colors soft and bold, an array of whirling geometric shapes and hand-drawn projections comprise landscapes that are ever-mutating, as a raven flies about in its dreamy world. Below, Pure Bathing Culture and Morris share details about the intention behind this track and video, as well as its mythological inspiration and technical details.

Hayley Morris (Director)

Pure Bathing Culture (Musician)

How did your collaboration first come to form, and throughout the process, how much of an exchange of ideas was there?
Hayley Morris (Director)
Sean Pecknold, who made Pure Bathing Culture's music video for "Ivory Coast", was nice enough to recommend me for the "Dream the Dare" video. I loved the "Ivory Coast" video and song and was really excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with Pure Bathing Culture on this video. I love their music. Dan and Sarah were fantastic to work with. They were drawn to the color palettes I use in my work and the dreamy and somewhat psychedelic imagery from my past videos. They were interested in having me bring this aesthetic into the "Dream the Dare" video. Dan and Sarah also felt that having a hopeful message was very important. From these initial guidelines I formed the idea and developed the style. Once I started production, the band trusted me to do my thing.
Pure Bathing Culture (Musician)
Our friend Sean Pecknold, who is an amazing director and animator as well -- and who directed the video for our song "Ivory Coast" -- shared Hayley's amazing video for the Iron and Wine song "Joy" with us. It's such a beautiful video. We immediately knew that we wanted to work with her. We had one initial conversation with Hayley where we shared a very rough stream of consciousness theme involving the crow, and she completely understood and took it from there. She was communicative about her ideas throughout the process, all of which we loved.