Another year of our favorites in Top Album Cover Artwork, and once again, we interview musicians and artists on the often-underappreciated work that goes into creating a product that not only tickles your ears, but speaks to your eyes and hearts. Album artwork, though often...

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.

To trace one's own path from infancy to adulthood can sometimes mean ascribing new meaning to past events. It can mean uncovering moments that seemed innocuous at the time of their happening, only to discover later that they were, in fact, profoundly moving. Nature and ritualistic dance, two prime inspirations for Southern California artist Nathan Hayden, came to him down the pipeline of experience, in the form of significant life events he can now place importance upon as an adult. These moments, coupled with Hayden's curiosities towards the world-at-large, make him an artist that is ever-synthesizing and ever-seeking, eager to experiment and follow his many multidisciplinary whims.
Nathan Hayden Artist Interviewwhat was meant to be here was no longer, 2014, ink on industrial felt
"I'm just trying to access the possibilities of other things, and in the same way that I look at art throughout history and nature for little pieces of those other realms, I'm hoping that I can be a part of that process and for people to get a peek into other realms by looking at my stuff, that might bring about stuff that I can't even imagine." - Nathan Hayden

Sam Songailo Artist Interview
If the neon landscapes of Tron were to intersect with the real world and become fully infused with the spirit of modern electronic music, the output might look something like the 3-dimensional portals created by Australian artist, Sam Songailo. A transformer of gallery walls and public spaces into hypercolored explosions of pattern, Songailo first began exhibiting as a 2-dimensional painter in 2006. He discovered then that the canvasses he worked on, with all of their hard edges and limitations, were hardly sufficient to contain the complex circuit board-like pathways he painted. He soon found himself experimenting with the spaces beyond the canvas, first by painting on walls and then by exploring the whole of the 3-dimensional spaces he was exhibiting in. "I decided I wanted to make my work inescapable and ever-present," Songailo explains. "Instead of having to mentally project into the picture plane, visitors to the show would be inside the painting. There would be an experience for them to have and then leave."
Sam Songailo Artist Interview
This column is a part of our Geometric Spaces series, which explores artistic transformations of 3-dimensional space.
Sam Songailo Artist InterviewDigital Wasteland, 2014 - Photography by Emily Taylor

Droning layers of strings find their visual counterparts in the moving paintings of director Peter Luckner, who has collaborated with Melodium's Laurent Girard on this slowly unfolding piece. "The Melodium 'Midpoint' video was the result of my discussions with Matt from Abandon Building Records. He and I share a lot of the same predispositions toward sound and visuals..." Luckner comments. "I wanted to work with the atmosphere in 'Midpoint' but it may have turned a little darker than the atmosphere in the actual song lets on."

tUnE-yArDs - Water Fountain Music Video tUnE-yArDs - Water Fountain Music Video
An appropriate follow-up to our feature on Experimental Music on Children's TV, Nor-Cal powerhouse Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs leads listeners into similar notalgic territories with the music video for "Water Fountain". With the aid of director Joel Kefali, the group explores nostalgic backdrops of children's television shows, incorporating everything from dance routines and 8-bit animations to Peewee's Playhouse-style puppetry and hoaky scientists. In the Q&A below, Kefali speaks to the ease of working with Garbus and company as well as the benefits of mixing media.
tUnE-yArDs - Water Fountain Music Video tUnE-yArDs - Water Fountain Music Video

Jerzy Flisak - "Gang Olsena Na Szlaku (The Olsen Gang)" (1976)
Generally brightly-colored and psychedelic in nature, Polish film, theatre, and circus posters from the mid-1940s through the 1980s have played a major role on inspiring modern poster art and graphic design. Supported at the time by the Polish government and arguably transformed into the prime form of art in the nation, Polish posters are known for their ability to hint at deeper meanings and personalities through allusion and metaphor, initially seen only as bold strokes of visual fancy. Their history is a complex and dynamic one worthy of many more words, influenced equally by Communism and politics as the state of the international arts scene of the time. In this comparative interview, we speak with two creative studios -- Eye Sea Posters, based in the United Kingdom and dedicated to poster archiving and reselling, and The Affiche Studio, which is based in the United States and dedicated to poster restoration -- on just what makes Polish posters so compelling.
Jacek Neugebauer - "Gwiazdy Egeru" (1969)
James Dyer of Eye Sea Posters
Eye Sea Posters is a graphic archive and online shop specializing in Polish film, theatre and circus posters from the '60s and '70s. Based in the United Kingdom, they feature a hand-picked collection of artist, including Wiktor Gorka, Waldemar Swierzy, Franciszek Starowieyski, Andrzej Krajewski and Jerzy Flisak.
Jason Leonard of The Affiche Studio
Located in Portland, Oregon, The Affiche Studio is a poster restoration company working with a large range of poster styles and types, well beyond vintage Polish works. Jason Leonard is the studio's owner and Curator of Restoration. An impressive array of before and after samples of their restorations can be seen on their website.