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 only viewed on tiny screens...

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.
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
"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles, updated throughout every month to bring you the best of the funk.
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James Blake - "Retrograde" James Blake is back with Overgrown on April 8th. Embedding this is a tricky feat -- as the last time I embedded a James Blake track with the following review, UMG scolded us and demanded the video's removal -- but nonetheless, here it is, for all of your soulful listening desires. Slight electronic texturing still exists here -- he hasn't given himself up completely, certainly -- but this is as soulful as we've ever heard Blake, and this track is most definitely a slow-burner and a grower, grower, grower.

 

Psychic Twin - "Strangers" (Polyvinyl Records) Psychic Twin seem to constantly deliver on impressive one-off tracks, and "Strangers" from their upcoming Polyvinyl-released 7" is no different. Upbeat synth frolicks and fancy fleeting vocals delight while entering the noggin hypnotically. Polyvinyl is really chasing the dance pop tip lately, and I'd personally say that Psychic Twin are one of their most exciting prospects. Unfortunately, these tracks can't be embedded right now, but you can enjoy "Strangers" via Soundcloud or hear additional Psychic Twin tracks we have posted here. They will be playing at our SXSW 2013 show; announcement coming Monday.

 

SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS is a recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body. This post highlights the exciting new project from Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin and a track from Seattle's relatively unknown Stenskogen.
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Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin

Opening track "Instrumental Tourist" comes from Tim Hecker's collaboration with Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never for the ambient electronic collaboration of the year! It is the first project under SSTUDIOS (Software Studio Series), where Software Recording Co. will be inviting electronic musicians to collaborate with one another. In this case, most of the works were spontaneous creations with little forethought. Get ready to take a tour around, where analog and digital sounds are thrown into a confusing and inseparable mix. More details on the release in the full post, along with full tracklisting.