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
 
MADNESS! is a recurring series of audio WTFs and head-twitching, spine-tingling experimental or chaotic fun (k-k+st-s-t+l)icks.

Fontanelle

Ever-trustworthy metal tastemakers Southern Lord Records are releasing the latest from Portland rock experimentalists Fontanelle! Their last three releases were escapades in ambient jazz-rock weirdness released on Kranky Records in the early aughts. Vitamin F, to be released on October 23rd, is a record for music nerds who love to be lost in the sounds of horns, guitars, and drums interfacing with one another in unpredictable ways. The massive lineup includes musicians such as Rex Ritter, Andy Brown, Mat Morgan, Borg Norm, Brian Foote and Paul Dickow, as well as the following guests: Gentry Densley (Eagle Twin), Steve Moore (Earth, sunn 0))), Hans Teuber, Eric Walton (Skerik), Jef Brown (Jackie O Motherfucker) and Dave Carter. This is a record for music nerds, no doubt. Spin Magazine calls the record "it may be the most metal record to feature no actual metal on it whatsoever", and that may actually be the most accurate possible description. You can stream "When the Fire Hits the Forest" from Vitamin F via Spin.
Says the press relase:
For this brand new recording, FONTANELLE has been trying to transport themselves back in time to 1973 into Patrick Gleeson’s Different Fur Trading Company Studio. Through the studio expertise of Randall Dunn (sunn 0))), Black Mountain, Wolves in the Throne Room), it sounds like they made it! Rex Ritter’s tour of duty with sunn 0))) during FONTANELLE’s hiatus seems to have irreparably changed his DNA, as well as the entire band’s. Adding an amazing array of horn players, many of whom were heard on the most recent sunn 0))) LP Monoliths & Dimensions, FONTANELLE have fortified their jazz vocabulary and have conjured a burly fusion approach that has been dubbed “White Magus” – a sound sure to appeal to fans of Miles Davis (circa 1969-74), Toritse and Mahavishnu Orchestra.

 

You have five seconds to prepare yourself on Black Breath's newest release, Sentenced to Life. That five seconds of preparation has to be enough, because after the guitars and drums finish fading in on the opening track, "Feast of the Damned," your neck muscles are forced into a blistering half-hour of pure, unrelenting, flawless headbanging. Halfway through "Feast of the Damned," as the guitar hooks come in, their slight solos, the death beats of the drums, and the gang vocals take hold until you find yourself subconsciously turning up the volume to unhealthy evil levels.

The Seattle quintet specializes in the brand of music blessed by the dark lord. The reason Sentenced to Life works so well for Black Breath is that it doesn't go off the deep end like so many metal albums do nowadays. Black Breath aren't trying to do anything else but serve up a concise, absolutely brutal album brought with guitars served up like chainsaws, bass lines served up like fallen trees, drums on a gallon of gasoline, and vocals fueling the whole god-be-damned forest fire of their sound.

 

A spectrum of musical madness that represents our tastes from large to small, mainstream to obscure, spaced out to reasonable. There's no way in bloody hell you'll love every release on this list unless you have a million personalities living in your puny body, but chances are great that you'll...