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...

This in-depth feature highlights how well-executed album artwork can go beyond genre lines to expand into territories of philosophical, thematic, and conceptual significance. Perhaps now more than ever, album cover artwork plays a vital role in music....

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."