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
 
Every year, CMJ Music Marathon lives up to its nerve-wracking name by offering showgoers an array of shows at a huge number of venues across New York City. But unlike some events that follow a similar model, CMJ is still a great place to begin scouting out up-and-coming bands before they make it big. With enough room to stretch their wings and enough competition to want to work hard, bands playing CMJ are forced to put on put on some of their best shows in some of the tiniest spaces. In our complete CMJ guide, we highlight an array of shows, mostly in the pop and electronic realms, and provide easy listening stations for the best ones so you can decide within seconds if a show is right for you. SEE ALL 27 FESTIVAL PICKS

 

Psychic Twin

Tuesday, October 16th @ Piano’s I was lucky enough to catch this duo last year at CMJ by happy accident. The duo was charmingly lo-fi but they had enough spark to electrify the jaded Brooklyn crowd with their sweet Mates of State-influenced tunes. - JUDY NELSON

 

Physical Therapy

Wednesday, October 17 @ Public Assembly Physical Therapy, aka producer/DJ Daniel Fisher, released EP Safety Net to positive reviews in June. Distilling old rave beats with jazz and ambient percussion, and sometimes adding floating samples or vocals, the sound he creates addictive and impressive. - DEVORAH KLEIN LEV-TOV

 

Poolside

Saturday, October 20th @ Gramercy Theatre The band basically spells out relaxation with their name choice. Their music videos and album art reiterate that fact; the video for their song “Slow Down” is perfectly California cool. - JUDY NELSON

 

SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS A recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body. This installment is a particularly intense one, reserved for those who understand that noise can be a hypnotic mechanism. Here are intensely aggressive sounds from The Silent Moon, minimal techno from Silent Servant, and offerings and remixes from ERAAS.
SEE ALSO: FULL POST + ALL SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS POSTS + ALL COLUMNS

The Soft Moon

Somehow, Luis Vasquez of The Soft Moon (and Lumerians) can release tracks like "Die Life" and embrace gothic dance vibes without coming off as annoyingly trite. Zeroes, his latest album to be released via Captured Tracks, doesn't seem like the cheeriest of records, as it seems to not only wallow but actively embrace all things doom and apocalypse. You can also here "Insides" on Captured Tracks' Soundcloud. The press release gives a summary of the album's tracks as follows:
Zeros opens with "It Ends," a rumbling eerie epic that explodes and then fades. The slowing breath and pulse at the finish signify our break with reality as consciousness drifts deeper into Vasquez' world. Welcoming us into "Machines," a demon utters unclear incantations over snapping drums and flange-warped tones, while the titular song gives us a beat to dance to as a strange voice gushes lascivious "aahhhs" from a cloud of swirling synths. Songs like "Insides" and "Crush" feel utterly inward-looking-a loner's cry buried in soil and metal shavings-but "Remember the Future" bounces like a twisted John Carpenter score, and "Die Life" lashes out at everything within reach. Listen closely and you'll hear the sounds of the creatures and people that survived whatever catastrophe created this space: chirping insects, bawling whales, strained howls, jungle percussion, tribal chanting.
I've not heard the album in its entirety yet, but it comes out the day before Halloween, and if "Die Life" is any indicator, it will serve as the perfect soundtrack to that pagan holiday. Tracklisting and tour dates in the full post.

 

This post is long overdue, but it is a recap of our SXSW 2012 party, which you can read more about HERE. REDEFINE's second annual SXSW party was once again thrown with Gina Altamura of Portland nightclub Holocene and Marjorie Owens of Dallas blog Clumsy N Shy, who collaborated on an evening of acts that entranced your mind and made your body move. Beyond that basic premise, the bands that really held the crowd's attention and turned it from a 21-room college co-op into a home for all were those who really exemplified the ideal of the entire party, as captured by the Alan Watts quote below. They were the bands that provided in comfort to concertgoers, by providing a balance for all to see, hear, and feel -- and often with fantastic visual aids to boot. This quick recap, consisting primarily of videos, highlights some of our favorite acts of the day. Hope you can join us next year.

 

"The only thing you need to know to understand the deepest metaphysical secrets -- is this: that for every outside there is an inside and for every inside there is an outside, and although they are different, they go together." -- Alan Watts

 

Midday Veil

Midday Veil - "The Current" > Filmed and Edited by Lymay Iwasaki

 

A 23-track mixtape to celebrate two unofficial SXSW showcases taking place the same evening in 2012, designed to facilitate inner and outer harmony through dance rhythms and psyche-altering compositions....

"The only thing you need to know to understand the deepest metaphysical secrets -- is this: that for every outside there is an inside and for every inside there is an outside, and although they are different, they go together." -- Alan Watts Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/events/317699598279306/ Download a mixtape of BODY||MIND artists...

Bear In Heaven go hyper warp-speed, a shade mustacheless, and definitely hi-resolution on their new video for "Reflection Of You," directed by John Lee of the PFFR art collective. Is it obnoxious? Kind of. But if you stick around to the halfway point, you'll be introduced to an awkward confetti-drenched...

Remix City Sifting through mountains of remix trash so you don't have to, in an attempt to find the ones that contribute to their originals. Today's post runs the gamut in musical style, but pay special note to the Whitney Houston tribute. R.I.P., woman. Wooden Shjips If you weren't convinced that about everyone...

Our third-annual album cover art feature uses interviews with artists and musicians to highlight the philosophical, thematic, and conceptual significance of great album cover artwork. THE BREAKDOWN    12 Collage + 14 Digital Illustration, Drawing, Design + 19 Illustration, Painting, Drawing + 8 Black And White Photography + 22 Color Photography + 6 Deluxe Packaging + 10 Fashion, Sculpture, Installation _____________________________    91 Album Covers For 2011 Best Of 2011 Album Cover Art

Apteka - Gargoyle Days
Despite never having met one another, Portland designer Dylan McConnell and Chicago's Apteka have grown a well-fitting artistic relationship through the years. McConnell's album cover for Gargoyle Days may be their most gripping collaboration yet.

QUOTES FROM: DYLAN MCCONNELL, DESIGNER ADAM LUCAS, APTEKA'S GUITARIST AND VOCALIST THEMES & CONCEPTS "We had worked with a sorta paranoid, dark op-art theme in the past for posters and albums (with a brief interlude of lopping off girls' heads). High contrast and fluid -- that's what I was going for." - Dylan McConnell COLLABORATION "We've been working with Dylan pretty much since the band formed. He's done all our cover art, and most all of our show posters so far. Things clicked from the beginning. He just has a knack of taking what we're doing musically and expressing it in a visual way. The funniest part is that we've never really met. He lives in Portland, and we're in Chicago. A mutual friend turned us on to him, but we've never had the chance to meet in person. It's all been through email. Which is kind of a weird way to communicate artistic intentions, but somehow it works, and he’s become this mysterious fifth member of the group." - Adam Lucas Record Label Carpark Records The Artists Design - Dylan McConnell Mediums & Materials Collage, Digital, Typography (hand-drawn)

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....