So we’ve been quiet but we’re actually busy thinking. The album is out being mixed and mastered and prettied and better and computered. Meanwhile we’re thinking of things like track listing, album title, nicknames, uniforms, class-warfare, casualties, and of course album art!
Thus, I thought I would jot down my top ten list of album artwork.
I know a lot of people do this, and I’ve done the research, so here are my disclaimers before we continue:
Everyone’s lists are biased. If they actually like the music on the album, better chance it’ll make the list. Look at any best album artwork list and you’ll start to get an idea of what they’re into musically. Well, I’m going to do the same. I’m mostly looking at things that I own, so I probably like it, or liked it enough at one time to buy it.
Disclaimer 2: Sgt Pepper is not on this list. Yeah I know it’s great. Great idea and execution and all that but it’s not on the list. These are things that I have found visually appealing and you may and will probably disagree.
OK now we can begin:
#10 Modest Mouse – Good News. . .Hey man, I like this one because it simple, sophisticated, understated, and in general a nice little piece of graphic design. It matched the album nicely as Modest Mouse became a bit more mature themselves. And the title of this blog post is from this album. Ya know that song “Bury Me With It” ? well the whole time I thought he was yelling “planes, pyramid, weapons” until Matt corrected me. And no, I didn’t make the connection to the song title.
#9 Vampire Weekend – Contra
Totally worth the lawsuits. A family photo taken of former model Ann Kirsten Kennis made it to the masses without her permission. But c’mon, this is the age of leaked sex tapes and tweets. and another c’mon because damn that’s a brilliant candid shot. Thumbs up Polaroid.
#8 The Cars – Candy-o
I first saw this album as a very small child. I want to say I was like 5 or 6 years old. It was a pivotal moment in my life as I decided at that moment that I would grow up to be heterosexual. Even though I wasn’t completely sure what hetero or homosexualy was at the time but I had a basic idea. Anyway, it’s stuck with me ever since.
#7 Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
I’m not a big fan of photo covers (even though this is the second one on the list so far) but this is another shot that you come across and can’t refuse. You see this image first. Then you put the CD on, then you get it. It’s their best work and best album cover. Apparently Corgan is looking for the twin girls from the photo? Who are they? No one knows. Where are they? THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.
#6 The Velvet Underground and Nico
Like him or hate him, Warhol didn’t just make art, he made icons. Let’s face it, what do you remember more; the third track on this album or this image? PLUUUUSSSSS, if you gabbed an early addition you got to peel away the banana sticker to reveal a naked banana! Sick. Interactive album art way before the great internet age.
#5 Pink Floyd – Dark Side of The Moon
I wouldn’t suggest a graphic design firm to handle your album’s art work. However, this one time (and only time) Hipgnosis got it right by keeping it simple. This is another case of seeing the cover before putting on the record and knowing exactly what you’re in for. Like seeing the Star Wars scrolly-story-thing before anything else. Of course, Iconic as well.
#4 Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning
This is a designer’s design. It’s has great style. A detailed technical drawing of the brownstones covered by flowing watercolors (I assume) I’m not sure who the artist is, and I’m too lazy to research that for you right now. But I like it. So much so that I copied it to a larger canvas. Because that’s what I do when I like something.
Yeah bro. Ripping. Multiple Radiohead covers make it into peoples top 100 lists of album art. And that’s simply because Stanley Donwood is the shit. Not only does he have the best job ever but he always successfully matches each album’s music with a collection of incredibly appropriate and beautiful artwork. I had to pick one so I went with Kid A, but they’re all perfect.
#2 Nirvana – In Utero
I know, I know, this is where you’re like “yo, isn’t Nevermind supposed to be in this spot.” True. Nevermind is a sick cover, but baby dicks freak me out a bit, so it’s disqualified. This one used to creep me out too until a friend commissioned me to paint this for him. Then I realized it’s actually quite clever and beautiful.
#1 Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
I don’t know what it is about it. I’ve tried to figure it out for awhile. It’s pretty simple. Just a photo. Just a street in lower Manhattan. Some cars. Looks cold. Why do I like it? Not sure. Why has it become iconic? A piece of pop culture? in Vanilla Sky? Don’t know. But it’s dope, and it concludes this weeks countdown. So feel free to comment, disagree, make your own. Gentlemen, you want to contribs? Aight, thanks. Peace. -a