Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2013

(according to me)

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2013: 10. Altar of Plagues - Teethed Glory and Injury

10. Altar of Plagues - Teethed Glory and Injury

Admiring this artwork, one wouldn’t immediately assume it disguised some serious black metal beneath, but now that you know, doesn’t it take on a much darker and more eerie undertone? I think so anyway. Created by Pariah Productions, this shot is one of the final frames from Altar of Plagues' God Alone music video, which is an unsettling extension of this very idea: graceful contortions, shot classy in black and white, awkwardly balanced on top of distressing agony. It’s an odd combination which doesn’t work to such a degree that it does work, much like everything else from this band who have built a reputation for disregarding any black rule book written on the genre.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2013: 09. Apparat - Krieg und Frieden (Music for Theatre)

09. Apparat - Krieg und Frieden (Music for Theatre)

As wonderful as this album is musically, it is only one small slice of a much bigger picture pie. Originally conceived as a reworking of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Krieg und Frieden was an experimental theater production by Sebastian Hartmann, complete with a 30 piece ensemble of performers as well as surreal sets of imagery designed by a man named Tilo Baumgärte. And as you may have assumed, it was that said artist whose work was chosen to represent the soundtrack, which itself was produced by the ever impressive Apparat and his Apparatty fingers. Ambitious project, some might say, yet so loose in approach that apparently the play was perpetually reworked, completely changing per show, and not even 100% complete after the final performance. I’m well into that kinda procrastination.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2013: 08. Xenia Rubinos - Magic Trix

08. Xenia Rubinos - Magic Trix

Here is one relatively unknown album from one relatively unknown artist with cover art from one relatively unknown photographer who (at this time) has a website which isn’t really there (although check out Camilo Fuentealba’s Tumblr instead, awesome stuff). Because of this, information is scarce, the only thing I can talk about from the shrine-like scene being that B-grade mask which appears to be of Warner Bros. cartoon character, Marvin the Martian. Often described as the softest spoken yet smartest of all the Looney Tunes’ villains, I’m just trying to fulfil my word count here, folks.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2013: 07. Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time

07. Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time

I can’t imagine why I like this album cover so much.
Could it be because of her facial expression? Lazily despondent, almost as if caught off guard in the shower yet too stoned to care.
Or could it be because it was shot by Gaspar Noé? An artist better known for his three feature films (I Stand Alone, Irréversible and Enter the Void) as well as some proper killer music videos (Nick Cave’s “We No Who U R”, Placebo’s “Protège-Moi” and Animal Collective’s “Applesauce”, to name a few), not to mention that this piece stands as his first and (currently) only album artwork to date.
Or could it be because Sky has recently got herself into so much trouble? As merely a month before this album’s release, she and her DIIV frontman boyfriend were arrested for heroin possession, the kind of vibe this artwork portrays perfectly.
Or could it be because NIPPLE! THERE! I SEE A NIPPLE woooooo! She knows what she is doing.
In all honesty though, I don’t like her music in any crazy amount, but I am in love with her. I just want to help her. Or at least party with her, perhaps even fuck her, let’s just take things slow.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2013: 06. Prodigy and Alchemist - Albert Einstein

06. Prodigy & Alchemist - Albert Einstein

”In interviews leading up to this album's release, the storied Queensbridge rapper Prodigy described himself as a painter filling in the gaps between The Alchemist's beats. To this effect, Dom Rinaldi created a perverse, dripping portrait of Albert Einstein (the album's namesake) to accompany the tunes. It mirrored the aggression that Prodigy would slather across the release, where he brags about his skill to kill both lyrically and literally. The pseudo-zombie nature of the imagery also alludes to Prodigy's return to form, after being released from prison. He has always been brilliant, much like Einstein. He just had to take a few years to re-emerge and piece himself together again.”
- Dale Eisinger (for
I couldn't really say it better myself (my original review reading something like “oooh, look at the pretty colours, you guys, ooooh!”) so instead I shamelessly stole that above quote. It’s better for everyone this way.
However, I will conclude that (while many did enjoy this album a lot), I didn’t think it was all that good, and obviously it's my opinion which matters the most.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2013: 05. Juno Reactor - The Golden Sun of the Great East

05. Juno Reactor - The Golden Sun of the Great East

Who says talent doesn’t run in the family? Because while Ben Watkins (aka Juno Reactor) was the musical genius behind this gem of a trance album, it was his award-winning brother Simon who painted the above apocalyptic masterpiece. As if some futuristic nativity play, there is definitely something biblical going on in this concept, and as a result, some may grade it as “blasphemous”. However, the only real blasphemy to be found here is the HEINOUS pink typography at the bottom, blatantly slapped on at the last minute by someone who’d just learned what a drop shadow was. Ignore that at all costs, perhaps even scribble over it with a permanent marker, and you will be left with one very rich image indeed. I see God, God, I see God.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2013: 04. Julie Ruin - Run Fast

04. Julie Ruin - Run Fast

Featuring members from pioneering riot grrrl band Bikini Kill, one has come to expect nothing but feminism all up in your face when it comes to Julie Ruin, so why should the cover art be any different? For this is just one of the six she-beasts from Allyson Mitchell’s Ladies Sasquatch art installation, the concept fiercely representing the ugly side of feminist misjudgment, pretty and pink yet giant and terrifying. At least, that’s what I think anyway, but what do I know? I am a boy. I am the enemy.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2013: 03. The National - Trouble Will Find Me

03. The National - Trouble Will Find Me

Stealing from art exhibitions is so hot right now, and Bohyun Yoon’s (NSFW!) Fragmentation installation is probably a pretty good place to do so. The fantastic concept is some stab at modern day science and plastic surgery by depersonalising the human body, and it’s also quite cool because of tits and vagina and penis and stuff. I am super mature. Still, we have to give mad props to The National themselves for seeing something special in that exact frame, desaturating and cropping it out of context like that. Because it’s freaking beautiful.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2013: 02. The Joy Formidable - Wolf’s Law

02. The Joy Formidable - Wolf’s Law

“We met Martin in Brooklyn last year. He’d just started work on a new exhibition called Empire, and we were blown away by the paintings in his studio. They’re dramatic, fresh and modern in their subject but classic in their references.” - Joy Formidable
Yes, critically acclaimed Martin Wittfooth painted this amazement, and much like all of his animal-centric created worlds, it feels like it has some deeper meaning upon closer inspection, a statement about the cycle of death in nature or perhaps something even smarterer than that. It’s no surprise, then, that Joy Formidable were “honored to have worked with Martin Wittfooth on the art for this album,” because the artwork was better than the album itself. Oh, I went there.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2013: 01. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away

01. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away

And this is it: the greatest artwork I’ve seen in 2013, because unlike every other entry on this list, it was completely incidental. Photographer Dominique Issermann was at the Cave household for a photoshoot with Susie Bick (Nick’s wife) for some French magazine. Nick Cave himself walked into his own bedroom and onto the scene, opening one of his shutters just as Isserman happened to press the button, and then there it was. "I was more reluctant to use it than she was, to be honest," Cave confessed, but I am sooo grateful he did.
On a side note, some smarty pants internet people have pointed out similarities between this shot and John Lennon’s Imagine video (around 1:15), which is surely unintentional yet still far too cool to go unmentioned.

Other Brilliants
Beady Eye - BE
The Dear Hunter - Migrant
Eluvium - Nightmare Ending
Goldfrapp - Tales of Us
O'Brother - Disillusion
Phosphorescent - Muchacho
Sigur Rós - Kveikur
Veronica Falls - Waiting For Something

The 10 Worst Album Cover Artworks of 2013
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