Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2014

(according to me)

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2014: 10. Steel Panther - All You Can Eat

10. Steel Panther - All You Can Eat

Designed by Trevor Niemann (who has worked with Blondie, Korn, Danny Elfman, My Chemical Romance, Mötley Crüe, etc etc etc) and shot by David Jackson (explore his great commercial work and even watch behind the scene footage from this very project here), I'll admit that this masterpiece isn't everyone's cup of Jesus Juice. Truth be told, I have even seen the above artwork on some "worst of" 2014 lists already, but allow me to explain why everyone is wrong and I am right, using three simple words: Girls. And. Blasphemy. It suits the band so well! My naughty bone quivers! The devil in me laughs! Hahaha!

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2014: 09. Benighted - Carnivore Sublime

09. Benighted - Carnivore Sublime

Designed by Aborted vocalist Sven de Caluwé, this image has two versions of itself in circulation: the more gory diseased twin (which you can see here), and the more nurturing feminine rendition above, which I honestly consider to be the far darker of the duo. What are you gonna do with that baby there, ma’am? You may have also noticed OMG A NIPPLE, which is a thing I like, but also a thing Facebook does not like, point proven when they promptly suspended the band’s account immediately after said artwork was revealed online. Ah well, no publicity is bad publicity, right?

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2014: 08. J Mascis - Tied to a Star

08. J Mascis - Tied to a Star

Dinosaur Jr. singer J Mascis has grown quite attached to artist Marq Spusta over the years, enlisting the man to illustrate much of his band’s work as well as his own solo efforts on top of that (pay careful attention to 2011’s Several Shades of Why as it looks like a scene just only over the hill from here). And there are plenty of reasons as to why: Marq's instantly recognisable character design casually toys with the line between innocence and insanity; his portfolio is forever growing at a dangerous pace; and he even produced an organic beer label once upon a time. The alcoholic living in my stomach loves that fact.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2014: 07. Paloma Faith - A Perfect Contradiction

07. Paloma Faith - A Perfect Contradiction

I’ve read some people stating how much they hate this album cover, labelling it too “over the top” and “egocentric”, which is fair. However, I have this weird reoccurring dream where I'm surrounded by a whole bunch of Paloma Faiths and we're partaking in some questionable activities, so this image does kinda fulfil a pervy gap in me somewhere, intentional or not. I also quite like the whole Entombment of Christ reference, it's nice. Furthermore, it may be worth mentioning that this shot was styled by Karl Willet who has done work for Geri Halliwell, Jessie J, and Sugababes in his time. Actually wait, that wasn't worth mentioning at all, sorry, ignore that.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2014: 06. Wrestlerish - Greater Goods and Lesser Evils

06. Wrestlerish - Greater Goods and Lesser Evils

Represent! From my home country of South Africa, these pop rock dudes (and lady) did very well with this record, everybody loved it. And the artwork itself is a big part of that, in the “kinda creeps me out but I still want to own it” type of way—which is exactly what I look for in a woman, let alone an album. They also kept the spirit of the project local, as this shot was provided by fellow South African Hanro Havenga, which makes me prouder still of my motherland, despite the fact that I ran away from my mother six years ago. However, I do have one complaint, which is that Wrestlerish broke up shortly after this release, and I don’t agree with that decision whatsoever. Anyways, hey Werner.
(On a side note, did anyone else notice how similar this artwork is to Wye Oak’s Shriek album, also from this year? Except Wrestlerish’s attempt was actually good?)

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2014: 05. Anubis Gate - Horizons

05. Anubis Gate - Horizons

Nikos Markogiannakis is a Greek artist whose work has blessed some big names in its time, such as Counting Crows, Ellie Goulding, and Killswitch Engage, for which I’m sure he got paid nicely to do so. However, when he created the above piece, he did it as a personal project, money never the objective, this image already completed long before Anubis Gate’s vocalist Kim Olesen accidentally surfed upon it and fell in love. “Once I saw it, I craved it,” Kim explained. “It was so dead on with my visual image of the album, it was almost eerie. I had goosebumps. And once it was chosen it started to influence the last stages of the creation of the album.” So there you go, one of the few examples where the artwork inspired the music, and not the other way around.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2014: 04. Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

04. Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Our story begins with artist Chris McMahon who one day got the bright idea to buy some cheap landscape paintings at a thrift store, and then deface/enhance them with awkward looking monsters, blending them in with the original scenery so well that they appeared like they had always been chilling there. Understandably, McMahon was quite stoked with the result, and posted his creations to Reddit in hopes of earning a few upvotes and back pats. So did it work? Uhm, yeah it did. For not only did Reddit praise his art so immensely that they hit the front page of the internet, but such a public admiration caught the eye of Weezer vocalist Rivers Cuomo, who eventually interrupted Chris whilst he was getting his hair done to ask permission to use the above piece for their new album. "I left with half a haircut because I was so excited at that point," Chris explains, and when you compare the cover to some of Weezer’s previous work (remember Hurley??), as well noting that this album is easily the band’s best record for over a decade ... well, I get excited too.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2014: 03. Liars  - Mess

03. Liars - Mess

A rare case wherein the band makes their own artwork and it doesn’t suck, this colourful wreck was designed by Liars drummer Julian Gross who is also known for working closely with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and their art jobbies. The concept itself was inspired by contemporary artist Urs Fischer and conceptual artist John Baldessari, intended to express the band’s “uneasiness towards life in a fucked up, but most importantly, vibrant way,” which is fairly standard if you ask me. Even better, was that the limited edition copies of the vinyl came with their own flashy strings vacuum sealed within, which you could use as shoelaces or to decorate your head with, whatever you liked.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2014: 02. SBTRKT - Wonder Where We Land

02. SBTRKT - Wonder Where We Land

SBTRKT’s trademark is that you never see the man behind the mask, but do you know about the man behind the man behind the mask? No, you don’t, no one does, because designer A Hidden Place is also an anonymous artist (check his barely updated tumblr here), but together with SBTRKT, they create the faces which this musician is famous for. However, with Wonder Where We Land, they took it one step further by creating a SBTRKT monkeydogthing sitting in the palm of a hand, which has some deeper meaning I’m sure, but I honestly chose it for one reason: those colours are fucking perfect. And hey, you know what else is cool? That time they gave everyone in the crowd their own SBTRKT mask at Bestival recently. Yay! Album was a touch disappointing though.

The 10 Best Album Cover Artworks of 2014: 01. Pharmakon - Bestial Burden

01. Pharmakon - Bestial Burden

To fully comprehend the intensity of this image, one must (a) listen to the equally traumatic music within; and then (b) learn the story behind the concept. It was about a year ago when Margaret Chardiet (aka Pharmakon) almost died from an internal cyst so large that her insides began to terminate, eventually resulting in the removal of one of her undisclosed organs. The healing process was lengthy and painful, but inspired Bestial Burden as a “desire to show the body as a lump of flesh and cells that mutate and fail you and betray you—this very banal, unimportant, grotesque aspect of ourselves.” And there we have it, a grim scene where the insides are outside and butchered bits of animal innards are displayed on her torso with talons glued to her fingertips—very accurately portraying the nightmare of her ordeal as well as the musical terror itself. Disturbing, yes, but there is some love in the image too, as it was shot by her sister Jane Chardiet (from ambient-noise band Appetite), which at least proves that fucked-upness runs in the family somewhat. D’aaaw <3

Other Brilliants
Die Antwoord - Donker Mag
Arch Enemy - War Eternal
Septicflesh - Titan
Paws - Youth Culture Forever
The Roots - ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin
White Suns - Totem
Carla Bozulich - Boy
September Girls - Cursing The Sea

The 10 Worst Album Cover Artworks of 2014
exists too...

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