In the age of digital media, the idea of album artwork seems a bit archaic, but if you’re anything like me, you still hold the intrinsic connection between music and art to be sacrosanct. Below you will find what I deem the 20 best images to be seen on the cover of albums in 2013. You can go get a closer look at that place your parents used to go to called the record store.
20. Thee Oh Sees
I can’t help but feel I need to wear 3D glasses when staring at this kaleidoscope nightmare that I’ve aptly titled “Strawberry Teeth Forever.”
IV: Arrow in Heart
I think Slayer said it best when they eloquently proclaimed, “Monarch to the kingdom of the dead / Infamous butcher / ANGEL OF DEATH!!!”
18. Still Corners
It looks like someone has mastered the art of the Instagram filter.
17. Tyler the Creator
I wish State Farm would ditch their horrible Chris Paul/Cliff Paul ad campaign and take on the Tyler the Creator twins. They may not be able to assist like the Paul brothers, but I’m for certain their bat-shit crazy antics would be far more entertaining.
Human cemetery, meet car cemetery.
15. Los Campesinos
You may have no blues, but there’s a good chance you’ll end up with pink lung.
14. Deniro Farrar
Darth Pope > Pope Francis
Nothing says black power like thousands of women twerking in the shape of a giant fist. Power to the poppers.
12. Ghostface Killah & Adriane Young
Twelve Reasons To Die
This mock movie poster is the perfect introduction to Ghostface Killah’s cinematic masterpiece Twelve Reasons To Die. Now if they’d only make a movie of Tony Stark’s revenge story.
The Way Things Fall
Thank goodness she was wearing that helmet!
I saw Kvelertak in concert a few weeks ago, and the lead singer sang the entire first song with a real owl carcass draped over his head. The only thing that could have made it more bad ass is if the owl was defecating like the pigeons on their album Meir. One can dream.
8. Flaming Lips
The Terror is an apocalyptic album, so the cover shot of a boy staring off into the glowing bikini atoll is fitting; it captures the album’s effort to find love while awash in a sea of radiation.
7. Oneohtrix Point Never
R Plus Seven
I have a feeling this cover has M.C. Escher rolling over in his coffin within a coffin within a coffin within a coffin within a coffin within a coffin within a coffin… (etc.)
6. Nuclear Spring
This whole fracking thing has gotten out of hand.
Most black metal album covers feature a combination of the following: corpse paint, eerie black and white imagery, and the band’s name written in an illegible, violent scrawl. Deafheaven’s Sunbather stands in stark contrast with the norm, a cover featuring a cheery pink background and crisp, white lettering. It’s a visual example of how the band refuses to limit themselves to the traditional tenets of black metal.
A photo of a girl’s lap filled with maggots may seem a bit jarring, but it’s not nearly as shocking as Pharmakon’s harsh music.
3. David Bowie
The Next Day
It must be difficult for legendary artists like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon to still make music, decades removed from their most innovative, memorable work. No matter what they do, it will always be compared to their seminal work. With his cover for The Next Day, David Bowie makes a statement about this inability to shake the past, using the iconic image from his classic album Heroes and plastering a white box over top with the album title printed across in a simple font. Bowie will always be held up against his past, and this cover is a sly nod toward this inescapable truth.
You won’t find a more alarming album cover than Polica’s Shulamith, a photo taken from behind a woman, her hair and neck covered in blood. She looks off into the empty, blue back-drop, a shaken shell of her former self. To help explain the intriguing photo, the band described it as “A portrait of a woman as her own worst enemy.” Mystery unsolved.
In a recent interview for the album Interiors, Glasser (Cameron Mesirow) explained her inspiration for the album’s icy atmosphere by saying, “Sometimes, if I’m in an open space, I have a panic attack and feel like I’m not going to survive, like, ‘What if I can’t make it across the street?’ and then, ‘I’m feeling so weird right now– what if someone notices that I’m being a total freak?’ It’s a vicious cycle.” The cover to the album captures that same claustrophobic dread as the monochromatic walls come crashing in on Mesirow despite her attempts to retain control.