Best Album Covers of 2014

banner With the year coming to a close, it’s that time again to take a look back at some of the best that the music world had to offer in 2014. First up, I will run-down the most compelling album covers of 2014. While this may seem like something thrown together in a late night fever, this list is actually a result of a year long process. Throughout the year, amidst my on-going music obsession, I keep a side list of covers that caught my eye for varying reasons. This year, the list consisted of 37 albums and was eventually cut down to the 20 you see below. Audio as a physical form may be dying, but based off the artwork below, the imagery associated with the music is more powerful than ever.

20. Flying Lotus

You’re Dead!

On this cover, Manga artist Shintaro Kago playfully captures You’re Dead! and its exploration of death, the mind, and the light at the end of the tunnel.

On this cover, Manga artist Shintaro Kago playfully captures You’re Dead! and its exploration of death, the mind, and the light at the end of the tunnel.

19. The Soft Pink Truth

Why Do the Heathens Rage?

This probably doesn’t belong alongside the other great covers on this list, but there’s something I enjoy about the idea of Where’s Waldo being lost in this world of sexual deviants, S&M torture, and corpse paint.

This probably doesn’t belong alongside the other great covers on this list, but there’s something I enjoy about the idea of Where’s Waldo being lost in this world of sexual deviants, S&M torture, and corpse paint.

18. Liars

Mess

For months, Liars teased the release of their 2014 album Mess by posting pictures daily on their social media of a mysterious pile of colorful yarn.  The wide range of images (yarn in a mailbox, a yarn sandwich, yarn in a swing set, etc.) built anticipation for the art-dance album and established the distinctive image that graced the album’s cover. Mess? Far from.

For months, Liars teased the release of their 2014 album Mess by posting pictures daily on their social media of a mysterious pile of colorful yarn. The wide range of images (yarn in a mailbox, a yarn sandwich, yarn in a swing set, etc.) built anticipation for the art-dance album and established the distinctive image that graced the album’s cover. Mess? Far from.

17. Foo Fighters

Sonic Highways

Even if you’re not a fan of the Foo Fighters, the 2014 HBO documentary series Sonic Highways is a must-see for music aficionados.  The album that coincides with the project features an amalgam of city skylines that graced the 8-part series. This cover is the embodiment of the urban American culture that helped define our rich musical history.

Even if you’re not a fan of the Foo Fighters, the 2014 HBO documentary series Sonic Highways is a must-see for music aficionados. The album that coincides with the project features an amalgam of city skylines that graced the 8-part series. This cover is the embodiment of the urban American culture that helped define our rich musical history.

16. The Budos Band

Burnt Offering

DAPT34CD

I’m not quite sure how this very “heavy metal” looking cover made the front of a Budos Band album, but I approve of anything that smells of cauldron smoke (or Gandalf).

 15. Brian Eno/Karl Hyde

High Life

It goes without saying that Brian Eno is one of the best record producers of the past 40 years, but now you’re trying to tell me he created the mesmerizing cover to his latest album? Some guys have all the luck (or talent).

It goes without saying that Brian Eno is one of the best record producers of the past 40 years, but now you’re trying to tell me he created the mesmerizing cover to his latest album? Some guys have all the luck (or talent).

14. Woods of Desolation

As the Stars

When asked about the striking artwork for As the Stars, D, the brains behind Woods of Desolation, said, “I wanted something to reflect the general album themes, as well as the ambiguity behind the album name. The artwork was done by Lucas Ruggieri, and done quite well in my opinion.” Quite well, indeed.

When asked about the striking artwork for As the Stars, D, the brains behind Woods of Desolation, said, “I wanted something to reflect the general album themes, as well as the ambiguity behind the album name. The artwork was done by Lucas Ruggieri, and done quite well in my opinion.” Quite well, indeed.

13. Vince Staples

Hell Can Wait

Hell Can Wait is an album of hopelessness, and fittingly, the cover metaphorically captures the impending doom a child must face when growing up in an impoverished neighborhood.

Hell Can Wait is an album of hopelessness, and fittingly, the cover metaphorically captures the impending doom a child must face when growing up in an impoverished neighborhood.

12. Mogwai

Rave Tapes

The Illuminati is real (and it has great taste in music).

The Illuminati is real (and it has great taste in music).

11. Pharmakon

Bestial Burden

Just when you thought that abrasive noise-pioneer Pharmakon couldn’t get more gruesome, the cover to Bestial Burden comes along. Lady Gaga’s meat dress has got nothing on Margaret Chardiet’s blanket of animal organs.

Just when you thought that abrasive noise-pioneer Pharmakon couldn’t get more gruesome, the cover to Bestial Burden comes along. Lady Gaga’s meat dress has nothing on Margaret Chardiet’s blanket of animal organs.

10. Junius

Days of the Fallen Sun EP

In an interview with Loudwire.com, Junius guitarist Michael Repasch-Nieves said of Days of the Fallen Sun’s artwork: “Argentinian artist Adrian Brouchy got in touch with us some time back as a fan of our music and suggested us working together. I loved his style; he’s an amazing illustrator. When it came time to do this EP I wanted to bring him in. What he did was beautiful. He knew the concepts and he put his own spin on it with these figures and the esoteric symbols in there. If you look through it, there’s a lot to digest.”

In an interview with Loudwire.com, Junius guitarist Michael Repasch-Nieves said of Days of the Fallen Sun’s artwork: “Argentinian artist Adrian Brouchy got in touch with us some time back as a fan of our music and suggested us working together. I loved his style; he’s an amazing illustrator. When it came time to do this EP I wanted to bring him in. What he did was beautiful. He knew the concepts and he put his own spin on it with these figures and the esoteric symbols in there. If you look through it, there’s a lot to digest.”

9. St. Vincent

St. Vincent

In June I wrote about the cover to St. Vincent’s self-titled album, saying, “The cover photo says it all, Annie sitting upon a throne wearing a sleek evening gown, her hair a frizzy mess of silver locks. Her face is neither smiling nor frowning, yet her eyes stare out, cold and confident. Long gone is the innocent cover photos of Annie smiling sweetly in front of a pastel backdrop. She’s now queen of her domain and the music on the album shows her dominance.”

In June I wrote about the cover to St. Vincent’s self-titled album, saying, “The cover photo says it all, Annie sitting upon a throne wearing a sleek evening gown, her hair a frizzy mess of silver locks. Her face is neither smiling nor frowning, yet her eyes stare out, cold and confident. Long gone is the innocent cover photos of Annie smiling sweetly in front of a pastel backdrop. She’s now queen of her domain and the music on the album shows her dominance.”

8. Lantlôs

Melting Sun

Lantlos 2014 album focused around the concept of the melting sun: the album title, the songs’ anthologized titles like “Melting Sun I: Azure Chimes” and “Melting Sun VI: Golden Minds,” and of course the beautiful cover art of a face bathed in the sun’s fading light. The paint dripping down the canvas only furthers the warm aura of the music that emanates from Melting Sun.

Lantlos 2014 album focused around the concept of the melting sun: the album title, the songs’ anthologized titles like “Melting Sun I: Azure Chimes” and “Melting Sun VI: Golden Minds,” and of course the beautiful cover art of a face bathed in the sun’s fading light. The paint dripping down the canvas only furthers the warm aura of the music that emanates from Melting Sun.

7. Rome Fortune

Small VVorld

The cover to Rome Fortune’s Small VVorld is a Tarantino movie waiting to happen.

The cover to Rome Fortune’s Small VVorld is a Tarantino movie waiting to happen.

6. Clipping.

CLPPNG

I can’t think of a more fitting image than a broken chain-link fence to go with noise rapper Clipping’s break-through album, CLPPNG.

I can’t think of a more fitting image than a broken chain-link fence to go with noise rapper Clipping’s break-through album, CLPPNG.

5. Hudson Mohawke

Chimes EP

When I first saw this cover I thought there was some mirror trickery taking place, but sadly, no. This photo was taken in 2012 at a resort in Sichuan, China. Who knew over-population looks fun!

When I first saw this cover I thought there was some mirror trickery taking place, but sadly, no. This photo was taken in 2012 at a resort in Sichuan, China. Who knew over-population could look so fun!

4. NehruvianDOOM

NehruvianDOOM

Some people find cartoonist Ghostshrimp’s animated creation Adventure Time to be a bit demented and strange, but his work on the cover for the collaborative album NehruvianDOOM reveals the even darker recesses of his mind – a dead forest, a burning village, and knife wielding corpses. Amidst all this chaos sits one sign of hope – a massive tree covered in what one can only assume are mind-altering mushrooms. I guess that explains where Jake the dog came from.

Some people find cartoonist Ghostshrimp’s animated creation Adventure Time to be a bit demented and strange, but his work on the cover for the collaborative album NehruvianDOOM reveals the even darker recesses of his mind – a dead forest, a burning village, and knife-wielding corpses. Amidst all this chaos sits one sign of hope – a massive Mana tree covered in what one can only assume are mind-altering mushrooms. I guess that explains where Jake the Dog came from.

3.Untold

Black Light Spiral

Despite what you were once taught in fairy tales, pigs and bricks don’t always have a happy ending.

Despite what you were once taught in fairy tales, pigs with bricks don’t always have a happy ending.

2. Swans

To Be Kind

When asked about the cover art to their 2014 release To Be Kind, Michael Gira said, "I recall asking Bob Biggs in 1981 or so if I could use one of those baby images for a record, and he said, definitively, NO. But those images have remained in the back of my head since then, always nagging. It seems they’re always calling me, calling, calling...
 I’m delighted that these images, finally with Bob’s consent, can now act as innocent, but implacable sentinels for the music."

When asked about the cover art to their 2014 release To Be Kind, Michael Gira said, “I recall asking Bob Biggs in 1981 or so if I could use one of those baby images for a record, and he said, definitively, NO. But those images have remained in the back of my head since then, always nagging. It seems they’re always calling me, calling, calling…
 I’m delighted that these images, finally with Bob’s consent, can now act as innocent, but implacable sentinels for the music.”

1. FKA Twigs

LP1

We over here at BDWPS may not have jumped on the FKA Twigs hype train of 2014, but we were almost sucked into the propaganda vortex thanks in large part to the jarring photo manipulation created by artist Jesse Kanda.

We over here at BDWPS may not have jumped on the FKA Twigs hype train of 2014, but I was almost sucked into the propaganda vortex thanks in large part to the jarring photo manipulation created by artist Jesse Kanda. The music of LP1 is a bit too warped for my taste, but Kanda matched the woozy sound with her misshapen artwork.

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3 Comments

by | December 12, 2014 · 4:10 am

3 responses to “Best Album Covers of 2014

  1. Some great choices and I really like the FKA Twigs cover. Although a little plain I really like the Royal Blood album cover

  2. Not all of what you’re right it’s my tastes, but given my birth date that makes sense. I have found some wonderful new sounds and of course I started with Dylan on the streets in New York which is how I found your site in the first place. In the meantime what do you do something I like or something too hard-core for my tastes you do it well. Nice job on the blog.

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