Tag Archives: How To Destroy Angels

Best Album Covers of 2010


20. Klaxons

“Surfing the Void”


This cover is funny in a "Laser Cat" kind of way, but it is also fitting for Klaxon's spacey dance beats.


19. Morning Benders

“Big Echo”



This summer, I wrote of Morning Bender's "Big Echo" and said, "The cover to 'Big Echo' says it all: a swimmer stands knee-deep in the forefront wearing a full body swimsuit and a swim cap, staring out into the vast expanse before him where other swimmers are already enjoying the ocean’s swell. He seems tentative, yet intrigued, just like the Morning Bender’s sound on this album. Like the flowing of the tide, the music moves fluidly between several genres. As much as I enjoy The Morning Bender’s sandy beach love songs, I always find myself awaiting that next big wave to whisk me back away to the enchanting sea of sound and hope that it won’t return me to the shoreline."


18. Of Montreal

“False Priest”


This cover brings me back to high school when I'd pass the time in class drawing a strange collection of images on the inside cover of my various notebooks. But nothing I drew ever compared to the intricacies on Of Montreal's 2010 release. Every time I look at it I find something new. Keep looking, and you might just find Waldo.


17. Thieves Like Us

“Again and Again”



On first glance, this may not look like much more than a girl throwing cards into the air, but the longer you look, the more questions arise: What is the silver purse-like item in her hands? Why is she giving it an elbow drop? And why are there nude women on the cards? The arrangement of the text only adds to the mystery.


16. Sisters

“Ghost Fits”



This cover combines my three favorite things: castles, mountains, and needle-point.

15. Mimicking Birds



I'm not sure what's going on here, but I absolutely love this cover with its strange pods spawning a creature that is literally mimicking a bird.


14. Ben Frost

“By the Throat”



In terms of a cover matching an album title, I don’t think it gets much better than this. The cover for “For the Throat” also contains one of my favorite album photographs for the year with the combination of snowfall, plows, and a pack of wolves caught in the headlights. Jack London could have written a novel based solely off this cover…


13. Erykah Badu

“New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh”

It's common in the R&B community for the album cover to feature the artist's face, but leave it to Erykah Badu to take it another direction. Instead of going with a glamour shot, Eyrkah's 2nd album in the "New Amerykah" series features a drawing of a robotic-android-Erykah with a tree sprouting from her head, all within the confines of a mystical flowery world. Suck on that Rhianna.

12. How To Destroy Angels



While Mark Weaver's artwork for the How To Destroy Angel's first release is pretty spectacular, it also sets the listener up for disappointment upon first listen to Trent Reznor's side-project (God I hope it's a side-project).


11. Destroyer

“Archer on the Beach”


Only Dan Bejar could make a water fountain look magical to the adult eye.


10. Kanye West

“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”



While releasing five seperate album covers may seem a bit self-serving, Kanye uses the collection of images to add to the mythology of his "Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy": the lustful indulgence, the frailty of beauty, the faces of insanity, the perils of power, and the rebirth of legends.

9. Active Child

“Curtis Lane”



This year, many bands used old photographs as their cover (Vampire Weekend, Fang Island, Dum Dum Girls), but no photo caught my interest more than Active Childs "Curtis Lane". It captures the neighborhood found within the album's title and features two of the most creepiest child Halloween masks I've ever seen, which adds even more curiosity about the face that is hidden.


8. Black Tusk

“Taste the Sin”



Baroness guitarist John Dyer Baizley never gets a vacation. The artwork of Baizley continued to thrive in the metal world in 2010 with his latest masterpiece for the Black Tusk.

7.  Grinderman

“Grinderman 2”

A wild beast trapped by decadence - Nick Cave defined.

6. Sufjan Stevens

“Age of ADZ”

His darkest album to date, "Age of ADZ" let Sufjan go a different angle than his traditional Rockwell-ian covers. It also doesn't hurt when your album is based on the life of a famous artist (hence the apocalyptic artwork of Royal Robertson).

5. Strand of Oaks

“Pope Killdragon”

Since seeing this cover months ago I’ve had this simple black and tan image stuck in my head. There is something about it that is so alarming, so tribal, so ghostly, that I can’t seem to shake it (this obviously is a good thing).

4. Surfer Blood

“Astro Coast”

The most surprising aspect of this cover is not the shark mouth found within the checkerboard layout, rather what's going on in the other squares?

3. Method Man, Ghost Face, & Raekwon

“Wu Massacre”

Who wouldn't read this comic book?! Wu Tang is about to raise the motha fuckin' ruckus on the streets of Gotham!

2. Gorillaz

“Plastic Beach”

Gorillaz have always been as much about their artwork as they are about their music, and the cover to “Plastic Beach” continues this tradition, providing a visual cue for the world of the Plastic Beach discussed in the music.

1. Quest For Fire


I think I could stare at this cover for hours at a time; actually,  I have. This oil painting of what looks to be a melting, flower-based owl is truly a work of art. The epic, psych-jam-band mentality of Quest For Fire’s music only fuels the flames of exploration within this piece.  Skip the salvia, the mushrooms, and the LCD – just stare at this cover for an afternoon while listening to Quest For Fire; it will be the best trip you’ve ever had.

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How To Destroy Angels “S/T” / Black Pacific “S/T”

It rarely works out when an artist quits one project in order to try a new one.  On one hand it’s an opportunity to show a new side to your music; on the other hand you are setting yourself up for being compared to your prior work.  Unfortunately, the latter is more likely.

Two of my favorites from my youth, Nine Inch Nails and Pennywise, have recently had members emerge with new projects, and both have failed to live up to what has come before.

How To Destroy Angels
[The Null Corporation, 2010]


When I first heard about Trent Reznor’s side project with his wife How To Destroy Angels, I had high hopes. Since the 1999 release “The Fragile”, Nine Inch Nails have been floating pointlessly from one mediocre album to the next. While “With Teeth”, “Year Zero”, and “Things Fall Apart” have their moments, none of the albums captured the definitive works of art found in “The Downward Spiral” and “The Fragile”.  Instead, they were simply a collection of songs, some good, some not so good. On the last album Trent almost sounded like an imitation of himself – a Nine Inch Nails cover band.

My dreams of a Trent Reznor resurrection of course died upon first listen to How To Destroy Angels first self-titled EP.  In a nutshell: it’s a slowed down version of Nine Inch Nails with a female singer. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s all very ho-hum, yawn-inspiring stuff, and at this point, I’ve had enough with this bumbling Reznor.  I wanted to hear him stretch his sound, to step outside his confined boundaries, to try something out of his realm.  I wanted to hear the Reznor who once blew my mind one song at a time, a machine gun style massacre, blow after blow of incredible compositions attacking my senses.  Instead, Trent toes the line with a series of six songs that could easily be B-sides from “With Teeth” and “Year Zero” (or possibly C-sides, if there is such a thing).

I liked this song better when it was called “The Wretched”:

I don’t know how to diagnose Reznor’s issues. Is he so accustomed to his ways of approaching music that he’s no longer capable of traveling into uncharted waters (old dog new tricks theory)? Or is he so crippled by what has made him successful that he fears the thought of rocking the boat (row boat theory)?  Or maybe the problem is that my expectations are too high for Trent, that my allegiance to his 90s work has left me with a sour taste in my mouth, wishing he could recapture what I felt while listening to “The Fragile” endlessly in college. Whatever the case, How To Destroy Angels doesn’t destroy any preconceptions of Trent Reznor; it only destroys my hopes for a new day for an aging has-been.

The Black Pacific
[Side One Dummy, 2010]

Rating: 4.0

The opening track to the Black Pacific’s debut self-titled album “The System” is the perfect example of the double-sided affair that is the “follow-up project”. While it is easily the best song on the album, it is also sounds the most like singer Jim Lindberg’s work with Pennywise.  It features the same break-neck speed and anti-government sentiment that became a Pennywise staple over the past two decades.

I enjoy this Pennywise rip-off, although I swear the back-up vocals are run through an auto-tuner…you decide:

The following two-tracks continue this Pennywise imitation, which at first annoyed me due to the fact that Lindberg decided to quit Pennywise and now he’s basically playing Pennywise songs with different dudes. Lame.  But then of course I heard the rest of the album, and I decided  I’d take mock-Pennywise any day over songs like “Kill Your Idols” “Put Down Your Weapons”, and “Defamer”. The second half of the album featueres predictable tunes that conjure up comparisons to Blink 182, Sum 41, and Green Day.  As much as I’d love to hear a new take on Jim Lindberg’s approach to punk, I doubt anyone was out there hoping to hear a poppy, overtly processed escapade through shit-town.

Just a toilet paper sampling of this shit:

I don’t know the details of why Jim left, but from what I’ve read, Pennywise plans to continue on without him.  After listening to Jim Lindberg’s metaphoric pissing upon everything that is sacred in the creed of Pennywise, I have faith that the boys can start anew with a sound that is far-and-away from anything that can be labeled “pop” (or auto-tuned for that matter).


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