Friday Top 5: 2010 Album Covers

It’s time again to turn the music down and put on your art-critic monocles and top hats. Yes, today is the day we judge 2010 releases strictly on their visual packaging aesthetics as opposed to their auditory aptitude. It’s also a way to highlight the ‘other’ artists who have created the artwork and often don’t get the credit besides a sub-par blurb in the liner notes. 2010 was filed with beautiful artwork and it has been a struggle to dwindle them down to 5, but alas, my favorites are to be found below. Just like last year, I’m looking at the entire package; composition, balance, tone, meaning and originality. Use of text is not necessary as we saw last year, but when it is used, it must compliment the piece as a whole. I don’t claim to be an expert, but when looking back through this year’s album artwork, here are the ones that caught my eye.


Honorable Mentions

HM#1: The National – High Violet
Artist: Mark Fox

The National utilized a sculpture by artist Mark Fox, called The Binding Force. Original? No. Fitting? Definitely.

HM#2: Caribou – Swim
Artist: Matthew Cooper & Jason Evans

Precise geometry with an underlying layer of an abstract nature; what else would we expect from the limitlessly creative Mathematician?


5. Field Music – Measure

Artist: Field Music
Field Music’s latest cover, designed by the band, is a simple composition with great balance, yet holds a far deeper meaning (at least to me). Although I think this concept is better suited to an improvisational Jazz record, the idea that music is often a work of art in a visual sense is intriguing. When I see this image, I envision Miles Davis grabbing his paint brush and madly throwing paint/notes down onto the music sheet in abstract forms, landing where they may. Then without a second thought, those notes become his next piece, while the color remains within the sound. I see it as improvisation and creativity at its finest. It’s a romantic image and one that grabbed my eye the second I saw it.


4. The Black Angels – Phosphene Dream

Artist: Not known at press time
Of any cover this year which serves a perfect period piece to the accompanied music, it’s the Black Angels’ latest LP Phosphene Dream. The cover it straight from the 1960’s Acid-wave and is a journey for the eyes. It’s a headache inducing, mind bending trip back through time and few bands over the past decade have accomplished the full approach to the psychedelic experience better than Austin’s own.


3. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma

Artist: Leigh J. McCloskey
Over the past year, FlyLo has produced some the most original and striking beats, but when it comes to finding artists to design his artwork, he’s no slouch. For his latest LP, the otherworldly Cosmogramma, artist/philosopher Leigh McCloskey used an ink sketch to create a visual voyage to this world in the simplest of palettes. The whole album package is beautiful; with an array of ethereal hieroglyphics bringing to mind the Codex Seraphinianus. However, it was the cover which struck my eye first and foremost. McCloskey’s far reaching concept on art seems to mesh perfectly with the music, (Yes, I know it’s not about the music) but in this case, when creating a new universe from scratch, the two are impossible to separate. The artist for his latest EP, Pattern+Grid World , Theo Ellsworth, deserves to be mentioned as well.


2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – My Love Is Easy Remixes EP

Artist: Brian Peters at Quite Scientific
Although Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has been a band less time than it’s taken me to write this article, the colorful art to compliment their latest Remix EP more than solidifies them in my mind. It’s a simply stunning use of color and geometry, ripping a page from Q-Bert in the process. According to Peters, he wanted to produce an effect that gave a “3D-ish effect without the glasses”. Using the same CMYK, and 50% CMYK palette as the Horse Power EP, he pushed towards a more fragmented work in the same vein as Andy Gilmore’s recent work. The result is an asteroid shower of colors and patterns; remarkable at any angle you view it.


1. Clogs – The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton

Artist: Hvass & Hannibal
Created by the terrific Dane duo, Hvass & Hannibal, The Clogs latest LP, The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton, is a delight for the eye. The depth here is incredible and in many ways, it reminds me of Animalia, where you can search deep in the composition for hidden messages. Also, the softness and subtle play of the ribbon contrasts nicely with the darker vegetative background. It’s clean, inviting, and very interesting. Anyone else want to go inside with me for a spot of tea? I believe that with this cover, H&H have the entire package.


So there you have it folks, our picks for best album covers of the year so far. Leave some feedback and tell us who we missed. Oh, and feel free to turn the music back up.


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