January 28, 2011

The best album cover of 2010?

Album artwork is a pretty subjective thing. Take, for instance, the comments section of this article on NPR.

Instead of going the “best of” route, we’d love to hear about your favorite album cover of this past year and why you thought it stood out.

To get you started, I’ve chosen five of my favorites. These covers were chosen not only for their aesthetic style but also for their use of new and exciting technology, continuation across an artist’s discography, and coherence with the musicians sound.

No Age – Everything in Between

No Age’s noise punk Everything in Between was one of the most exciting releases of the year. Each track on the album verges on straight-out punk rock but ultimately, it is the restraint the band shows that make their music stand out. The crumbled paper motif brilliantly matches with the musicians sound, uniting punk DIY mentality with crisp lines and perfectly choreographed design. Design by Brian Roettinge

Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma

FlyLo is always on top of his game when it comes to album artwork (his work with Build and Timothy Saccenti for Los Angeles is one of my all time favorites). This year, he hired Leigh McCloskey for the album artwork. The artwork itself is subtle and representative of the spaced-out vibe apparent throughout Cosmogramma. But what really sets the cover apart is the later released augmented reality app, as well unlockable content only available by scanning the cover. It’s great to see artists pushing the limits of what is expected from a cover, and incorporating new technology to give the user a richer experience.

Forest Swords – Dagger Paths, Rattling Cage, Mixtape

Not only are the Forest Swords’ covers visually striking but they also create a cohesive set when viewed together. The cover perfectly reflects the ghostly-drone and dissonant sound Matthew Barnes creates. (Bonus points for being a graphic designer and designing the covers himself.)

Future Islands – In Evening Air

Somewhere between the pulsing synths and heavily textured vocals of Future Islands, is a strange accessibility and catchiness. Like the music, the cover artwork by Kymia Nawabi is at once deeply twisted and instantly memorable. Artwork by Kymia Nawabi.

Curren$y – Pilot TalkPilot Talk II

Curren$y is one of my favorite new hip-hop artists creating two of the best hip-hop albums of 2010. The quasi-psychedelic album art, like his music, is entirely unique in the genre. Each cover successful represents the Curren$y’s intricate and eccentric flow. Further, it’s great to see the style maintained across both releases. Artwork by David Barnett.

So, what do you think? Have a favorite we didn’t mention, or a strong opinion about one we did? We’d love to hear from you.

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