Best Album Art from the Past Year [19 images]


Sleigh Bells / Reign of Terror

The big record companies are struggling.  Indie labels are struggling.  The photographers, illustrators, and graphic designers who create album covers are NOT struggling.  The music industry is an entirely different beast than it was a decade ago, but apparently musicians still believe in communicating what their album, as a whole, is all about with stunning visuals.

Music seems more disposable and forgettable than ever with apps like Spotify and Rdio. I mean, you have access to more than 15 MILLION songs if you fork over the $10 bucks a month for a Spotify membership — a far lesser cost than downloading individual songs and albums to iTunes. While this accessibility to music is amazing, it’s also overwhelming. We are being bombarded with more aural pleasure than we can possibly handle.

The beauty lies in the fact that we will stumble across tunes we love that may have not crossed our path without this technology. This, in turn, can lead us to finding our new favorite band (at least until we find our NEXT new favorite band). And then we will go to their concerts. And then we will buy their vinyl. Because vinyl is making a comeback.  And then we will go home, put that record on like our forefathers did before there were 8-tracks and cassettes and cds and mp3s.  We will once again experience what it’s like to be grounded in a room without earbuds and iPhones.  To have to get up and flip the album.  To listen from beginning to end, as the artist intended.  To stare at the cover and read through the liner notes.


The XX / Coexist


XV / Popular Culture


Shigeto / Lineage


Bat for Lashes / The Haunted Man


Scratch Massive / Nuit de Reve


Scissor Sisters / Magic Hour


Santigold / Master of My Make-Believe


Blur / Parklive


Nas / Life is Good


Laurel Halo / Quarantine


Ke$ha / Warrior


Gentleman Jesse / Leaving Atlanta


Fiona Apple / The Idler Wheel


Father John Misty / Fear Fun


Eprom / Metahuman


Brother Ali / Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color


Black Moth Super Rainbow / Cobra Juicy


Bat for Lashes / The Haunted Man

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Steve Iles says:

The BBC are currently running a series of prgrams looking at the golden age of the album, so are we getting nostalgic for the album sleeve.

So are we missing are album art? following the words in the album sleeve while listening to the whole album? Gleening every last fact from the album notes?

Do we need more from downloads or do we go back buying ‘physical’ music. Or is it too late with the loss of HMV from our high street?

Great piece Chase
Thank you.

EddieBaba says:

Some of these have an influence from the album covers in Seventies. I wouldn’t consider this a “Best Of” list, but it reflects the weak musical bands of today that don’t have a lasting presence. I like a couple of them. But so many bands come and go nowadays, that it’s hard to keep up with what’s out there. That’s just what I think.

faisal says:

Some very amazing pics.

Chase, what you’re saying here is exactly what i’ve been feeling quite a few times, yet unable to couch it. Man, you said it! looks like aural art needs to communicate visually. Isnt that so cool. Then, on the other hand, a certain picture will recall a certain tune in my brain. Or a guitar solo will make me want to create a certain image. I just love the connection of aural and visual stimuli. Well now, its all about art. the world needs art.

I agree with you 100% Wilfred, and it’s exactly why I am yearning to break into the photography portion of music

Love the Brother Ali cover.

Luke says:

I’ve been buying all my must have albums on vinyl since Pearl Jam released Vitalogy when I was 16. One of my favorite things to these days is to listen to records with my wife and little daughter. It’s fun to play DJ. I can play the newest Radiohead album and then switch to a crackly Johnny Cash album from the 50’s. With vinyl you get awesome artwork. If you haven’t seen Pearl Jam’s “No Code”(all photography related) or Sigur Ros “Takk” giant artwork you’re missing out. You can look at them for hours. I recently found a bunch of hidden messages scratched into the inside part of my Pearl Jam albums.

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