21
Oct
2012
Darren's Top Ten Album Covers
Top Ten Album Covers
Darren
Choosing an album cover is a delicate art. You can choose a cover so awful that it turns new listeners away or totally misrepresents the sound of your music, or you can choose a cover so amazing that it becomes part of the band's image and the pop culture of the time. Many album covers from the classic rock era are immediately recognizable and have become iconic, such as Abbey Road or Dark Side of the Moon. Other bands settle for writing their name in a pretty font over a solid color background.

The following are ten of my top album covers, which may not be iconic or come from the classic rock era, but do have good reason for being on this list. And by "good reason" I mean "a reason." These albums were chosen because either they set the tone of the album very well, are a really good effort that should make the "band/album name in a nice font" groups feel embarrassed, or are just cool to look at.

10. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion



It's on this list because: OPTICAL ILLUSIONS. Okay, I chose this one for a kind of shallow reason. However, this is a great album full of psychedelic and generally weird music that does accompany visual aids well. In layman's terms, I'm saying that a lot of Animal Collective's fans probably do drugs.

9. Starfucker - Reptilians



It's on this list because: First of all, it's pretty cool looking. Going beyond that, apparently the band asked a friend to create an album cover that was like a 70's sci-fi book cover. I would definitely say that this fits the bill, but honestly the pictures on the sides of 80s arcade games was the first thing that came to mind when I saw it. Anyway, the album itself has a lot of electronic tracks that sound like they could have come from retro video games, making the album cover really seem like a good fit.

8. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor



It's on this list because: If you didn't know the band but knew your history, you might just think this was a lazy cover because they used an old photo of the Civil War ship "The Monitor" for album art. If you didn't know the band nor what "The Monitor" was, this cover just sucks. However, know that the album The Monitor is a concept album about the Civil War that is interspersed with Abe Lincoln speeches and has several allusions to the conflict (they namedrop Jefferson Davis and John Brown in the first track). Hell, the last track is even called "The Battle of Hampton Roads," a battle of ironclad ships in the Civil War. I feel like anything but an album cover like this would have been inappropriate.

7. Klaxons - Surfing the Void



It's on this list because: I need a reason? Look at this cover. Okay fine, the album cover is awesome in itself. But the album has a very "spacey" sound too and somewhat sci-fi related lyrics, making the astronaut thing pretty suitable. But mostly this is here because it's a cat in a spacesuit.

6. Tosca - Suzuki



It's on this list because: This is a pretty neat looking album cover in itself. Tosca is an Austrian electronic duo that makes really mellow music usually described a "downtempo" or "chillout," and I'm not sure why, but the cover really seems to suit the fairly ambient tracks on the record. Maybe because if they showed their faces or if the picture was too flashy it would go against the mellowness of the album, although maybe I'm just thinking too hard about a cool-looking cover.

5. The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age of the Understatement



It's on this list because: When you see this cover, you may think immediately of the 1960s mod era, which is accurate considering the picture was taken in 1962. Other shots of the model, known only as "Gill," are just as 1960s mod culture too. This fits the album perfectly, as the Last Shadow Puppets, a side project of Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex turner and former-Rascals frontman Miles Kane, make music that sounds like a cross between 60s rock, James Bond themes, and modern British indie. Seriously, their video for "Standing Next to Me" is the most early Beatles-esque mod culture thing ever, and I am consistently disappointed that "My Mistakes Were Made for You" wasn't a Bond theme. This album art goes great with the 60s mod theme and Gill wouldn't have made a bad Bond girl either.

4. Cut Copy - Bright Like Neon Love



It's on this list because: Similar to the above, when you see this cover you may recall the 1980s. More specifically, this cover seems to recall the retro-future 1980s. Think of pop culture in the 1980s that people thought was futuristic, a la Tron or sci-fi themed songs like "The Final Countdown" and then realize that people associate them more with the 1980s then the future now. The album Bright Like Neon Love can be seen as a concept album along these lines, partially indicated by song titles such as "Future" "Zap Zap" and "Bright Neon Payphone." It's almost like the concept is a very 80s-influenced future where everything is neon and payphones are still used (a few songs have phone sound effects in them). Musically most of Cut Copy's songs have a very 80s synth sound, and they do a damn good job of it. Altogether this is a very fitting cover.

3. United Nations - United Nations



It's on this list because: If you can't tell, hardcore punk/powerviolence supergroup United Nations like to be controversial. Their choice for band name meant that their Facebook and Myspace pages were deleted at the request of the actual international body, and this album cover only saw 1,000 copies printed due to copyright issues. Their follow-up EP Never Mind the Bombings, Here's Your Six Figures also garnered copyright issues for looking identical to the Sex Pistols album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. The band's music is fairly political, and showing the Beatles on fire on the cover of Abbey Road was probably intended to make a statement. I'm not entirely sure of that statement though. However, the fact that the Beatles were chosen makes it all the better that there's a song on the album called "Resolution #9" that combines a UN pun with a Beatles song and includes the lyric "we'll all live in a yellow submarine."

2. Alexisonfire - Alexisonfire



It's on this list because: Alright, I first saw this cover several years ago, and I still think it's a really cool album cover. Sure it probably mostly appeals to adolescent males into screamo, but on itself it's really interesting album art without the music and seems apt for a band that described their sound as "two Catholic high-school girls in mid knife-fight." Their song "A Dagger Through the Heart of St. Angeles" on this album describes such an event. While the cover does play into the whole cliché of emo music and violence and such, it just might be the only cover to show a Catholic schoolgirl brandishing a switchblade.

1. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely



It's on this list because: Alright, I have to give the top spot to The Raconteurs mostly for the sheer effort they put into their album covers. Their first album Broken Boy Soldiers had a pretty novel cover of showing what the band would look like after a beatdown (and a classy one at that), and it went pretty well with the album's name. Their second album had more country and folk influences, and what a better way to show that than an old-timey photo. But not just any old timey photo like the Titus Andronicus album above, this one shows the actual band on a parade float. It throws in details like the Ohio flag in the background and the names of the states where the band members are from on the front, which are nice touches. If the Raconteurs make another album, I'd hope that they make another awesome cover like this.
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