Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Year In Review 2018 - Best Album Art

We kick off our Year in Review section of 2018 with a favorite feature in the Best of... area, Album Art. Like in years past we will be choosing our Best Albums of the Year, a few we were underwhelmed with and our favorite show. Today we are starting out by judging books (records) by their covers (vinyl sleeves, jackets, digital pics, etc). We are going to support the creative minds behind the Best Album Art Work of 2018.
The biggest gripe RtBE has with digital music is not the quality (that has been massively improved) nor the disposal nature of it (still a problem, but whatever), it is the lack of amazing album covers and art work.

Sure there may be great artists out there but seeing it on a screen, in iTunes or elsewhere is nothing compared to holding an LP cover or even a CD booklet with pages of lyrics, pictures etc. Thankfully the rise of vinyl is helping this dilemma but it is still not enough. The hours we spent staring, actually holding, examining tons of covers while listening to music can not be adequately recorded, it added new dimensions to the sounds. You were connected to album in a more physical way, things were deeper, more evocative...Anyways...
By the way, RTBE is PUMPED for the Deadwood Movie

RtBE hated 2017 for a lot of reasons and album art was one of them. Thankfully 2018 is better on almost all fronts and that includes this years class of covers. We will link to full reviews if we have them, and since we got quite a few to talk about lets dig in:

Honorable mentions:

Legend of The Seagull Men - S/T

Lets get this out of the way right now...we love skulls.

This year will have a lot of them and starting things off is The Legend of The Seagull Men a completely forgettable album with a very memorable cover. In fact this image could be turned into a graphic novel, cartoon or horror movie franchise just from the cover alone. 

Superchunk - What A Time To Be Alive

(See above about the skulls thing).
Much better music then Segaullmen, From Superchunk and a cover on point as well.

Pig Destroyer - Head Cage

(Yup more skulls)
Metal is always good for skulls and Pig Destroyer's best album ever in our book had an appropriate face melting cover.

Grateful Dead - Dave's Picks 27

(We swear these all won't be skulls)
Ahhh look at that, we mixed it up...pretty, trippy skulls...

Jim James - Uniform Distortion
Ahhh away from the skulls for a second, but still in the head. This art piece The Illuminated Man from photographer Duane Michaels was discussed in our review but it is the absolute perfect expression in visual form to what James was going for soniclly and lyrically. It ties together a very good album, something great covers should do.

Yo La Tengo - There's A Riot Going On

Another artistic piece which speaks directly to the music contained within. On it's own this cover is nothing special but this is a quite searching, jumbled record from the band who were experimenting and that feel is palpable with this cover art. Easy, pleasant, a bit distorted, just like the music and the band in general.

Black Panther Soundtrack

Rarely does hip hop or Disney do understated well, but this cover nails the understated grace of album and film.

IDLES - Joy as an Act of Resistance
A great snapshot from a fight at a wedding from 1968 which lead singer Joseph Talbot found on Instagram. Amazing, and fits the joy/anger on the record.

Ministry - AmeriKKKant

Here is a dangerous idea, make your album art so much better then the music contained within. Ministry's newest album seemed primed to tackle Trump idiocy and the current insane state of this country...right until you pressed play on any of your devices. Musically, big let down, visually? That is a hell of a cover an a symbol of American frustration we have not seen before. It does have a bit of a photoshop quality though which keeps it from the top spot...

RtBE's Favorite Album Art of 2018:

Earthless - Black Heaven

Our favorite skull was saved for last as this tripped out cover nails Earthless sound. It almost seems like it is moving if you stare at it long enough. The band open up new avenues as they started singing on songs for those who can't get down with 13 minute guitar wails and stoner rhythms. While the music isn't their best, the album cover certainly is.

Agree? Disagree? Did we miss an obvious choice? Feel free to let us know in the comments. 

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