Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jess's top ten favourite album covers of ALL TIME

I love musak. I love art. I love when musak and art come together.

Here are my favourite music covers.


Roxy Music, Stranded, 1973

My mother was a pretty big fan of Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry in general while I was growing up. Although I have since taken the Eno side of the Roxy Music legacy, this album, most especially it's cover, has stayed on with me; I like it because even after over three decades, Ferry's then girlfriend, Marilyn Cole, remains prevailingly sexy. Like all other Roxy Music albums, the band seems to have nailed that typical "sweaty, vulnerable white woman" thing, and I dig it, because -let's face it -kitschiness works sometimes.


Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, 2002

I saw Wilco open for Neil Young a year or two ago and it totally sounds lame, but when they played "Jesus, Etc." I cried. This album is meaningful on a lot of levels for a lot of people (remember Pitchfork's EPIC 10.0 rating of it?) and clearly I'm on the more "emotional" end of that spectrum. Still, the thing that made me want to listen to this record in the first place was the cover, because although I know now that it's just an altered photo of Marina City in Chicago, it looks like some sort of bizzare but ultimately identifiable couple of high-rises that evoke utilitarianism and family and sadness and early love and simplicity.


Black Dice, Load Blown, 2007

You know records that evoke a specific moment in time? My friend Rey made me a mixtape with "Motorcycle" from Black Dice's previous album Broken Ear Record during my first year of university and by second year, Load Blown was one of my mains. The record design is really what's momentary about it, though, because the cover was made by Bjorn Copeland, one of the band's extraordinarily talented members. I'm a student of Art History and I was getting pretty stoked about my choice of major and the art world in general, and Copeland's work really influenced my aesthetic sensibilities at the time. Collage usually sucks in my personal opinion, but Copeland's work makes it look intelligent and amateur and I dig that.


Burzum, Aske, 1993

This one's basic: black metal kids burned down a lot of beautiful Norse churches in Norway during the 90s and Burzum's Varg Vikernes was often considered a primary suspect in such arson, including in the burning of the church pictured, Fantoft stave church. I love how stylistic black metal culture is and this album represents the early days of it so well for me -raw, unspeaking, and mystical with bottled-up aggression. Furthermore, Burzum was always a little different than his black metal counterparts and this album kind of helps to exemplify that... It's no Mayhem cover (NSFW), for instance, but it's just as controversial, eerie, and violent.


Patti Smith, Horses, 1975

Patti Smith had and continues to have a huge influence on my fashion sensibilities and nothing represents her insanely good taste in clothes better than Horses (not to mention, it's one of my absolute favourite albums EVER!)


Sonic Youth, Goo, 1990

Imagine I'm Kim Gordon and you're Thurston Moore and it's 1990 and we're in a hardrock group and we're drinking wine in bed and playing guitar and smoking a lot of cigarettes until 5 am and my hair is really messy and you're driving really fast in cars and life is really glamorous and we don't care about anything, because why should we -we've got tattoos and people think we're mysterious. That's how this cover makes me feel. It just sucks, because in reality we're just you and me; we're boring people with jobs who don't have lives nearly as exciting as that.


The Kinks, Arthur, (Or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire), 1969

The Kinks always felt a bit off for me and I liked that. If you can believe it, 1969 was the same year that the Beatles released Abbey Road, and even though that album cover is oftentimes considered some sort of historical relic, I like Arthur way more. A tad surrealist, but with a political edge that could only come from 1969, this album cover seems like it would be the last thing that would accurately represent the Kinks, but who really knows what represents the Kinks anyway, because their entire musical existence was characterized by being impossible to pin down.


New Order, Power, Corruption & Lies, 1983

This album is really good. New Order is more dreamy and sentimental than usual and the cover reflects that. As mentioned above, I'm an Art History student and we Art History students are generally pretty down with still life painting. Why do I like this album cover? I like the juxtaposition of the pretty flowers and starch sans-serif typeface. That's it. Easy.


Blood on the Wall, Awesomer, 2005

There are three things that really get me about this cover: 1) hand-drawn typeface, which seems really DIY punk to me and that makes me excited, 2) the rainbow colours against the white background, 3) it looks like the album sounds: jagged, wobbly, and amateur, but wicked nonetheless. If I was gonna make an album, I would base it off something like this.


The Descendents, Milo Goes To College, 1982

I don't really have to explain myself here, do I? This is just the best, because, well, it frickin' rules?

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