Our Favorite Album Covers of 2019
They say to never judge a book by a cover. But who are we kidding? Cover art and music and inexplicably linked, even in an era where music listening formats often reduce cover art to a mere thumbnail.
But at SPB we're fanatics, so we see a lot of artwork. Sometimes its comically bad. Most of the time it's fitting and complementary. Sometimes we stop and say, "Hot damn."
“Blast” b/w “Uncrushable” EP
This EP is weird in the best of ways -- in the way that you'd expect for a project with members of Faith No More and The Locust. In other words: prolific artists who collaborate...a lot. The cover features a large robotic shark, dressed up collage-style with artist headshots, and framed with a brick wall. It's all over the place, weird, and bursting at you like the Kool-Aid Man. But it doesn't feel like weird for the sake of weird. It's precise, carefully arranged chaos.
Mizmor's Cairn is a record that deals with loss, recognition of that loss and moving forward from utter desolation. The artwork by Mariusz Lewandowski speaks to the themes that Mizmor's A.L.N. explores and gives a sense of foreboding watchfulness. It's beautiful and monolithic and so is the music contained within.
Blut Aus Nord
Hallucinogen's artwork is a psychedelic view of the substances that underpin the themes of Blut Aus Nord's latest offering. The colour palette is sublime and the work of Dehn Sora is far removed from his usual black and white or stark imagery. The imagination here is divine.
The creators of Alcest's Spiritual Instinct artwork - the duo of Førtifem - are long-time collaborators with the French band, and so the relationship between the band, the music and the visual aesthetic is tight and controlled. The dual nature of the Sphinx is beautifully rendered and the simplicity of the image contradicts the abstract emotions contained within the music. However, the darkened colours and more subdued hues do much to speak to the wintery nature of the album.
When selecting my favorite artwork of 2019 one thing as absolutely clear to me: I really, really like spacey artwork. Roland Scriver delivered just that. I am actually tempted to buy this album (even though I didn't really like the music that much), just so I could look at this some more. This is the best piece of artwork I've seen this year. It's mesmerizing. This is the kind of work that triggers a story telling aspect in me. I can imagine whole stories around this one picture. And I really like it when art does that to me. Absolutely stunning!
We Never Learned To Live
The Sleepwalk Transmissions
As I said, space seems to be a theme for me this year. This album is a must have. It is a complete package. A really great record music wise completed with this piece of art. And it does just that: it completes it. Julian at ElementJ21 made this art fit like a glove. This band has had some really nice artwork in the past, but this surpasses it all. Of course I had to own it on vinyl. I enjoyed spinning it, sipping my drink, while looking at this artwork while my mind wonders, guided by the combination of music and artwork.
Can you handle more space? I know I can. This time let's take a metal approach and who else to turn to than Adam Burke. Just look at this glorious cover! This is something to love. It's epic, it's dark and about as metal as one can get. It reminds me of his spacey artwork for that last Vektor record, but slightly improved. Nucleus matches the epic views of this artwork by some brilliant, spacey death metal.