The new self-titled EP by New York City glam band Semi Precious Weapons is currently available on iTunes and Amazon.com. The band is on tour with Lady Gaga and has been getting a lot of attention.
I wanted to write about the cover art for the EP for two reasons. The first is that I find how the photograph used for the cover (right) was cropped to be very annoying. There is a lot going on in the photo and the photographer used some talent to get that frozen in mid-air effect just right. Probably the most shocking thing about it is what frontman Justin Tranter is wearing. The silver ankle boots and grafitti-covered nylons are just too much!
For some reason, the bottom of the image has been cropped off for the cover and the result is somewhat ordinary. Why bother to hire a talented photographer if the best part of the photograph ends up in the recycle bin?
The second thing that I think is worth noting about the cover is that it used a 3D effect for the typography. This is about the third time I have seen this done in recent mopths. I doubt that many people have 3D glasses sitting around the house. I just happen to have a pair and the 3D effect is kind of cool. The image of the band floats in front of the type.
Personally, I would have rather seen the entire photo on the cover. The 3D type just looks like a printing error without the glasses. As it is, the cover is just kinda cool and not nearly as outrageous as the band.
In October 2009, Danish pop group Alphabeat released The Spell (right), their second studio album. Fans outside of Denmark have been waiting for the album for months. AlbumArtExchange user henZ uploaded the album cover to the gallery last November and I've been looking for it to appear in U.S. and U.K. online stores ever since.
The album art is pretty good. It features a color photograph of the group with the focus on female singer Stine Bramsen. The typography appears above the group in white lettering on a dark blue sky.
The U.K. version of the album is now scheduled to be released tomorrow. Bramsen tweeted about is a few hours ago, "Our album is out tmrw!? Wow!! What a big day, didn't even realize until now that it's the 1st of March tmrw! Go get it and do enjoy!"
For some reason, the title of the album was changed from The Spell to The Beat Is... (probably some record label craziness involved in that). Unfortunately, they did more than just change the title on the album cover. They changed the color of typography to a nauseous pink.
Just comparing the two covers is a lesson is why chosing the right color for typography is an important aspect of album cover design. The pink color ruins the whole look of this cover. The eye is drawn away from the image of the group and to the harsh shade that is hovering above their heads.
When I finally download this album, I am going to change the name and use the Danish artwork instead. Thank goodness it was uploaded to the gallery. Thanks, henZ!
Databass Records is a Detroit record label that produces DJ mixes. Afew of their EPs and singles have charted on iTunes. The generic sleeve that they often use for their products has a logo that gave me an instant déjà vu moment. It is a pair of lips on a black background that look very much like the lips from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The mouth on the Databass Records sleeve has a "grill" that spells the label's name. Some may point out the similarity to the Rolling Stones' tongue logo (right) that was created by graphic designer John Pasche for the inner sleeve of their 1971 album Sticky Fingers. That has often been the case with the Rocky Horror mouth as well. However, the main element of the Rolling Stones' logo is that tongue.
The Databass Records sleeve is similar to the Rocky Horror artwork in many ways, including color. However, the sleeve has been distributed in several colors other than red.
Before I begin this installment of WTF?!, I want to remind my readers that being placed in this category isn't a bad thing. All it means is that an album cover or music video made me scratch my head and say those three words. Often, that is exactly what the recording artist indended.
There can be no doubt that Kansas City, Missouri electronic queer punk musicians Ssion want to shock their audience. Singer Cody Critcheloe's costumes and bizarre face paint are nothing short of eye-popping.
Ssion released their album Fool's Gold (right) in 2008. They have since released three remix singles, Street Jizz, Clown and Ah Ma. This week, they released a music video for Clown that hs to be seen to be believed. Really.
The cover art for the album and two of the singles is colorful and creative (even though it is nicely rendered, I don't really care for the black and white cover for the Street Jizz single).
In 1995, Annie Lennox released her second solo album. Medusa featured covers of songs that were all originally recorded by male artists. Four singles were released from the album, No More I Love You's, A Whiter Shade of Pale, Waiting in Vain and my personal favorite Something So Right (right).
The artwork for Medusa features a black and white portrait of Lennox with her name inked onto her forehead in what looks like old fashioned typewritter lettering. The black and white image was quite an interesting choice considering that Lennox's eyes are an amazing shade of pale green.
Medusa was re-released later in 1995 as a deluxe version with an additional CD of live tracks and a new version of Something So Right as a duet with Paul Simon, who originally wrote and recorded the song. I prefer the original album version without Simon.
The soundtrack for Shutter Island, the Martin Scorsese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley is getting some buzz. It is an ecclectic collection of tracks by artist such as Brian Eno, Kay Starr, Johnny Ray, Nam June Paik, and Dinah Washington. Unfortunately, this is one of those soundtrack albums that isn't being sold as individual tracks. Those who want the haunting Dinah Washington and Max Richter track will have to shell out for the entire album.
The artwork for the album is a square version of the movie poster. It features DiCaprio holding a lit match. I don't think the poster does a great job of capturing the spirit of the film. It would have been nice to see something a bit more creative. Perhaps I'd be more inclined to buy the album if that were the case.
With her 1972 hit You're So Vain (right), Carly Simon launched decades of speculation about who was the inspiration for the lyrics. There have been numerous rumors over the years. Was it Warren Beatty? Mick Jagger?
In recent a magazine interview, Simon may have finally spilled the beans and revealed that the song was written about record label owner David Geffen. She stated that there is a clue to the identity of the vain one hidden in a new version of You're So Vain on her forthcoming album Never Been Gone.
It was reported by the UK newspaper The Sun that Simon says Geffen's name backwards in the track. I guess that means they used backmasking. How '70s can she get?
I have to admit that it is a clever publicity stunt. I'm almost tempted to check out the album. Almost.
You're So Vain appeared on Simon's album No Secrets. How's that for irony? It seems as though Simon may have planned this stunt 38 years ago.
I've been meaning to write about Broken Bells for a few weeks now. The self-titled debut album recorded by James Mercer of indie rock band The Shins and producer Brian Burton (AKA Danger Mouse) is scheduled to be released on March 9, 2010.
The artwork for the album and the first single, The High Road (right), is very cool. Both feature illustrations with shocking Pepto Bismol pink-colored shapes on green backgrounds.
The music video for The High Road was directed by the legendary Sophie Muller (who also photographed the cover for the amazing Sade Soldier of Love album). I think Muller does her best work with female artists like Annie Lennox and Gwen Stefani, but the Broken Bells video isn't bad.
What is lacking in this project is cohesiveness between the graphic design and the video. It just doesn't pull together as a package. This is fairly typical these days. I'm not sure if the idea was to create covers that look kind of like what Muse is doing or what.
Tonight, four contestants were voted off American Idol and viewers got to hear Have contestant elimination anthem for this season for the first time. Just prior to the live show, it was announced that Leave Right Now by Will Young will be played each time a contestant leaves the show.
Young was the winner of the first season of Britain's Pop Idol. Leave Right Now is a UK hit single off of Young's sophomore album, Friday's Child (right). The single went to number one on the British chart, selling 117,700 copies in its first week of release.
Each year, the American Idol exit song jumps to the top of online sales lists. So, it is a big deal when the a song is chosen for the show. I had a great deal of difficultly locating the cover art for the single. There are actually two covers and neither one can be easily found online.
I recently uploaded a bunch of 1980s Beggars Banquet album covers and was inspired to greate a couple of new submissions for my favorite fake album cover blog, Famous Album Covers.
Many of the album covers from the era exhibit a similar design style. They often feature textured backgrounds and a morbid photograph of some sort. The photograph used in the first example is one that I took at the Santa Barbara Mission. The one used in the second is a vintage 19th century photograph.
I created the textures by scanning a couple of old journals that I had around the house. I think that I was able to recreate the look of the era. I am especially pleased with the second cover.
The sophomore album by British alternative rock band Micheli and the Macchiaioli, Tomboj de niaj patroj, cemented their place in the history of goth music. Not only were the compositions darker than that of the band's debut album Macchie Macchie, the heroin addiction of lead singer Connie Cooper resulted in a bizarre slurring of the already incomprehensible Esperanto lyrics.
Universal Music Group announced today that they will be releasing a special reissue of The Rolling Stones' classic album Exile on Main St. in three editions. It will be sold as a single CD featuring the original 18 tracks, a deluxe edition with 10 bonus tracks, and a limited edition package that will include vinyl LPs, a 30-minute documentary DVD and a 50-page photo book (example right).
The Universal press release claims that the bonus CD contains "never-before-heard tracks" and is slated to be released in conjunction with the documentary film. According to Rolling Stone magazine, the tracks include Plundered My Soul, Dancing in the Light, Following the River and Pass the Wine, produced by Jimmy Miller, the Glimmer Twins and Don Was and alternate versions of Soul Survivor and Loving Cup. The reissue is scheduled for release on May 18, 2010.
Exile on Main St. is considered to be one of the best rock albums of all time by many critics, including Rolling Stone. What the album doesn't have is particularly memorable cover art. The original LP gatefold cover featured a series of 12 perforated postcards and images by photographer Norman Seeff. It is a good example of having too much of a good thing. There are just too many interesting images crowded into a single project.
I recently discovered a fun online tool called Image Mosaic Generator that allows used to upload photographs and convert them into images rendered from millions of tiny photos. I couldn't resist uploading a few classic album covers to see how they would turn out (click the images for a larger view).
David Bowie - Black Tie, White Noise
Michael Jackson - Thriller
The Beatles - Abbey Road
The only thing that could make this any better would be if the tiny images were actually other album covers. Hmmm, perhaps that is something that should be discussed with the developer.
For the past few years, former punk rocker Henry Rollins has been doing spoken word performances around the globe. He is currently on tour in the United States through April 15 and then heads for Austrailia and South Africa.
I ran across the following account from Rollins about the cover for his latest album Spoken Word Guy while looking up tour dates:
There's a new talking CD by yours truly called Spoken Word Guy 11-03-08 Alexandria, VA. The title is derived from the cover photo of the CD. We were in Spain for a talking show in 2008 and the man waiting to pick us up had a sign that said 'spoken word' and I thought that would make a good photo, so I shot it before he saw me. We decided to make it the semi-generic cover for the next series of talking CD releases. We have been recording shows on the last several legs of the tours and we will hopefully be able to put out a few that will be to your liking. This first one is from the wonder Birchmere Theater in Alexandria, Virginia, the night before the last presidential election, November 3rd, 2008. It is a 2-CD set. We will have them on this upcoming North American tour and they will also be available from Musictoday.
It has been a few weeks since my last WTF?! entry. I have to admit that this one isn't quite as bad as many of the others I've put in this category.
True is a death metal band from Croatia. As unusual as that sounds, it doesn't compare to the artwork being used for the cover of the band's album Still Life. The cover features an illustration of a dog growling protectively over the severed and bloody head of a cow. The band is even selling t-shirts with the image (right).
The good thing about the artwork is that it is very skillfully rendered. It is a unique image that cetainly is a cut above most album covers in the metal genre. At least is isn't a flaming skull or a graveyard.
The first two elimination rounds for American Idol season nine took place this week. The results show will be this evening. So far, my favorite contestants are Crystal Bowersox and Casey James. I have uploaded the artwork for all 24 singles for this week's performance to the gallery. The singles are available for preorder on iTunes.
The artwork for the season nine singles is exactly like that for last year. I was kind of hoping they would do something a little bit different. I suppose it is a template that worked well last time around.
I am featuring the new EP by electro hip hop duo Chiddy Bang because it is an excellent example of why quality cover art is important. The Opposite of Adults EP is being marketed in a generic sleeve (below). This is being done even though a very cool promo video has been made for the title track.
The video features the duo with their heads enlarged by special effects. It amazes me that their record label didn't just use a still image from the video for the cover as I did to create my own mock up (right). There are dozens of images in the video that would make great cover art.
Instead, the EP is being sold without any art at all. Even if the physical product must be sold in a generic sleeve, there's no reason why art for the digital version can't be created. It took me about 10 minutes to create my mock up. Which image would you prefer to see on your iPod?
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the music video. It is very creative and the song is pretty catchy.
This may be a first in the world of album covers. The man who slammed his Piper PA-28 into an IRS building in Austin, Texas last week, killing himself and one IRS worker and injuring another 13 people, appears on an album cover.
Joseph Andrew Stack (right) played in the Billy Eli Band and is featured on the cover of their 2006 album Amped Out. The album is currently being given away as a free download on the Amie Street website.
What some may find very creepy are the titles of some of the songs on the album:
Burnin' Me Down
Tore Down In Texas
Ghost Of A Memory
Stack is the last man on the right on the album cover shown below. I guess this is one to add to the lists of infamous album covers. It has to be right up there with Family Jams by the Manson Family.
Below are six album covers preselected from this week's new releases. The covers were chosen based on both Amazon.com sales rank and for noteworthy design. Please vote for the album that you feel is the best of the bunch.
The soundtrack for the first season of the Showtime drama Nurse Jackie is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2010. The TV score was composed by L.A. duo Wendy & Lisa (Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman).
Following their career in rock music, Wendy & Lisa began composing for feature films and television, beginning with 1995's Dangerous Minds. Since then, they have scored several television series including Heroes, Crossing Jordan, and Mercy.
The cover art for the album features a portrait of series star Edie Falco. It a a very nice photograph, with Falco shown holding a needle and wearing a white nurse uniform. The background is an unusual teal color.
According to our AlbumArtExchange poll, the best album cover for the week of February 16, 2010 was Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons. The cover received 38% of the vote. Messenger by Joe Pug came in second and there was a three-way tie for third place.
Check back later this evening for this week's poll. The new releases for this week can best be described as eclectic. There aren't any show stoppers, but I think some people will have difficulty making up their minds.
The year was 1978 and King Tut mania was sweeping the nation. My twin brother and I skipped school just to see the King Tut exhibit at the L.A. County Museum of Art. What we didn't know was that a class from our high school had also made the trip and we ran into several faculty members the minute we walked through the entrance.
The exhibit was worth the risk of detention. The teachers even overlooked our skipping school for the event.
My interest in King Tut was rekindled this week with the airing of King Tut Unwrapped on the Discovery Channel. In addition to memories about the 1976 to 1979 exhibit, I remembered the song released by actor, comic, ann musician Steve Martin.
King Tut by Steve Martin and The Toot Uncommons became a huge hit after Martin performed the song on Saturday Night Live. The Toot Uncommons were actually members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The single reached #17 on the Billboard chart.
The single was recently released by Rhino Records as a Digital 45. Like many Digital 45s, the artwork that comes with the MP3s is substandard. I have created a better image using other examples found online.
Have you ever downloaded an album only to find that the artwork that accompanied the digital files looked terrible? Have you purchased a CD version of your favorite album and was disappointed that the artwork was changed or altered in some way?
These are only a couple of reasons why people visit AlbumArtExchange. Unfortunately, some people don't find the album art they need in the gallery of over 75,000 covers. That's where the Wish List comes in.
The AlbumArtExchange Forums has a Wish List category where users can request album art that hasn't yet been added to the library. Most of the requests are answered by fellow AAX users within a few days.
Often, new users are surprised when a wish for seemingly unobtainable album cover is fullfilled. With literally hundreds of AAX users actively using the Forums, it should be no wonder that even rare and out-of-print albums are posted on request.
It has been several months since our last album cover mash up. To get the ball rolling again, I've created a mash up of Heidi Montag's new album Superficial and Dead or Alive's 2003 greatest hits compilation Evolution.
If you want to participate in the AAX Album Cover Mash Up, all you have to do is follow these rules:
The album covers must be part of the AAX gallery.
All of the elements in the mash up cover must be present in one of the two originals. However, you do not have to use the original images. For example, if there is a black car in one of the original covers, you can use a black car from a stock photo instead of the one on the cover.
Submit your mash up along with the AAX links to the original cover images via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You must also include your name or AAX forum username.
I will publish mash ups as I receive them. I will not guarantee that your mash up will be published (but I'm not going to be too picky).
The cover art for the sophomore album by Dallas musical duo Smile Smile is a good example what a clever and professioanlly executed concept can do for a recording artist. When I came across the album Truth On Tape while browsing Amazon.com, I had to click for more information.
The cover features singer/guitarist Ryan Hamilton and singer/pianist Jencey Hirunrusme nude and with grafitti all over their bodies. The photograph is mildly erotic, yet very compelling. I just hope they didn't use permanent markers!
I just found this video on YouTube in which Graham Nash tells a great story about the cover of the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album. I won't give it away. You have to listen to it yourself (I promise it is priceless).
Peter Gabriel's forthcoming album Scratch My Back is an interesting project. The singer and songwriter has recorded an album of covers and made deals with the original artists for them to record one of his songs in return. That is why the album is called "Scratch My Back" -- the other artists are supposed to scratch his in return.
In addition to having a rather unique concept, the album has a stunning cover. It features microphotography of what I assume are two red blood cells clinging together. It is simply a gorgeous image. I have seen other examples of this type of photography used on album covers. This is my favorite.
Scratch My Back featured covers of songs by David Bowie, Paul Simon, Neil Young, Randy Newman and several other notable artists.It is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2010.
I came across this cover for a Lady Gaga remix album that is being released in Japan on Amazon.com today. The album is priced at $37.98 in the U.S. store and there is no track listing in the item description. It is scheduled for release on March 3, 2010.
The cover reminds me of the one used for Rihanna's Wait Your Turn single. The covers features somewhat similar poses and background color. However, it is clear which artist was able to pull it off.
While Rihanna appears to be humiliated by the partial nudity, Lady Gaga is facing the camera with pride. The Rihanna cover almost makes me feel guilty for looking at it. That certainly isn't that case with Lady Gaga's The Remix.
German composer Harold Faltermeyer won a Grammy for the score 1984's hit Beverly Hills Cop. While Faltermeyer's original score was never released, the soundtrack (right) was a popular album that featured several hit tracks such as Patti LaBelle's New Attitude, Glenn Frey's The Heat Is On, Pointer Sister's Neutron Dance, and Faltermeyer's Axel F.
Hoping to recapture the success of Beverly Hills Cop, director Kevin Smith has teamed up with writers Mark and Robb Cullen to create a "buddy cop" film starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan that includes both a score by Faltermeyer and a theme song performed by Patti LaBelle.
What is interesting is that the soundtrack album released for Cop Out is Faltermeyer's score, rather than a collection of music tracks heard in the film. The soundtrack does include the theme song, which was written by Faltermeyer.
The entire project has me somewhat confused. It is as if they took several elements from Beverly Hills Cop (black comic from Saturday Night Live, Harold Faltermeyer score, Patti LaBelle) and thought that using them would result in similar success. Perhaps they should have started by casting a hip young comic rather than Tracy Morgan. Morgan is great in small doses on 30 Rock, but I don't think I could stand listening to him ramble on and on as the star of a feature film (I could barely make it through the trailer).
Looking at the cover art for the soundtrack, all I can think about is Morgan upstaging co-star Bruce Willis by rambling incoherently and doing a routine that only a man 20 years his junior should be allowed to get away with. Cop Out is scheduled to be released on February 26, 2010. The soundtrack will be available on February 23.
Recently, I wrote about a couple of very good covers for mixtapes by hip hop artist Nicki Minaj. One of the covers is for a mixtape called Barbie World (right). The cover features an illustration that depicts Minaj as a Barbie doll encased in pink packaging.
Apparently, Mariah Carey was impressed with both the concept and Minaj's performing abilities. Not only is Minaj featured on Mariah's latest single Up Out My Face, the cover art for the single and the music video both attempt to use Barbie theme.
On the cover for the single, Carey appears as a doll in a box. Unfortunately, the execution of the concept is not as good as that of the Nicki Minaj Barbie World mixape. The packaging used on the Mariah Carey cover is all wrong. Mariah has been placed in a box that is red, rather than pink. Also, the typography on the package doesn't resemble that used on those for dolls. It is somewhat difficult to figure out that is what Carey is supposed to be.
The original Nicki Minaj cover is vastly superior. I wonder why Carey simply did not use the same talented artist. This is something that is common with Mariah Carey's projects. They always seem to be stunted on a creative level. I am not surprised to see butterflies on the "Mimi" doll package.
Recently, London resident Lorraine Sands and her friends and family were given a private performance by Pet Shop Boys. The appearance was a prize awarded in a "priceless" contest sponsored by Mastercard.
The music video created during the live living room show features the duo singing their 1986 hit Suburbia (an approriate choice given the venue. I have created a composite of the original single cover using several online examples (below).
The cover for the forthcoming album by Amercian electronic music duo MGMT popped up all over the Internet today. The cover was created by commercial and pop artist Anthony Ausgang. The cover for Congratulations features a cartoon cat surfing. Meh. It is an interesting concept. However, it is not very well executed.
Congratulations is scheduled for release on April 13, 2010. It will be the duo's second studio album, following 2007's Oracular Spectacular.
Below are six album covers that were preselected from this week’s new releases. They were chosen based on both Amazon.com sales rank and noteworthy album cover designs. Please vote for the album cover that you believe is the best of the bunch.
Over the last year, more than 20 of American music's most exciting artists traveled to Preservation Hall in New Orleans to collaborate with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on Preservation: An Album To Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach-Program. Proceeds from the sale of the album will benefit Preservation Hall and The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program. The album was released today, Fat Tuesday, February 16, 2010, in standard CD, deluxe edition and double-LP collectible formats.
Artists appearing on the album include Louis Armstrong, Pete Seeger, Blind Boys of Alabama, Brandi Carlile, Ani DiFranco, Merle Haggard, Bobby McFerrin, Paolo Nutini, and Tom Waits.
Preservation Hall is located in the French Quarter just three blocks from the Mississippi River. The album features a photograph of the hall as it appears today, much as it originally was when it opened in 1961. Originally erected as a Spanish Tavern in the 1750s, Preservation Hall is a modest French Quarter structure, without running water or air conditioning.
There's no surprise this time. Sade's Soldier of Love was selected best album cover for the week of February 9, 2010 by 68% o the vote. This beautiful album cover is certain to be one of the best of the year. If nothing else, it has set the bar very high for 2010 releases.
Massive Attack's Heligoland came in a very distant second place, followed by The Watson Twins' Talking To You Talking To Me.
This evening I uploaded the 75,000th cover to the AlbumArtExchange gallery. The album cover was the 1996 compilation album Topolino by British alternative rock band Lush. Thank you to all the AAX users for helping us reach this important milestone.
British electronic band Depeche Mode and watch manufacturer Hublot have launched an auction of collectible timepieces with all proceeds being donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust. Bidding in the Big Bang Depeche Mode In Aid Of Teenage Cancer Trust began on February 8 and ends February 24.
Twelve unique timepieces featuring the album art of Depeche Mode's studio albums open for bid via an online auction through Patrizzi & Co. Auctioneers.
Doug Fieger, lead singer of American rock band The Knack, died of cancer yesterday in Los Angeles. Fieger was 57. In 1979, The Knack's My Sharona was number one on the Billboard chart for six weeks. The Knack is often classified as a "New Wave" band, even though they were a traditional guitar, bass and drums rock band. The band's drummer Bruce Gary also died from cancer in 2006 at the age of 55.
I have created a composite of the cover art for The Knack's second 1979 single Good Girls Don't using several images found online. Good Girls Don't reached #11 on Billboard. It is my favorite song by the band.
The 13th studio album by American poet and soul musician Gil Scott-Heron was released last week. I'm New Here is Scott-Heron's first original album in 16 years. The music video for Scott-Heron's version of the legendary Robert Johnson's Me and the Devil was released on YouTube by XL Recordings yesterday and it is simply amazing.
The album art for I'm New Here features and tightly cropped black and white photograph of the artist smoking a cigarette. I am not wild about the green and pink colors used for the typography. They remind me of that 1980s "preppy handbook" era. Otherwise, it is a decent cover.
The Now That's What I Call Music! (Now!) series began in the United Kingdom in 1983 with the release of a double album (right) by Virgin Records executives Stephen Navin, John Webster and Simon Draper. The album was a compilation that featured 30 hit songs by artists such as Culture Club, Simple Minds, Duran Duran and Rod Stewart.
The album went to number one on the U.K. charts and sold over 900,000 copies and resulted in the most successful compilation series of all time. The series has resulted in over 75 million record sales in the U.K. and spin offs in 24 counties, including the United States.
The most recent numbered release in the U.S. series is Now That's What I Call Music! 32. The U.K. series is currently up to number 74. The most recent U.S. Now! special release is Now That's What I Call Love!
This being Valentine's Day, I felt it was very appropriate to feature Now That's What I Call Love! as a new and notable album. It is certain to be a popular gift along with red roses and chocolates.
The album cover art for the various Now! series has evolved to become a template. Most of the covers feature 3D "Now" typography and the series number along with a brightly colored or seasonal background. Because of the overlap of numbers between the various series, there is often confusion regarding with cover is which (U.S. #32 vs U.K. #32, etc.) A future project for an AlbumArtExchange gallery admin could be to sort through the discographies and label the covers by country.
Four-time Grammy Award-winning recoding artist k.d. lang has been amazing audiences with her interpretation of the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujah for the past few years. Last night, she performed the song before a packed stadium and over three billion television viewers around the world at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Earlier this week, lang's released her first-ever career retrospective, Recollection, 25 years after the release of her debut album. The two-disc set features 21 remastered versions of lang's past recordings and the new interpretation of Hallelujah. Recollection is also available as a three-disc box set. The third disc contians previously unreleased material.
Unfortunately, NBC is not permitting the videos of the Winter Olympic Games to be embedded in blogs (what a stupid decision). However, you can watch the video on their website.
The cover for Recollection features a very blurry portrait of lang. I don't think it is even current. She appears to be a bit heavier these days. I wish they had done something a bit more special for this collection. I don't like the way the image is cropped with lang's sleeve in the top left corner being the most focused object. I would rather see the artist's face in detail.
Chart Rigger informs us that L.A. electronic band Shiny Toy Guns has debuted at #97 on Billboard after the release of the music video for their cover of Peter Schilling's 1983 hit Major Tom (right). I was going to write about this single last year when it was released, but the cover art was not particulary interesting. It has since been used in a TV commercial for the Lincoln MKZ.
The music video uses live performance footage. I find that to be somewhat of a disappointment as well. I always imagine that Major Tom should be paired up with images of rockets and astronauts. For some reason, that was not the case with the original single either.
The cover for the Shiny Toy Guns single is somewhat interesting. It features an abstract image that looks like the inside of a highway tunnel. I guess that is appropriate for a song used in a car commercial.
Jim Flora (January 25, 1914-July 9, 1998), is one of my favorite artists... right next to Paul Cadmus. Both an artist for album cover art and fine art, his tradition continues into the 21st century as young designers license Jim Flora's images for CD covers.
(view all posts by this artist)
Jim Flora is best known for his distinctive and idiosyncratic album cover art for RCA Victor and Columbia Records during the 1940s and 1950s. Jim Flora's wildly modernist album artwork for records in the early forties created a "look" for jazz music in a time where film and television footage of jazz musicians was few and far between. Flora covers appeared in many configurations (e.g., 78 rpm set, 10" microgroove LP, 12" LP, 45 rpm 7" set, open-reel tape, tape cartridge, and foreign editions).
Flora had a cartoon like style that in its earliest (1940s and 1950s) incarnations, portrayed a diabolic humor and uninhibited sense of outrageousness. Despite a later reputation for "cuddly" kiddie lit and family-friendly illustrations for mainstream magazines, Flora's fine art--both early and late--was by turns bizarre, playful, comic, erotic and/or macabre. It could, on occasion, shock or offend.
He was also a prolific commercial illustrator from the 1940s to the 1970s, an author/illustrator of 17 popular children's books, and freelanced as a storyboard artist for UPA's commercial unit in New York City. Less well-known is that he was a fine artist with a diabolical bent, who created hundreds of paintings, drawings, etchings and sketches over his 84-year lifespan.
His style evolved radically over the decades; comparing his sharp, edgy commercial work of the 1940s to his middlebrow buffoonery of the 1970s sometimes leaves the impression they were done by two different artists who happened to share the same name (he was always credited as James Flora). It seems that the more popular Flora became, the less "threatening" his art appeared. This is certainly true of his commercial work, which softened and became more generic in the 1960s and 1970s.
Flora dotted many works with images of violence and sexual excess. The cover of The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora is adorned with figures from his 1940s absurdist burlesque painting, The Rape of the Stationmaster's Daughter, as his private fine art, often served as an outlet for the artist's inner demons.
(The Rape of the Stationmaster's Daughter)
Flora's biographer, Irwin Chusid, said that Flora "crafted rhythmic design in unfathomable meters. "Many of his smaller temperas and pen & ink sketches, particularly from the 1940s through the 1960s, featured clusters of unrelated images interlocking like rune-shaped brickwork, every square inch of surface crammed with bizarre figures, some disturbing, some nonsensical, all intriguing. As Flora once explained, "I could never stand a static space." Music was one of Flora's muses, and his montages radiate overtones of improvisation, a one-man band jamming on a canvas.
Sometimes, déjà vu moments are the result of album covers that are similar through coincidence. Sometimes, they are the result of out-and-out theft. On rare occassions, they are the result of one artist paying tribute to another by imitating an album cover design.
The cover of the EP G-Stoned by trip-hop production duo Kruder & Dorfmeister is an obvious tribute to that of Simon & Garfunkel's 1968 classic Bookends. It is a very good imitation of the original. Thanks to AlbumArtExchange admin Music Hog for suggesting this déjà vu moment.
American rocker Andrew W.K. is responsible for a debut album album (right) that features the artist sporting a shocking bloody nose. I Get Wet often appears on both "best" and "worst" album cover lists. I guess it depends on how one reacts to the sight of blood.
This month, Andrew W.K. is releasing a special version of his 2006 "lost third album" Close Calls with Brick Walls along with a previously unreleased album called Mother of Mankind. The two-CD set is scheduled for release on February 23.
The cover for the new release is very unusual. Rather than just placing the artwork for both albums on the cover, it features an image of the artist holding both CDs. The face has been blackened out, but it appears to be Andrew W.K. who is on the cover.
I found a commercial for the new release on YouTube. It really must be seen. It doesn't explain much about the product. However, it is very entertaining.
Below are six album covers that have been preselected from this week's new releases. They were chosen based on Amazon.com sales rank and for displaying noteworthy designs. Please vote for the album cover that you feel is the best of the bunch.
For many years, there has been a great deal of confusion about the differences between and "motion picture soundtrack" and a "motion picture score" ̶ and with good reason. Often, people go to a movie and then purchase what is labeled the "soundtrack" with the idea that the popular songs heard in the movie will be on the album. What they get instead is the symphonic score.
Sometimes the score a movie is labeled "score" and sometimes it is sold with "original soundtrack" on the label. It is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. Many movies have an album released for both the score and soundtrack. There have even been albums released that were simply "inspired by" the soundtrack for a motion picture.
The movie Tooth Fairy is currently playing in theaters. If you watch the trailer posted below, you will hear the song Just What I Needed by The Cars. However, the song is not on the album being sold as the original motion picture soundtrack. Instead, the album is the score by composer George S. Clinton.
Sade's new album Soldier of Love (right) was released today. AlbumArtExchange reader Linda identified the photo location and the Zapoetec ruins of Monte Albán, Oaxaca, South Mexico. As I wrote when the album cover was released, it is one of the best in recent memory.
The music video for the title track was released last month and I was slightly disappointed with the art direction. Sade looks beautiful, but the scenes of her swinging a lasso in a silver disco jumpsuit and the fake-looking studio sets aren't what I was hoping for when I saw the covers for the album and the single.
In spite of the music video, I think that the cover art we've seen for this project is a good as it could be. I am anxious to see the artwork for any additional singles that may come from the album.
According to last week's AlbumArtExchange poll, the best album cover for the week of February 2, 2010 is BT's These Hopeful Machines. This one came as a surprise to me. I thought both of the runners up where a bit more interesting.
The cover for Stages by Vedera came in second and Midlake's The Courage of Others was third. I do like the illustration used for the BT cover. Perhaps the red roses are in keeping with the Valentine's Day spirit that is in the air.
Be sure to come back later this evening to vote on the best album cover from this week's new releases. This week , there are several fantastic covers. I am sure it will be difficult to choose (but I have a personal favorite).
The cover for Usher's forthcoming album Raymond v. Raymond was revealed on the artist's website this weekend. The final cover is significantly different from the artwork that was previously being used to promote the album (right). However, the photograph that was used for the final cover appears to be from the same photo shoot.
The final cover features a split image of the artist. It appears to be an atrempt to mimic the reverse image seen in the typography. However, the split image of Usher is not a mirror image. Instead, it is the right and left sides of the photograph. I think that this probably works better than using the left or right side twice. A complete mirror image would likely be too much.
Raymond v. Raymond is scheduled to be released on March 30, 2010. It will be the artist's sixth studio album.
Pop singer Lucy Schwartz released her Help Me! Help Me! CD on her own label last month. As if that isn't ambitious enough, Schwartz made all the props, puppets, costumes, and choreography for the music video for title track herself. It was directed by her brother, Ian Schwartz, and shot in the family home.
Schwartz proves that all that is needed is talent and creativity to come up with a good music video. And you have to love the cover art for the EP. It makes me think of Amy Winehouse waking up after passing out in a dollar store.
Yesterday, I ran across this Columbia Records publicity photo of Susan Boyle with a framed Platinum record plaque for her album I Dreamed A Dream. The album is quadruple platinum in the United States. I hope she has the wall space for it.
I like the image that they used for the award. I almost think it would have made a better album cover than the black and white portrait that was used.
I'm not sayin' that singer and songwriter Robin Thicke looks like a monkey. However, I did have a monkey-related déjà vu moment when I saw the cover for his album Sex Therapy. The cover has an unfortunate similarity to that of 'A' vs Monkey Kong by British alernative band A.
Pet Shop Boys are set to release a live performance CD/DVD combo album on February 16. Pandemonium: Live at the O2 Arena comes sporting yet another great album cover design by Farrow. The agency has created several great package designs for the British electronic pop duo, including the recent Christmas EP.
I don't have a music video from the Pandemonium tour. However, I did find a great fan-made video for Pandemonium.
Electronic dance music diva Billy Ray Martin is releasing covers of tracks from Cabaret Voltaire's 1983 album The Crackdown (right). The Crackdown Project is being released in two volumes. The first is scheduled to be released on February 15 and second on March 15.
A couple of promotional videos have been posted to YouTube. One is a clip of Chinese dancers performing in some unusual costumes with Martin's cover of Just Fascination replacing the audio.
What got my attention was the album art for both volumes of The Crackdown Project. Both features black and white photographs of marionettes. I think that the image used on Volume 1 has quite a bit more impact. It kind of reminds me of something Cabaret Voltaire or even Depeche Mode would have used on the cover of an album back in the '80s.
According to the press release for this project, the first EP will have 17 tracks and the second will have 12. Both are being released digitally.
On January 25, the United States Postal Service released a special edition of Ella Fitzgerald's classic album, Love Letters From Ella. The album is being released to promote the use of mail during the Valentine's Day season as well as Black History Month and will be available exclusively at a select group of 3,200 Post Offices across the United States and online.
First issued in 2007, Love Letters From Ella is a collection of love songs recorded with some of her favorite collaborators, including Count Basie and his orchestra, Joe Pass and André Previn. The special edition CD includes a full reproduction of Fitzgerald's commemorative USPS postage stamp, available for the first time since its original issue.
The USPS has released other CDs, including a 2009 holiday compilation. CDs are an easy-to-display point of purchase item. I will be interesting to see what kinds of projects they will take on in the future. I can imagine that future CDs will be released at the same time as commemorative postage stamps for recording artists.
Last year, Animal Collective released Merriweather Post Pavilion with an album cover featuring an amazing image was created by Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a professor at the Department of Psychology of Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. Kitaoka is known for creating visual illusions that appear to move. When staring at the cover for Merriweather Post Pavilion, the images appears to move in waves.
Until the release of the Animal Collective album, the most notable image created by Kitaoka was Rotating Snakes (right). It features a series of circular designs that appear to rotate.
Last month, a band called Driver Side Impact used Kitaoka's Rotating Snakes on the cover of their Double Vision EP. While the image certainly doesn't resemble the one on the Animal Collective cover in style, it was a déjà vu moment to see another Kitaoka image used as album art.
Identical twin X Factor contestants Jedward have just released their debut single Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby). The music video was posted on YouTube yesterday. The song is a cover of Vanilla Ice's hit song from 1990. I know that it has been almost 20 years, but I don't think the world is ready for a new version of this song. Vanilla Ice is featured on the Jedward single.
I am an identical twin (right) and I am shuddering at the thought of all the cutsie album covers that are going to feature Jedward in the near future. It has been a long time since there has been a pair of blond haired twin boys on the pop music scene. The only ones of any consequence that I can recall were Nelson.
I doubt that Jedward's new single will make too much of an impact here in the United States. The cover features a portrait of the twins with hairstyles that only Vanilla Ice could appreciate. They are cute boys, but the retro look just doesn't work for me. Even in stereo, the over-gelled hairdos are definitely more of a hair don't.
The album art for former American Idol contestant Kimberly Caldwell's forthcoming album was revealed online this week. The cover for Without Regret was displayed on the artist's website along with a free download of her single Say Love.
The cover features a photograph of Caldwell sitting on the floor in front of a leather sofa. The first thing that I noticed about the image is that Caldwell's right foot and ankle look huge. I think I would have don't some Photoshopping to make it look more in proportion with the rest of her body. I think she's going to regret it otherwise. The album is scheduled for release on April 6, 2010.
The cover for Joss Stone's album Colour Me Free! caused a bit of controversy last year when her record label refused to use the artwork that Stone wanted. I had assumed that the label simply didn't want to use the cover because it is somewhat bizarre.
However, I recently stumbled upon a similar album cover that may be the real reason why Stone's was rejected by her label. The cover for Jay Brannan's album In Living Cover has the same "paint by numbers" themes. Like the Joss Stone cover, it features a line drawing and a partially colored image with numbers indicating what colors should be applied. This is definitely a classic déjà vu moment.
Below are six album covers that have been preselected from this week's new releases. The covers have been chosen based on Amazon.com sales rank and for having noteworthy designs. Please vote for the album cover that you believe is the best of the bunch.
In 1982, German pop group Trio had an international hit with Da Da Da I Don't Love You You Don't Love Me Aha Aha Aha (typically shortened to Da Da Da). Like the lyrics of the song, the album art for Trio's debut album was very simple. The cover for the German version of the album (right) included the address and telephone number of the band's publicist, which was once commonly seen on promotional albums.
The English version of the album replaced the contact information with drawings of three faces, which are presumed to be the members of the band. While this album cover seems like is was created in minutes using a magic marker, it really does suit the musical style of the band. Many of their songs were limited to three cords and had very simple and repetative lyrics. Trio disbanded in 1984.
In 1997, Da Da Da was used in a popular Volkswagon commercial and the song experienced a brief revival. It has been covered many times over the years.
According to our AlbumArtExchange poll, the best album cover for the week of January 26, 2010 is 2 by Retribution Gospel Choir. Songs from the Heart by Celtic Woman and Romance Is Boring by Los Campesinos! tied for second place and Beach House's Teen Dream came in third.
Check back this evening to vote for the best ablum cover for this week. Six album covers have been preselected from this week's new releases. They were chosen based on Amazon.com sales rank and for noteworthy album cover design.
The cover for Justin Bieber's forthcoming album My World 2.0 was revealed online today. The cover features a black and white portrait of the young singer. I really don't like the photo. The pose and the blank facial expression are not flattering.
Bieber is a very attractive young man and the candid photos I have seen of him almost always show him smiling (right). It is a shame that they want make him look like a little punk on his album covers. I doubt that his young female fans are impressed by a sneer.
I almost have to think that an art director would have to work hard to make make a photogenic young artist like this one look so bad. I had a similar complaint about Bieber's previous album.
I guess the current trend is for male pop stars to look like thugs. If that is what they're going for with this album cover, it is a major fail. Maybe puberty will eventually change that. However, I think that Bieber's handlers should realize that the tough boy act doesn't work yet. As it is, it just looks like Bieber needs his nap time.
Yesterday, Akon released a new single that features something new in cover art. Oh Africa has an advertisement for Pepsi on the cover. In addition to a photograph of Akon, shirtless and wearing body paint, the cover has copy that reads "Refresh Your World" and the Pepsi logo.
Pepsi partnered with Akon, Hilson and award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir to create the single as a benefit for underprivileged African youth. Even though Pepsi sponsored this project, this is the first time that I have seen a corporation place an ad on the cover of a charity single. It seems kind of tacky to me. I just hope that we won't see Akon and Hilson standing on stage with Pepsi executives and delivering a giant check to African children.
Each year, a Grammy awards is given for Best Recording Package. Although it is early in the year, I suspect that the package designed for The Stimulus Package by hip hop artist Freeway and produced by Jake One will earn a nomination.
Check out the creative package design in the YouTube video below. The CD package is designed to look like a wallet, complete with money, credit cards and a download card for the instrumental versions of the songs. The Stimulus Package is scheduled to be released on February 16, 2010.
The Grammy for Best Recording Package was won by art director Stefan Sagmeister for the David Byrne and Brian Eno collaboration Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. The deluxe version of the CD comes in a tin with a model house on the lid.
The standard album art for the CD is an illustration of the house that resembles those used in computer simulation games. It certainly is an innovative concept.