Kick-Ass is a movie about high school kids who dress up as superheroes and (you guessed it) kick ass. The movie also has a "kick-ass" soundtrack album with artists like The Prodigy, Primal Scream, New York Dolls, Sparks and The Dickies. It also has tracks by Ennio Morricone and Elvis.
The cover art for the soundtrack is a square version of one of the many posters created for the film. The album was released digitally yesterday. The film is scheduled for release on April 16, 2010.
When I first saw the album cover for the forthcoming Christina Aguilera album, Bionic (right), I took an instant dislike to it. Now that I have seen the original photograph on which the cover is based, I hate it even more.
So, I opened the photo up in Photoshop and started messing around with it to see if I could come up with an album cover that conveys the "bionic" theme without making Aguilera look like a robot zombie that has had half of its face removed. The Rocky Horror mouth that the artist pasted on her doesn't even resemble Aguilera's.
I also dislike the horror movie blood streams that have been applied to the typography. The typography is also very weak and not proportioned well on the image.
I decided to apply some futuristic tattoos to Aguilera's face. I wanted the effect to be subtle, yet convey the idea that she is perhaps part machine. I think that the result is a nice start. The tattoos need quite a bit more detail and 3D effects, but I think this is a major improvement.
I think what I would like to end up with is something that is similar to what H.R. Giger did for Debbie Harry (right), just not as morbid and creepy. I haven't found just the right font yet either. I think a custom font would be nice for a major artist like Aguilera. (I'll be updating the image as I work on it.)
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the difference between the cover art for American Idol contestant Tim Urban's single and that of the other contestants. The quality of Urban's cover was inferior to the others and included an open window with a van and a traffic light. This week, Urban's cover art is once again different from the others.
All nine of the other contestants are shown with a bright teal background (see example, right). Instead of teal, Tim Urban's cover (below) has a dreary gray background instead.
I have uploaded all ten of the covers to the AAX gallery. Check them out and you will see that they all have a warm light effect except for Urban's. His is very cold and not as professional-looking as the others.
As I wrote last week, Urban was a last minute replacement for another contestant and the judges seem annoyed that he made it into the top ten. But, would they really give this young man substandard photo shoots? Perhaps Urban is making these choices himself. Either way, this has me quite puzzled.
Below are six album covers that were preselected from this week's new releases. The covers were chose based on Amazon.com sales rank and for their noteworthy designs. Please vote for the album cover that you feel is the best of the bunch.
The sophomore album from Austrailian brother and sister folk duo Angus and Julia Stone is Down the Way. The album debuted at number one on the Austrailian chart and one listen makes it easy to understand why.
I saw the music video for the first single from the album, Black Crow (right) a few weeks ago on YouTube. It is a cool animated video and I am somewhat disappointed that the art used in the video doesn't appear on at least the cover for the single.
Both the single and the album follow the recent trend of using old snapshots as album art. I guess buying disgarded vintage photo albums from thrift stores is going to be an activity that graphic designers should get used to from now on.
Using these kinds of images work well for certain projects. Albums with sentimental ballads would be my choice. However, I fear the trend is going to result in a lot of very boring album covers. In the 1980s, The Smiths started the trend of using old photos of movie stars. They were interesting, but they don't really stand the test of time as iconic album covers.
One of my favorite album covers in recent years is that of Angus and Julia Stone's Hollywood EP (right). The cover features and delightful painting of two children (assumed to be Angus and Julia) sitting in front of a television. The caligraphy is perfect and one can't help but admire the work that the artist put into it.
The new album features a sepia-tone vintage photograph of a young man standing on a beach. It doesn't really seem to have anything to do with the album's title. To me "Down the Way" suggests a street or a country lane. Meh.
According to our weekly poll, Pandemonium: Live at the O2 Arena by Pet Shop Boys is the best album cover for the week of March 23, 2010. The cover won by only one vote. In second place was the cover for The Runaways soundtrack album. Head First by Goldfrapp came in third.
The cover for Pandemonium: Live at the O2 Arena was created by by Farrow. The agency has created several great package designs for the British electronic pop duo, including the recent Christmas EP.
British electronic music duo Goldfrapp revealed the cover for the second single from their new album Head First via Twitter today. Alive is schedule to be released on May 24, 2010.
The cover art for Alive is similar to that of the album, featuring a photograph of Alison Goldfrapp and a surreal violet and pink sky. Rocket, the first single from the album, was released in January. Goldfrapp was shown on the cover in a pink jumpsuit and shooting a beam of light from her finger. The music video for Rocket was released on March 5.
I'm not wild about the costume Goldfrapp is wearing for this cover. The jacket isn't tailored very well, which makes her look like she has slumped shoulders. It certainly isn't as dramatic as the cover for Rocket.
Attention graphic designers! Please stop searching through old photo albums for snapshots of sisters, cousins, and college girlfriends to use as album covers for indie bands. It has been done. All you can hope for is giving people a déjà vu experience and you'll force female relatives to snag all of those embarrassing Polaroids out of the family album.
One of my favorite graphic designers is Mick Haggerty. Over the last 40 years, he has designed countless album covers for artists such as David Bowie, ELO, The Go-Go's, PIL, The Police, Simple Minds, and The Rolling Stones. His portfolio is vast and there is no better way to experience it than to visit Haggerty's mulitmedia website Mixworks.
Haggerty has won numerous awards for his album cover designs. Probably the most notable is the 1980 Grammy Award-winning design for Supertramp's Breakfast in America (below). Haggerty won the award for Best Package Design with Mike Doud and he has been nominated for at least three other designs, Vacation by The Go-Go's, Steppin' by The Pointer Sisters, and most recently Worship and Tribute by Glassjaw (right).
What I like most about Haggerty's work is that in retrospect it has always been a perfect reflection of current pop culture. Yet, not much of it can be called dated. The slideshow at Mixworks is great because it appears to be presented on a random timeline. You can compare and contrast images produced during different eras.
On April 23, 1983, the single Come On Eilleen (right) by British pop group Dexys Midnight Runners gained the distinction of preventing Michael Jackson from have two consecutive number one hits on the Billboard chart. The quirky song is forever sandwiched between Jackson's Billie Jean and Beat It.
The song was a number one hit in the United Kingdom and won the award for Best British Single at the 1983 BRIT Awards. It was also chosen number one on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s.
The song is the tenth and final track on album Too-Rye-Ay, which was the group's second and most successful album. Too-Rye-Ay was released in August 1982 and has been categorized in the New Wave genre.
The cover for the album and the single were created by graphic designer Peter Barrett. The album art features an illustration of founder and front man Kevin Rowland. The single features Rowland and musician Helen O'Hara. The 1996 reissue of the album features a green border around the original album art.
If you're wondering what the cover of next month's chart topping album is going to look like, here it is. The forthcoming soundtrack for the Glee Madonna tribute episode is certain to be one of the most downloaded ever.
I really like the artwork for this album. The lace glove and bracelets on the "loser" hand is a perfect concept. I can't imagine anything better.
I don't know what would possess an art director to take a beautiful face like that of Christina Aguilera and mutilate it. Yet, the cover of the forthcoming Christina Aguilera album Bionic does just that.
The cover has other problems that push it toward the creepy category. The blood streams from the typography are simply a cliche. They don't seem to have anything to do with the "bionic" concept and contribute a cheap horror movie look to the cover.
The first thing that I thought of when I saw the cover was how a similar concept was handled for Eurythmics 1986 music video for Missionary Man. Annie Lennox appeared with similar platinum blonde hair and bright red lipstick (right) and she was manipulated by pistons and gears. It was a cool effect that left the beautiful artist looking great, while conveying the idea that she was perhaps mechanical.
The last time we saw Aguilera on an album cover, she was wearing a ridiculous space helmet. As bad as that concept was, at least her face hadn't been grotesquely mutilated. The left side of Aquilera's face looks as if it has been carved away. The blood streaming from the typography behind her looks like something from a slasher film.
I think what it often comes down to is the taste level of the artist. Bad taste is why we have album covers with Millie Jackson sitting on a toilet and Christina Aguilera looking like the victim in a bad horror movie. There are probably a hundred ways to execute this "bionic" concept and make the artist look beautiful. Compare this to the Star Trek character Seven of Nine. It is possible to be beautiful and bionic.
I had this déjà vu moment last year when I saw the poster for the movie Zombieland and the cover for Judas Priest's live album A Touch of Evil Live. I was waiting to see if the cover of the Zombieland soundtrack would have the apparent typo corrected (they left the "d" out "soundtrack"), but it looks like that's not going to happen.
Jim Marshall, the legendary rock photographer credited for over 500 album covers, died in is sleep in a New York City hotel room last night. According to the Associated Press, the cause of death was not immediately known. He was 74.
During his career, Marshall photographed The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and almost every great rock artist of the past several decades. Marshall is the photographer who took the iconic photos of Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire and Johnny Cash "flipping the bird" at San Quentin (right).
One of Marshall's more notable album covers is At Fillmore East by The Allman Brothers Band (below). Marshall published three books chronicling his work, Proof, Jim Marshall: Jazz and most recently Trust: Photographs of Jim Marshall.
I just finished posting the cover art for the singles from tonight's American Idol Top 11 performance. You can find them in the AlbumArtExchange.com gallery.
I think the clear winner tonight was Crystal Bowersox who sang Roger Miller's Me and Bobby McGee. I know that practically everyone thinks that Janis Joplin originally recorded the song. However, it was written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster and originally recorded by Miller in 1969 for his self-titled album (right).
Tonight's show was "Billboard Night" and the contestants were allowed to pick any song that was a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. I think there were only two songs performed that were under 20 years old. Just imagine all of the great hit songs that have hit number one over the last 50 years. They've got to do something to make the songs more current or I'm going to lose interest this year.
Below are six album covers preselected from this week's new releases. They were chosen based on both Amazon.com sales rank and for their noteworthy album cover art. Please vote for the album cover that you feel is he best of the bunch.
Yesterday, I wrote that pop singer Christina Aguilera had a countdown on her website that looked as if it was going to lead to the reveal of her new album. Instead, the reveal was of the cover art for the artist's forthcoming single Not Myself Tonight.
The cover features Aguilera in the same kind of kinky bondage outfit that Rihanna has been wearing. The gloves, metal chains, cuffs and black leatherette was done by Madonna during her Erotica phase back in 1992 (right).
I know it must be tempting for art directors to go to the local S&M shop and buy a bunch of kinky costumes for a photo shoot. However, Madonna did it better. Rihanna turned it in to a joke. Christina Aquilera hasn't brought anything new to the concept. Can't we just give the bondage gear a rest?
According to our weekly AlbumArtExchange Blog poll, the best album cover for the week of March 16, 2010 is Habits by Neon Trees. It received 42% of the vote. Survival Story by Flobots came in second and The White Stripes' Under Great White Northern Lights was third.
Pop singer Christina Aguilera's official website is featuring a countdown that seems to indicate the cover and perhaps the track list for her forthcoming album will be revealed tomorrow. The album is rumored to be titled Bionic, which explains the cyborg illustration.
Next to the countdown is a square graphic that contains a question mark. It seems obvious that it will be replaced with the album artwork.
I was quite surprised when I saw the cover for Hole's forthcoming album Nobody's Girl this morning. Those of you who have studied Art History probably recognize Marie Antoinette with the Rose by Louise-Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (right). The French Neoclassical painting is notable for being painted by a female prodigy and a favorite of the queen who was executed by guillotine in 1793.
The cover of Nobody's Girl features a detail of the Vigée-Lebrun painting, cropped at the former queen's neck. There is nothing subtle about that. It is really such a crude attempt at making a humorous statement, I can't help but be unimpressed.
I really don't know what a portrait of Marie Antoinette has to do with the title of the album. Marie Antoinette was youngest daughter of Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, and Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia and ruler of the Habsburg dominions. She was certainly not the daughter of nobodys. Perhaps that is supposed to be the irony, since she ended up being charged with treason and decapitated. I guess just looking for irony in a Hole cover is problematic.
The cover has some design problems. The canvas texture and drop shadow applied to the typography doesn't really add anything to the design. In general, it is an interesting concept. I just don't think it works for Hole and Courthey Love. The only connection I can see between Love and Marie Antoinette is that they were both accused of being bad mothers.
Last week, American rock band Stone Temple Pilots revealed the cover art for their forthcoming self-titled album. It is one of at least four recent album covers designed by notable contemporary artist and illustrator Shepard Fairey. Fairey became world famous for the campaign poster he designed for Barak Obama in 2008. It is understandable that he is now in high demand as an album cover designer.
Fairey's design agency has been designing album covers since 2003. The agency created the covers for the Black Eyed Peas' Monkey Business, The Smashing Pumpkins' Zeitgeist, Flogging Molly's Whiskey on a Sunday, the Led Zeppelin compilation Mothership, Anthrax's The Greater Of Two Evils, the Love and Rockets tribute New Tales To Tell: A Tribute To Love And Rockets and Sage Francis' Li(f)e (right).
The cover designed by Fairey for Stone Temple Pilots is less complicated design compared to his typical work. The background is a solid color, rather than the flourishes and intricate shapes seen in his other work. While some of Fairey's work tends to be over complicated, I think this cover is almost too simple.
The design is based on the late 1960s "victory" peace sign emblem (right). The emblem was typically used as a patch and worn on blue jeans by young people to express opposition to the Vietnam war.
The original emblem was embellished with the stars and stripes of the American flag. I am not sure who designed the original, but it was very popular as both a patch and a sticker for several years.
The Fairey version replaces the stars and stripes with a floral ornament design, which is typical of his work. However, I do not believe it is an improvement on the original. It seems to weaken the impact quite a bit and give it almost the appearance of a Hindu symbol. The gold color also contributes to that impression of religious symbolism.
Stone Temple Pilots' self-titles album is scheduled for release on May 25, 2010.
Any time I see a movie about the 1980s, I hope that it will have a great '80s soundtrack. Like 1998's The Wedding Singer, the soundtrack for Hot Tub Time Machine does not disappoint. The album has tracks from David Bowie, Talking Heads, New Order, Echo & The Bunnymen, Salt N Pepa and several other '80s artists.
The cover art for the album has a very retro look to it. It has a bright pink band at the top containing the phrase "Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" and humorous cast photo. It definely looks like the cover of a soundtrack album from the '80s.
The film is scheduled to be released on March 26, 2010. The soundtrack will be available as a digital download on March 23.
I am not wild about the cover for the new solo album from Texas lead singer Sharleen Spiteri. It has an aged, unfinished look with lots of smears and spatters that I think are unnecessary. The white edges seem unfinished and distract from the central image.
There is a two-CD deluxe version that comes in a film tin along with a 7" vinyl single of Xanadu and the Love Theme from The Godfather. It is an nice looking package. However, the art on the single doesn't really coordinate with the other items.
The album is very good. My favorite tracks are Xanadu and Cat People (Putting Out Fire). The other tracks are also rather uncommon songs from movie soundtracks. What's New Pussycat? and Oh, Pretty Woman may seem like odd choices, but it makes for a very interesting album.
If this album cover for the forthcoming album by musical group CocoRosie doesn't qualify for a WTF?!, I don't know what does. The group was formed in 2003 by sisters Bianca "Coco" and Sierra "Rosie" Casady and they perform in the freak folk genre. It all seems like a bad SNL comedy sketch to me (one from the mid 1980s with Victoria Jackson and Jan Hooks). The promo video is the clincher. WTF?!
The album, Grey Oceans, actually has two different covers. One is for the LP version (right) and the other for the CD (below). Both feature sisters Coco and Rosie wearing makeup and costumes that look like they were created in a 19th century insane asylum. The designer got carried away with the Photoshop layer styles for the typography on both covers. The type has been beveled, embossed, and given an outer glow, all with the skill of a novice.
Grey Oceans is scheduled for release in the U.S. on May 11, 2010. It will be the group's fourth studio album.
American rock band Deftones is revealing the cover for their forthcoming album Diamond Eyes through a series of video clips on YouTube. This is something I haven't seen before. However, I'm not really interested enough to check back to view the clip between now and the May 18, 2010 release day.
This is an interesting concept, but I'm sure it would be much more effective for Madonna, Lady Gaga, or another pop artist with millions of devoted fans and a reputation for shamelessly seeking publicity. Perhaps it would be different if the video clip contained something shocking.
American R&B singer and musician Erykah Badu has revealed the cover art for her forthcoming album New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh).
The cover features an elaborate illustration that is reminiscent of the 1960s psychedelic era. Badu appears as a mechanical creature surrounded by alien flora. The album is scheduled for release on March 30, 2010.
Roadrunner Records is doing a countdown of the Ten Greatest Album Covers in Roadrunner History. The label has been producing records in the metal genre since 1980, so I am sure the Roadrunner staff has a lot of album covers from which to choose.
Here is a video of Roadrunner senior VP Monte Conner talking about #10 in the countdown, King Diamond's Abigail.
One of my favorite classic album covers is for the 1955 Capitol Records release Lonesome Echo by Jackie Gleason. The album cover is special because it was created by the legendary surrealist painter Salvador Dali.
Getting the famed artist to do the cover was such a big deal at the time, Dali is shown on the back cover of Lonesome Echo shaking hands with Gleason. Today, it is one of the most desired album covers by collectors.
Last night, I was browsing the Internet looking for interesting forthcoming releases and stumbled on an album cover with Dali's The Temptation of Saint Anthony as the cover art. I just had to learn more about a band that would use a Salvador Dali painting as their album cover.
The Contrast is a U.K. rock band that has released several albums. Their most recent, God of Malfunction, is scheduled for release on April 13, 2010.
Below are six album covers that have been preselected from among this week's new releases. The covers were chosen based on sales rank at Amazon.con and for their noteworthy designs. Please vote for the cover that you believe is the best of the bunch.
Drive-By Truckers - The Big To-Do
Flobots - Survival Story
The Mannish Boys - Shake for Me
Neon Trees - Habits
Various Artists - Bayou Boogie: Toe Tappin' Tunes Inspired by The Princess Frog
The White Stripes - Under Great White Northern Lights
I was just checking out the new artwork for the American Idol Top 12 and I saw that they have given the contestants the usual makeover and updated photographs. They all look great, except for the one for Tim Urban. All of the other photos look as if they were taken in a photography studio, with lights and industial-looking walls in the background (example at right). They are all lit well and in focus.
The photo of Tim Urban used for his cover looks as if it were taken at a different location. There is a actually a window and van speeding by in the background. A street light appears to be growing out of his head.
At the very least, couldn't they have Photoshopped that stuff out of the background? I know that Urban was a last-minute replacement for another contestant and he's been treated a bit like an outsider on previous shows. But, what's up with the bad snapshot being used for his single?
The American Idon Top 12 performs tonight at 8/7c on FOX.
Dinosaurs are uncommon enough on album covers to cause a déjà vu moment, especially when the compositon is as similar as Post Historic Monsters by Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine and Chomp by Pylon. I wonder if they had the same T-rex pose for the cover.
Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine - Post Historic Monsters (1993)
According to our AlbumArtExchange Blog poll, the best album cover for the week of March 9, 2010 is Jimi Hendrix's posthumous album Valleys of Neptune. Plastic Beach by Gorillaz came in second and Four Year Strong's Enemy of the World was third.
The cover of Valleys of Neptune is a combination of an original water color by Hendrix and a photograph by the late Linda McCartney.
According to an article on Pitchfork today, Brooklyn-based rock band The Hold Steady have revealed the cover art for their fifth studio album, Heaven is Whenever. The Pitchfork article also points out that the cover is similar to the 2005 album by Stars, Set Yourself on Fire (right).
If we're going to compare the two covers, I have to state that the Stars cover is superior. It is interesting how hands can express feelings of emotion. The hand on the Stars cover conveys a feeling of desperation. The hand on the more recent The Hold Steady cover is much more passive. It is far less powerful of an image. Perhaps that was the intent. This is an excellent example of similar concepts that have completely different results.
The album is scheduled to be released on vinyl on April 12, 2010 and on CD on May 4.
I'm known for being somewhat of a "font geek" in my circle of very geeky friends. I am usually the one people call when they need to identify a certain font on an album cover. Often, I am able to help. In other cases, I can't. That's because many fonts used on album covers are custom fonts that have been created especially for the artist. It may be similar to an existing font. It could also be unique.
However, there are many recording artists that use a common font. I have listed a few of them below, along with the name of the font.
Weezer - Century Gothic
Oasis - Arial Black Italic
Glee - Avant Garde Medium
Yazoo - Broadway
Coldplay - Albertus MT
The Clash - Stencil
Do you have a favorite album cover font? If so, let me know about it by leaving a comment. I may share in an upcoming article.
Today, the AlbumArtExchange.com gallery reached 80,000 high quality album covers. The 80,000th cover was uploaded by website owner Scott Robb at 5:15 PM PST. The cover is Playin' Up a Storm by the Gregg Allman Band.
Congratulations, Scott! And, thank you to all of the AAX users who have contributed to the site. We couldn't have done it without you.
When I saw the cover art for Australian alternative rock band Violent Soho's self-titled album, I just had to check out their sound. I found a live performance that the did at KROQ of a song called Jesus Stole My Girlfriend. The band reminds me of a cross between British pop band McFly and The Flesh Eaters, a punk band formed in 1977 by members of the notable Los Angeles bands The Plugz, X, The Blasters and Los Lobos.
The album cover is spectacular. I'm not sure if it is a painting or a heavily worked photograph, but the eyes of the model are amazing. The track Jesus Stole My Girlfriend explains the concept. I will have to find out something about the artist.
Singer and songwriter Ryan Adams will soon be releasing a metal album called Orion. The artist's website is currently conducing a poll asking whether or not visitor would be interested in purchasing it on vinyl. You can also download a sample track called Electrosnake.
There has been some write ups about the album art being "special", but I don't really see anything to praise. This is a typography concept that we've all seen a thousand times. It certainly isn't a heart-shaped pizza!
Over the past few months, my search for the worst album covers has focused covers that feature bizarre images of cannibalism, coprophagia, defecation and dead animals. The cover that I'm featuring today is a 2003 album by experimental rock band Xiu Xiu.
The cover for A Promise features a nude man posing on a bed while holding a baby doll. I have chosen to post the censored version of this cover. If you want to see the uncensored version, click the image to go to the AlbumArtExchange gallery.
Using nudity doesn't mean that an album cover should be considered a bad cover. There are plenty of album covers with beautiful and artistic nudes. This album cover is just plain creepy. I don't know what the story behind the photograph is and I suspect I would regret finding out. The problem with an album cover like this is that many people will view it as exploitative. It looks like something found under a serial killer's pillow.
A couple of days ago, I wrote about my disappointment with the artwork for the cover for the new single by Lady Gaga and Beyoncé (right). The cover is poorly executed and not of the same quality that we've been used to seeing from both artists.
Now that I have seen the music video for telephone, I am very puzzled about why the cover for the single is such a mess. The quality of the art direction for the video is very good. The opening credits include custom typography and a logo. There is frame after frame of great visuals with more than enough style and impact to create amazing cover art.
I can't imagine why the same designs seen in the music video were not used for the cover of the single. The opening title sequence includes a very nice image of the word "telephone" with the "o" done up to look like a rotary phone dial and a cord dangling off the the end (below). Compare this to the cliché bellbottom font used for the cover of the Telephone single.
The music video is over nine minutes long. It is almost a mini movie, with characters and somewhat of a plot. It is definitely not a cheap production. The graphic design of the music video is credited to Anna Lindqvist. She did a great job. I wish that the work she did for the video appeared on the cover for the single.
I think that a clever concept for the Telephone single would have been to make it look like an old 1970s movie soundtrack. Something based on the movie poster for the 1974 camp classic Caged Heat! (right) would have been perfect. Imagine a cover featuring a cast photo from the music video, the "Telephone" graphic from the opening credits and some outrageous lines about "desires melting prison steel"!
I don't know why the art direction for the Telephone single is so unimaginative and amateurish. The designer certainly had a lot to work with from the project. Lady Gaga and Beyoncé deserve better.
Here is something interesting. According to the MTV Top 100 the number one music video today is a same-sex love ballad by openly gay R&B singer Nhojj. The video is for Love, a track on Nhojj's 2009 album Love Songs. Getting the top video is difficult for any artist. For one with this particular subject matter, it is nothing short of amazing.
The description on YouTube reads:
Directed by Kirk Shannon-Butts and contains clips of the Indie movie "Blueprint" which screened at 2008 Cannes International Festival. "Love" is featured on the 2x Velocity nominated CD "Soul Comfort" and "Love Songs" Video Production by Houston Street Productions with the assistance of Rod Patrick Risbook (Big Rod).
I like the album cover for Love Songs features a portrait of the artist with rose petals in his very long dreds. I am surprised that I had never heard of this artist until today.
I've been waiting several days for the cover of British R&B singer Estelle's single Freak to be posted to the gallery. The music video has been causing controversy for weeks due to Estelle appearing in "blackface" makeup. I was anxious to see if Estelle would be wearing the dark black makeup on the cover.
Instead, the cover features Estelle with the glittered lips that we've saw on several album covers in 2009.The most notable cover featuring glittery lips was Kiss & Tell by Selena Gomez and The Scene (top right).
The whole look that Estelle is using has been done nuch better by artist's like Ultra Naté (bottom right). I'm not quite sure why Estelle would want to go down this path. I really like the image that she was putting out previously.
Disco divas are a dime a dozen. Controversy can only take an artist so far. This is probably one of the most disappointing transformations I've seen in years.
While the Estelle music video is controversial, it is also very different from American Boy and previous songs that brought the singer to public attention. I found it difficult to listen to the repetitive lyrics and beat. Even the black makeup is a concept that Madonna admitted to rejecting last year.
The most contestant getting the most tweets for American Idol's Top 16 guys' perfomance is Lee Dewyze for his version of Owl City's Fireflies (right). The original performed by Adam Young is a soft, melodic song that is one of my favorites of 2009. The American Idol version had me rushing for the remote to fast forward through the raspy out-of-tune version coming out of my TV.
However, most of the tweets are praising Dewyze's performance. Go figure.
The stand out performance for me was Michael Lynche's version of This Woman's Work. It brought judge Kara DioGuardi to tears. Even so, I don't think the guys came close to delivering performances equal to what the girls did last night.
I have uploaded the single covers for this evening's performances to the AlbumArtExchange gallery.
Rapper Sage Francis revealed the cover for his forthcoming album Li(f)e last week. The cover was designed by illustrator Shepard Fairey. A blog post on the Strange Famous Records website gave the details:
The new album Li(f)e by hip hop iconoclast Sage Francis is an impassioned and timely critique of cultural hypocrisy and organized religion. The record's cover art has been created by renowned artist and illustrator Shepard Fairey who first gained notoriety with his "André the Giant" street art and later with his iconic Obama "Hope" poster.
The album is scheduled to be released on May 11, 2010. The album cover is typical of Fairey's work. It is a very strong graphic and reminds me quite a bit of the work designer Martin Ander did for Fever Ray last year (right).
I've always liked this kind of engraved illustration style and both Fairey and Ander have done it to perfection. I actually think the Sage Francis cover would have been stronger without the manila tone. However, Fairey's work typically includes color rather than black and white.
Fairey also design an album cover to a Love and Rockets tribute last year. It was one of my favorite illustated covers of 2009.
In addition to revealing the album cover, Francis also posted a promotional video on YouTube with B. Dolan, with whom he is currently on tour. It is worth a look for a laugh or two.
The cover for the forthcoming debut album by former American Idol finailist Jason Castro was revealed online yesterday. The self-titled album is scheduled to be released on April 13, 2010.
The cover features and color portrait of the artist floating in a pool. I think the art director made a good choice with this cover. The blue, reflective water really brings out the color of Castro's eyes. The image is certainly not what I would have expected. It isn't overly touched up and has a very wholesome look. The typography is simple with just a touch of funky treatment for the two "o" characters. Adam Lambert could learn a lesson from this cover.
The cover art for Skinny Little Bitch, the first single from the forthcoming album Nobody's Daughter by American rock band Hole revealed last week. The album is scheduled to be released on April 27, 2010.
While an official cover for the album has not yet been revealed, it is believed that it will be based on a photograph of a broken glass slipper credited to photographer Nick Stern (right). The image has been used for promotion on Hole's websites and the cover art for the Skinny Little Bitch single features an image of a bloody foot wearing the same broken shoe.
So, it is very likely that the image of the broken glass slipper will appear on the final album cover when it is released. The image works very well with Hole's image and I think it is an excellent concept. It obviously represents the shattering of the "daddy's little princess" ideal.
English rock musician Peter Frampton recently revealed the cover for his forthcoming album Thank You, Mr. Churchill. The album is scheduled to be released on April 27, 2010 and is currently available for preorder on Amazon.com.
The cover features the unlikely combination of a WWII era fighter plane and a baby. One may at first assume this pairing may have a bad result, that is absolutely not the case. Either element would be seem ordinary seperately. Together, there is an implied story of hope and wonder. I really like it. I would compare it to Nirvana's Nevermind for effective use of an infant on an album cover. And who doesn't like vintage airplanes?
Crystal Bowersox was the obvious winner of the evening following American Idol's Top 16 girls' perfomance show tonight. Bowersox did an amazing version of Tracy Chapman's Give Me One Reason. She is by far the most authentic performer on the show this year.
Chapman released the song in 1995 on her album New Beginning (right). I've included the music video of her performance for those who may not be familiar with it.
Judging by the tweets being generated by Bowersox's performance, she is the one to beat this year. MTV has already released a story stating that she is "dominating" American Idol.
I have uploaded the cover for Bowersox's single as well as those for the other seven performers to the AlbumArtExchange gallery.
Below are six album covers that have been preselected from this week's new music releases. The album covers were chosen based on sales ranking at Amazon.com and for noteworthy design. Please vote for the cover that you believe is the best of the bunch.
I've seen several news releases today promoting the debut of Lady Gaga's new music video for Telephone featuring Beyoncé. The video is slated to make an exclusive debut on E! News on Thursday, March 11 at 11:30 PM (which I assume is Eastern Time).
The screenshot accompanying one of the news releases shows Beyoncé looking like a cross between Betty Page and a majorette who was attacked by a maniac whielding a Bedazzler. Even her shoes are covered in plastic gems.
I really lost interest in this Lady Gaga and Beyoncé collaboration when I saw the cover art for the single. It looks like something Beyoncé did a few years ago for that Austin Powers movie she was in. Rather than being camp, the graphics are tacky and poorly executed. The drop shadows on the images and the typography go in every direction. It looks like a high school Photoshop project. It is really a mess and far below the standards of Lady Gaga's previous projects.
According to our AlbumArtExchange Blog poll, the best album cover for the week of March 2, 2010 is Peter Gabriel's Scratch My Back. The cover won by a landslide, with 76% of the vote. Jamie Cullum's The Pursuit was a very distant second and Rogue Wave's Permalight and the Almost Alice complilation tied for third.
I am not surprised by this result. The Scratch My Back cover is an impressive image that makes people look twice.
It has been quite a long time since my last installment of Variations on a Theme. This one is especially timely due to the revival of 3D movies. I'm not really sure if that has anything to do with it, but there have been several recent album covers that use 3D imaging as a special effect.
I don't think the designers expect anyone to put on 3D glasses to view these covers. The red and blue color separation has been used more to create an interesting visual effect. However, the covers do have a 3D look when viewed with the glasses. I tried them all.
The best of the four covers in 3D are Semi Precious Weapons self-titled album and Annie Mac Presents compilation. The other two don't really pop out at you.
Recently, Jeff Crouch at Famous Album Covers invited me to become a regular contributor to the best fake album cover blog on the Internet. Creating parodies of album covers has always been a kick for me, so I gladly accepted the opportunity.
My latest contributions are parodies of the album covers of New York indie rock band Vampire Weekend (right). The photos are old snapshots from my family album. They were taken in 1960 of cousins who I haven't seen for decades.
The trend of using scans of old snapshots for album art is one that has gotten a little cliche. It seems as every indie band has been busy searching through shoeboxes of faded old photos.
Martian Holiday is a Chicago-based American indie rock band, formed in 2008 and signed to SuperSized Recordings. The band members include: Walter Cartwright, lead vocals and guitar; Omar Kahlil, keyboards, guitar, and backing vocals; Tom Christianson, drums and percussion; and Chachi Charles, bass guitar and backing vocals.
The band's name is derived from the film Christmas on Mars by psychedelic rock band the Flaming Lips. The band first gained attention via a variety of blogs, such as Stereogum. The members claim to be influenced by both 1960s psychedelic rock and Middle Eastern classical music, describing their genre of music as Bucktown Freak.
The members of the band met as students in the Department of Music at Chicago University where they studied ethnomusicology and composition; after graduation they self-produced their first album while concurrently working full-time jobs. The self-titled album met with immediate critical acclaim.
In 2009, Martian Holiday's song Terrible Terrorist was ranked 42th on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of the year. In November 2009, they toured the United Kingdom with Kylie Minogue. They were declared "The Year's Best New Band" by Spin magazine in the March 2010 issue.
The band is also known for their unusually minimalist album cover art. The cover for Martian Holiday featured a Polaroid snapshot that lead singer Cartwright found in a family photo album. Cartwright revealed in a Rolling Stone interview that the people in the snapshot are his mother and her twin brother. The band's sophomore album Green Again is scheduled to be released in June 2010. The band's website was recently replaced with a single image that is believed to be the official album cover.
One of the things I miss about living in Hollywood is having friends who are members of the Motion Picture Academy. The voting members get CDs and DVDs of the nominated scores and movies. Often, they would share them or give them away. I still have have a few around the house from years ago.
The "For Your Consideration" discs typically are marked as such and sometimes have special artwork (right). A few of these have made their way into the AlbumArtExchange gallery. They are perhaps as collectible as promo copies. I suppose that eventually they will be replaced by digital downloads.
This year, I didn't get to attend a Hollywood Oscar party. However, I was correct on most of my picks this year. This includes the winners for Best Original Score and Best Song. I knew that Michael Giacchino had to win for the score of Up. It is simply one of the best scores I've heard in ages. And, Crazy Heart was on just about everyone's list of favorites.
If you don't already own these two albums, I strongly recommend purchasing them. The Up score is available as a digital download. The Crazy Heart soundtrack is available as in standard and deluxe CD format and digital download.
I recently purchased an MP3 download from the online store of Atlantic Records and was very disappointed to find that they are selling digital music files without artwork. I purchased Freak, the new single by Estelle (right), and received high quality 320Kbps MP3s. That's much better quality than you can get from iTunes and Amazon.com.
However, I am one of those people who just can't stand having music without the official album art in my collection. Blank images in the iTunes flow display and on my iPod are unacceptable.
Unfortunately, the standard 600 x 600 pixel cover art for this single isn't available anywhere. This is one of the reasons why AlbumArtExchange is such a valuable asset to music collectors. Eventually, someone will scan the physical cover for this single and I'll be able to ad it to my MP3s.
So, be warned that if you buy digital music from Atlantic Records, you won't get the artwork that normally comes from iTunes, Amazon.com, Rhapsody, and other online retailers. However, you will get a high quality file.
American indie rock band Band of Horses revealed the cover for their forthcoming album Infinite Arms via news release today. The album is scheduled to be released on May 18, 2010.
The cover features a sky of swirling stars and some elaborate script typography. I would probably be a bit more impressed with the typography were it not for the recent album cover for Xiu Xiu's Dear God, I Hate Myself (right).
The Xiu Xiu cover takes the concept of elaborate caligraphy to the extreme and the Band of Horses cover just doesn't compare. This is a good example why it is often a good idea to push the limits when designing an album cover. The Xiu Xiu cover stands out for having some of the most over-the-top flourishes I've ever seen on an album cover. The Band of Horses cover is simply forgettable.
The 82nd Academy Awards presentation will air tomorrow. As usual, the program will feature music from the Best Original Score and Best Song categories. I have ensured that the album art for all of the nominees have been uploaded to the gallery. Thanks to the AlbumArtExchange users who have contributed their scans and edited images.
I am featuring the cover for Black Light, the sixth studio album by London electronic music duo Groove Armada, because I feat it may represent a trend in minimal album art design. The cover features simple block typography and Photoshop effects that do work with the album title.
However, I have to compare the cover to that of the recent self-titled album by Mudvayne that actually featured blacklight-reactive ink (right). While the Groove Armada cover does convey the concept of a blacklight, it certainly isn't anywhere close to being as cool and artistic as the Mudvayne cover.
Groove Armada collaborated with Bryan Ferry, Fenech-Soler, Jess Larrabee, Nick Littlemore, SaintSaviour and Will Young on the album. It would have nice to have seen a bit more creativity go into designing the album cover.
American Favorite Ballads Vols. 1-5 by Pete Seeger (right) won the award for Best Album Packaging at the Independent Music Awards held in January 2010. The winners were selected from 50 album, song, music video, and design categories that included thousands of submissions. The judging panel comprised 80 influential artists and music industry professionals, including Tom Waits, The Black Keys, Ricky Skaggs, Pete Wentz, Mark Hoppus, Aimee Mann, Suzanne Vega, Judy Collins, and Zooey Deschanel.
The packaging was created by Tri-Plex Packaging Corporation for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
As I predicted yesterday, the girls put on a much better show tonight on American Idol than the guys did yesterday. My favorite performance this evening was by Lilly Scott, who sang A Change Is Gonna Come. I've finished uploading the cover art for all of the singles for this week's performance.
Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi (a.k.a Jón Thor Birgisson) is scheduled to release a solo album called Go on April 6, 2010. The album will be available as a standard single CD and will be released as a special edition CD and DVD combo on April 13. The DVD contains a film featuring Jónsi performing the entire album acoustically. The film was shot at Birgisson's home in Reykjavík, Iceland early this year by Canadian and animator director Dean DeBlois.
The cover art for both the standard and special editions appears to be identical. The cover features a photographic illustration of the artist, who seems to be dressed as the mythical Icarus and about to take flight. I assume it is a metaphor for going solo. Let's just hope this project doesn't have the result seen in myth.
I just finished uploading the cover art for the 10 guys who performed on American Idol tonight. My favorite performance was by Michael Lynch who sand James Brown's This Is A Man's World. Most of the other guys didn't impress me veru much. I'm beginning to think that one of the girls will win this year.
Blues rock band The Black Keys revealed the cover and track list for their forthcoming album Brothers today. The cover is amusing, but certainly not unique. It features simple red and white copy on a distressed black background that reads, "This is an album by The Black Keys. The name of the album is Brothers."
This "generic" approach to album art was done by both San Francisco punk band Flipper and British band Public Image Ltd (PIL) in 1986. PIL's album fashioned to look like "plain wrap" packaging (upper right) is probably the best known example.
The concept was used again in 2007 by indie rock band Hard-Fi for their album Once Upon a Time in the West (lower right). The album cover featured copy that read, "No Cover Art." The band also used the same concept for the single Suburban Knights, which read, "Expensive Black and White Photo of Band Not Available."
I'm not sure how many more times this concept can be used and still be fresh. At least Hard-Fi waited over 20 years before trying it again. As with the Flipper and PIL albums, the success of this kind of cover has to do with how well the concept is executed. The cover of Brothers falls short of the others and doesn't really bring anything fresh to the table.
In fact, I think that the fact that the cover of Brothers has been distressed to look worn defeats the idea that it is really a simple cover that was done on the cheap. It is also a bit too wordy. I suppose that they couldn't have gotten away with simply "Band: The Black Keys. Album: Brothers."
Regardless, I doubt that there are too many fans who are going to even be aware of the previous examples. Brothers is scheduled to be released on May 18, 2010.
Below you find six album covers that were preselected as the best for the new music week beginning March 2, 2010. The album covers below were selected based on both Amazon.com sales rank and for noteworthy design. It wasn't easy selecting the album covers for this week's poll. There were a few that I had to leave out.
Please vote for the album cover that you feel is the best of the bunch. I will post the winner next Tuesday. As always, pelase click the image for a larger size to view.
Okay, I readily admit that this déjà vu moment is a stretch. However, the first thing I thought of when I saw the cover for The Disco Biscuits' On Time EP was a weird album cover by an artist called Danielson that I uploaded last year.
According to our AlbumArtExchange poll, The Golden Archipelago by Shearwater is the best album cover for the week of February 23, 2010. The cover won by only one vote and there was a three-way tie for second place between Alkaline Trio's This Addiction, the late Johnny Cash's American VI: Aint No Grave and Joanna Newsom's Have One On Me.
The cover is a very surreal image of a draped figure floating toward an island. It probably represents somekind of ancient death rite, but I'm really not that interested in finding out whether or not that is the case.
As usual, I will be posting this week's poll later this evening. Be sure to check back, because there are some wonderful designs this time. I'm sure people will have a difficult time choosing just one.
Comic and actress Sarah Silverman has just released an album of songs from the last three seasons of her Television show, The Sarah Silverman Program. Songs of the Sarah Silverman Program: From Our Rears to Your Ears contains 99 tracks with songs with titles like Cookie Party, Poop Song, Humanitarian and Baby Penis In Your Mind, and excerpts from the show most memorable scenes.
The album cover is very colorful. It features the cast of the show sitting in what looks like the set of Pee Wee's Playhouse. The funniest thing about the cover is the little dog playing a banjo.
A few days ago, I posted a new Album Cover Mash Up in the hope of getting the game started again. AlbumArtExchange reader Andy didn't disappoint me. Here is a hilarious mash up that is certain to inspire others. Thanks, Andy! In this case, #13 was very good luck.
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 email@example.com. 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 album art for the soundtrack of the forthcoming biographical film of female rock group The Runaways has been revealed along with the list of tracks. The film starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota is scheduled for release on March 19, 2010 and the soundtrack will be released the following Tuesday.
The album cover is based on the movie poster. It features the image of a "cherry bomb" that represents the title of The Runaways' most notable song. The image has been made to look like a sleeve from an old 45 with the application of circular wear patterns.