SOHN: Tremors

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Artist: SOHN

Album: Tremors

Label: 4AD

Cover Art: Carla Fernández Andrade

Producer: SOHN

Release Date: April 8, 2014

It’s July 1st and that means only one thing to everyone else who isn’t Canadian: the year is halfway over.

Today, as I was skimming through my Facebook newsfeed, I noticed quite a few “best of 2014” type posts listing the musical highlights of 2014 thus far. I don’t have the bandwidth, time-wise, to conduct extensive research into 2014’s best album covers (so far) but it’s an idea that, if I start planning ahead, could be executed at the end of the year…with a barrage of other insufferable year-end lists.

Yet I digress, there is only one album that would make my list and I let that be known by always leaving a comment whenever someone I know posts their own “top albums so far” list and neglects to mention SOHN’s debut, Tremors.

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Mastodon: Once More ‘Round the Sun

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Artist: Mastodon

Album: Once More ‘Round the Sun

Label: Reprise Records

Cover Art: Skinner

Producer: Nick Raskulinecz

Release Date: June 24, 2014

I’ve been experiencing one of those tedious weeks that has the potential to drain the will to live from one’s being. Without getting into the personal aspect of it too much, I was rushing against a deadline to deliver personal records for a case that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

As I was delivering these documents late last night, Mastodon’s seventh album came on through Rdio (I forgot I had it in my queue from Tuesday) and I instantly felt revitalized. Blasting through my car’s speakers, I felt stronger, more self-assured, and determined to continue my fight. Forget the power of music for a minute: the effect that the hard-hitting aggression of quality metal has delivers the feeling of invincibility in the most dire moments of one’s life.

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Ashra: Correlations

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Artist: Ashra

Album: Correlations (sometimes referred to as Correlation)

Label: Virgin Records

Cover Art/Photography: Hipgnosis/Detlev Maugsch

Producer: Ashra

Release Date: 1979

I think it’s safe to assume that my friend Dakin lives and breathes music to a point where he might be capable of giving the insufferable record store clerks in High Fidelity pause. Luckily for his immediate circle of friends and colleagues, though, he does this without an inkling of pretense.

Who else could make a direct correlation (no pun intended, seriously) between the cover art from Ashra’s third release, in 1979, and I Am Spoonbender’s 2002 effort Shown Actual Size? Both are experimental electronic acts that could easily be compared to Brian Eno and his ilk, but only one group of people could invent such a deliciously phallic symbol for an album cover.

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New Order: Power, Corruption & Lies

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Artist: New Order

Album: Power, Corruption & Lies

Label: Factory

Cover Art: Peter Saville

Producer: New Order

Release Date: May 2, 1983

This past Sunday marked the 35th anniversary of Unknown Pleasures, the debut from Joy Division. Peter Saville was the cover art designer who executed their vision which remains an iconic symbol to this day.

He played a significant role in running the London-based label, Factory, and contributed to the imagery that would define other post-punk and glam rock greats including Pulp, Suede, Wham!, OMD, and New Order.

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tUnE-yArDs: Nikki Nack

Artist: tUnE-yArDs

Album: Nikki Nack

Label: 4AD

Cover Art: Alex Chitty

Producer: Malay

Release Date: May 5, 2014

Who would’ve ever imagined that a fruit roll-up, this particular one processed to the point where it should have been brandished with a warning from the Food and Drug Administration, if said agency or the government behind it even cared about consumers’ health, could be the centerpiece of one of this year’s most riveting album covers?

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Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures

Artist: Joy Division

Album: Unknown Pleasures

Label: Factory

Cover Art: Peter Saville

Producer: Martin Hannett

Release Date: June 15, 1979

Thirty five years ago, today, Joy Division released their debut album Unknown Pleasures. Less than a year after its release frontman Ian Curtis, plagued with epilepsy, a faltering marriage, and depression, committed suicide. In spite of only releasing two full-length albums (Closer was a post-humous effort), their legacy lives on through every medium imaginable. This is thanks, in part, to the cover art of their debut:

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Teebs: E S T A R A

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Artist: Teebs

Album: E S T A R A

Label: Brainfeeder

Cover Art: Mtendere Mandowa (Teebs)

Producer: Teebs

Release Date: April 15, 2014

It’s New Music Tuesday and it reminded me that, oh, exactly two weeks ago, I stumbled upon some particularly poignant album artwork from an artist that, up until now, I hadn’t heard of. 

That’s a shame, too, because Mtendere Mandowa, who goes by “Teebs,” is doing something extraordinarily unique with not only the art for his latest release, E S T A R A, but with album covers in general.

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David Bowie: Aladdin Sane

Artist: David Bowie

Album: Aladdin Sane

Label: RCA

Cover Art/Photography/Make-up: Duffy and Celia Philo/Brian Duffy/Pierre Laroche, Philip Castle

Producers: Ken Scott, David Bowie

Release Date: April 13, 1973

Exactly 41 years ago, on April 13th, David Bowie released Aladdin Sane and we’re still talking about this glam-rock period in his career, speared by the subsequent release Ziggy Stardust, to this very day. In fact, one of my favorite cult cover bands, First Church of the Sacred Silversexual, performed at Cal Academy of Sciences’ NightLife, recently, and it brought me back.

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The Offspring: Smash

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Artist: The Offspring

Album: Smash

Label: Epitaph Records

Cover Art: Brian Head, Fred Hidalgo

Producer: Thom Wilson

Release Date: April 8, 1994

Another landmark 20-year anniversary, these days, means one more reason to feel old. I proudly and defiantly blasted this album in the Jeep I got a few months before, for my sixteenth birthday, and here I am reminiscing about it tonight.

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Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks: Enter the Slasher House

Artist: Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks

Album: Enter the Slasher House

Label: Domino Recording Company

Cover Art: Dave Portner, Rob Carmichael

Producers: Slasher Flickrs, Sonny Diperri

Release Date: April 8, 2014

Avey Tare, aka Dave Portner, is best known for his work with Animal Collective. So, perhaps, is Rob Carmichael, who helped conceive the cover art for the debut release from the newly-formed supergroup Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks.

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