The one where I pretend that this is Fametracker

by Ted on May 27, 2004

The one where I pretend that this is Fametracker

The liberal media loves to show us bad album covers. And, sure, there are some bad album covers out there. But what about all of the good album covers that are ignored? That’s what we’re here for.

If I had to point to the best album cover from the last few years, I’d point to Dizzee Rascal’s Boy in da Corner.

Here’s my case:

* It captures the sound and mood of the album. Dizzee Rascal’s persona is living in a dangerous inner-city housing estate, but he’s neither a thug nor a wish-fulfilling mack daddy. Instead, he’s a confused, paranoid bystander, rapping about keeping his head down while thinking about how the world got this way, over a backdrop of synthesized beats.

On the cover, he’s sitting in artificial-looking room, scowling and giving himself little devil horns with his fingers. It captures the mood of the album beautifully.

* It’s simple. The eye can take it in in a moment, and it works just fine on a little CD cover.

* It’s an original image, not a parody, homage, or genre cliche. (As far as I know.)

* It’s witty without being jokey.

* It’s like, the question is how much more yellow could it be? And the answer is none. None more yellow.

The comments are open- what do you think is the best album cover from the past few years, and why?



st 05.27.04 at 8:18 pm

My vote goes to Spoon’s “Kill the Moonlight.” It’s quite elegant, I think; it’s not clear if the hands are dangling down from above, or if it’s an overhead downward shot of someone reaching out for an embrace. It’s ambiguous, it’s simple, and adorns the outside of a f**king great record.


Dennis 05.27.04 at 8:21 pm

Swedish band Kent, the album “Vapen och ammunition“.


Mac Thomason 05.27.04 at 8:23 pm

I wouldn’t know, because I haven’t understood anything musically since about 1992. But anyway, I’m with those who think that the CD cover is to small for really great cover art.

I’ve cataloged a number of really ridiculous-looking albums (classical and non-rock pop) from the fifties and sixties in recent months. I need to scan some of them in.


Mac Thomason 05.27.04 at 8:24 pm

Uh, “too small”. Preview is our friend.


Chris in Boston 05.27.04 at 8:31 pm

I don’t have much distance on the ideology of the vinyl record, but my nomination would have to be Spoon’s Girls Can Tell:

Graphic, kinetic and nostalgic all at once. And a perfect fit to the album.


Chris in Boston 05.27.04 at 8:40 pm

Whoops, someone beat me with a Spoon nomination!

What does that say about CT’s demographic?


MC 05.27.04 at 8:52 pm

My vote goes for Metric because:
a)it’s one of those cases that keeps drawing me back, the eyes that invite you to come in, become intimate.

A close second goes to the Thievery Corporations’s The Mirror Conspiracy . I remember browsing in a music store when I came across it first. I had never heard of the band before, but it turned out to perfectly represent their image and music in a way that made the contents of the album almost irrelevant.

By the way, 4AD should definitely win the best of record company category. Their consistency is amazing.


st 05.27.04 at 9:35 pm

That’s reall funny. I went back and forth on which one to nominate. You are right; Girls Can Tell is iconic and solid. But KtM is just more memorable to me. My .02 anyhow.


Jeremy Osner 05.27.04 at 9:44 pm

You’re looking for yellow album covers? Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Flipper’s classic of the genre


nnyhav 05.27.04 at 10:28 pm

On the Internet no one knows you’re a Mekon.


doctorvee 05.27.04 at 10:37 pm

Why stop at just covers? What about the packaging itself? ‘Part I-XIV’ by Solarium comes in a cool wooden case! Radiohead’s ‘Amnesiac’ library book is great aswell.

In terms of covers, though, Autechre’s ‘Confield’ seems to capture the essence of the music. Cold, grey, metallic and convoluted, yet with carefully placed splashes of colour. Nice font aswell. I love it so much, I have a big poster of it.


fafnir 05.27.04 at 11:35 pm

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. The title says it all and the cover says the title. There is Yoshimi! There is the pink robot. You just know they are going to battle and it is gonna get all crazy like that.


Paul N. 05.28.04 at 1:31 am

Heh, totally randomly I was going to suggest Spoon’s “A Series of Sneaks” for best cover art, then clicked on the comment thread…I think we’re biased by the fact that Spoon is such a rad band!


robbo 05.28.04 at 1:35 am

Little by Vic Chesnutt is a classic, although now 10 years old so maybe not current enough.

Eels had a great run, especially with Beautiful Freak, but their last effort — Shootenany — inexplicably incorporated a plain, black, boring cover.


david 05.28.04 at 1:37 am

Do album containers count? If so: Quantazelle’s “Coaster.” It comes in a “coaster-container” and includes a slip of paper on which directions for using the cd as a drink coaster are printed.


Steve 05.28.04 at 3:15 am

By the way, 4AD should definitely win the best of record company category. Their consistency is amazing.

Much of it was the work of the disgustingly good Vaughan Oliver.

I’d vote for Neko Case’s Furnace Room Lullaby, but I may simply be biased because she is both a great singer and real purty. I think De Stijl was pretty good, too — a somewhat gimmicky cover for a somewhat gimmicky band, but it’s memorable and clever. Neither, however, was the least bit yellow.

(And the work done by Fireproof Press for assorted indie labels and the DC label Simple Machines was consistantly impressive, but both are sadly defunct.)


Richard Bellamy 05.28.04 at 4:30 am

In my limited experience over the past several years, I’m going to go with “InFINity” by Trout Fishing in America.

My oldest child is three.

Why InFINity? It is simple:

1. It is not actually a representation of Infinity.

2. It is jokey without being witty.

3. How many more fish could there be? Several more. The entire left side of the cover is underutilized.

4. Although the intended pun in obvious (and capitalized) the fish pictured are actually drawn without fins.

5. The smallest fish — the one who is saying “InFINity” — is actually breaking the infinite chain by not eating a smaller fish. And he looks very happy about it.


Matt 05.28.04 at 5:00 am

I really like the cover of Riow Arai’s Mind Edit Syndicate. The colours are just mellow enough to avoid being aggressive, but the scissors tell a different story. Also reflects the content (mellow funk sounds cut up and reassembled into spikey beats, may Pitchfork have mercy on my soul for writing that) very well.


swoosh 05.28.04 at 6:58 am

swoooosh, it’s a Nike ad, suckaaaah


pepi 05.28.04 at 9:19 am

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Why? Because. I don’t know. It’s not crowded, it’s neat, clean lines. The buildings look like beehives. It somehow makes sense with the moods of the songs. There’s a couple of lines like “buildings shake voices escape singing sad sad songs” and “skyscrapers scraping together” in one track, but it’s not a reference to the obvious. It’s songs on personal relationships, whatever, the usual stuff of songs. The album was written and recorded before Sept. 2001. So the cover photo also has that spooky quality without being meant to. I like that.


Terry 05.28.04 at 3:19 pm

My vote goes to The Weakerthans’ “Reconstruction Site” (big pic, little pic). Two women in 1950s nurse uniforms stand beside a bear/guy in a bear suit and look out over a see of sleeping/dead men and bears/guys in bear suits.

What more could you expect from a CD on which a retired explorer talks about his good buddy Shackleton while trying to politely remove himself from a conversation with Michel Foucault; where a seriously ill person asks for help in order to get the privacy to pray?

If you’ve never heard of them, go here and get a free version of their song, “Psalm for the Elks Lodge Last Call.”


Terry 05.28.04 at 3:22 pm

Ooooh! Damn! A sea!


Chris Martin 05.28.04 at 4:07 pm

In the classical genre, I’d suggest LP’s on the now defunct Crossroads label such as:



this, and



robbo 05.28.04 at 9:15 pm

Thanks, Terry — I checked out the Weakerthans and took a shining to them; bought a couple used CD’s cheap at Amazon!

p.s. What am I doing wrong that this site refuses to “Remember personal info”? I click Yes every time but it never remembers…


lth 05.29.04 at 1:00 am

Does anyone ever actually bother reading other people’s comments on such topics? Or do they just spout their own opinion?

Anyway, the answer is clearly Come Clean by Curve.


seth 06.03.04 at 11:45 pm

The various bits of album art for In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel) are really something – very whimsical-creepy in an old-timey children’s-book way, which is very much in keeping with the album’s tone – harrowing and intimate and nostalgic.

Also quite appropriate to the tone of the album is the really stunning, simple art for Moon Pix (Cat Power), which is just a heartbreaking album.

In more uplifting album art, and also notable in the yellowness category, is The Coast is Never Clear. (Beulah)

Everything Spoon does is A-OK with me.

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