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Top Ten Favorite Albums of 2008 (& Those Behind the Cover Art)

December 30, 2008

To commemorate 2008, I put together a list of my favorite albums.  It was hard to choose from the mile long list I compiled, but I decided to whittle it down to the ten albums I loved based not only on the music but also the cover art.  I think a band really succeeds when they’re able to put together something visually that represents their sound (I wanted to use the term “package,” but that’s the graphic designer coming out of me.  Let’s stick to “vision.”)  It takes a lot of skill to find imagery that not only matches a band’s aesthetic, but also a band’s overall vision for that particular album.

Wit that being said, here are my picks for 2008.  The list is alphabetical because I couldn’t make myself rank them individually.  Additional commentary italicized.  Click on the random links to see and hear more work by these talented folks.

CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexy) – Donkey


Cover image photographed by Luiza Sá and Mateos Cimardi. Layout and design was all created by Lovefoxxx.
Somehow I’m not surprised by that. This album is delightful and playful.  I think the cover sums that up very well.

Cold War Kids
– Loyalty to Loyalty


Design by Maust.  Photography by Matt Wignall.
I don’t know how clear it is on this blog, but I am a HUGE fan of Maust’s work.  If you don’t have this album, you’re missing out on a real treat.  The CD package is almost like a small design book.

Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours


Cover concept, art direction and layout by Alter. Cover photo by Warwick Baker.

Fleet Foxes – Self-Titled


The cover painting is the 1559 painting Netherlandish Proverbs by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.  Additional design by Dusty Summers, Robin Pecknold and Sasha Barr.
I was listening to a Fleet Foxes interview on BBC’s Radio 1 one day, and they commented on the various symbols and metaphors present in Peiter the Elder’s painting.  So not only do Fleet Foxes create great music and partake in silly stage banter, they also have an extensive knowledge of art history.  Can’t get any better than that!

Foals – Antidotes


Artwork is by Tin Head.  Photography by Dave Ma.
I don’t even know where to begin with Foals.  I do know they have the ability to turn me into a silly Japanese fangirl.  It’s safe to say that I love them.  Yes, actual LOVE.  Their music has been such a great inspiration to me over the past year, and everything they do visually and musically continues to amaze me.  I suppose a lot of the visual credit goes to Tin Head and Dave Ma who are very talented in their own right.  Keep an eye on them.

Friendly Fires – Self-Titled

Artwork by Jon Beasley.
There’s just something really beautiful about it.

Hercules and Love Affair -Self-Titled


Art direction by Scott Williams.  Drawings by Ben Guttin.  Photography by Jason Nocito.
A little CMYK (minus the K) and a love for Ancient Greece go a long way!

Metronomy – Nights Out


Design by MD.  Original artwork by Phillip Castle.
I just love this cover.  I wonder if Phillip Castle actually did this or if there’s a little appropriation.  Hmmm…I must research more about this.

Vampire Weekend – Self-Titled


Artwork by Asher Sarlin, Phil Lee and Rostam Batmanglij.
Simple yet appropriate for their sound.  Sure, they were hyped and now hated on by some, but you have to admit they know how to work it.

Wild Beasts – Limbo, Panto


Artwork by Nick Scott.
I think this sums up Wild Beasts’ sound very well.  It’s playfully strange but haunting at the same time.

Runners Up (aka The Albums I Should Have Posted In Regards To Awesome Imagery and/or Greatness But Was Too Lazy To Do So And Thus Stuck To A Top Ten List)  You can always google these, right?

Born Ruffians – Red, Yellow and Blue
Dr. Dog – Fate
Delta Spirit – Ode To Sunshine
Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna
Hot Chip – Made in the Dark
Man Man – Rabbit Habits
Mystery Jets – Twenty One
Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2009 12:15 am

    I’m bored and procrastinating from my revision, so looking at my neighbours on I like you top ten, I would have had These New Puritans and Mystery Jets in mine hmmmm I don’t listen to that much new music being a 60’s revivalist but wild beasts are bloody brilliant.

    I like the Nights out cover because of that sneaky neon sky hiding under the clouds and how Joseph is looking to the skies as if reflecting on the time past and the nights that have happened behind him. Exactly what the records about!

    Your choices are very British orientated which is how it should be; It’s only the Brooklyn scene that seems to appeal to me what so ever on your side of the pond.


  2. hayley g permalink*
    January 9, 2009 7:41 am

    Ha! Definitely understand.

    I listen to These New Puritans and Mystery Jets. I LOVE Mystery Jets. They were definitely on my list, but I was trying to condense everything.

    I just have a hard time getting into the acts here. It’s a horrible thing to say, but aside from groups like Cold War Kids and Fleet Foxes, there’s really nothing original anymore. I don’t like pop, and I don’t like this kind of regurgitated post-punk for the mainstream that’s been going on for a few years now. I guess that’s just personal preference. I can’t speak for everyone.

    The scene in Brooklyn is probably the most promising thing to come out of the US music scene in quite sometime. It’ll be interesting to see how it evolves.


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