2013 Year Enders

Top Ten Best Album Art I Saw in 2013 by Zoard Tyeklar

by

Above portrait of Zoard by his wife and fellow illustrator Erica Tyeklar Wells

Zoard Tyeklar is a Somerville-based visual artist. He’s done many a poster for the Boston Hassle, most recently for New England Underground Music Fest last fall. Zoard is exhibiting his new series ‘Monuments’ at Lilypad, and has a bodacious opening show tomorrow evening with musical acts Homeworld and Fedavees. Go check out his work!

Listen up, pal – the art for your stupid band matters!

This isn’t some rehashed “Top Ten Records of 2013” which is what I found when I checked out some top ten band art lists on the webernets. On my list, in some cases, the music is secondary to my experience with the art. However, coincidentally, all the music listed is awesome. Also, i don’t normally write reviews about anything really so I apologize for the over use of adjectives like “sick” and “cool” and phrases such as “I like this”.

Here’s what I saw from 2013 that made the cut in my opinion and in no real order and the fact that there’s ten on here is just a coincidence.

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HOAX – Sick Punk b/w Caged 7”

This is one of those records that I felt an immediate necessity to order from some distant trans-atlantic distro. Hoax don’t hold back when it comes to making some awesome looking releases. Heather Benjamin is showcased in this release and her illustrations are just wild. The LP they put out this year is pretty amazing as well as a self released, with huge pieces of art, lots of it, for $15. Seriously? You taking notes?

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JAR MOFF – Commercial Mouth

The design work of the Berlin/NYC-based Pan Records label is certainly what drew me in. Pan was started by graphic designer/electronic music artist Bill Kouligas in 2008 and it’s fucking great. He works with photographers, artists, musicians to create a package unique and harks the personalities of all involved. It’s quite a feat if you ask me. All these releases are coveted and collected by a global community of electronic perverts and with this project he’s helped to make a genre something that makes the people go nuts. I picked the first release of 2013, but honestly, they’re all beautiful; clear acetate sleeve with monochromatic doodlings over black and white photography, YOU CAN’T GO WRONG.

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WOLF EYES – No Answer: Lower Floors

The new era of Wolf Eyes is upon us and we are met with their stark, grim branding similar to the Wolf Eyes of yore. Nate Young gives us a feast for the windows to our souls… so that our souls may quiver in the cold wind of a Detroit night. When it comes to bands with effective branding, Wolf Eyes certainly comes to mind. They’ve got a great overriding aesthetic that is immediately recognizable without becoming trite or repetitive. Take notes.

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BLEAK BULGE – s/t cs

I couldn’t find much info on this band never mind the visual artist. But it’s cool, kinda gross. My kinda thing. Oh, and this band rips.

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THE DEAD C – Armed Courage

The photograph on the cover of this hugely prolific band is that of the Prauge Spring, 1968, when the Soviet Union couldn’t fucking keep it’s hands outta eastern Europe. Anyway, The Dead C’s has often used images of protest and revolution on their releases in their almost-30 years as a band. Keep it simple and keep it relevant. It’s a burning tank, that’s hard.

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VASTUM – Patricidal lust

When it comes to metal records, the art generally sucks – there, I said it. I’m sick of goats. I’m sick of skulls. I’m sick of all genre-defining trite bullshit. But check out this disemboweled giant with a bat chilling on it’s shoulder. Paolo Girardi is a sick painter who’s done some great art for the likes of Diocletian and Blasphemophagher and others. The alternate album art is created by the band’s vocalist Daniel Butler. Really bizarre drawing and simple but striking design.

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ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER – R Plus Seven

The cover of this album is a still from an animation made by George Schwizgebel called Rapture of Frankenstein. The animation is just awesome, surreal, subtle and hypnotic. I appreciate when the discovery of art is perpetuated by listening and seeing of other art.

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MILK MUSIC – Cruise Your Illusion

Doodles by Alex Coven, also the band’s guitarist/vocalist. I just like em.

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BLACK PUS – All My Relations

Brian Chippers has got his act down. This guys is truly an inspiration to me many for many reasons. I’ve seen his arts and heard his sounds since I was in art school ten years ago. for me his visual and audio experiences are totally inseparable. His books and prints are ballsy and so tight and all the while I have never seen his art in a gallery, and don’t think I’ve ever seen him play in a conventional “music space” either. He’s got his priorities straight and doesn’t rely on conventional means to get his shit out there.

Oozing-Wound

OOZING WOUND – Retrash

This is probably one of my favorite metal records this year. The cover artist is one Sam Nigrosh, who’s work is definitely in line with what’s hot right now in metal/punk art, but without over using any kind of hackneyed imagery (Plus this record cover reminds me of that self-titled Uriah Heep record). When I read up a little about the artist and OW’s relationship to him, I was please to find out that Nigrosh and one of the OW dudes worked together at a Whole Foods and were just friends. That’s tight. I mean, it’s one thing to peruse the web and find a great artist doing something cool, but it’s another to tap the resources that are right fucking there in front of you. I love hear about a good artist/band friendship.

Anyway, that’s the list. No underlying theme one way or another. Some great drawing, some great design, etc. My experience with a record is always enhanced when there is at least some care and thought given to how the damn thing looks.

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