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9 Rocking CD Covers

posted by Matt Ward on Jul 20, 2009.

In this post I take a detailed look at 9 CD covers that I really like, and explain why I am drawn to each of them. I suppose this will also give you a glimpse into some of my musical tastes!

Here’s a post that I took and evolved from my old, currently static blog, the dESIGNER’s cLOISTER. I ran this blog for Highland Marketing, about design relating issues, but we are looking at some serious changes in our blogging direction, so the cloister is currently just sitting there so that people can access the articles. No new posts though. Anyhow, I once posted about 5 CD covers that I really liked. I enjoyed that post, and thought I would port it over here. Except, I’ve added 4 more covers!

Anberlin – Never Take Friendship Personal

This is probably somewhere near the top of my all time favorite CD’s. There is a really unique quality to this disc. Somehow, the band navigates through a wide variety of tones and tempos, while still maintaining a really unified sound across the entire album.

Anberlin - Never Take Friendship Personal

Anberlin - Never Take Friendship Personal

As for the album art itself, it’s a simplicity is striking, and the contrast of the bust’s half smile against its broken head is extremely powerful. Also, though you can’t see it here, the motif of the statue continues through the entire booklet, as each of the band members have their faces superimposed onto the bust. It’s a wonderful use of Photoshop, and I’ve been meaning to give it a try myself one of these days.

Snow Patrol – Eyes Open

Since I first got this CD, I have probably come close to almost wearing it out! In the past months, Snow Patrol has skyrocketed to the status of my current favorite band. So you know I love this album. I also love the artwork.

Snow Patrol - Eyes Open

Snow Patrol - Eyes Open

There is a wonderful abstraction to this piece, which at first just looks like a montage of different shapes. When you look closer though (or at least when I looked closer), you can actually see the shapes of a man and woman embracing. For me, the montage of textures tend to obscure these shapes, which works wonderfully with the title of the album. It’s only when our eyes are really open that we can see what is hidden behind all that seemingly random texture. I’m also particularly fond of the monochromatic palette here. I think it works quite nicely.

The Watchmen – Slomotion

This has been one of my favorite CD’s ever since its release. It has a wonderfully melodic sound, blending harmonic, vulnerable vocals with a subtle electronic groove. There is also a tone of sorrowful longing woven through the music, which is reflected in the cover art.

The Watchmen - Slomotion

The Watchmen - Slomotion

The subdued colours of the album art work very well with the muddy brush strokes, to build this sense of melancholy, while the somewhat sinister plants/flowers can suggest an equally sinister quality to love. This cover also makes great use of some grunge techniques, and I would be interested to know if these were done entirely with a paintbrush, or if a bit of Photoshop was involved. Regardless, it is very nicely done.

Finger Eleven – The Greyest of Blue Skies

I’ve always loved this album, and its cover art. There is just something so sorrowful about this image of a marionette, which was conceptualized by the band’s own James Black, and painted several times by Jeff Faerber.

Finger Eleven - The Greyest of Blue Skies

Finger Eleven - The Greyest of Blue Skies

Like with the Anberlin cover, the motif is reproduced throughout the booklet, in which the marionette is seen dragging its handle across a much larger version of itself. Whether intended or not, the images also have a profound connection to images of Jesus Christ, especially through the connection of the handle and the cross (both made of rugged wood) and the piercing of the marionette’s hands and feet (by string rather than nails). Overall, a very powerful and striking image that made me pick it up and buy it (at a younger and more impulsive stage in my life).

Blindside – Silence

Here’s a cover that I’ve always really liked. I think it’s even had a significant influence on me from a design perspective.

Blindside - Silence

Blindside - Silence

If you can’t tell, the part of this cover that had the most impact on me is the hexagons. I’m not kidding. I would unequivocally credit this album with first getting me to start thinking about the use of the hexagon as a design element. If you take one look at the Echo Enduring logo, you will see that it’s an influence that endures to this day. For this reason along, I feel that I need to include this album here!

P.O.D. – Payable On Death

The album art for P.O.D.’s discs is all so different. I particularly like this one because it fuses a style that is so closely associated with the art of the medieval church with a more modern twist.

P.O.D. - Payable On Death

P.O.D. - Payable On Death

The wings of the saint (I assume it is a saint from the words “sanctus” in the banner across his/her midsection)  are those of a butterfly rather than the traditional wings of white feathers, resisting traditional conceptualizations of angelic beings. Also, the figure’s androgynous appearance could potentially raise a number of interesting and possibly controversial questions. Indeed, as I understand it, this CD cover did cause quite a bit of controversy, as a number of Christian stores elected not to carry the disc as a result of the cover.

U2 – No Line on the Horizon

My wife is a huge u2 fan, so we have every single album they’ve put out, along with a ton of singles. I have to say they’ve put out a lot of album art that I actually don’t really like, but there’s just something about the minimalism of their most recent offering that I absolutely love.

U2 - No Line on the Horizon

U2 - No Line on the Horizon

I’m not sure why, but there seem to be two versions of this cover, one with the two bars and one without. I tend to like this one better, since it really draws the idea to the horizon, and adds just a little bit more visual interest. According to Wikipedia, U2 were given permission to use Hiroshi Sugimoto‘s photography titled “Boden Sea” as long as no text was placed over it. I think it will be interesting to see if this image becomes a cultural icon, in much the same way that The Beatles Abbey Road. I’m not going to make any predictions in this regard, but I certainly feel that this image has the potential to become this sort of icon.

Something Corporate – North

This is one of those albums that just seems to rear its head every single summer. There’s just something about the music on this disc that I associate with summer, with driving with the windows down.

Something Corporate - North

Something Corporate - North

The artwork itself just strikes me as cool, and really works well with the music album. It’s like a montage of grungy elements all sewn together, with Photoshop as the thread. You can really see the way the artist here used Photoshop brushes here, with the tree in the background and some of the grunge elements. Really, it’s just a nice example of some fairly basic Photoshop techniques, which demonstrates that you don’t need to get overly complicated in order to create and effective design.

Cute Is What We Aim For – The Same Old Blood Rush with a New Touch

This might be the strangest inclusion to this list, because I really can’t get into these guys. To me, there just another pop punk band of this post Green Day, emo world (which is to say nothing against Green Day or emo, both of which I enjoy). However, I absolutely love the cover of this CD, so much so that I almost want to buy it just for the artwork.

Cute Is What We Aim For - The Same Old Blood Rush with a New Touch

Cute Is What We Aim For - The Same Old Blood Rush with a New Touch

The seemingly pseudo-watercolour effect (call me a cynic, but it looks a bit digital to me) adds a nice level of texture. I also really dig the rendering of the girl – provocative though it may be – in contrast to the faceless rendering of the significantly smaller male figures (presumably meant to be the band?). The mixture of pink, green and yellow is also particularly effective.

So there you have it, 9 rocking CD covers. Of course, there are hundreds – even thousands – of other awesome CD covers out there. These are just some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy these.

Also, if anyone is interested, I have done a few CD covers myself, which you can see in my design portfolio.

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Also from Echo Enduring Media:

An Unfolding Tale

About the Author

Matt Ward is a digital artist who lances freely under the moniker of Echo Enduring Media, and specializes in graphics design, illustration and writing. He is also the Creative Director for Highland Marketing, a creative direct marketing company based out of Waterloo, Ontario. You can follow Matt on Twitter

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