Trust me when I say that I could send you a very long and thorough email about what music means to me that would eventually bore even the most avid music expert. So, in the interest of keeping everyone awake, I will quickly summarize it as this: Music is my inspiration for everything. I use music to take me into each moment of my life personally and as a director.
Back when downloading music to your iPod was a thing, I remember always going on Google to get the correct cover art for each song and album. (Yes, for every single album on my completely full iPod Touch 1st generation with 16GB of storage.) Of course, this meant a crazy amount of work just to have each tiny little image in there for all the thousands of illegally downloaded songs I had. This made it complete somehow, and to this day I would probably remember the cover art of most of the songs I had.
Later on, becoming an avid record collector (also—by far—repaying for all the stolen songs of my youth), cover art is still so important and connected to what is coming out of the speakers for me. That love and appreciation for albums in their entirety was my first introduction to being a filmmaker, in a way. There are many lessons from those early days of dreaming with headphones on that I still take with me when standing behind a camera, making stories that captivate people in the same way.
When this album came out I remember going online to read about this cover. It's a reworked award-winning photograph by a Spanish photographer named Samuel Aranda of a woman cradling her son who was injured in an anti-government protest. It is so dark but also so beautiful, just as the music on the album. With their formation and the rework of the photograph, it almost looks like a Renaissance painting.
The Very Best of Supertramp (1990)
Besides a Sex Pistols CD I bought only because it had those words on the cover and that my friend told me it was a cool band, this Supertramp album is my earliest memory of reflecting over any album cover art.
I was with my family on a summer holiday in England, driving around in a rental car and I think my dad brought this CD with him on the trip. We were at a beach when it started raining, having to go back in the car to wait it out. With nothing better to do, I remember just sitting there looking at the cover with the hand coming out of those prison bars while "Dreamer" was playing loud on the stereo. A song so weird and joyful, kind of resembling the album cover.
Nothing is Still (2018)
This cover is so vibrant and timeless. It really catches the busy energy of New York City. I think I read somewhere that this is also the story behind the album, about his grandparents move to NYC. The album is so dreamy, vibrant and beautiful, just as the cover and the city it tells the story about.
Green Mind (1991)
There is no denying the old cliché that smoking looks pretty cool. Troubling enough, this is also true for what I would guess is a twelve-year-old doing it. The gazing eyes, carelessly pulling of the pants and the newly lit cigarette hanging. Apparently, caught in the moment by photographer Josef Szabo at Jones Beach in New York.
The satin background to the Daft Punk patch looks so luxurious and cool. Fresh when it came out, still being one of the best albums of modern time. An introducing cover worthy of their position in electronic music, which they kept until their farewell in 2021.
Three 6 Mafia
When The Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1 (2000)
As with most Memphis rap albums, it has this superhero aesthetic to the cover art. Rap name on top, album name on the bottom and image in the middle. So strong and impactful, yet so simple. This album, in particular with the four of them, could be the cover of an old Marvel magazine.
Everything U Need (2020)
While writing this, I saw that one previous contributor to the series had also put Overmono as one of his picks. What's not to love about it, sick dogs and a the retro BMW is such a good concept and also goes so well with the music.
On Trade Winds (2006)
Probably one of the album covers I've spent the most time looking at. With its tropical, dream-like sound longing for warmer climes, far away from Sweden and especially Gothenburg, bands like Air France, The Tough Alliance and The Embassy were quite a thing for a while.
In my younger teenage years, long commutes in the harsh winter of Sweden were spent listening to this album. From what I would guess is somewhere in the archipelago of Gothenburg, this woman is flying a kite in the cold sunset in a photo that I believe captures the genre as a whole.
Style, that is how I would describe Chet Baker. Everything from his look, his voice and the way he played the trumpet. This is all captured in this album cover. You can definitely tell that this guy had style.
Art of the Album is a regular feature looking at the craft of album-cover design. If you'd like to write for the series, or learn more about our Clio Music program, please get in touch.