If you’ll forgive the comparison, cover art is sort of like wine: It only gets better with age, and you have to be a drunk or nerdy enthusiast to really appreciate it. As we here at Daily Arts are nerdy enthusiasts (and drunks), adjusting our packaging. The album looks like a school desk replete with carved graffiti on the outside and a slingshot, unfinished homework and trash beneath its lid. On the design the artwork for all of the band’s albums. Either he’s romantic or totally whipped. But when your girlfriend is Carson Ellis, you’d be insane not to use her skills, and The Decemberists are only slightly insane. The Her Majesty cover shows three war-torn soldiers playing cards, nestled in a bunker surrounded by a blown-out world where only scraps of wood and shades of gray remain. Try not being enthralled by the lyrics of “The Soldiering Life” as they blend into Ellis’s recreation. Pretty fucking spectacular, girlfriend or not.
CHRIS GAERIG

Angela Cesere
Pixies
Angela Cesere
Pharcyde
Angela Cesere
Alice Cooper
Angela Cesere
Animal Collective
Angela Cesere
Eric B. & Rakim
Angela Cesere
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
Angela Cesere
Jackson Browne
Angela Cesere
John Coletrane
Angela Cesere
John Lennon
Angela Cesere
Slint
Angela Cesere
Talking Heads
Angela Cesere
The Beatles
Angela Cesere
The Clash
Angela Cesere
The Decemberists
Angela Cesere
Velvet Underground
Angela Cesere
Neutral Milk Hotel
Angela Cesere

PACKAGING

Alice Cooper
School’s Out
Warner Bros. 1972

School’s Out is a perfect example of the record’s superiority over the CD when it comes to art and packaging. The album looks like a school desk replete with carved graffiti on the outside and a slingshot, unfinished homework and trash beneath its lid. On the back, two cardboard legs unfold and make the album stand. Did I mention the record inside was originally wrapped in a pair of girls’ paper panties?
– Caitlin Cowan

ART

Pixies
Doolittle
4AD/Elektra 1989

The Pixies let photographer Simon Larbalestier read the lyrics to Doolittle before the album’s cover shoot, which led to inspired cover art to match the album. The haloed monkey and numbers on the front reference the themes of “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” and the album’s equally-artful liner notes reference particular lyrics and themes from other songs, like a set of teeth to depict the lyric “It shakes my teeth” from “I Bleed.”
– Caitlin Cowan

The Pharcyde
Bizarre Ride II
Delicious Vinyl 1992

When all the West Coast knew about hip hop was chronic, gangbanging and G-Funk, The Pharcyde offered an alternative. The cover to Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde is as animated and extraordinary as the album, depicting the four MCs at the height of a long, looping rollercoaster, about to enter the garish, gnashing mouth of a tunnel. Similar to the artwork, the album is a flash of comedic stunts, brilliant tracks and upbeat rhyming to a style never before heard in California. The beautifully crafted rollercoaster on the cover opens the door to an immaculate studio product.
– Anthony Baber

Animal Collective
Feels
Fat Cat 2005

It’s hard to decipher exactly what you’re looking at on the cover of Feels. But in listening to the album, it makes complete sense. The cover looks like delicate, overlapping pictures: children feeding animals or playing in a park, a small spotted goat. But then there’s the decapitation of a young boy that might actually be a rabbit, purple blood or children painted hot pink – it’s grotesque. The collage is impossible to look away from yet it somehow captures the pretense of Animal Collective perfectly. It’s utopia blitzkrieged by chaos, and I can’t turn my ears away, either.
– Matt Emery

The Decemberists
Her Majesty
Kill Rock Stars 2003

It seems like it would be a cop out to have Colin Meloy’s girlfriend design the artwork for all of the band’s albums. Either he’s romantic or totally whipped. But when your girlfriend is Carson Ellis, you’d be insane not to use her skills, and The Decemberists are only slightly insane. The Her Majesty cover shows three war-torn soldiers playing cards, nestled in a bunker surrounded by a blown-out world where only scraps of wood and shades of gray remain. Try not being enthralled by the lyrics of “The Soldiering Life” as they blend into Ellis’s recreation. Pretty fucking spectacular, girlfriend or not.
– Matt Emery

Talking Heads
More Songs About Buildings and Food
Sire 1978

It’s hard to think of Talking Heads without recalling how damn original the group was. Whether in videos or on stage, the band practically defined creativity – remember those gigantic white suits? But leave it to zany frontman David Byrne to come up with one of the greatest album cover schemes of all time. For 1978’s More Songs About Buildings and Food, Byrne snapped more than 500 close-up Polaroids of the band standing at motionless attention. The result is a photomosaic with a particularly warped effect – no matter how hard Byrne tried to get the proportions right, it always ended up goofy and somehow mildly disturbing – which, of course, is the point.
DEREK BARBER

Jackson Browne
Late for the Sky
Asylum 1974

Intended to evoke the style of Ren

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