Taylor DeBoer shares his favorite album art
Sometimes on rainy afternoons I go to record stores and just wander. If I’m feeling bold, I may buy an LP or two based purely on the cover. These sometimes come from the dollar bin but I have, on multiple occasions, purchased albums for full price that I’ve never heard of. If it catches my eye, at the very least, it might find a place on the shelf or in some very special circumstances, on my wall. Here are a few of my favorite album covers. Some of these LPs are also great to listen and others standup more for their album art. This is Part 2.
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
I don’t care about how too-cool or uncool or pretentious or calculated or rich you think the guys of Vampire Weekend are. Frankly, if you scold musicians for making art based on what they know, then you’re ultimately discrediting the entire art-form. Are Vampire Weekend affluent? Yes. Are they cultured? Yes. Do they come from upper-middle class families and have Ivey League educations? Yes and yes. And they are also one of the most consistent contemporary bands. Their three albums, Vampire Weekend, Contra and magnum opus, Modern Vampires of the City, are all perfect in their own way — highbrow reference aside. This album cover, which is of mid-century Manhattan on –at that point– the smoggiest day of the century, is a perfect representation of an album that took a sharp left turn in theme from their previous work. While still catchy as hell, the album dives deeply into themes of love, loss, religion and the apocalypse all with afro-beats, shiny guitars and vocal phasers. Like Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot from Part 1 of Art I’d Buy: Album Covers, MVOTC is one of the best albums of this decade or even of this century.
Chain Link Fence – Fireworks
I’ve listen to this EP one time all the way through. It’s a very mediocre New Wave album from a forgettable British band from the 80s. The guitar sounds are pretty legit, but outside of that, the best part about this record is the cover. This prep-school aesthetic, with autumn foliage and all, has a distinct John Hughesian vibe that screams nostalgia. As I mentioned in Part 1, my favorite covers tend to be photographs. This cover has a casualness that makes me gravitate toward it — maybe the photographer was just a friend that caught the band in a particular chill moment and when they were scrambling, with their shoestring budget, to find an album cover idea they decided to run with this photo. Or maybe, this was all part of an elaborate photo shoot. I’ll go with the first idea. The dollar-bin at Sound Garden can provide you with some great wall art.
Pete Seeger – The World of Pete Seeger
I cheated on this one. This shot of an introspective Seeger circa 1955 is actually the inside cover. The real cover (pictured here) is some dated water color painting that makes the album look like a bad discount book cover. This photo however, is one of my favorite of Seeger and captures everything I love about him — oneness with nature, pastoral, open, and deliberate. If you like Seeger as I do, you’ll enjoy this double LP of some of his most iconic songs. I went out and bought it the day he passed away. With all that’s going on in the world today, we really could use a Pete Seeger song or two, don’t you think? RIP.
Tex Ritter – Tex
I’d be lying if I said I listened to this album even once. Tex Ritter is a country singer from the 50s and I bought this album only because it was A. 99 cents and B. had a perfectly hilarious album cover. Is this a serious piece of art? Nah. But it’s the silly kinda album you’ll find in a dollar bin somewhere on a rainy Saturday afternoon and buy because it catches your eye. That being said, Tex Ritter, father of late actor John Ritter, is in the Country Music Hall of Fame so I imagine he’s quite the musician. This is on my long list of must-listens.
Author Taylor DeBoer grew up in the Baltimore area and studied Writing and Sociology at Loyola University Maryland. He is a local writer, music lover, and edits a website that he co-founded, Manikmusic.net. Follow him on Twitter at TayDeBoer23.