By Chris Moore:
Album covers are nice, but there is something transcendent about artists who put their full effort into designing an album package that elevates their work beyond music alone and into the realm of physical art. This year, the award for best album packaging has to go to Sonic Youth member Thurston Moore’s solo release Demolished Thoughts. Though a fairly minimalist black and white design, there are – in addition to lyrics, the presence of which is no longer a foregone conclusion – a slew of drawings and a collection of poetry to complement the music. Tom Waits’ deluxe edition of Bad As Me comes in a close second, the booklet alone being a visual and lyrical experience, and the four bonus tracks providing a little extra for the true fan. Wilco’s deluxe edition design for The Whole Love, another close contender for the top spot, offers four additional tracks (with the wry take on Nick Lowe’s “I Love My Label”) and a beautiful booklet that includes a visually brilliant set of drawings.
Each of these albums is proof positive that there are quality physical releases still being produced, even in what is clearly the age of the digital release. This being said, I couldn’t help but point out two of the many terribly thin and unrewarding packages to see the light of day this year. These are, inversely, reason to stay at home and download.
1) Demolished Thoughts – Thurston Moore
2) Bad As Me (Deluxe Edition) – Tom Waits
3) The Whole Love (Deluxe Edition) – Wilco
4) Ukulele Songs – Eddie Vedder
5) Mine is Yours – Cold War Kids
6) Tripper – Fruit Bats
7) Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes
8 ) So Beautiful or So What (Deluxe Limited Edition) – Paul Simon
9) The People’s Key – Bright Eyes
10) Wasting Light – Foo Fighters (includes a piece of the original master tape!)
All Eternals Deck – The Mountain Goats
No Color – Dodos
El Camino – The Black Keys