2014 was a tough year for album design. Maybe we can blame the economy for that. Not enough money for musicians means not enough money to pay photographers and designers to make musicians and music look their best. Tons of albums came across my desk this year; many of them with unintended subtexts, such as “Hey, my friend’s got Photoshop!”, “DIY, baby!” or “Look at this blurry iPhone photo that has half my face and most of my armpit in it!”
Some albums were so weirdly designed I didn’t even know I had them. Two that come to mind are The Bally Who’s A Pilferer’s Patience and The Quintessential Octopus’ Mother. Both are almost impossible to read.
A few others that had me wondering were Ryan Foret’s Someone Special (apparently his own special person is attached at the hip, judging from the camera angle) and Jerry Giddens and Killeen Foundry’s Damn It Abby! (Which one’s Abby? And why is that rooster all up in that club?).
Further, why is Derrick Freeman about to cut a guy in a yellow shirt with “BIRD” on it on DWB, and why is Jerry Lee Lewis’ shadow boning the door jam on Rock & Roll Time?
It’s clear that the leading lady of The Smoking Time Jazz Club has smoked more than her share considering the color of her teeth on I Need Someone Like You. And what on Earth is going on in the Benoit family where Lee Benoit on Pour Les Générations À Venir has everyone appear as ghosts in identical hats? This design doesn’t exactly instill “hope for the future of our culture.”
My biggest disappointment this year came from Horace Trahan & the Ossun Express who, with …By Special Request, passed up yet another chance to put out a second volume of their 2003 album That Butt Thing. Who wouldn’t want that butt thing—again?
The most inexplicable choice for an album cover is the notoriously funny Swamp Dogg’s The White Man Made Me Do It. Here he is on the cover, reading the Bible in his undies, when he’s got rats in diamonds to work with on the inside of the album! Personally, I’d go with rats in diamonds—everywhere!