Album Art Gems: Part One

One of my greatest loves, that I really could talk about forever, is album cover designs. Get ready. This is going to be a weekly series of my favorite album covers of all time, simply because there’s too many to fit into only one blog post.

I am a graphic design major and designer for WKNC, so you can imagine that aesthetics is very important to me. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but I think this foolish. Who wants to read a book that’s title is in Comic Sans? Not I.

Album covers help to communicate a lot about an artist and the message behind their music. There is something so beautiful to me about having one type of art inform another, and album art does just that. One of my favorite things to do is peruse Nice Price Records on Hillsborough St. and find a record with the coolest cover I can find. Even if it’s in completely random genre section that I would normally never listen to, this has been a great way to find design inspiration and new music.

Both a mixture of classics and newbies, here’s my top five for this week’s installment of Album Art Gems:

1.     Freetown Sound – Blood Orange

If you’ve read any of my blogs, you know that I am a big Dev Hynes fan. His album covers are always so beautiful, but “Freetown Sound” is the most standout to me. The colors are divine, and it pairs wonderfully with his album’s message to highlight Black relationships and love.

2.     Axis: Bold as Love – Jimi Hendrix

I LOVE JIMI HENDRIX. He was a musical god and his genius on the guitar and as a poet is timeless. I had the “Axis” cover as a poster in my freshman dorm for an entire year. With Eastern philosophy and psychedelics gaining popularity in America right around the time “Axis” was released, the Jimi Hendrix Experience reflected this cultural revolution in this insane album art.

3.     DHL (Single) – Frank Ocean

Frank is known for his simplicity and anonymity. To be entirely honest, I have no idea what’s going on in this cover, but I like it a lot. The type design for DHL is really fun and interesting, along with the colors overall.

4.     Vacation in Hell – Flatbush Zombies

This album cover is mm *chef’s kiss*. FBZ are the dark, expressive rap group we all need right now, yet this cover really contrasts their normal undead vibes. During an interview, they said that this shoot was scheduled on a day when it was completely overcast and rainy. Just when they were about to call it quits as the day was ending, the sun burst through the clouds and they were able to take the perfect shot.

5.     Let it Bleed – The Rolling Stones

Finally, we have a great classic from the Rolling Stones. Like the “DHL” single, I really have no idea what’s happening, but whatever it is, it’s working. If you look closely, the bottom layers of the “cake” seem to be made up of a bike tire, a pancake, a clock, and a film reel canister. The colors and strange simplicity of this cover will always make it one of my favorites. 

Hope you guys enjoyed this as much as I did.

Tune in!

– DJ butter

By toad maiden

A little Butter makes everything better. Part-time WKNC content manager and graphic designer, full-time sludgy surf rock funk master metalhead. Get in touch with ya suggestions n' such at