! = recommended
* = all-ages
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Finding it much too difficult to decide upon my favorite albums this year, I've decided to go for a "best of" list that puts much more emphasis on physical appearances. These aren't necessarily my favorite albums of 2007 (you can't judge a CD by its cover), but I think they all deserve some recognition for the art pieces that decorate them. After all, there have been some pretty hideous covers this year.
10. "Twilight and Ghost Stories" by Chris Schlarb. I chose this one for its cute colors, bold lines, and its overall dreamy feeling.
9. "Super Taranta!" by Gogol Bordello. Although plenty of wacky collage-inspired album art has been attempted this year by bands such as the Go! Team and the Klaxons, I feel that only Gogol Bordello managed to pull off the abstract with style.
8. Live at KEXP: Volume Three. Well, this is just cute. It's been a good year for penguins.
7. "In Camera" by Arthur and Yu. I'm a big fan of the pop art era, and this cover is straight from the days of Warhol.
6. "Dumb Luck" by Dntel. Although Pitchfork described this cover as accurately capturing "the flaccidness of the music," I disagree strongly. I think minimalism is back, and Dntel is ahead of the curve. As for the flaccidness of the music, well, that much may be true.
5. "The Streets, the Sounds, and the Love" by New Atlantic. This album cover is just beautiful. It's simple color scheme contrasts the fairly busy design nicely, creating a balance that really pleases the eye.
4. "Cassadaga" by Bright Eyes. I'm going to get a beat-down from igLiz for this, but I really don't care for Bright Eyes. Still I was won over by the astounding art on his newest album, which really can't be properly appreciated on a website. The CD comes with a special decoder you can scan across the entire album, revealing hidden messages and pictures everywhere. Hours of fun!
3. "Friend and Foe" by Menomena. This is the only record on my list which would also have been on my top 10 for music. Really, Menomena got this whole album pretty much perfect. Like Cassadaga, the true genius of this art can only be seen in person, but I think it translates here a little better than my number 4 pick. The art is astoundingly detailed, and is riddled with various song references, and even the Barsuk dog. The cover is full of holes through which the designs on the CD can be seen, allowing you to choose facial features (Mr. Potatohead style) for the creepy figures on the front.
2. "Places Like These" by Architecture in Helsinki. This cover has so many elements I couldn't possibly describe them all. The contrast between the old world below and the futuristic society above is represented by color, shape, and texture (they teach you things like that in high school art classes). Basically it's a feast for the eyes, even without all the hidden meaning mumbo jumbo.
1. "Andorra" by Caribou. I always hate picking the number one, because by this time I've praised everything else so highly, I've forgotten why I made this one my top pick. I guess I never really knew, just something about it made me fall in love. The bright yellows probably did it. It just looks like an explosion of happiness in my backyard.