Instro is imaginative and open-ended, and the album art can absolutely affect the way we listen to and interpret an album. Here are some of my favorites from this year.
Hypnotzar - Cold Streams of Taiga
Artist: Daria Eye Melnikova-Shopova
I'm actually surprised that I left their self-titled EP off of last year's list as it was drawn by the same artist. I think this one is even better though. It's got the same swirly, wild clouds but this time blending into the strange landscape. I love the limited but striking color pallette and all the small, strange details. What a great sense of mystery.
The Concussions - Newaygo Sound Machine
Artist: Shawn Dickinson
Though it may seem like it sometimes, I swear Shawn Dickinson doesn't get an automatic pass in this category. He's gotta earn it! Show me somethin' I haven't seen before! So this definitely qualifies. With so many album covers with "surfer babes" it's refreshing (not a word I expected to use on this piece) to see more humorous take on it. It's a nice fit for The Concussions' unique brand of instro music, lets you know immediately that they're going for something different. It must have been REALLY fun to draw, too.
Pirato Ketchup and Daikaiju - Winged Ants Flight / Cocklobster
Artist: Zorg Vector
Normally the Best Album Art award goes after the Big List of Surf Records, kicking off the Gremmys. However, Pirato Ketchup sent me an early promo of their December 30th release with this album art inside. I couldn't do this category without this one in it, but I didn't want to do this category with an unreleased record. Well, now we're in the clear.
This is each side of a split 10", each side weird and colorful and full of invertebrates. It's eye-catching and begs for you to take a moment and figure out what's going on... only to end up a little more bewildered.
The Coffin Daggers - Aggravatin' Rhythms
Artist: Sam Gambino
Say what you want, it's pretty memorable.
And the Gremmy goes to...
The Necronautics - The Necronautics
Arist: Rainer Steve Kaufmann
Seeing this album art in my facebook feed was what drove me to track down this surprisingly hard-to-find record. I had to see what it was about or at the very least, have it in my house. I expected some pretty dark, bestial, angry surf out of this record, partially because it reminded me of a lot of bands that use the "core" suffix when describing their music (Converge comes to mind). But upon listening to the record it actually fits very well: a colorful adventure through all sorts of places and spaces. Though the details are abstract, it floods the mind with feelings and thoughts. Make sure to check out the inside of the LP too!