Over the last decade the music industry has been dominated by digital. Whether it’s streams or downloads, music has become something technological. Gone are the days of putting a CD in the car and cassette tapes are most definitely sat next to the yellow pages and your old Walkman as a thing of the past.
However, the music market is demanding more than a moving song title and access to every song ever recorded with the tap of a finger. We are delighted to have seen a huge resurgence in the infamous vinyl record with over 16.8 million vinyl albums in the USA and 4.2 million in the UK being sold in 2018.
It’s undeniable that the technological advances that the musical world has endured over the last 20 years has made music more accessible and more popular than ever before. But the download and streaming system does leave a longing for something tangible, something that you can hold, admire and enjoy. Where the plastic-heavy CD has become undesirable, an old school 10 or 12 inch vinyl record with the traditional casing fits the bill perfectly. Not only do you get a tangible record but buyers now are purchasing a product made up of framable artwork from their favourite artists.
With this in mind, we thought that we’d pick some of our favourite vinyl record designs from the Zero Above team (We have tried desperately to keep our personal music preferences out of the way):
Simple, intricate, beautiful. The AM album from the Arctic Monkey’s is the perfect way to kick off out list. As one of the most sold hard-copy albums in British history, this vinyl album cover has become iconic in the indie-rock genre.
The very dark grey background with the electric white sound wave running across the cover may not look like much at first glance. The hourglass shape has the letters ‘AM’ in the centre as a part of the sound waves.
Of course, AM is the name of the album and can be seen to represent an AM radio frequency, commonly known as the “Golden Age of radio”. Alongside this, AM are the bands initials and this album cover went on to be the bands branding logo for years after the release of the album – a piece of marketing genius.
This legendary album cover from The Stone Roses was chosen by our very own creative designer here in the ZA studio. The vibrance and freedom that is expressed in the design through colourful, carefree brush strokes takes inspiration from abstract painter, Jackson Pollock.
The album cover became iconic and was associated with the student riots that took place in Paris in May 1968. This became apparent with the lemons of the cover as the citrus fruit was used by protesters at the time to nullify the effects of tear gas used by police. The album cover reflects the organised chaos and adrenaline filled excitement that was omnipresent within The Stone Roses music – a truly superb album cover.
Widely referred to as the spiritual guru of hip hop, South Carolina born rapper, J-Cole, even managed to include a double entendre on the cover of his album, KOD.
The image on the album cover was one of the most talked about albums of 2018 and sold over 100,000 vinyl copies. Detroit-based artist, Kamau Haroon was the mastermind behind the now iconic album in the hip hop world.
The 22-year old artist said that Cole’s album was art in itself and translating it onto a canvas was a wonderful experience. The album cover engages you. What does KOD mean? Many believed it was an acronym for ‘kids on drugs’ however, upon listening to the album the message of ‘kill our demons’ was far more prevalent. J Cole was asked to confirm what KOD stood for however the spiritual rapper refused and claimed that the initials should be ‘open for the listeners own interpretation’.
Cole has forged a path for himself as a wise, slightly older active member of the hip hop community that has the ability to influence a younger generation. The 34-year old rapper takes his role very seriously and has devoted the majority of his career to having a positive impact on the lives of young people across the world that listen to his music. The KOD album cover reflects his role perfectly with transcending, bold colours and a beautifully painted image.
This 2017 album from the New Zealand born singer songwriter was nothing short of beautiful. Whilst the story behind the cover may not be as deep and meaningful as some of the others on this list, however the artistic prowess involved is more than worthy of a spot.
Created by Brooklyn-based artist, Sam McKinniss, was tasked with painting an intimate, blue-lit portrait of Lorde which portrayed “nighttime attitudes”. The 31-year old artist painted the image having met Lorde and listening to a sneak preview of the album. He said that he wanted to reflect a “colourful teenage restlessness and excitement and energy” however to give this image the engaging and captivating edge that it has, McKinniss had to add what he described as “this kind of lushness and sensitivity to light and colour”.
The fusions of teenage excitement as the artist described it combined with the light that offers a hint of vulnerability and uncertainty creates a truly dynamic look and feel to what is a modern day masterpiece.
Here at Zero Above we love art and creativity. The resurgence of vinyl records adds another element to the music industry and allows artists to express themselves through the music that they produce and the artwork on their records.