Favourite Australian Album Covers 2011

It’s the end of the year again and another opportunity for me to look at my favourite Australian album covers from the past 12 months. All in all it was a fairly good year cover design wise – maybe the art of the album cover isn’t dead after all. While the rest of the world produced some pretty lacklustre results, Australia seemed to up it’s game with some fantastic imagery for some very interesting music produced during the year. It took some searching and as usual. most of the really inspiring stuff came from independent and under-the -radar releases rather than the more chart friendly releases, with some notable exceptions. I’ve tried where possible to credit the creators of the artwork, feel free to leave a comment if you can fill in any of the gaps.

Deeper Into Dream: Ben Lee

Artwork Photography: Lizzy Waronker
Design, Layout: Rory Wilson

My thoughts on Ben Lee are pretty well documented on this blog, and this was a particularly awful release music wise, even by his recent standards. That said, I’ve got to admit he does commission some pretty cool covers for his albums, this being no exception. Maybe he should consider a change of career?

Singularity: Sounds of Sirus

Artwork: Glenn Thomas

Quite a beautiful, sedate cover for a band with such a guitar heavy sound, you can’t always tell an album by it’s cover.

Night Owls: Ryan Meeking And The Few

Design & Artwork: Motherbird

A beautiful illustration on an album cover is always going to catch my eye, but those birds aren’t really owls are they?

RRakala: Gurrumul

Artwork: Carlo Santone

Musically, just a beautiful album. Visually, it avoids all the usual clichés to produce a sublime and effortless cover image perfectly matched to the music.

The Cat: Ben Salter

I know it’s just an illustration of a cat, and maybe not a very good one, but it somehow seems to work in the context of this release.

Carried In Mind: Jeff Lang

Cover Illustration: Amanda Upton
Album Design: Myf Walker

This album cover really jumped out at me visually when I first happened upon it at the local JB hi-fi. Beautifully and playfully illustrated with sympathetic hand drawn type, this is a winner all around. Why can’t more album covers be this much fun?

The Great Impression: Sparkadia

Artwork: Kareena Zerefos

The cover feels like I’ve walked into some kind of art installation and does an amazing job of bring both imagery and typography to the forefront rather than leaving either as an after thought.

Matchsticks: City Riots

Loving the half-tone dots, colour and glam of this release from Adelaide’s City Riots, would love to know who did the artwork.

Odds Or Evens: The Bowers

Design: Mick Stylianou
Photography: Steve Harris
Hand Lettering: Rhys Lee

While I’m not particularly blown away by the photography on the cover, I’m a sucker for big chunky hand painted type and it works effectively with the image on this bright red cover. I imagine this looks amazing on the extra size afforded on their vinyl 12″ release, loving that Coke Bottle Green Transparent Vinyl for the disk as well. Thanks to Phil Gionfriddo from The Bowers for updating me on who produced the artwork, I’m assuming the hand-lettering was produced by the Rhys Lee who is a quite well known visual artist in his own right, impressive!

Zonoscope: Cut Copy

Design & Artwork: Alter

Winner of this years Aria Award for best album cover artwork, the tasteful yet powerful imagery of this release propels the album art into the realms of ‘iconic’. Well played Alter.

Great Barrier Grief: Oh Mercy

Artwork: Ken Done

If there is one thing you can be certain of from the band Oh Mercy, it’s that they have never met a pun they didn’t like, as album title ‘Great Barrier Grief’ attests to. It’s still quite a coup to get renowned Australian artist Ken Done to paint their cover image though, striking and colourful, it goes some way to forgive all those koala and Sydney Harbour Bridge tea towels he did during the 80s. Effective as the cover is, it’s a pity they were so timid with the type, maybe they should have left it off altogether.

Dunks: Ghoul

Design & Artwork: Mitchell Cumming

There’s something intrinsically beautiful about the mixture of pattern and texture on this cover, like a loud whisper it beautifully compliments this dark and alluring album.

Routine and War: Singing Skies

Design: Mark Gowing

It wouldn’t be one of my end of year best album covers lists without featuring a design by Mark Gowing and The Preservation label. Everything they released this year had a fantastic cover of course, this being a particular standout.

Making Mirrors: Gotye

Artwork: Frank De Becker

Design: Wally De Becker

Gotye certainly stepped up his game this year with the release of ‘Making Mirrors’, and while his album covers have always been good, he took it to another level with this fantastic piece of artwork taken from a painting by his father. Even better was the artwork used for the single ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’.

Hurtsville: Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders

Tip of the hat to fellow designer Heath Killen for suggesting this one, there’s something about the bw photo with the unusual combination of mint green type that really works for this.

In The Company Of Wolves: The Ivys

A striking cover image can sometimes say it all for an album without the need of type to accompany it.

Six Petits Hilboux: Inuette

Design & Artwork by Spencer Harrison

Beautifully imagined and photographed album cover by ex-Adelaidian Spencer Harrison, one of the best cover designs of the year in my humble opinion. I can’t say I have heard the music, but if the cover is any indication it must be fantastic.

Only Sparrows: Josh Pyke

Illustration: James Gulliver Hancock

Design: Ben Shackleton

The beautiful illustrative stylings of James Gulliver Hancock once again grace a Josh Pyke album cover, how can you go wrong?

Prisoner: The Jezabels

Design: Christopher Doyle

Designer Christopher Doyle has realised the identity of the Jezabels across all their visual media with beautifully conceptual photography and a restrained typographic approach, this album cover being no exception.

Single Twin: Marcus Teague

Dancing skeletons make this cool, who doesn’t like dancing skeletons?

Secret Rituals: The Grates

Design & Artwork: The Grates

Lovely illustration done by the band themselves, but it’s a cover that you really need to hold in your hand to appreciate it’s use of paper stock and transparency effect. I like the use of typography in the left hand circle as well.

Tambourine: Teeth & Tongue

If you’re going to stick your portraits on the cover of your album, this is the way to do it. Beautiful and arresting photography and technique with a refined use of typography.

A Trophy: Tobias Cummings

Sometimes the most obvious ideas can work a treat if done properly.

I Want That You Are Always Happy: The Middle East

Artwork: The Middle East

Hands down, my favourite Australian album cover of the year An already exquisite record complimented by this beautifully weird, funny and still somehow haunting cover picture with some nice handwritten type to sweeten it even further. I advise you purchase it in the larger 12″ vinyl format to truly appreciate it!

So there you have it, another year wrapped up – Agree? Disagree? Any glaring omissions? Leave a comment and let me know.

6 thoughts on “Favourite Australian Album Covers 2011

  1. Heath Killen

    Nice list Chris. Some interesting sleeves this year – lots of stuff trending towards the hand-made and hand-drawn.

    I quite like HTRK’s Work (work, work) and The Peregrine by Lawrence English too.

    To fill in a gap — Jack Ladder did the cover for Hurtsville himself. He’s been responsible for some great sleeve design in the past too – including PVT’s Church With No Magic and Zounds by Dappled Cities. I’m pretty sure he did the logo for Spunk Records too.

  2. Phil Gionfriddo

    Hi Chris, This is Phil from The Bowers. The person responsible for the “Odds or Evens” sleeve art is Mick Stylianou, photo by Steve Harris and the beautiful hand-painted words are done by Rhys Lee. And yep it definitely looks best on the 12″… but what album artwork doesn’t??? Awesome you saw fit to include in your 2011 faves. Cheers.

  3. spencer harrison

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for including my cover in there. Nice surprise to see that there when I was scrolling through! Nice list by the way. 🙂

    Also as a side note the Zonoscope cover done by Alter is actually an image by the late Japanese photomontage artist Tsunehisa Kimura titled Toshi Wa Sawayakana Asa Wo Mukaeru (meaning The City Welcomes a Fresh Morning).

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