You can’t always judge a book by its cover, but sometimes an album cover adds to understanding the music within.
Here are a handful of beautiful (and “out-there”) covers that — especially with the aid of a little ganja — might make you think twice about the tunes themselves.
1. Tame Impala – ‘Currents’
A marble in a sea of zebra stripes? An eyeball in the midst of the ether? It’s hard to say, but any way you cut it, the cover for the Australian psych-rock group’s most recent effort is just as disorienting and hypnotizing as its sprawling tracks. Be sure to check out the glitch-y “Let It Happen” and the hook-filled “The Moment.”
2. Alice Coltrane – ‘World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’
Following the death of her husband — iconic saxophonist John Coltrane — Alice Coltrane founded an ashram in rural California called Sai Anantam. There, she recorded with ashram members, combining Hindu devotionals with droning synthesizers and layered vocals. The cover of this album, a compilation of that music, captures members of the ashram bathed in a soft glow, magnifying the sublime and mystical nature of Coltrane’s art.
3. Talking Heads – ‘Fear of Music’
The third album from the legendary art-rock group, the cover of ‘Fear of Music’ is embossed (at least on vinyl) with a grid pattern that gives it the feel of metal flooring. It’s a weird texture, unlike that of any other album cover, and it adds a sense of menace and otherworldliness to dystopian tracks — like the insanely catchy “Life During Wartime” and the ironic folk song “Heaven.”
4. FKA twigs – ‘M3LL155X’
A bizarre take on the name “Melissa,” the ‘M3LL155X’ EP bears a cover as perplexing as its name. Featuring a portrait photograph of twigs, born Tahliah Debrett Barnett, the album cover reveals her hand melding into her face. It’s a subtle trick, much like the tracks “Figure 8” and “I’m Your Doll,” which counter heavy grooves with shadowy synthesizers and Barnett’s modulated voice. Like all of her work, ‘M3ll155X’ stays just weird enough to avoid veering into full-fledged pop territory.
5. Flaming Lips – ‘The Soft Bulletin: Live La Fantastique de Institution 2011’
The cover of the Flaming Lips’ classic album ‘The Soft Bulletin,’ with its garish color scheme and distorted shadows, is actually somewhat normal — at least by the standards of the eternally eccentric Flaming Lips, who’ve been known to include their own blood with their albums, among other antics. But the packaging of the live version, released in 2011, pushes things to new heights of weirdness: In lieu of a traditional cover, they’ve encased the album in a 7-pound strawberry-flavored gummy skull. The icing on the cake? Well, the brain inside the skull is marijuana-flavored. The brain-skull-album went for $150 and only a few copies were ever made available. If you didn’t get your hands on one, rest assured: You can always just get high, listen to ‘The Soft Bulletin’ and eat infused gummy bears. They might just not be weed-flavored.
TELL US, what music do you think is marijuana inspired?