Albums of the Year
Label of the Year
In the first entry of our year-end 2017 material, we’re diving into our Top 25 Vinyl Variants. While some choices may not lead to prime aural conditions (picture discs, liquid filled, crazy splatters), all present demonstrate artistic achievement beyond the album art. You’ll center these within a record frame, you’ll pull these out when giving tours of your collection, you’ll park online and break your refresh key in order to nab these. Without further ado….
Hazy Mountains — Small Hours
Mountain Mist Vinyl
Why? — Sticking with the rainbow pattern, we’ve got a light touch here from Wax Mage, with yellow being the only color that doesn’t directly match up with that artwork.
Sister Smirk — Animals
Wax Mage Records/Quality Time Records
Why? — This one manages to have pieces of flannel inside. Points just for the insanity. Limited to 22 and they sold out fast.
John Carpenter — Anthology (Movie Themes 1974-1998)
Sacred Bones Records
Liquid Filled + Screenprint
Why? — There’s been reports of leaking with this variant, but the label has reportedly been sending out replacement copies. So, we give them the spot for being one of the sharpest uses of a liquid filled variant yet (love the addition of the screenprint), along with good customer service.
David Arnold — Hot Fuzz
180-Gram Chocolate Cornetto Colored Vinyl, with Chocolate Scented Insert.
Why? — Take that Cornetto pattern, apply it to a vinyl disc, you have a winner. Bonus points for going with the scented insert instead of scented vinyl, as the record just ends up smelling like cardboard after a while.
Contra 3: The Alien Wars
Why? — Yes, yes, the “Spread” variant should have been horizontal to mimic the side-scrolling action. But, it’s still a nice take on the greatest gun upgrade in video game history.
William Peter Blatty — The Exorcist
Clear with Black Smoke
Why? — Simple, yet such a haunting match with those center labels. Plays like a black & white horror film spinning on your turntable.
Angelo Badalamenti — Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
Death Waltz Recording Company
Why? — It doesn’t look like cherry pie, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s a beautiful dark red, with just enough splash of black and white marbling.
Ennio Morricone — The Thing
Deep Blue with White Haze
Why? — You can be sure the packaging will also show up on an MV list, but for now, let’s just drool over this “Ice” variant.
John Williams — Home Alone
Why? — Overpriced at $50, but it’s still a fun take on the holiday classic.
Various Artists — Bojack Horseman OST
Why? — Not every picture disc needs to be packed full of every character in a respective movie or show. This classy treatment demonstrates that. Pick a couple great shots, have confidence in those shots.
Clint Mansell — Black Mirror: San Junipero
Why? — A great design by Billy The Butcher, who has an impressive series of Black Mirror artwork to his name. Kudos to Lakeshore for linking up with him.
Diet Cig — Overeasy
Why? — Great play between vinyl and center label, leading to one of the most memorable physical music images of the year.
Barren Womb — Old Money/New Lows
Why? — Barren Womb has turned the excellent picture disc into quite the habit, following up their “log” picture disc with this limited-to-100 coin. It’s not being released until 2018, but picture disc mockups are usually a pretty good match for final product.
Matt Duncan — Beacon
Soul Step Records
Eight Chamber Liquid Filled Vinyl
Why? — It makes me think of the Pac-Man ghosts, so really that’s enough to land it on the list. But then it’s liquid filled? In what’s actually separate pockets? No wonder if sold out in less than a minute.
The Notorious B.I.G. — Ready to Die
Vinyl Me Please
Why? — A big, audacious record needs a pressing to match. This is just that and solid work from the vinyl sub service.
Main Source — Breaking Atoms
Vinyl Me Please
Orange in Clear + Purple
Why? — The combo of LP + 7″ is a great match for that colorful cover art, and I’m a sucker for the “colored blob” inside clear arrangements.
Arms and Sleepers — Miami
Screen-printed B-side with Pink Vinyl
Why? — The A-side center label is expanded into a full screenprint on the B-side, to great effect.
At The Drive In — in•ter a•li•a
Why? — A sharp picture disc from Rise, featuring a swirled image of the group. The B-side includes a separate color scheme.
Thrice — The Alchemy Index
Why? — Just a great overall presentation, with appropriate splatters all around.
George Cessna — Sincerely Yours
Half Beer/Half Tears
“Our signature double-concentric liquid-filled record, filled with salt water in the inner chamber and a safe non-flammable “Coors Banquet” mixture in the outer chamber.”
Why? — You’ve got salt water and beer somehow combined into the same, liquid-filled record, in separate chambers. Second time this technique has shown up in this list, both impressive.
Knuckle Puck — Shapeshifter
Set of variants
Why? — A great set of variants, utilizing the artwork’s palette.
The Smith Street Band — More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me
Set of variants
Why? — The solid colors are the real highlight here; bright, strong and again a good match for the album art.
Sleepy Limbs — ST
Know Hope Records
Set of variants
Why? — Beautiful screenprint across the variants, especially on the baby blue/grey.
Crumb — Locket
Citrus City Records
Silver Glitter with Gold Ink
Why? — The glitter and gold ink combo is aces, as is the design (more visible on the white cassette).