AMA is Heavy Blog’s monthly community Q&A column, where readers ask questions across the gamut, and we are legally required by the universal laws of “AMA” to answer them! These are edited and excerpted transcripts. To see full transcripts and participate in future conversations, join the Heavy Blog Facebook Community Group!
I’m late this month, I know. Apologies etc. We had another round of good questions from our community members though, so let’s get to it. This month’s session featured a lot of music recommendation-related questions, so get ready to check out and listen to a bunch of stuff.
See you next time!
Caroline asks: Albums you’ve listened to solely based on the album art
Nick Cusworth: It helps that the band play music very much in my wheelhouse to begin with, but absolutely Druids’ latest album from last year. I mean, come on. How can you not listen to that?
Same with We Are Impala‘s album from last year. Often my first step in scrounging Bandcamp for new post- releases is simply finding album art that looks legit or interesting in some way. This one got me interested immediately and did not disappoint in the least.
Eden Kupermintz: Pretty corny answers but here we go
But the number one, and also the one which has brought me the most joy, will forever be this. Also, it’s the same guy from the Druids album above!
Back when I was still buying physical CDs, I’d go in and buy stuff based on cover art. Another amazing discovery that came from art is this absolute classic
Oh wait, that’s the wrong Wilderun album. I meant the much cornier
Caroline: I didn’t realize the Dreadnought art was Mark Facey! His work is KILLER. Also the art on the first Wilderun you posted is by an awesome artist I was already following so I checked out the Wilderun record and whoa buddy it is NOT for me but his art is fantastic
Scott Murphy: A lot, honestly. With so many new and old releases on my radar, the quality of an album’s cover is a great way to discern a band’s potential genre and, to an extent, how much effort they put into their presentation as a whole. It’s not universal, but terrible album artwork often correlates with subpar music, in my experience.
To answer the actual question, here are some of my favorite albums that made me stop scrolling based on their covers alone:
The font choice sucks, but the cover itself is awesome:
Noyan: Barton’s odyssey by Atlantis Chronicles. Really cool prog deathcore
Nate Johnson: Anything with a nautical themed cover instantly grabs my attention. Good example of a recent discovery:
Simon Handmaker: honestly? In The Court of the Crimson King
Karlo Doroc: still one of my favourite ever covers
Brad asks: Who is the best up and coming from your either state or country?
Eden Kupermintz: Don’t know about up and coming since they might not go anywhere, but I love these guys from Tel Aviv. Great pop-punk
Nick Cusworth: This feels like cheating somehow given how often I’ve talked them up and how beloved they already are in large swaths of the post-rock community, but gonna give another shout-out to Circus Trees given that they are actually local to me in MA and are doing amazing things at such a young age.
Jordan Jerabek: Nobody grinds quite like The Central. These dudes got IT.
Scott Murphy: Wicked fun pop-punk from the New Hampshire seacoast. Feels like a blend of Cloud Nothings, The Dismemberment Plan, and Dinosaur Jr. with elements of modern pop-punk.
I’m not sure if she’s 100% based here, but Octo Octa is a rising name on the techno/house/club circuit and recorded her latest album at her cabin in New Hampshire.
Simon Handmaker: Nucleus 100%
Simon Clark: My primary method of discovering promising new bands is watching support acts, so my opportunities to do so have been very dramatically limited this year. So this is, I think, my favourite album released by a British band so far this year.
Matt MacLennan: Freedom
Joe Astill: I used to (and still do to an extent) just listen to bands and didn’t really care or pay that much attention to what local/regional/national scene a band was part of, but I’ve started to become aware of it more and more and attach significance to a particular scene because of the sounds coming from it. Loathe are from Liverpool, and are the first band in a little while that genuinely make me think that there’s something interesting in the water here, and that feels somewhat unique to England.
Simeon asks: Reviews that you flipped on ie. printed that it was amazing/the worst and revisited that album a year later and completely changed your mind?
Noyan: I don’t have any reviews that went from love to hate or vice versa, but I’ve definitely had a few where I was more positive initially than how I ended up being. Autotheism by The Faceless was one that I was way too excited about at the time, and I listened to it a lot, but in the end that album ended up being almost entirely unremarkable other than the title track, which is just decent at best.
Scott Murphy: I can’t think of any albums I’ve completely flipped on after reviewing them, but I’ve definitely shifted my perspective after revisiting records down the road. I panned The Ark Work, and while I still don’t enjoy it, subsequent listens helped me appreciate Hunter Hunt Hendrix’s ambition. I kept an open mind with Liturgy’s last release and ended up really enjoying it and giving it a positive review.
Jimmy Rowe: At the time I thought the first The Contortionist album Exoplanet had too many deathcore parts and I wanted them to do more prog and post rock stuff. They did that exactly on Intrinsic and I loved it immensely at the time of release. Guess which album still gets played in 2020.
Karlo Doroc: I didn’t review it, but Leprous – Pitfalls. when it came out I thought it was good for what it was (soft/pop rock), but not what I wanted from them (weird, progressive, different). Ended up growing on me massively and now I love it and it was one of my favourites from last year. “Distant Bells” in particular went from a song I thought was boring to possibly my favourite ever Leprous song.
Eden Kupermintz: Anathema‘s latest release for me. I loved it when it released and I still think it’s a good album but I was too caught up in my own relationship with the band and what they mean to write an interesting review. There are many flaws with that release, some of them saying some interesting things about the band and their genre but I failed to really address them because I was too busy with assuring others (and myself) that Anathema were not “losing it”. We’ll have to wait for another release (if it comes) but it might be the case that their previous release is exactly when they started losing it and I missed that.
Brady asks: Contrary to Caroline’s question – albums that put you off at first due to the cover art (not that that should be a deciding factor, but we’re human) that you later discovered contained great music?
Eden Kupermintz: There’s actually a recent example on that for me which is Dessiderium‘s “Shadow Burn”. I’m obsessed with the album now but the cover art is so bad, like 3D generated art from a PS3 game (if you’re reading this Dessiderium, I’m sorry but thems the facts).
There are also like a million black metal albums this is true for. All those weird/shitty drawings of winter or wherever often make me ignore a thing but then I force myself to listen and it’s actually good.
Jordan Jerabek: Most Voivod album covers.
Evan/Brady ask: What video games are you lot playing right now? / Your favourite video games/board games/tabletop roleplaying games at the moment?
Noyan: Monster Train, The Last of Us Part II, Poly Bridge 2 and Beat Saber
Eden Kupermintz: Video games – TLOU2, Monster Train, Total War Warhammer II (as always)
Board games – Apocrypha is a really interesting collaborative horror game and Gloomhaven is always good. Because of COVID we haven’t been really meeting with friends to play but I hope we can do that soon.
TTRPG – I’m running a chapter of Lancer and it’s fucking amazing. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a mech based wargaming kind of system but with really cool lore and art.
Jordan Jerabek: Just wrapped up on a replay of every Uncharted game (had to warm myself up for 4 which I hadn’t played before), TLOU + the DLC, and now playing TLOU2.
Nate Johnson: Doom Eternal, Mafia 2 Remastered, TLOU Remastered, Bloodborne