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2024 has already been a wonderful year for music, so it makes sense that we’d be treated with some exceptional artwork as well! Below are my 49 favorite album covers of the first quarter of 2024, unranked and lightly organized by color/aesthetics. This is not as exhaustive or delicately arranged as the year-end list will be, but I’ll likely be pulling from it later. Scroll all the way down to see the 7×7 grid–a taste of things to come 😉

Enjoy, and feel free to comment some of your favorite covers I might’ve missed!




Tierra Whack // World Wide Whack






Scrim // lonely boy



Dissimulator // Lower Form Resistance



Erika de Casier // Still



Gesaffelstein // GAMMA



Roxy Radclyffe // The Median’s Ark



Kali Uchis // orquídeas


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Ornette Coleman // The Complete Science Fiction Sessions



Alluvial // Death Is But A Door



Coming off the back of SowingSeason’s excellent ‘Let’s Get Physical’ series, I thought I’d commandeer it for a little bit and add a few additions of my own to the Sput collection – largely because collecting physical media is something I’m very passionate about, but also because I want to highlight to people who aren’t all that familiar with CDs, vinyl and other forms of great merchandise, just how creative and interesting they can be. I come from an ancient era where you had to walk around to your local retailer and pay £10-£20 for the album you desired most. As you can imagine, after meeting the archaic prerequisites, you’re compelled to wear the hell out of the CD you just bought, simply because of the effort and funds that went into attaining the record. As Sowing has touched upon in previous segments; consumption of music in 2023 is done so with relative indifference, as music enthusiasts are afforded the luxury of gorging on dozens of new albums a week for free, or for a small fee a month. And while I am as guilty as the next person for doing this, I make a concerted effort to support the artists I like by buying a CD, record, T-shirt or whatever it may be – partly because it helps the artist/band out, but also because there is no greater feeling than owning the physical release. Holding the artwork and putting on the album is a wonderful experience in itself, but…

Best Album Covers of 2022

by neekafat

Another year, another grid! Yes, yes, half a year late, but I couldn’t live with myself if there was a gap year, and I couldn’t risk letting such beautiful (or decidedly not beautiful) album covers go unnoticed. As always, this list is neither ranked nor listed in any logical order, but rather ordered through an aesthetic progression of color, framing, and connective imagery. This is by no means an exhaustive (though it was exhausting) list of 2022’s best album artwork, but I did do my best to provide covers of varied styles, genres, and backgrounds. I’m sure some will let me know if I didn’t succeed! For now, I’ll let the artworks speak for themselves.

Click here for a high-res image:



The Albums:

Melody’s Echo Chamber // Emotional Eternal

Alexisonfire // Otherness

Julia Jacklin // PRE PLEASURE

Soccer Mommy // Sometimes, Forever

Tate McRae // I Used To Think I Could Fly

BLACK MIDI // Hellfire

More Eaze // oneiric

Tenci // A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing

Birds in Row // Gris Klein

Camila Cabello // Familia

Witch Fever // Congregation

Highly Suspect // The Midnight Demon Club

JAWs 2022: Best debut

Hello and welcome to the first instalment of this year’s maybe-annual JAWs! Screenshot 2022-12-02 at 21.09.44

Here are your questions:

Who Are You?

I am johnnyoftheWell!

How Are You?

I am well. I am in a cafe procrastinating an essay deadline and stressing about my laptop battery, which is not long for this world. How are you?

How Was 2022 For Music?

2022 was(/is!) pretty awesome for music! There have definitely been a few lulls, but I’ve had an overall great time digging up silly treasures, listening to people’s recs and just following them trends (which has been a good deal more fruitful than in previous years lemme tell ya). 2022 is good!

What The Flying Frick Is A JAW?

One of my best features tbh, but also um, it had a definite phrasing and I forgot it. (This one’s for you, Cimnele:)

It might have been an acronym for something like Johnny Awards Winners or Jackpot Ablutions from the Well, but I think in my head at the moment it’s a syllabic abbreviation from Jotw AWards or maybe JotAWwww. It is absolutely not an initialism – say Jay Ayy Double-you out loud and I will slap you and eat mx. 

tl;dr it’s a nice way to spotlight some year highlights that I think deserve to be spotlit. 

I’m not posting a full list from the year or declaring an AOTY at this point because the Cram is still in session

It’s with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Brandon Scott (aka TheSpirit), a longstanding member of the Sputnik community who lost his battle with addiction. Brandon was a member of Sputnik for over thirteen years, over which time he wrote frequently as a site Contributor and made an indelible mark on the site with his kindness, wit and unquellable positivity. He wrote prolifically across the internet for a variety of platforms, significantly InvisibleOranges, and was a talented musician involved in active creative projects. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family. If you are able to, please consider contributing to his funeral expenses here.

We have compiled a short list of testimonials below; please feel free to share any of your own in the comments (or contact us via sowingsputnik@gmail.com if you would like to be included in this piece):


Though we were never close, I remember Brandon from my earliest days on Sputnik, and of all the people I’ve come across online, he was easily one of the best-humoured, affable and, no matter the scenario, room-brightening. The longer I spent on Sputnik, the more amazed I became at the way he maintained a cheerful spirit, brought the best out of everyone around him, faced personal hardships with vast openness and optimism, respected mutual differences, never took himself overly seriously, and yet – perhaps above all – did what he loved with total dedication without losing his heart to it. I know

Free Photography of Cat at Full Moon Stock Photo

As part of a new tradition, Sputnik will be putting together seasonal playlists to celebrate some of our favorite holidays/times of year. The first installment in this series is for the spookiest/eeriest tunes of 2022, just in time for Halloween! It’s a pretty eclectic mix, featuring everything from hip-hop to doom metal, so hopefully there’ll be something for everyone (even though I know that the lone Muse track will be the one that everyone jams relentlessly). This playlist was compiled by both users and staff utilizing only songs from 2022, which admittedly limits the output but also ensures that while listening, you can feel like you’re on the cutting edge of creepy music — a hallow-hipster, if you will. So to all of our readership, enjoy this round of fresh tunes on us. Have a scary but safe Halloween!

Playlist Contributors:

mkmusic1995(for Ptolemaea, Ronin, Vlastimil)

AlexKzillion(for Centurion, Photograph, Pamela)

SlothcoreSam(for The First Dead Body I Ever Saw, Satanic Slumber Party Part 2, subtle-body-horror)

Sowing(for Nuages, Ghostland, Laguna Seca)

Hyperion1001(for Mangled as the Hideous Feed)

Sunnyvale(for You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween)

PitchforkArms(for Dead Friends)

dedex(for Welcome to Hell, Bites on My Neck, Nabokov)

izakaya(for Vanity)

cold(for Blue Chalk, Golgotha)

JohnnyoftheWell –…

On Thursday 8/11/22, the day after my mom’s 63rd birthday (and 11 days before my 27th (and 9 days before my sister’s 31st)), I flew from JFK to Seattle, arriving at about 8 p.m., to attend a three-day music festival called Day In Day Out. My brother lives in Seattle as a PhD student at the University of Washington, and I stayed with him, sleeping on the couch in his cabinlike one-bedroom apartment that is its own tiny building in which he and his girlfriend live for $1350 a month. I went back from Seattle to NYC on Monday, arriving at JFK at 10:30 p.m. I saw 14 bands that weekend, and missed Turnstile (whose Glow On I really don’t like), Julie (whose EP I really like), and Japanese Breakfast (which is a goddamn crying shame—don’t ask). Armed with the handy Pentax K1000 that my first girlfriend gave me for my 18th birthday, I ended up interviewing five of the artists—a member of the band I call my favorite ever, a favorite rapper of mine, and three artists I frankly didn’t know until seeing their name on the poster. (I didn’t know who The Kerrys were until the day before the first day of the festival, when they functionally replaced the COVID-troubled Soccer Mommy.)

For what it’s worth, barring the dreamlike All Tomorrow’s Parties New York festival that unfolded at Kutsher’s Hotel (?) in goddamn Monticello, NY around the turn of the 2010s, Day In Day Out was probably the…

Sputnik Roundtable #1: Music Assessment

All discussion prompts submitted by the user nightbringer.

So far this year, we have implemented a handful of new, different ideas of our website’s staff blog — while some have predictably flamed out, others have endured and seem primed for a bright future. About four months ago, I surveyed our collective userbase for additional concepts, and this latest one came to us from nightbringer, who suggested all seven of the below discussion topics. We organized a small committee of writers (granitenotebook, JesperL, JohnnyoftheWell, and myself) to answer as we saw fit. In this first installment of what will hopefully be many, we observe the nature of music critique: from “what makes a classic” to how album art influences our perception of the music we hear. If you have questions you’d like to submit for future Sputnik Roundtable installments, please submit them here. Thanks, and we hope you enjoy the article!

Free Question Marks on Paper Crafts Stock Photo

(1) What are music reviews for?

Sowing: A music review is really just a persuasive argument.  Yes, we critique the art based upon its objective merits as well as its subjective implications, but there’s a reason we don’t merely assign it a number and move on. The objective is to sell that opinion to the consumer and convince them that your take is the correct one. Why else would someone be reading – or thanks to YouTube – watching a music review? Outside…


Metallica: Back to the Front

Metallica Store
Written By: Matt Taylor
Foreword by James Hetfield – Afterword by Ray Burton
Released: August 16, 2016
276 pages
Publisher: Insight Editions




Metallica’s tell-all about the Master Of Puppets album and subsequent tour is presented with the same meticulous attention to detail and professionalism as every other project they’ve put their mind to…. except that Lulu album…



You already know it’s coming, but….
… your mind keeps hoping somehow it doesn’t.

Metallica: Back to the Front starts with a date — September 27, 1986 — and a nuanced description of a Swedish countryside. It talks about how a car traveling those roads can feel detached from time and space… and then it focuses in on Metallica’s tour bus traveling the same roads. It’s at this point that almost any reader will know what’s coming. It kind of hit me like a shock when I realized they were opening with one of the most tragic events in Metallica’s history, but I prepared myself for the inevitable. The thing is, it didn’t come. Matt Taylor and Metallica don’t use Cliff Burton’s death to simply provide a shocking way to open the book. Instead, the subsequent series of events are presented almost like a movie. There are beautifully detailed descriptions of the countryside, the tour bus, and its occupants. Funny stories and observations

Shoegaze is a big genre and this is a big fucking post.

Cut out 10-15 minutes for yourself, and away we go…



I feel that practically everyone listens to shoegaze in some form or another, but what landmarks or band-families this entails varies surprisingly wildly depending on who you ask. Shoegaze is old and it’s big: 30+ years is easily enough time for successive generations of bed-headed indie fucks and aesthete space cadets to carve out their own fuzzy atmospheres and dish them into the proximity of every single other genre that looks good in mood lighting (and a few that don’t). Back in its ‘90s heyday, shoegaze was panned for being homogenous and turgid, guitar music’s version of an overused slow-motion effect, but it grown so many variants across so many styles that these remarks’ failure to pick up on its creative potential is case-closed moot. 

All of which amounts to quite a lot. How do you navigate it? Who’s the next step if you never made it past My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive? What’s your ticket to mothership if your main exposure is from mayfly albums on the fringes of Bandcamp? What if you’re up to your arse in Deftones and Beach House and still aren’t sure whether real shoegaze is worth the money? Aren’t there any acts who’ve done something surprising or exciting with the genre? Why gaze in the first place?

If only through its sheer size,

There are few albums in recent memory that have been quite so divisive as Donda. Kanye West’s long-teased 10th LP has gone through many iterations and titles, and finally dropped yesterday as a 27-track, almost 2 hour behemoth. Length alone should never be a detractor to one’s critical reception of art – but in this case, the album simply fails to uphold the quality of its strongest moments for that entire duration. That’s really okay, because two hours of superb music is nearly impossible to pull off. In forming a critical analysis of Donda, however, one must take all moments into account – not just its finer cuts – and the results are middling. At its core though, Donda had the potential to be nearly perfect and go toe to toe with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as West’s best and most ambitious work. I’m sure this will be done a thousand different ways over the coming weeks, but below is my re-imagined and condensed version of Donda – an iteration that I almost certainly would have hailed as superb or a classic.

I left ‘Jail’ as the opener (we’re not counting ‘Donda Chant’ in this case) because I think it is the ideal adrenaline pumping scene-setter. I’ve heard some complaints already about ‘God Breathed’s early placement with that long outro, but I’m okay with it – it cements Donda as the imaginative and ambitious piece that it is. Most of this re-imagining was just me trimming…

One of my favorite album restructurings has to be the one I did years ago for Viva La Vida and Prospekt’s March, which I’m going to re-publish as part of this new series I’m doing.  The LP (VLV) and the bonus follow-up collection (PM) are each superb in their own right, but in blending the best of them, you get a truly special – dare I say perfect – pop/rock record.  Chances are if you’re not a huge Coldplay nerd I’ve already lost your attention, so I’ll cut through all the fanfare and just get right down to my playlist and the reasoning as to why I structured it the way I did.

The album begins with “Life in Technicolor II” – I chose this version because it is more fully fleshed out than its instrumental counterpart.  The band stripped away the vocals from the original version “Life in Technicolor” in 2008 because it sounded too much like “an obvious single”, but I much prefer the full bodied track with Chris Martin’s stunningly beautiful melodic arc.  “Viva La Vida” fits in nicely early as a symphonically-charged highlight – on the original LP, the breathtaking title track was hidden too far back in the listing.  When it comes to Coldplay, I’m all about instant gratification, and that song hooks you in immediately.  I had to be careful about maintaining the flow and delicate balance of Viva La Vida while blending these songs together, because there’s nothing wrong…

Call it a wildly unnecessary hobby, but one thing I’ve always enjoyed about music is re-ordering album tracklists. I do it with albums I enjoy just as much as albums I dislike, always in an attempt to arrange the music even better somehow. I find I get the most out of it on albums that have potential, but are either overinflated, fall short in a few key areas, or are accompanied by an EP/b-sides release with a handful of stronger moments than the actual LP.

It’s with great anticipation of Thrice’s 11th upcoming album, Horizons/East (due out September 17th), that I kick things off with a way to re-imagine their previous effort Palms – which fits the latter two of the above descriptions. Songs like ‘Hold Up a Light’ and ‘My Soul’ were obvious weak spots and were easily discarded from the original tracklist in this mock-up, while I also – but more begrudgingly – parted ways with ‘Only Us’ and ‘Everything Belongs’ on the grounds that they’re both relatively average versions of songs that Thrice did better on the very same LP. I then imported the entirety of the Deeper Wells EP, which I feel is a much stronger effort in general compared to the Palms tunes that I just discarded. Finally, I arranged them in a way meant to flow, dazzle, and rock your socks off.

One thing Palms lacked was a kickass starter, but ‘Deeper Wells’ lights a fire with its political lyrics (referencing Trump’s wall) and vitriolic delivery.…

folklore (deluxe version) [Explicit]evermore

Overwhelmed by all the stuff on your news feed about Taylor Swift? Does the task of listening to 32 tracks (49 counting the Long Pond Sessions, 51 counting the yet-to-be released Evermore bonus tracks) appear daunting? Well, there’s no longer any need to fear ostracizing from your social circles due to a humiliating lack of familiarity with T-Swizzle’s most recent masterpieces – folklore and evermore – which quite frankly make Abbey Road sound like dogshit. Lest you be caught in such an awkward situation as not knowing that ‘marjorie’ is a tribute to Swift’s late grandmother, give this brilliant mashup between her two 2020 LPs a listen. folkever (or morelore) delivers only the highest quality cuts from each album, and in a little under an hour. For best results, give this a spin while sipping Starbucks™ lattes in your very own privately owned ski lodge overlooking lush gardens and majestic mountain ranges.

Do you ever listen to music and feel like it was made for you, when it clearly wasn’t? Sometimes even when you know an artist absolutely has not had the same experiences, something about their music feels personalized, as if they were watching your life and wrote it with you in mind. I can’t speak for the entire transgender population, obviously, but I have a theory that trans people face this more than other people. We don’t have the privilege of being surrounded by art that was created by people like us, for people like us. As much as trans music has achieved more mainstream acceptance in the past decade (looking at you, Arca, SOPHIE, and 100 Gecs), there’s still very little out there, especially for people who like music that isn’t pop-adjacent experimental electronic. I think there is a lot of discussion to be had about what makes some music so relatable to certain trans people (read: me, a trans woman). So that’s what this is about – music that isn’t specifically for or by trans people that feels like it is.

First on my list is “Morning Train (Nine to Five)” by Sheena Easton. This song is very traditional in its portrayal of gender roles, glorifying a man who works hard to find his (narrating) wife waiting for him when he gets back home, fucks her that night, and then continues the cycle the next day. It’s understandable that from an outside perspective, this…

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