It's no secret that we don't always play by the rules. When you give a prompt to six creatives, you're going to have six different interpretations. And frankly, that's what makes a creative team work so well together - an amalgam of different inspirations, perceptions, and processes that fuse to create one final, impeccable product. We play off of each others' strengths to fortify content that our clients will love.
I sent out a general topic to Vital's staff ("Send me your Top 5 Albums of 2018") and, just like stated above, everyone took their own interpretation of it. Instead of working to make it uniform, I left it as-is, because I strongly believe that highlighting each of our artistic styles speaks volumes more about us as a company than a basic bullet point list ever could. Because we're, well, not basic.
Without further ado, I present to you Vital's (Unconventional) Top 5 Albums of 2018!
A playlist of tracks from all albums below is available at the bottom of this post for your listening pleasure.
Jason Clayton (CMO + Founding Partner)
Jason sent 5 albums, but the first two were released in 2017. Your Top 5 albums of 2018 could easily be the 5 albums you *listened* to the most in 2018.
1. dont smile at me EP - Billie Eilish
2. Don't You Worry, Honey - Sir Sly
3. Battle Lines - Bob Moses
4. Castlecomer - Castlecomer
5. Love Is Dead - CHVRCHES
Fred Blitzer (Audio Mastering Engineer + Founding Partner)
Fred couldn't pick just 5, so he sent 7.
1. WARM - Jeff Tweedy
2. Heaven and Earth - Kamasi Washington
3. Tell Me How You Really Feel - Courney Barnett
4. Con Todo El Mundo - Khruangbin
5. Good Thing - Leon Bridges
6. By The Way, I Forgive You - Brandi Carlile
7. Look Now - Elvis Costello
Kamila Saydzhanova (Account Manager)
Kamila's Top 5 consists of EPs, albums, and singles, and a tie.
1. Mountains EP - LSD (Labrinth, Sia, Diplo)
"I love every song on this EP. The music videos are creative genius and I was constantly on the edge of my seat in 2018 waiting for the next single to drop so I could overplay it in my car."
2. iridescence - BROCKHAMPTON
"BROCKHAMPTON just makes me happy - I think they’re really playing with the genre of hip hop and with music/sound design. They’re creating something fun, fresh, and original. It’s a bop, man."
3. Dirty Computer - Janelle Monáe
"Janelle Monáe is a queen. That’s all. 'Make Me Feel'? Oooh, yes she can."
4. It Gets Better (feat. DRAM) / Can't Get Enough - GRiZ
"Not an actual album, just the two singles bae released this year. As far as funky EDM goes, he is the king."
5. A tie between Invasion of Privacy - Cardi B and Black Panther: The Album.
"Sorry, but I cannot choose just one."
Gabriel Kaunitz (Director of Photography + Senior Video Editor)
Gabe, being the video editing master that he is, gave me a list of the top 5 sites that he gets his stock music from for the projects he works on.
Kevin Adams (3D Animator + Associate Creative Director)
Kevin, who composes a lot of his own music and scores, said, "Here’s my Top 5 of 2018, which are all trailer music tracks - what I mainly listen to for inspiration when writing my own music."
1. "So Say We All" - Audiomachine
2. "Survivor" - 2WEI
3. "Pure Imagination" - Ghostwriter Music
4. "Crimson Blaze" - 2WEI
5. "Redshift" - Audiomachine
Aaron Dye (Marketing Coordinator)
I went the "Album Review" route where I got a bit more detailed with my favorites. Was it overkill? Absolutely not. Worth it.
1. boygenius EP - boygenius (Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus)
"My favorite album of the year isn’t even really an album, but wow, this EP is perfect from start to finish. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to these 6 tracks over, and over, and over. Baker, Bridgers, and Dacus are incredibly talented songwriters on their own merit, but when you get the three of them together, they string together such a beautiful – bordering on melancholic – prose that it’s cathartic to listen to. This EP highlights all of their individual strengths to create something so wildly powerful."
Favorite lyric: Pulling thorns out of my palm / Work a midnight surgery / When you cut a hole into my skull / Do you hate what you see / Like I do? - "Souvenir"
2. High As Hope - Florence + the Machine
"One of the soundtracks of my summer ’18. The fourth studio album from one of my favorite artists evokes feelings of growth, steadfastness, and (yes, of course) hope. I’d wait for a beautiful day, go to the park, and find a nice spot to kick back where I could just be still and listen. Like, really listen. Florence has always had a knack for aiding in introspection; for helping me work through issues that aren’t always easy to verbalize. High As Hope helped me find a sort of happiness in what I already have around me."
Favorite lyric: And there would be no grand choirs to sing / no chorus could come in / About two people sitting doing nothing - “No Choir”
3. 7 - Beach House
"Beach House said, “Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny”, and wow, that sure is On Brand™ for me. Last spring, my friends and I would just sit on the front porch at night, listening to 'Pay No Mind', and I’d feel like I was out of this world. If there’s one thing that Beach House knows how to do extremely well, it’s how to create an ambient atmosphere with their music that allows you to feel like your mind can go wherever it wants."
Favorite lyric: Read my fortune, too / Tell me what you see / Cross it like a T / It’s all the same to me - “Lemon Glow”
4. Be the Cowboy - Mitski
"Honestly, this album would make my top 5 based off the first track alone. 'Geyser' builds and builds until it detonates in that first (and only) chorus. It still gives me goosebumps when I hear it. The album as a whole really narrows in on working to find the best version of yourself; on being true to yourself. Mitski experiments with a lot of different sounds, and she always keeps me on my toes. I mean, the disco beat in 'Nobody'? Hell yes."
Favorite lyric: Though I’m a geyser, feel it bubbling from below / Hear it call, hear it call, hear it call to me, constantly / And hear the harmony only when it’s harming me / It's not real, it's not real, it's not real enough - "Geyser"
5. The Calling - Sevdaliza
"For anyone curious about the genre of trip-hop, listen to Sevdaliza and she'll give you a masterclass on the topic. Her music is dark, electronic, cinematic, and detailed - everything that I love. After her debut album ISON, I knew that Sevdaliza was an artist that I'd continue to anticipate what she was going to do next. She released the first track 'Soul Syncable' on the day of the super blue blood moon last January, and that's the kind of marketing that I. AM. HERE. FOR. All in all, it's a very stylized album that conjures up a kind of dreamscape that you never want to leave."
Favorite lyric: The hero returns / In the heart / After she's learned / How to love herself / In both heaven and hell - "Soothsayer"
BONUS: Isolation - Kali Uchis
"This is an album I had to include. I had the pleasure of seeing Kali Uchis open for Lana Del Rey last year, and I fell in love. She has a very unique sound, taking notes from R&B, pop, funk, and others. It’s actually a perfect album for the cold Ohio weather we’ve been having lately, because it’s one of the closest things you’ll get to driving with the top down in Miami."
Favorite lyric: So don’t you give up, the sun’ll come out / But we’ve been struggling endlessly / Someday we’ll find the love / ‘Cause after the storm’s when the flowers bloom - “After The Storm” (feat. Tyler, The Creator & Bootsy Collins)