To celebrate the end of such an exciting year in music, we tallied our staff’s top albums of 2018 in the hopes of developing a solid list of the venue’s favorites; But, just like our concert calendar, the staff’s diverse tastes range from hip-hop to jam, country to indie, and electronic to world.
After receiving over 60 different albums, we were reminded how unique the group of people we work with are. We’ve narrowed down the most popular albums they submitted, but that doesn’t mean that everyone in the venue shares the same sentiment. Here are the staff’s overall top five albums of the year and an added bonus of an almost four-hour long Spotify playlist of all the albums they submitted. Cheers to 2019!
1. Phish – Kasvot Växt: í rokk (Live)
Surprising their fans with an elaborate set dedicated to fictional Scandinavian prog rock outfit, Kasvot Vaxt, Phish set the bar for Halloween hoaxes, complete w/ a knock-off Playbill, record review, and interview. For Phans, Kasvot Växt’s í rokk (which translates into English as Face Plant’s “into rock”) was an exciting new release from Anastasio and crew, if not a taste of rock esoterica, and truly proved that they are one of the most unpredictable live acts of our generation. The mastered live album reminisces on 80s rhythms and Scandinavian sounds but probably was upvoted by the staff just for the shtick itself.
2. Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
Dirty Computer marks Janelle Monáe’s third major album, and it centers around her experiences as a queer, black woman, all while celebrating musical freedom. Released alongside a 48-minute futuristic film, her electro-pop and gleeful LP preaches radical liberation amidst a suppressing political world. 2018 has been a year of bringing emotion to the general pop scene (see Ariana Grande), and Monáe is at the head of it. With collaborators including Zoe Kravitz, Pharrell, Grimes, and even Brian Wilson, she effortlessly bridges the gap between liberation and sadness and fuses pop with emotional clarity.
3. Travis Scott – Astroworld
Even with the staggering amount of features and contributors, Travis Scott is right at the helm on Astroworld. As he hops from genres, his flow doesn’t lag and his mood stays consistently fresh. Like the name (a nod to an amusement park from his childhood), the album’s vast sonic diversity rides like a rollercoaster that never loses momentum or seems to stagger, even if at times the production changes mid-song. It’s a well-rounded, progressive release for Scott, that, although sometimes dizzying, ushers in a new era of psychedelic rap.
4. Tom Misch – Geography
Amongst heavy hitters with impressive catalogs, The Bowl staff voted in musical newcomer, Tom Misch, and his debut album Geography to their top albums of 2018. With feel-good guitar lines and undeniable funk, Misch’s debut is the jazz-infused soundtrack to London’s vibrant South Bank. Previously known as just a beatmaker, Misch diversifies his talents in Geography, showcasing his soulful vocals and John Mayer-inspired guitar. Each song is a melodic, riff-laden exploration into euphoria, and with two sold-out shows at Terminal Five in November, New Yorkers have shown that they’re interested in what’s across the pond.
5. Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo
Texan globetrotters Khruangbin focus on the sounds of 1970s Iranian, Cuban, and Mediterranean funk and soul for their second release, Con Todo El Mundo. Fusing those sounds, they channel the sunshine and lazy, swooning hypnotics of their psychedelic world. With mainly instrumentals and a sprinkling of low, hummed vocals, their songs feel worldly and geographically untamed. Their global soul vibrates with electricity and joy, and while listening, your daily space-out can turn into healing meditation.
Honorable Mention: Robyn – Honey
The special thing about Brooklyn Bowl staff is that they’re all music lovers. For example, our bartender Danny Waits couldn’t just pick an album without giving a review. Here’s why he loves Robyn’s Honey:
“When someone like Robyn drops a new album you stop whatever you’re doing and make that your priority; which is exactly how Honey came into my life. Robyn has been a huge influence and personal icon of mine since the 90s and she is someone I can proudly say gets better with age – she continues to put out flawless bangers two decades later that never stop me from dancing around like a lunatic – Robyn has mastered the art of taking sad and uncomfortable issues like breakups and bad relationships and turning them into ethereal power pop songs – and Honey does exactly that. This year has a been a great year for music but I can safely say Robyn get the best album of the year for 2018 from me <3″ – Danny Waits
Listen to songs from all our staff’s submissions here:
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