Adele – 25
Released November 20
Step one: pile your car up with your closest of friends and several blankets. Step two: drive in silence to a beautiful, scenic park — one in which you can star-gaze (perhaps up on top of the mountain). Step three: plug Adele’s latest album into your CD player. Step four: hit play, crank the sound up real loud, and lay on the your blanket while staring at the sky. Oh, and don’t worry about getting cold — your tears will warm you right up. You will feel things that never seemed real. Adele’s 25 presents an out-of-body experience, one that will you will never forget.
Big Grams – Big Grams (EP)
Released September 25
When a rapper and an electronic rocker announce an EP together, it’s hard to predict just how well they will pair. It could either turn out like Triple O’s questionable peanut butter and jalapeno burger, or it could become a 21st century classic like Netflix and chill. Just like the latter, Phantogram and Big Boi’s debut EP killed it. In my eyes, their album is not merely one of the best of 2015, but of all time. Each of the seven tracks belonging to this black and gold album is crafted meticulously to get you to feel things. Personally, I feel like jamming out. You can’t not — I dare you.
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Released March 15
In 2008, he blew us away with Section.80. In 2012, it was Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, and this year, it was To Pimp A Butterfly. Beginning with the early release of his track “i,” audiences worldwide could already tell that Kendrick Lamar had something incredible in store, and boy, did he ever. Aside from winning a whole bunch of Grammys over the past several years, there’s something about Kendrick that most of other rappers lack. To Pimp A Butterfly remains a unique, creative, and passionate experience. My favourite tracks on the album are “Alright,” “King Kunta,” and “Wesley’s Theory.”
Lianne La Havas – Blood
Released July 31
Singer/songwriter Lianne Charlotte Barnes is a British-born star. Her very first album won her iTunes’ album of the year back in 2012. Her second album, Blood, is just as good, if not better. Havas’ vocals are authentic, like Adele’s but in a different genre. She is more a combination of soul, folk, and R&B, and her voice is so, so beautiful. I recommend this album when you’re feeling good, or even not so good. I recommend it when you’re driving, when you’re crying, when you’re showering — this album is so distinct in its genre and yet fits every occasion perfectly.
ZHU – Genesis Series (EP)
Released November 6
I think I’m slowly discovering that I am no longer a concert person. But, when it comes to ZHU, I would hop on a boat, a plane, a train — anything, really — to see him perform. ZHU doesn’t just give you EDM served on a platter. With him, you’re in for a 10-course meal, ranging from reggae to jazz. On this latest EP, one which he deviously released a track at a time over several weeks, he produces sounds so smoothly and uniquely you’ll find each one of his six songs at the top of your Most Played playlist. Fun fact: every single song on the EP is a single. If that doesn’t make you realize that this is easily one of the best EPs of all time, I’m not sure what will.
These albums were pretty great, but didn’t make the final cut.
The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind The Madness, Snoop Dogg’s Bush, Major Lazer’s Peace is the Mission, Tame Impala’s Currents, Ratatat’s Magnifique, Bryson Tiller’s T R A P S O U L, A$AP Rocky’s At.Long.Last.A$AP, Mick Jenkins’ Wave[s], Nate Ruess’ Grand Romantic, and Justin Bieber’s Purpose.