It’s hard to imagine that half of 2015 has come and gone. It’s also incredible to think that this year’s music has easily trumped the efforts of last year. Here’s our list of the top albums of the year….so far. Be sure to check out the video sampler of each album as well!
Reality Show (Jazmine Sullivan)
Jazmine Sullivan kicked off the year with her triumphant return to music. Filled with incredible stories driven by standout characters, her powerful vocals and new found confidence–Reality Show was well worth the wait.
Standout tracks: “Veins” “Mascara” “Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)”
Dark Sky Paradise (Big Sean)
Easily Big Sean’s most impressive work today, Dark Sky Paradise spawned one of the most iconic break-up tracks in recent years.
Standout tracks: “I Know (ft. Jhene Aiko)” “Play No Games (ft. Chris Brown & Ty Dolla $ign)” “Research (ft. Ariana Grande)”
Sound & Color (Alabama Shakes)
Lead singer Brittany Howard’s voice is something you’ll remember forever. It stings, caresses and excitingly paints all over the Alabama Shake’s sophomore album Sound & Color.
Standout tracks: “Over My Head” “Gimme All Your Love” “Don’t Wanna Fight”
Another Eternity (Purity Ring)
Indie pop group Purity Ring released the intriguing and beautifully cohesive Another Eternity. The album’s use of electronic synths and its lead singers soft vocals works to full effect.
Standout tracks: “push pull” “repetition” “stranger than earth”
To Pimp a Butterfly (Kendrick Lamar)
Kendrick Lamar has made a name for himself as one of the most prolific lyricsts of modern hip-hop. Much like his debut, To Pimp A Butterfly boasts a cinematic tale focused on Kendrick’s prospective outside of his Compton hometown.
Standout tracks: “Alright” “King Kunta” “Complexion ( A Zulu Love)”
Sremmlife (Rae Sremmurd)
In all its ratchet glory, Sremmlife the debut album from Atlanta bred group Rae Sremmurd will surely liven any affair.
Standout tracks: “Throw Some Mo” “Come Get Her” “No Flex Zone”
Love. Life (Tamia)
Tamia returns strong with the traditional R&B sound. Love.Life plays as a refreshingly sensual ode to commitment, love and monogamy. Laced with her sultry, sweet and often powerful vocals–the album is a true gem.
Standout tracks: “Stuck With Me” “Chaise Lounge” “Lipstick”
50 Shades of Grey Soundtrack (Various)
The film adaptation of this cult literary phenom might have gotten mixed reviews but its impressive soundtrack did not. Sporting two of this year’s most popular songs, a slew of slinky covers and intriguing original songs, this soundtrack gives a great listen.
Standout tracks: “One Last Night”[Vaults] “Love Me Like You Do”[Ellie Goulding] “Earned It” [The Weeknd] “Salted Wound” [Sia]
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (Drake)
Is it a mixtape? A surprise album? Either way, earlier this year Drake took a cue from Beyonce and released this surprise effort providing us with Instagram quotables for the entire year. As a precursor to his anticipated Views From The 6 album, this dark but exciting effort proves yet again why Drake is one of the best in the game now.
Standout tracks: “Energy” “Know Yourself” “Jungle” “Now & Forever”
Surf (Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment)
The Social Experiment largely lead by its figurehead Chance The Rapper released the free album curated by group member Donnie Trumpet. With explosive moments of jazz, spoken word and great features, the album is a rare treat.
Standout tracks: “Sunday Candy” “Warm Enough (ft. J. Cole)” “Caretaker”
In Colour (Jamie xx)
In his first solo album, Jamie xx from the group The xx draws inspiration from different sounds and influences to create In Colour. Filled with bright melodies and engaging instrumentals, the album takes listeners on a much needed journey.
Standout tracks: “I Know There’s Gonna Be a Good Time (ft. Young Thug & Popcaan)” “Seesaw (ft. Romy)”
You Should Be Here (Kehlani)
This Bay Area singer is creating a name for herself. Her latest effort and standout You Should Be Here boasts a certain attitude and confidence not seen in a singer in a while. It’s an organic piece that has one rewarding moment after another.
Standout tracks: “Alive” “Yet” “Wanted” “The Way (ft. Chance The Rapper)”
Ego Death (The Internet)
Odd Future’s The Internet with front woman Syd has always produced great music. From the start of their latest effort Ego Death there is a sultry lust represented. This type of soul music isn’t easy to come by and this album as a whole is sensual desire played out.
Standout tracks: “Girl (ft. KAYTRANADA)” “Get Away” “Special Affair” “Just Sayin/I Tried”
Miguel’s always been slightly ahead of the modern male R&B pack. He proved his worth with his Grammy nominated sophomore effort Kaleidoscope Dream. Now with his wilder, bolder, more rock-tinged third album Wildheart–Miguel is here to contend his role in the changing landscape of R&B music.
Standout tracks: “FLESH” “the valley” “…goingtohell” “what’s normal anyway”
Yesterday’s Tomorrow (Phony Ppl)
Making a name for themselves in the New York music scene, Phony Ppl created the hip-hop rooted but genre mixing masterpiece Yesterday’s Tomorrow as an example of music with no boundaries.
Standout tracks: “Baby Meet My Love” “Take A Chance” “End of The niGht”
My Garden (Kat Dahlia)
Kat Dahlia had an impressive debut years ago with her song “Gangsta”. Her raw, aggressive vocals were hard not to notice. Nearly two years later, Kat has released her debut My Garden and that aggression reigns throughout. With intriguing lyrics, wowing vocals and slick production, we anticipate hearing more great things from Kat.
Standout tracks: “Crazy” “I Think I’m In Love” “Mirror” “Gangsta”
AWOLNATION’s Run plays out as a production masterpiece. It’s dark, atmospheric, bold and much like a cinematic score. It has proven to be one of the most intriguing rock projects of the year.
Standout tracks: “Run” “Headrest For My Soul” “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)”
The Album About Nothing (Wale)
The full up to his Seinfeld inspired mixtapes, Wale’s The Album About Nothing uses Jerry Seinfeld as a sort of counselor on each issue a track tackles. There are moments it doesn’t pay off as well but others well it’s pure genius.
Standout tracks: “The Need to Know (ft. SZA)” “The Matrimony (ft. Usher)” “The Girls on Drugs”
Shadows & Diamonds (Elijah Blake)
Although young, Elijah Blake’s been a force in the music industry for some time penning hits for everyone including Rihanna, Trey Songz, Rick Ross and Usher. With his anticipated debut, Elijah establishes his take on the R&B landscape with an album that plays both tribute to the past as well as ushers in a new prospective for the genre.
Standout tracks: “I Just Wanna..” “Pinot” “Drop Dead Beautiful” “Uno”
Coming Home (Leon Bridges)
If you had never heard of Texas native Leon Bridges, closed your eyes and listened to his debut Coming Home, you’d swear the legendary Sam Cooke was serenading you. This sweet ode to music of the past proves to be timeless, memorable and necessary.
Standout tracks: “River” “Coming Home” “Lisa Sawyer”