As 2015 comes to a close, I cannot help but reflect on the moments that have shaped my year. Moments of excitement, stress, confidence, indecisiveness, satisfaction, anxiety and moments that are simply indescribable. Despite my emotions being inconstant at times, there was always one consistency in the midst of chaos: music. Even with the circumstance or mood of each day, week or month contrasting in every way possible, there never failed to be one album that seemed to be created for that specific moment; an album that put into song what I failed to be able to describe on my own. As difficult as it was to whittle this list down, here are my top five albums released in 2015, which served as the backdrop to my year. Even though these albums were my favorite of 2015, they will transcend this year, becoming timeless in my music library. 2015 has proven to be a good year for music and may 2016 entail the same!
5. Diamond White– Pressure
Released December 4, 2015
Back in 2012, there was one singing competition I tuned in weekly to watch: The X-Factor. Years after season two has come to a close, singer Diamond White has continued to stick in my mind due to her spark and talent. Each time she would come to mind, it always followed with me asking the question, “Why hasn’t she come out with any music yet?” Now, 2015 is the year that question has been put to rest with the release of her debut EP, Pressure. Back in September, whenever I was only seconds into hearing her first single “Born Rich,” I knew the path she was taking in her music career was going to be promising. The release of Pressure has proven so since hip-hop and R&B fit White’s voice like a glove. With this, Pressure showcases a great amount of maturity and skill level for an artist’s debut, none the less an artist that is only sixteen-years-old.
4. Dead Sara- Pleasure to Meet You
Released March 31, 2015
To those who claim that, “Rock and roll is dead in the 21st century”, I respond with the band Dead Sara; specifically their recent album Pleasure to Meet You. Dead Sara has taken the sound that they established in their debut self titled album, and have built on it, taking that sound to a new level that is distinctly their own. This sound is displayed in Pleasure to Meet You through Emily Armstrong’s powerhouse voice, with me being able to admit she is becoming one of my favorite female vocalists, slow builds, in both instrumentation and vocals and gritty lyrics. Overall, Pleasure to Meet You sealed my personal prediction that Dead Sara will, and continue, to make big waves in the world of rock and roll.
3. Gary Clark Jr.- The Story of Sonny Boy Slim
Released July 30, 2015
The Foo Fighters have proven time-and-time again to control my thoughts in some form or fashion. This time, it indirectly took the form of a different person, Austin based blues artist Gary Clark Jr. This is due to the fact that my obsession started the moment I heard the first note escape from Clark’s electric guitar when he took the stage to open for the Foo Fighters. After exiting the arena, my first instinct was to of course go on a quest to find and listen to every song Clark has released to this date. That’s when I found Clark’s most recent album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim. From that day forward, I could not stop listening to Clark’s undeniably authentic vocals and blues guitar, which are showcased beautifully in The Story of Sonny Boy Slim. Clark’s versatile voice offers a contrast of catchy 1950s dance sounds, showcased in the song “Shake,” and love ballads such as “Our Love,” which I am boldly pronouncing the best love song of 2015. On the subject of love ballads, Clark pours an undeniable amount of honesty into his lyrics, which is conveyed though his smooth vocals when it comes to the subject of relationships. Specifically, a great example of this is the song “Can’t Sleep.” At the time, while listening to The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, Clark proved so powerful that he had me missing someone while I wasn’t even in a relationship.
2. Foo Fighters- Saint Cecilia- EP
Released November 23, 2015
Unlike a few of the albums on this list that I impatiently counted down the days till their release date, one of my favorite, if not my favorite band, the Foo Fighters surprised me, and other fans out of the blue with the release of Saint Cecilia. By listening to Saint Cecilia, listeners get to experience, in the short span of five songs, a taste of each variation the Foo Fighters sound has to offer. “Sean” displays the Foo Fighters successfully returning to the roots in which they became successful, sounding reminiscent to songs like “Monkey Wrench“ from their 1997 album The Color and the Shape. “Savior Breath” once again reminds listeners, as “White Limo” did, that the band can create a heavy rock song that infuses the Foo Fighters signature overpowering guitar while managing to be so damn catchy all at the same time. To hear a softer, more sensitive side of the Foo’s, in which the sound of Grohl’s slow and smooth vocals makes you weep alone in your room (or was that just me?), “Iron Rooster” does just that. In other words, if you want to hear a compact overview of the evolution of the Foo Fighters sound, listen to Saint Cecilia. Saint Cecilia proves that the best aspects of life often derive with little planning in the spur of the moment.
1. Grimes- Art Angels
Released November 6, 2015
After I, along with Grimes fans across the world, had waited in anticipation for three years for the follow up album to Visions, Grimes answered with the masterpiece that is Art Angels. Grimes has admitted that getting this album to fruition, with the added pressure of releasing a follow up to the critically acclaimed, Visions, was a struggle which included her scrapping a completed album and starting over. That being said, I respect the delay since Grimes was determined to make an album she, not just the producers or fans, was 100% pleased with. This drive proves that Art Angels represents more than just a follow up album but, instead, a fresh start for Grimes. After constantly playing this album on repeat the last two months, I can confirm that it was well worth the wait. As the hauntingly beautiful opening track, “Laughing and Not Being Normal,” met my ears, I was taken on a 49 minute journey with audios that made me dance while the lyrics simultaneously had me contemplating concepts such as success, relationships, and love. We are not only witnessing a new version of Grimes in Art Angels that, after overcoming slight initial hesitation fans were blown away by, but ultimately a new version of Grimes that Clair Boucher had aspired to build her whole career.
Stay tuned for more staff picks!