New Alhambra

40. New Alhambra by Elvis Depressedly

Melodic. Rough around the edges. Biblical motifs. For the win.

 

Helio Sequence

39. The Helio Sequence by the Helio Sequence

Percussive yet ambient. Perfect work music.

 

Sound and Color

38. Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes

Alabama Shakes keep marching forward with an excellent sophomore release. Bluesy, snarly, overdriven.

 

Shape of Colour

37. The Shape of Colour by Intervals

Technical and punishing instrumental metal.

 

Positive Songs for Negative People

36. Positive Songs for Negative People by Frank Turner

Tunes best suited for the bar on a Friday night.

 

All Your Favorite Bands

35. All Your Favorite Bands by Dawes

Guitar rock for the indie inclined. I do hope all my favorite bands stay together.

 

Bearer of Bad News

34. The Bearer of Bad News by Andy Shauf

Why can’t all bad news sound so pretty?

 

Chasing Yesterday

33. Chasing Yesterday by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Oasis tone updated to the 2010s.

 

Beneath the Skin

32. Beneath the Skin by Of Monsters and Men

Icelanders do pop differently. I mean, look at that music video?

 

Natalie Prass

31. Natalie Prass by Natalie Prass

Catching some Feist vibes from this new artist.

 

Hot Streak

30. Hot Streak by the Winery Dogs

3-piece outfit including Mike Portnoy on a small kit and vocals drenched in 90s grunge. Fun times.

 

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29. Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper by Panda Bear

Experimental but catchy.

 

Chaos and the Calm

28. Chaos and Calm by James Bay

Mr. Bay sure has a voice. A fun album to sing at the top of your lungs.

 

All Is Illusory

27. All Is Illusory by the Velvet Teen

Certified indie rock chaos. Hadn’t listened to this band in years but glad this record drew me back in.

 

Dark Bird Is Home

26. Dark Bird Is Home by The Tallest Man on Earth

Still gorgeously constructed. Now with drums!

 

Venus

25. VENUS by Joy Williams

A phoenix rising from the ashes of the Civil Wars, VENUS displays a variety of influences and styles with varying degrees of success.

 

Found in Far Away Places

24. Found in Far Away Places by August Burns Red

I don’t always listen to metal these days, but when I do, I listen to August Burns Red.

 

Golden Age

23. Golden Age by Daniel Martin Moore

Sparse. Humble. Naked emotion.

 

Beauty Behind the Madness

22. Beauty Behind the Madness by the Weeknd

Winner of the most-likely-to-dance-around-the-kitchen award.

 

Scene Between

21. The Scene Between by the Go! Team

This band knows how to execute bombastic multi-instrumentation pop hits.

 

Kintsugi

20. Kintsugi by Death Cab for Cutie

A step down from pinnacle Death Cab, perhaps partially due to the departure of Chris Walla. Still worth a listen.

 

What a Terrible World

19. What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World by the Decemberists

Half the album offers some of the best Decemberists tunes in the catalog. The other half… not so much.

 

It's All Just Pretend

18. It’s All Just Pretend by Ivan & Alyosha

Tim Wilson & co. have mastered the melting pot of indie-pop-rock.

 

Rise and Fall

17. Rise & Fall by the Sweeplings

I’ve found my replacement for the Civil Wars.

 

16. Strange Trails by Lord HuronStrange Trails

An excellent sophomore effort that falls just short of the debut.

 

Phosphorescent Blues

15. The Phosphorescent Blues by Punch Brothers

Progressive bluegrass. I call it “prog-grass.”

 

14. Return to the Moon by El VyReturn to the Moon

Side project with members of the National, Menomena, and Ramona Falls. A recipe for success.

 

No No No

13. No No No by Beirut

A continued trend away from Balkan folk toward standard indie rock. I’m ok with this move.

 

12. Carry the Fire by Dustin KensrueCarry the Fire

The music is solid but the album’s lyrics provide the lasting power. Bonus points for a Cormac McCarthy reference in the title.

 

Sermon on the Rocks

11. Sermon on the Rocks by Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter writes a novel in every song. Each word resonates deeply.

 

California Nights

10. California Nights by Best Coast

Garage rock with all the reverbs. A stellar effort.

 

Something More than Free

9. Something More than Free by Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell offers my kind of country. A focus on melodic hooks with a touch of twang. There’s no mentions of honky tonk here. Thanks Jason.

 

Home

8. Home by Dustin Tebbutt

Dustin Tebbutt provides an Australian version of Bon Iver. Will buy the vinyl whenever this releases in the U.S.

 

To Pimp a Butterfly

7. To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar is literary rap. “King Kunta” draws on Ellison and Achebe.

 

1989

6. 1989 by Ryan Adams

A track-by-track cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989. Adams strips the production values down to let the sad lyrics shine.

 

Every Open Eye

5. Every Open Eye by Chvrches

Electronic pop with a keen sense of the metal breakdown. This album gets better with every listen.

 

Born Under Saturn

4. Born Under Saturn by Django Django

Crisply executed art pop. Probably the most daring song construction on the list.

 

José González - Vestiges & Claws

3. Vestiges & Claws by José González

Highly percussive with acoustic guitar dexterity.

 

Carrie and Lowell

2. Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan allows his listeners to experience the pain of losing his mother. A departure from previous albums but beautiful in its simplicity.

 

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

1. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats by Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

Whoa. The gospel and soul influences on this record take it over the top. The melodies and song structures shine.

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