40. New Alhambra by Elvis Depressedly
Melodic. Rough around the edges. Biblical motifs. For the win.
39. The Helio Sequence by the Helio Sequence
Percussive yet ambient. Perfect work music.
38. Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes
Alabama Shakes keep marching forward with an excellent sophomore release. Bluesy, snarly, overdriven.
37. The Shape of Colour by Intervals
Technical and punishing instrumental metal.
36. Positive Songs for Negative People by Frank Turner
Tunes best suited for the bar on a Friday night.
35. All Your Favorite Bands by Dawes
Guitar rock for the indie inclined. I do hope all my favorite bands stay together.
34. The Bearer of Bad News by Andy Shauf
Why can’t all bad news sound so pretty?
33. Chasing Yesterday by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Oasis tone updated to the 2010s.
32. Beneath the Skin by Of Monsters and Men
Icelanders do pop differently. I mean, look at that music video?
31. Natalie Prass by Natalie Prass
Catching some Feist vibes from this new artist.
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.
29. Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper by Panda Bear
Experimental but catchy.
28. Chaos and Calm by James Bay
Mr. Bay sure has a voice. A fun album to sing at the top of your lungs.
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.
26. Dark Bird Is Home by The Tallest Man on Earth
Still gorgeously constructed. Now with drums!
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.
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.
23. Golden Age by Daniel Martin Moore
Sparse. Humble. Naked emotion.
22. Beauty Behind the Madness by the Weeknd
Winner of the most-likely-to-dance-around-the-kitchen award.
21. The Scene Between by the Go! Team
This band knows how to execute bombastic multi-instrumentation pop hits.
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.
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.
18. It’s All Just Pretend by Ivan & Alyosha
Tim Wilson & co. have mastered the melting pot of indie-pop-rock.
17. Rise & Fall by the Sweeplings
I’ve found my replacement for the Civil Wars.
16. Strange Trails by Lord Huron
An excellent sophomore effort that falls just short of the debut.
15. The Phosphorescent Blues by Punch Brothers
Progressive bluegrass. I call it “prog-grass.”
14. Return to the Moon by El Vy
Side project with members of the National, Menomena, and Ramona Falls. A recipe for success.
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 Kensrue
The music is solid but the album’s lyrics provide the lasting power. Bonus points for a Cormac McCarthy reference in the title.
11. Sermon on the Rocks by Josh Ritter
Josh Ritter writes a novel in every song. Each word resonates deeply.
10. California Nights by Best Coast
Garage rock with all the reverbs. A stellar effort.
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.
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.
7. To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar is literary rap. “King Kunta” draws on Ellison and Achebe.
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.
5. Every Open Eye by Chvrches
Electronic pop with a keen sense of the metal breakdown. This album gets better with every listen.
4. Born Under Saturn by Django Django
Crisply executed art pop. Probably the most daring song construction on the list.
3. Vestiges & Claws by José González
Highly percussive with acoustic guitar dexterity.
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.