40. Happiness Is not a Place by The Wind and the Wave
Catchy and upbeat folk rock.
39. Stay Gold by the Butch Walker
A reincarnation of the boss. Pure rock ‘n’ roll.
38. Max Jury by Max Jury
Reserved and introspective. A solid voice, soft but powerful.
37. Therapy Session by NF
Christian hip-hop from the dark side.
36. Ouroboros by Ray LaMontagne
Ray LaMontagne continues his quest to be a classic-rock star.
35. Hymns by Bloc Party
Bloc Party adds an organ to their sound and questions of faith to their lyrics.
34. A/B by Kaleo
In the spirit of all Icelandic music, Kaleo plays music against beautiful backdrops. The band also has the blues.
33. The Ride by Catfish and the Bottlemen
The 2016 nominee for Oasis impersonation.
32. ATOMIC by Mogwai
Mogwai is in the soundtrack business. ATOMIC is a good one!
31. Junk by M83
Don’t make me dance!
30. The Education of a Wandering Man by Jamestown Revival
Real country. Good twang.
29. This Is Acting by Sia
Awesome concept to take rejected songs written for other artists and record them for your own album. You can tell which artists to which each song is pitched.
28. Emotions and Math by Margaret Glaspy
Margaret Glaspy shreds… as much as someone can shred in indie rock.
27. Red Earth & Pouring Rain by the Bear’s Den
Bear’s Den holds the trademark vocal stylings heard in bands such as Snow Patrol, Elbow, or Frightened Rabbit. Add a chorus pedal to the guitar and you have this excellent band.
26. The Impossible Kid by Aesop Rock
The Shakespeare of rap is at it again.
25. Say it Out Loud by The Interrupters
A nostalgia pick. This album takes me back to the ska-punk teenage years.
24. Long Play by The Wealthy West
Some albums connect deeply with the context in which you hear it. For me, Long Play conjures the snowy expanse of a bus ride from Madison, WI to Minneapolis, MN.
23. To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere by Thrice
In their return, Thrice pulls out the baritone guitars and aims for cathartic melodic textures.
22. Emily’s D+Evolution by Esperanza Spalding
The Grammy award winning jazz artist has gone prog-rock.
21. We Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest
I listened to this album on election night, headphones in, waiting for my son to fall asleep (we hang out with him as he goes to bed #parenting). The album really hit a nerve that night and continues to do so.
20. Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka
Deep soul with bluesy guitar. Hooray!
19. Moda Spira by Moda Spira
Haunting vocals and gorgeous textures. Hoping this album is available on vinyl soon!
18. Woman by Justice
This generation’s Daft Punk.
17. Home of the Strange by Young the Giant
Young the Giant wins the award for coolest music videos this year. They produced a pretty vinyl too.
16. I Had a Dream that You Were Mine by Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
I was sad to see Rostam Batmanglij leave Vampire Weekend but if this is the direction he’s going musically, bravo!
15. Good Grief by Lucius
Not quite the heights of their debut, but Good Grief is infectious. Props to a beautiful album design as well.
14. Signs of Light by The Head and the Heart
The Head and the Heart has yet to strike the right nerve with me. That changed with Signs of Light.
13. American Football by American Football
The sequel! 16 years later.
12. Blanco by David Bazan
Multi-layered synths for the indie troubadour. “Trouble with Boys” touched me deeply.
11. The Party by Andy Shauf
Nothing more introverted than making a concept album about a party.
10. Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper
Gospel-infused hip-hop. Sterling performances throughout.
9. Cleopatra by The Lumineers
Rich storytelling. Catchy Americana. The music video for “Sleep on the Floor” contrasts with the video for “Cleopatra” showing alternate realities for the album’s titular character.
8. iii by Miike Snow
Energetic dance-pop from Sweden’s finest indie pop band.
7. Cardinal by Pinegrove
Pinegrove feels like the spiritual successor of Death Cab for Cutie.
6. The Human Condition by Jon Bellion
This dude has so much talent. The album is a pristine collection of eclectic pop. But, his acoustic version of All Time Low is stunning.
5. A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead
Par-for-the-course Radiohead. The most interesting question might be the meaning of the title. Since there’s no hyphen between “moon” and “shaped,” does it mean there’s a moon out there shaping a pool? Or did Radiohead really mean to say “moon-shaped pool?”
4. First Light by Dustin Tebbutt
Australian for Bon Iver.
3. Farewell, Starlite! by Francis and the Lights
It’s like Peter Gabriel with a vocoder.
2. 22, A Million by Bon Iver
I’d be happy as hell if you stayed for tea.