KEXP Listeners’ Top 90.3 Albums of 2015

90.3 Lemolo – Red Right Return (self-released)

The second album from this Seattle project spearheaded by Meagan Grandall is another impressive set of moody dream-pop with a spacious sound featuring stately piano, atmospheric synths, occasional cello and guitar and spare percussion accompanying her crystalline vocals and intimate lyrics. 10/16/2015 – Don Yates

90 Wavves – V (Warner Bros)

The fifth album from this LA-based band led by Nathan Williams is a potent, hook-filled blend of power-pop, garage-punk and grunge-pop, featuring consistently strong, sharply crafted songs juxtaposing angst-fueled lyrics with bright pop melodies. 10/2/2015 – Don Yates

89 Bully – Feels Like (Columbia)

The debut album from this Nashville band led by Alicia Bognanno is a promising set of ‘90s-influenced rock. Produced by Bognanno (who interned at Steve Albini’s renowned Electrical Audio studio), the album features a raw sound with fuzzy, grungy guitars and energetic rhythms accompanying her scuffed vocals and unflinching, sometimes cutting lyrics. 6/18/2015 – Don Yates

88 Shamir – Ratchet (XL)

This 20-year-old Las Vegas artist’s debut album is a masterful blend of R&B, funk, house, disco, hip hop, post-punk and electro-pop, featuring a variety of bright, sharply crafted songs with often-sparse accompaniment that puts a spotlight on his elastic, androgynous vocals and intimate lyrics. 5/15/2015 – Don Yates

87 Ty Segall – Mr. Face EP (Famous Class)

The prolific LA-based rocker’s latest EP is a strong 4-song set blending elements of garage-rock, psych and folk-rock into tuneful nuggets of rock bliss. 1/19/2015 – Don Yates

86 Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men Too (Big Dada)

This Edinburgh, Scotland-based trio’s second full-length finds them moving away from hip hop and towards adventurous TV On The Radio-style prog-pop flavored with psych-rock, soul, gospel and much more on inventive songs combining a densely layered sound with the trio’s nonconformist lyrics. 4/10/2015 – Don Yates

85 HEALTH – Death Magic (Loma Vista)

This LA band’s third album (and first in six years) is their most polished and melodic release, though they still inject plenty of grinding synth noise and harsh industrial beats into some adventurous electro-pop jams. 7/31/2015 – Don Yates

84 Rose Windows – Rose Windows (Sub Pop)

This Seattle band’s second (and final) album is another excellent set of expansive psych-rock featuring a variety of beautifully crafted songs blending elements of ritualistic psych, crunchy hard rock, hypnotic prog, majestic folk rock and more. 4/24/2015 – Don Yates

83 Gary Clark Jr. – The Story of Sonny Boy Slim (Warner Bros.)

The latest album from this Austin guitarist/singer/songwriter is a potent blend of blues, soul, funk, psych-rock, hip hop, gospel and more that finds him focusing less on flashy solos and more on tight song construction. 9/18/2015 – Don Yates

82 Django Django – Born Under Saturn (Ribbon)

This Scottish band’s second album is a smoother, more polished take on the band’s blend of electro-pop and psych-pop, combining propulsive dance-friendly rhythms with trippy song textures and sunny harmonies. 5/1/2015 – Don Yates

81 Calexico – Edge of the Sun (City Slang/ Anti-)

The 9th album from this veteran Tucson band led by Joey Burns and John Convertino is a beautifully crafted set of expansive folk-rock inflected with mariachi, synth-pop, cumbia and more. The album’s vibrant, colorful sound is fleshed out with help from an impressive supporting cast including Neko Case, Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), Band Of Horses’ Ben Bridwell, Devotchka’s Nick Urata and other notables. 4/10/2015 – Don Yates

80 Torres – Sprinter (Partisan)

The second album from Brooklyn-based artist Torres (aka Mackenzie Scott) features a bit more of a full-bodied sound along with bringing a more aggressive edge to her brooding, stripped-down rock, combining rumbling guitars and haunting melodies with her husky vocals and deeply personal lyrics of alienation and isolation. 4/17/2015 – Don Yates

79 THEESatisfaction – Eartheee (Sub Pop)

This Seattle duo’s second album is a bit more cohesive and generally more low-key than their promising 2012 debut album awE naturalE, though no less adventurous, with an entrancing blend of Afro-futurist hip hop, cosmic R&B, psychedelic funk and astral jazz. Produced again by Erik Blood (and also featuring appearances from Shabazz Palaces, Meshell Ndegeocello, Porter Ray and Taylor Brown), the album features a warm, hypnotic sound with spacy keyboards, blunted rhythms, airy harmonies and poetic lyrics balancing sharp social commentary with more spiritual yearnings. 2/20/2015 – Don Yates

78 Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer (Carpark)

The second album from this Northampton, MA band led by Sadie Dupuis is another excellent set of ‘90s-steeped indie-rock reminiscent of Pavement, Helium and Bettie Serveert, though this time featuring a bit more polished and intricate sound with fuzzy, wiry guitars, atmospheric keyboards and jagged rhythms accompanying Dupuis’ honeyed, often-deadpan vocals and smart, poetic and emotionally cutting lyrics. 4/17/2015 – Don Yates

77 Beat Connection – Product 3 (Anti-)

This Seattle band’s second full-length is an first-rate set of sleek electro-pop inflected with New Wave, R&B, funk and other styles, with consistently strong songs featuring bright synths, jangly guitars, shimmering melodies and propulsive rhythms accompanying Tom Eddy’s breezy, soulful vocals. 10/23/2015 – Don Yates

76 Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect (Hardly Art)

This Seattle band’s second full-length is an first-rate set of sleek electro-pop inflected with New Wave, R&B, funk and other styles, with consistently strong songs featuring bright synths, jangly guitars, shimmering melodies and propulsive rhythms accompanying Tom Eddy’s breezy, soulful vocals. 10/23/2015 – Don Yates

75 Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness (Domino)

This LA artist’s fourth album is a beautifully crafted set of sophisticated avant-pop with a lush, airy, imaginatively arranged sound featuring a variety of colorful instrumentation and inventive rhythms to frame her intimate vocals and cryptic lyrics, along with some of her most gorgeous pop melodies to date. 9/25/2015 – Don Yates

74 Fuzz – II (In The Red)

The second album from this California trio comprised of Ty Segall on vocals and drums, Moonhearts’ Charlie Moothart on guitar and Meatbodies’ Chad Ubovich on bass is another ferocious set of primal stoner-rock a la Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer with grungy guitar riffs, muscular rhythms, sneering vocals and dystopian lyrics. 10/23/2015 – Don Yates

73 FIDLAR – Too (Mom + Pop)

This LA band follows up their 2013 debut album of raucous, hedonistic garage-punk with a more expansive second album that finds them branching out stylistically while also striking an uneasy balance between partying and getting sober, defiance and regret. 9/4/2015 – Don Yates

72 Yo La Tengo – Stuff Like That There (Matador)

The veteran Hoboken, NJ band follows up their celebrated low-key 1990 album of covers and originals Fakebook with another equally subdued, mostly acoustic set of wide-ranging covers along with two new originals and three new versions of older Yo La Tengo songs. 8/28/2015 – Don Yates

71 Big Grams – Big Grams (Epic/Republic)

Big Grams is the new project from Atlanta rapper (and one-half of Outkast) Big Boi and update New York duo Phantogram. Their debut release under that name is a somewhat-erratic 7-song EP blending moody electro-pop and southern hip hop that starts off strong before fizzling out at the end. 10/5/2015 – Don Yates

70 Joanna Newsom – Divers (Drag City)

This LA-based artist’s fourth album is her most focused and accessible effort, with 11 smartly crafted, relatively concise songs of expansive, intricately arranged chamber folk-pop incorporating elements of classical, psych-rock, traditional folk ballads, ragtime and more. Her elastic, warbling soprano is a bit more restrained than on previous albums, helping to bring greater emphasis to her evocative, densely packed lyrics reflecting on love, loss, mortality and the passage of time. 10/23/2015 – Don Yates

69 The Mountain Goats – Beat the Champ (Merge)

The 15th album from John Darnielle & co. is a fascinating set inspired by professional wrestling though often dealing with notions of identity, justice, death and other weighty subjects. The album’s expansive sound ranges from hook-filled folk-pop and raging, punk-infused rockers to moody, jazz-tinged pop and atmospheric piano ballads. 3/26/2015 – Don Yates

68 Dan Deacon – Glass Riffer (Domino)

This Balitmore artist’s latest album follows up a couple of large ensemble-based releases (2009’s Bromst and 2012’s America) with this return to a more basic, electronic-oriented method of composing and producing his euphoric trance-pop, though still as densely layered as ever with circular rhythms, looped samples and bright pop hooks. It’s also his most vocal-oriented recording, with his vocals often pitch-shifted, chopped and looped or otherwise manipulated. 2/20/2015 – Don Yates

67 METZ – II (Sub Pop)

This Toronto band’s second album is another excellent set of blistering post-hardcore with scuzzy, angular guitars, pile-driving rhythms, anguished vocals and dark lyrics of loss and alienation. 4/17/2015 – Don Yates

66 FKA Twigs – M3ll155X EP (Young Turks)

This British artist follows up her masterful debut album with a powerful 5-song EP blending futuristic R&B with deep post-dubstep electronic grooves while also featuring some of her hardest-hitting lyrics to date. 8/14/2015 – Don Yates

65 Dead Weather – Dodge & Burn (Third Man)

The third album from this band featuring The Kills’ Alison Mosshart on lead vocals, Jack White on drums (along with occasional vocals and guitar), Queens Of The Stone Age’s Dean Fertita on lead guitar and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs, The Greenhornes, etc.) on bass is another visceral set of bluesy hard-rock with searing guitar riffs, muscular rhythms and wailing vocals. 9/28/2015 – Don Yates

64 Neon Indian – VEGA INTL. Night School (Mom + Pop)

The third album from Texas-raised, Brooklyn-based artist Alan Palomo (aka Neon Indian) is a strong set of psych-tinged electro-pop featuring a densely layered blend of twinkling synths, bright guitars, woozy textures, propulsive, occasionally tropical-tinged rhythms and sparkling pop hooks. 10/9/2015 – Don Yates

63 Sharon Van Etten – I Don’t Want to Let You Down EP (Jagjaguwar)

This New York singer-songwriter’s latest release is a typically well-crafted 5-song EP of brooding folk-pop. 5/25/2015 – Don Yates

62 Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper (Domino)

The fifth solo album from Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) is a typically adventurous, brightly colored set of warped psych-pop with swirling, often-disoriented synths, trippy ambient textures, occasional hip hop breakbeats, celestial melodies, multi-layered vocals and quasi-cryptic reflections on mortality. 1/9/2015 – Don Yates

61 Ratatat – Magnifique (XL)

This Brooklyn-based duo returns to the more guitar-driven sound of their earlier records on their fifth album, while still offering a sleek blend of funk, hip hop and electronic styles with prog, psych and hard-rock on a variety of instrumentals ranging from crunchy, driving funk-rock to atmospheric, steel guitar-infused ballads. 7/10/2015 – Don Yates

60 Tallest Man on Earth – Dark Bird Is Home (Dead Oceans)

The fourth album from this Swedish singer-songwriter (aka Kristian Matsson) features a fuller, more produced sound for his melancholy folk-pop and some of his most personal and direct songwriting to date. Alongside acoustic and electric guitars are atmospheric synths, piano, horns and other instrumentation fleshing out songs ranging from plaintive folk ballads to anthemic rockers. 5/1/2015 – Don Yates

59 Destroyer – Poison Season (Merge)

The 10th Destroyer album from Vancouver, BC’s Dan Bejar is an impressive set of theatrical prog-pop incorporating elements of brooding R&B, warm ‘70s jazz, soaring Springsteen rock, somber chamber-pop and more, combining a lush, mostly dark sound with literate, often-biting lyrics. 8/5/2015 – Don Yates

58 Brandi Carlile – The Firewatcher’s Daughter (ATO)

This Seattle singer-songwriter’s fifth album is a solid set of polished folk-pop, ranging from reflective ballads to bluesy stompers. 2/23/2015 – Don Yates

57 Colleen Green – I Want to Grow Up (Hardly Art)

This LA-based artist’s third album is a solid set of ’90s-influenced garage-pop with a fuller, somewhat more polished sound than her previous releases. Featuring accompaniment by JEFF The Brotherhood’s Jake Orrall and Diarrhea Planet’s Casey Weissbuchs, the album combines crunchy guitars, muscular rhythms, angst-fueled lyrics and catchy pop hooks. 2/16/2015 – Don Yates

56 The Arcs – Yours, Dreamily (Nonesuch)

The debut album from this band led by The Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach is a gritty set of psych-tinged soul and funky blues-rock with fuzzy guitars, moody organ, occasional horns, funk and hip hop rhythms fleshing out well-crafted songs of lost love. The stellar backing band includes Richard Swift, saxophonist Leon Michels, Dap-Kings drummer Homer Steinweiss and bassist Nick Movshon, with other luminaries in guest roles including Tchad Blake, guitarist Kenny Vaughan and the New York all-female mariachi band Mariachi Flor de Toloache. 9/4/2015 – Don Yates

55 The Sonics – This Is the Sonics (Revox)

Remarkably, the legendary Tacoma band sounds as vital as ever on their first album in 48 years, a scorching set of high-octane garage-rock with loud guitars, honking sax, searing organ, pounding rhythms, urgent vocals and primal rock screams. 3/26/2015 – Don Yates

54 Eagles Of Death Metal – Zipper Down (T-Boy/UME)

The fourth album (and first in seven years) from the duo of Jesse Hughes and Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme is another irreverent and irresistible set of bluesy garage and ‘70s boogie-rock, combining primal guitar riffs and energetic rhythms with Hughes’ swaggering vocals and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. 10/9/2015 – Don Yates

53 Childbirth – Women’s Rights (Hardly Art)

The second album from this Seattle trio comprised of members of Chastity Belt, TacocaT and Pony Time is a strong set of snarky garage-punk with primal, grungy guitar lines and pounding rhythms accompanying Julia Shapiro’s sarcastic vocals and the band’s biting, often-hilarious lyrics skewering sexism and lots more. 10/2/2015 – Don Yates

52 Of Monsters & Men – Beneath The Skin (Republic)

Of Monsters And Men follow up the exuberance of their breakthrough debut with Beneath the Skin, and album that explores deeper, darker, more introspective territory. Pretty much all the songs are slow-burners, with beautiful arrangements and massive crescendos, several of which have an epic, uplifting quality, but they all feel very anchored, none exploding into the joyous rapture of the debut. This is the sound of a band that has grown much closer having spent 2+ years together on the road, comfortable exploring more vulnerable emotional landscape. Produced by Rich Costey, (Death Cab For Cutie, Kintsugi). 6/29/2015 — Kevin Cole

51 Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free (Southeastern/Thirty Tigers)

The latest solo album from the former Drive-By Trucker is another excellent set of expansive roots-rock with a warm, often acoustic-based sound and a consistently strong variety of beautifully crafted songs combining heart-tugging melodies with some of his finest lyrics to date. 6/18/2015 – Don Yates

50 Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp (Merge)

The third Waxahatchee album from Alabama-bred, Philadelphia-based artist (and former P.S. Eliot frontwoman) Katie Crutchfield features a more confident and expansive sound ranging from buzzing garage-pop to sparse acoustic folk-pop, along with some of her best, most sharply crafted and deeply felt songs to date. 3/26/2015 – Don Yates

49 Jose Gonzalez – Vestiges & Claws (Mute)

The third solo album (and first in seven years) from this Swedish singer-songwriter is a typically well-crafted set of stripped-down folk-pop with hypnotic guitar lines inspired by West African desert blues and elemental percussion accompanying his gentle, layered vocals and philosophical lyrics. 2/13/2015 – Don Yates

48 Purity Ring – Another Eternity (Sub Pop)

This Canadian duo’s masterful second album features a cleaner, more polished and dynamic sound for their brooding, hip hop-inflected electro-pop, combining dark, fuzzy synths, cold trap beats and trunk-rattling bass with wistful melodies and Megan James’ ethereal vocals and emotive lyrics. 2/26/2015 – Don Yates

47 Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated at Last (Castle Face)

The ninth album from this LA-via-San Francisco band led by John Dwyer is another first-rate, adventurous blend of raw garage-rock, mind-bending psych-rock and a bit of acoustic folk-rock. 5/15/2015 – Don Yates

46 Mac DeMarco – Another One (Captured Tracks)

This New York-based Canadian artist’s latest release is a strong 8-song mini-album of hazy, psych-tinged slacker-pop with woozy guitar lines, cheap synths, easygoing rhythms, lovelorn lyrics and wistful melodies. 7/31/2015 – Don Yates

45 Telekinesis – Ad Infinitum (Merge)

The fourth album from Michael Lerner’s Telekinesis project is a diverse, expertly crafted set of ‘80s-steeped synth-pop ranging from pulsing dance-pop to atmospheric space-pop ballads. 9/4/2015 – Don Yates

44 Ought – Sun Coming Down (Constellation Records)

This Montreal-based band’s second album is a strong set of expansive, tension-filled post-punk with angular guitar lines, fuzzy keyboards, understated rhythms, declamatory vocals and often-sardonic lyrics. 9/11/2015 – Don Yates

43 Hot Chip – Why Make Sense? (Domino)

This British group’s sixth album is another smartly crafted set of hook-filled electro-pop inflected with funk, R&B, disco, house, post-punk, prog and other styles. The first Hot Chip album to be recorded live in the studio, Why Make Sense? sports a natural sound combining bright analog synths, sleek guitars and propulsive rhythms with Alexis Taylor’s vulnerable crooning and heartfelt lyrics. 5/15/2015 – Don Yates

42 Florence and the Machine – How Big, How Beautiful, How Blue (Island)

This British band’s third album is a solid set of anthemic pop-rock featuring a massive, densely produced sound on mostly melodramatic songs that showcase her impassioned vocals and portentous lyrics of a busted relationship. 6/8/2015 – Don Yates

41 The Helio Sequence – The Helio Sequence (Sub Pop)

This Portland duo’s sixth album is another impeccably crafted set of atmospheric pop-rock with shimmering guitars, ethereal synths, hazy vocals, soaring harmonies and sparkling song hooks. 5/8/2015 – Don Yates

40 Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars (Sub Pop)

This Baltimore duo quickly follows up their fifth album Depression Cherry (which was released less than two months ago) with this surprise album release, and while it may not be quite as strong as Depression Cherry, it’s still an often-gorgeous set of hazy dream-pop. 10/16/2015 – Don Yates

39 Low – Ones and Sixes (Sub Pop)

The 11th album from this veteran Duluth, MN trio is another strong set of spacious, minimalist folk-pop, and while there are plenty of the band’s trademark slowly unfurling ballads, there are also some more uptempo psych-pop gems. 9/4/2015 – Don Yates

38 Viet Cong – Viet Cong (Jagjaguwar)

The debut full-length from this Calgary band comprised of ex-Women members Matt Flegel and Mike Wallace along with Monty Munro (ex-Lab Coast) and guitarist Danny Christiansen is an expansive, impressively arranged blend of dark post-punk and prog-tinged psych-rock. 1/9/2015 – Don Yates

37 My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall (ATO/Capitol)

This Louisville band’s seventh album bounces from epic prog-rock to soul-tinged ‘80s rock and plaintive, acoustic-oriented ballads. 5/1/2015 – Don Yates

36 Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Fashion (Matador)

Prolific young artist Will Toledo (aka Car Seat Headrest) has released 11 albums on his own through Bandcamp since 2010 while living in his hometown of Leesburg, VA. He moved to Seattle last year and is now releasing his official label debut album. The album reworks 11 songs from his extensive Bandcamp catalog with help from a new backing band (this also marks the first time he’s recorded with a full band). The end result is an emotionally powerful set of lo-fi rock ranging from moody psych-pop and synth-pop to raging punk, with consistently strong, smartly written songs juxtaposing sunny melodies with often-dark and wry lyrics of frustration, loneliness and alienation. 10/30/2015 – Don Yates

35 Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi (Atlantic)

This Seattle band’s eighth album is the first since the departure of founding guitarist/keyboardist/producer Chris Walla, and while Walla didn’t produce the new album, he does play on it. The album’s moody, atmospheric alt-rock sound is very much in the Death Cab tradition, though it’s a bit darker and more restrained than usual, with a variety of smartly crafted songs combining bittersweet melodies with lyrics of lost love, separation and renewal. 3/26/2015 – Don Slack

34 Ryan Adams – 1989 (Pax-Am/Blue Note)

The latest album from the former Whiskeytown frontman is a song-by-song cover of Taylor Swift’s most recent album 1989. Recorded after going through the breakup of his marriage, Adams turns the fizzy dance-pop of the original album into melancholy, ‘80s-tinged rock with strong sonic echoes of Smiths, U2, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. 9/28/2015 – Don Yates

33 Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love (Jagjaguwar)

The third album from this Portland band led by New Zealand expatriate Ruban Nielson is an adventurous, impressive blend of prog-rock, psych-pop, funk and R&B, with a variety of densely textured songs featuring spacy synths, atmospheric guitars, jagged rhythms, magnetic song hooks and oblique lyrics about a complicated relationship. 5/15/2015 – Don Yates

32 The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (Capitol)

This Portland band’s seventh studio album (and first in five years) is a consistently strong set of polished, fairly diverse folk-pop combining a richly layered, impeccably detailed sound with Colin Meloy’s plaintive vocals and finely chiseled, often-poignant lyrics, which are also some of his most personal and poignant to date. 1/9/2015 – Don Yates

31 Modest Mouse – Strangers To Ourselves (Epic)

The latest album (and first in eight years) from the veteran Issaquah-bred band is a vibrant, wide-ranging affair moving from jagged indie-rock and quirky dance-pop to feverish sea chanteys and campfire ballads, combining a dynamic, adventurous sound with Isaac Brock’s off-kilter melodies and sardonic, often-bleak lyrics. 3/12/2015 – Don Yates

30 Chastity Belt – Time To Go Home (Hardly Art)

This Seattle band’s second album is even better than their promising 2013 debut No Regerts, with a greater attention to song craft that pays off with a consistently strong set of moody post-punk songs combining ringing, surf-inflected guitars, jagged rhythms and Julia Shapiro’s jaded, often-sardonic lyrics. 3/20/2015 – Don Yates

29 Björk – Vulnicura (One Little Indian)

The Icelandic artist’s ninth studio album is a sometimes-entrancing though often-difficult blend of avant-classical, orchestral pop and electronic styles. Mostly co-produced by Bjork and London-based Venezuelan DJ/producer Arca (aka Alejandro Ghersi), the album features mostly lengthy songs with intricate string arrangements and a variety of electronic beats and textures accompanying her pixie vocals and devastatingly frank, lovelorn lyrics. 1/23/2015 – Don Yates

28 Best Coast – California Nights (Harvest)

This LA duo’s third album is a consistently strong set of ‘90s-influenced power pop, featuring a big, punchy sound with fuzzy guitars, energetic rhythms and Bethany Cosentino’s honeyed, often multi-tracked vocals and emotive, often-melancholy lyrics, along with an abundance of sparkling pop hooks. 4/24/2015 – Don Yates

27 Leon Bridges – Coming Home (Columbia)

This Fort Worth, TX artist’s debut album is an excellent set of early ‘60s-steeped soul with consistently strong, beautifully crafted songs combining a warm and lean sound with Bridges’ sweet, soulful croon and often-poignant lyrics. 6/18/2015 – Don Yates

26 Blur – The Magic Whip (Warner Bros.)

This reunited British band’s eighth studio album (and first in 12 years) is a strong return-to-form incorporating everything from classic-sounding, crunchy Brit-pop to excursions into spacy electro-pop, brooding, dub-inflected ballads and other styles that are more representative of some of frontman Damon Albarn’s other projects (Gorillaz, The Good The Bad & The Queen). 4/24/2015 – Don Yates

25 La Luz – Weirdo Shrine (Hardly Art)

This Seattle band’s second album is another impressive blend of noirish surf-rock and ‘60s girl-group pop. Produced by Ty Segall, the album’s sound is a bit more raw than their debut full-length, combining fierce surf-guitar riffs, eerie keyboards and driving rhythms with ethereal four-part harmonies, often-dark lyrics and captivating pop hooks. 7/31/2015 – Don Yates

24 Belle and Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance (Matador)

This Scottish band’s ninth studio album is one of their strongest and most diverse offerings, combining sophisticated arrangements with often-spiritually inspired lyrics on expertly crafted songs ranging from jangly folk-pop and atmospheric orchestral ballads to sleek, discofied dance-pop. 1/9/2015 – Don Yates

23 New Order – Music Complete (Mute)

The veteran British band’s 10th studio album (and first in 10 years) features a revamped lineup with original keyboardist Gillian Gilbert back on board while iconic bassist Peter Hook is absent. It’s still a fairly strong comeback with a few missteps, though most of it’s quality dance-pop with propulsive rhythms, sweeping synths, atmospheric guitars and sparkling song hooks. 10/2/2015 – Don Yates

22 Lord Huron – Strange Trails (IAMSOUND)

The second album from this LA-based band led by Ben Schneider is another impeccably crafted set of expansive folk-pop incorporating elements of psych-pop, rockabilly, surf, Bruce Springsteen and more on songs ranging from propulsive, anthemic rockers to dark, airy ballads. 4/10/2015 – Don Yates

21 Beirut – No No No (4AD)

The fourth album from Zach Condon & co. finds him mining a more basic and stripped-down sound that doesn’t always play to his strengths, but there are still some sweet, mostly subdued gems of piano-driven chamber-pop to be found. 9/14/2015 – Don Yates

20 The Chemical Brothers – Born In The Echoes (Capitol)

The longtime British duo’s eighth album (and first in five years) is a strong set ranging from psych-tinged acid house jams with squelchy synths and propulsive rhythms to atmospheric psych-pop ballads. 7/10/2015 – Don Yates

19 Grace Love And The True Loves – Grace Love & The True Loves (self-released)

This nine-piece Seattle band’s debut full-length is an excellent set of ‘60s-steeped soul with rock-solid musicianship and a full, classic-soul sound featuring rhythmic guitar licks, punchy horns, searing B-3 organ and tight rhythms accompanying Love’s soulful, powerhouse vocals. 9/11/2015 – Don Yates

18 Chvrches – Every Open Eye (Glassnote)

This Scottish trio’s second album is another powerful, impeccably crafted set of anthemic electro-pop with bright, shimmering synths and propulsive rhythms accompanying Lauren Mayberry’s crystalline vocals and emotive lyrics. 9/25/2015 – Don Yates

17 EL VY – Return to the Moon (4AD)

The debut album from this collaboration pairing The National frontman Matt Berninger with Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls (and formerly with Menomena) is a sharply crafted blend of playful funk-inflected rock and moody, atmospheric ballads. 10/30/2015 – Don Yates

16 Built To Spill – Untethered Moon (Warner Bros.)

The eighth studio album from Doug Martsch & co. features a revamped lineup and a consistently strong set of songs from Martsch with crunchy, inventive guitar riffs and solos, wistful melodies and melancholy, angst-ridden lyrics. 4/17/2015 – Don Yates

15 Wilco – Star Wars (self-released)

Released by surprise on July 16th, the ninth album from this veteran Chicago band led by Jeff Tweedy is a smartly crafted blend of stomping glam-rock, buzzing motorik post-punk, atmospheric space-rock jams, plaintive psych-folk ballads and more, combining a raw, live sound with shape-shifting arrangements and plenty of adventurous guitar work from Nels Cline. 7/17/2015 – Don Yates

14 Grimes – Art Angels (4AD)

The excellent fourth album from this Montreal-via-Vancouver, BC artist (aka Claire Boucher) is her most brightly melodic and also her most aggressive-sounding release, featuring a cleaner, more luminous sound for her adventurous dance-pop while also incorporating a variety of live instrumentation and unusual textures on intricately crafted songs that juxtapose soaring melodies with dark lyrics. 11/6/2015 – Don Yates

13 Deerhunter – Fading Frontier (4AD)

This Atlanta band’s seventh album is one of their most direct and melodic releases. It’s also one of their best, featuring beautifully crafted songs of atmospheric psych-pop combining a warm, often-dreamy sound with poignant lyrics reflecting on survival and mortality. 10/16/2015 – Don Yates

12 Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool (RCA)

This British band’s debut full-length is an expansive blend of ethereal dream-pop, shoegazer psych-rock, bristling grunge-pop and much more, with a dynamic, wide-ranging sound on smartly constructed songs ranging from ethereal folk balladry to feral grunge-punk. 6/18/2015 – Don Yates

11 Beach House – Depression Cherry (Sub Pop)

This Baltimore duo’s fifth album is another beautifully crafted set of atmospheric dream-pop with a floating, reverb-drenched sound combining droning organ, shimmering synths, chiming guitars and hypnotic drum-machine rhythms with Victoria Legrand’s dusky vocals, cryptic lyrics and melancholy melodies. 8/21/2015 – Don Yates

10 Foals – What Went Down (Warner Bros.)

This British band’s fourth album is another first-rate set of rhythmic post-punk with a massive sound combining ringing guitars, atmospheric keyboards, driving rhythms, soaring vocals and anthemic song hooks. 8/28/2015 – Don Yates

9 Jamie XX – In Colour (Young Turks)

The solo debut from this British DJ/producer (and member of London band The xx) is a masterful blend of dance-friendly electronic music ranging from club bangers steeped in house and techno (along with some hip hop and dancehall) to minimalist, R&B-inflected electro-pop reminiscent of the music of The xx. The xx’s Romy and Oliver Sim provide guest vocals on a handful of songs, while one of the highlights features Young Thug & Popcaan. 5/29/2015 – Don Yates

8 Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope)

The LA rapper follows up his classic second full-length (2012’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city) with a heady, uncompromising album that’s just as powerful. While Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City was a personal affair about growing up in Compton, To Pimp A Butterfly looks outward to issues of race, identity and oppression while also reflecting on his own fame and responsibility. Featuring a densely layered sound, the album masterfully combines dark, gritty grooves heavily steeped in ‘70s funk and jazz with Lamar’s tricky, elastic delivery and intricate, often-politically charged rhymes that delve deep into feelings of guilt, anger and self-doubt. 3/20/2015 – Don Yates

7 Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love (Sub Pop)

The recently reunited trio’s eighth album (and first in 10 years) is a strong return-to-form, with an intense blend of punk, classic and hard rock combining fierce guitar interplay, urgent, dynamic rhythms, searing vocals and sharply crafted lyrics examining power, injustice, love and the band’s place in the world. 1/9/2015 – Don Yates

6 Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)

The avant-pop composer returns to the tranquil folk-pop of his Seven Swans album for his latest release, which was named after his mother and stepfather and partly inspired by his mother’s death. It’s a powerful, deeply poignant album with a spare sound combining finger-picked acoustic guitar, occasional piano, atmospheric synths, hushed vocals and unflinching, autobiographical lyrics of love, family and death. 3/20/2015 – Don Yates

5 Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color (ATO)

This Athens, AL band brings a more polished, confident and diverse sound to their second album, expanding upon the rootsy garage-soul of their debut by not only digging deeper into R&B and funk, but also incorporating lots of trippy psych-rock, some brash punk and more. Best of all, Brittany Howard’s gritty and dynamic vocals have never sounded stronger. 4/17/2015 – Don Yates

4 Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear (Sub Pop)

The second album from Josh Tillman under his Father John Misty moniker is a masterful, more fully realized set of sophisticated ‘70s-steeped pop. With Jonathan Wilson again enlisted as producer, the album features a warm, sumptuous sound combining acoustic and electric guitars, piano, strings, horns, harps and more on beautifully crafted songs of love with soaring harmonies and rich melodies, along with Tillman’s soulful vocals and finely chiseled lyrics blending biting satire with heartfelt poignancy. 2/6/2015 – Don Yates

3 Kurt Vile – b’lieve i’m goin down (Matador)

This Philadelphia artist’s sixth solo full-length is another first-rate outing of expansive, folk-tinged psych-rock, with a consistently strong set of mostly dark, open-ended songs combining Vile’s expressive guitar work along with some occasional banjo, piano and other instrumentation with his laconic drawl and smart, self-aware lyrics that leaven deep melancholy with flashes of wry humor. 9/25/2015 – Don Yates

2 Tame Impala – Currents (Interscope)

The third Tame Impala album from Perth, Australia’s Kevin Parker finds him setting aside most of the guitars and heading in a more electronic-oriented direction for a beautifully crafted, psych-tinged blend of spacy electro-pop, sleek astral soul and disco-inspired dance-pop that combines a densely layered and intricately detailed sound with his Lennonesque, falsetto-laden vocals and reflective lyrics about loss and change. 7/17/2015 – Don Yates

1 Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom + Pop)

This Melbourne, Australia artist follows up her initial EPs with her official debut full-length, a masterful set that improves upon her promising early releases with even sharper songwriting and a more urgent and confident sound. The diverse set of songs ranges from stomping garage-rock and ‘90s-steeped grunge-pop to psych-tinged jangle-pop and bluesy, atmospheric ballads, though the focus rightfully remains on Barnett’s deadpan vocals and delightfully frank, witty and insightful lyrics balancing wry humor with a deep poignancy. 3/20/2015 – Don Yates

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