Skip links

20 BEST ALBUMS OF 2015 (Nick’s List)

[spb_column col_bg_type=”cover” col_parallax_image_movement=”fixed” col_parallax_image_speed=”0.5″ col_padding=”0″ col_animation=”none” col_animation_delay=”0″ width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” responsive_vis=”hidden-xs” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12930″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

20. Passion Pit – Kindred

It’s no secret that Michael Angelakos is a tormented and brilliant man. His battle with mental health is something that is a prominent part part of his lyrics and was made rather public when he had to cancel the majority of his tour for his last album Gossamer. Kindred, the latest synth-pop filled nougat from Angelakos’ moniker Passion Pit, isn’t so much a study of what occupies the dark passages of our mind but what in our lives light them up. It’s a discussion of family, friends, and faith and a catchy letter to us all to keep the momentum; that nothing should be able to block our vision of what is necessary and good and important to our lives.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12932″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

19. Talkie – S/T

I won’t go too far into the difficulties of choosing between Talkie’s self titled EP and their newly released double full-length Hablas and figuring out which one to place on this list. Just imagine a mental image of me banging my head on the wall and listening to both on repeat for sometime. Regardless, the band’s EP hosts 4 of the best garage-rock grungy goodness to be released this year and proves to be a an amazing entry point for fans. The personal lyrics and dense guitars create an repeat-worthy introduction to a band that I’m very much looking forward to seeing evolve.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12918″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

18. Allison Weiss – New Love

Listening to New Love is kind of like looking into the mirror and trying to figure out who in the hell you are looking at. It’s an album filled with uncertainty in the face of self-discovery. The album constantly relates to life-changing moments; not life-changing moments on a global scale but on the personal scale that has a short blast radius but deals massive damage. Namely relationships. The album starts fairly mellow with in it’s singer-songwriter pop roots and revs up as the emotion and instrumentation come to a collision during the title track towards the end of the album, then begins to wind down again with the quasi-acceptance and introspection of the last track “The Same.”

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12928″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

17. Murder By Death – Big Dark Love

Murder By Death has been making music since the early 2000’s and judging by this year’s Big Dark Love, they aren’t planning on slowing down anytime soon. The band’s latest is an expansion of their Vaudevillian sound and literary lyrics, giving us a powerful collection of 10 tracks of classic and increasingly lively Murder By Death tunes. I’ll drink to that.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12922″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

16. The Front Bottoms – Back On Top

Seeing the Front Bottoms live is almost like seeing the world burning in front of you on Black Friday; their fans are fiercely loyal and intensely energetic and you’d swear the venue you are seeing them in is about to collapse or explode or just start dancing along with all the people in it. Back On Top, the band’s fourth full-length album, made me realize that the band simply cannot make a bad song—which is easily realized when seeing the band perform various songs from their catalog with their latest gems intermingled. It’s not much different than their other releases but why should it be when this band consistently shits out gold.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12939″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

15. CHVCHES – Every Open Eye

CHVCHES can somehow make any season feel like the beginning of summer. Lauren Mayberry and company released a bombshell of an electro-pop record with 2013’s The Bones Of What You Believe but have somehow managed to kick the sophomore slump in the balls and release an album that somehow takes the energy of their debut and expands on it, creating a more lush, moody, and powerful follow-up which just so happens to be the catchiest album of the year (go ahead and try to get “Make Them Gold” out of your head after a listen).

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12927″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

14. The Mountain Goats – Beat The Champ

John Darnielle is the working man’s lyricist. Beat The Champ proves Darnielle can create a character that anyone, anywhere can become emotionally connected to, regardless of the profession of cultural background; which is, in this case, a Mexican Luchador. It’s an album about people you would normally pass on the street and forget them before they are out of the corner of your eye, but because of the careful depth and strained honesty of Darnielle’s lyrics and storytelling, you will take these characters with you for quite a while after the last song spins.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12935″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

13. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Harmlessness

I’m not sure there is a more cohesive and blended album on this list, or one that has come out this year in general. Harmlessness is a dewy morning waking up halfway through a dream and thinking you’re still in it after you open your eyes. It’s confident and consistent with song flowing into song. It’s a goddamed punk rock opera.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12933″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

12. Telekinesis – Ad Infinitum

What happens when you genuinely think you have reached the end of your creative rope? If you’re Michael Benjamin Lerner, you build yourself a brand new studio and fall in love with music all over again. The synth-fueld follow up to 2013’s Domarion is, in every way, what each of his previous albums have been adding up to. It’s the quasi-nerdy love letter to your high school sweetheart that’s written with icing and the beat of your heart.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12920″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

11. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

Josh Tillman is an actor and I Love You, Honeybear is his Oscar winning performance. The album takes Tillman’s sly and dry humor and places it centerstage amongst the much more robust instrumental atmosphere, which takes the folky leanings of Fear Fun and adds elements of Big Band (the title track), Electronic (“True Affection”), and Motown-y vibes (“When You’re Smiling And Astride Me”). It’s a deeper dive into the halucinagenic-born persona of Father John Misty with honest, worldly and personal commentary seeping through the facade.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12931″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

10. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

Carrie & Lowell sounds like Sufjan invited you into his living room and sat you down to sing you his most pure and personal songs to date immediately after carving them them into his own sleeve. It’s not an album about the United States or an expressway or swans: it’s a mostly biographical account of Steven’s life. It’s stripped down and honest and, as many know, is named after Steven’s mother and stepfather. Carrie & Lowell is poignantly raw and (I’m sorry Illinois) his best album to date.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12936″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

09. Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp

From the slow, haunting opening organ of “Breathless” to the closing strings and howl of “Bonfire,” Waxahatchee’s Ivy Trip is a story of past-adolescence and trying to find who you are as an adult; a confusing and strange wad of clay that one must work into something of meaning. The title of the album, as told by Waxahatchee herself, Katie Crutchfield is “just a term I made up for directionless-ness, specifically of the 20-something, 30-something, 40-something of today, lacking regard for the complacent life path of our parents and grandparents.” Ivy Trip is a both a companion for the dense fog many of us have to walk through in our traditional years as well as a comforting reminder after we make it through.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12921″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

08. Foxing – Dealer

There isn’t a better live band in the world right now. I know that’s probably super biased and most likely untrue but I don’t care. Try seeing Foxing live, especially after their latest release, and tell me you didn’t want their set to continue for the rest of ever. Dealer is the continuation of a band that is primed to take over the world, or at least it’s inhabitants’ beating hearts. Especially with the track “Night Channels,” which is, in my opinion, one of the best songs to be written this year. It’s an emotion-filled whisper with explosions that light up each song when you’re least expecting. And just like their live performances, you just don’t want the album to end.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12934″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

07. The Wonder Years – No Closer To Heaven

Looking back on The Wonder Year’s catalog (5 albums, 2 compilations, and numerous EPs), it seems that each song the band has created and the albums that hold them together has lead to No Closer To Heaven. Their latest album sees the band pump the brakes ever so slightly on speed and slow down to create their most unified and powerful album to date.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12925″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

06. Lithuania – Hardcore Friends

Hardcore Friends is basically a love letter between band members. Lithuania is the friendship of Eric Slick (Dr. Dog) and Dominic Angelella (DRGN King) set to the tune of glorious and heavy hand-crafted rock and roll. It’s fuzzy and loud and you hope it just doesn’t end. Listening to the album, it almost feels like you’re sitting on a ratty old couch with the band in an east coast garage sharing a pack of beer. Here’s to seeing what these dudes pull off next. I’ll be waiting on the couch listening to Hardcore Friends until then.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12919″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

05. Brandi Carlile – The Firewatcher’s Daughter

Do not underestimate the power and versatility of Brandi Carlile. The folk / alt-country / pop / rock musician continues to showcase her strong vocals and pairs them with equally robust instrumentation that doesn’t just compliment Carlile’s voice, it boosts it and helps create an album filled with blues, rock, and some tinges of pop. The Firewatcher’s Daughter is an album as varied and exciting as Carlile’s continued career and very well may be best album to date.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12924″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

04. Glen Hansard – Didn’t He Ramble

There’s a caliber of musician that few artists are able to reach within their lifetime. A level that requires an almost pure dedication to the music that flows from their being. Not a practiced talent (or at least not visibly) but one rooted at the core. Glen Hansard humbly holds these qualities and shows us exactly why he does on Didn’t He Ramble, an album that would easily win “Album Title Of The Year” if we had one. Ramble is a slightly more upbeat album than what we are used to, not just instrumentally but lyrically, especially when compared to 2012’s Rhythm And Repose. It feel like an autobiography of sorts, showing us who Hansard is and pointing to his heritage. It shows us his mindset and where his heart lies. It reminds us why we have to keep on keeping on and keep our chin at least partially up. Please never stop Rambling, Mr. Hansard.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12923″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

03. Geographer – Ghost Modern

Geographer’s third full length album Ghost Modern kind of makes you feel like you’re traveling in slow motion through the 80’s while thinking occasionally about eastern influences. In the best way possible. It’s a synth drenched (dare I say it) masterpiece of an album who’s quality is only challenged by the gorgeous album cover that houses the 12 tracks. Ghost Modern has tracks that beg to be listened to over and over, which I’ve done and I can’t seem to get tired of them. It also houses one of the catchiest and grooviest songs from 2015, “You Say You Love Me,” a track about questioning relationships and seeing the edge as you move closer to it, all accompanied by flowing, shiny, enchanting electronic rock. If you’ve only listened to this album once, you’ve made a mistake.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12926″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

02. Lord Huron – Strange Trails

“That’s the way I kind of envisioned it: There are all these separate tales from this world. But they overlap and they tangle. And they collide sometimes.” Ben Schneider, singer and lead ring-leader of Lord Huron crafted one of this year’s most detailed albums in Strange Trails, a seemingly musical pulp fiction novel filled with stories of varying perspective of the end of world. Schneider had his own big shoes to fill in following up the band’s first album Lonesome Dreams, but you’d forget the sophomore slump exists within the first lines of “Love Like Ghosts.”

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_image image=”12929″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” intro_animation=”none” animation_delay=”200″ fullwidth=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption_pos=”hover” width=”1/3″] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

01. Hop Along – Painted Shut

Painted Shut is an album that makes people stop in their tracks, shut their eyes, and try as hard as they can to open their ears even further. It’s a pleasant and honest slap meant to wake you up and remind you why people make music; why people pour their absolute everything into the tracks they make and the minute details of each second of every song. Painted Shut and Hop Along in general are hardly ever discussed without bringing up Francis Quinlan’s voice: a vessel that can one minute be a friendly whisper and another be stretched thin and shredding before your ears. It’s important not to forget that their music wouldn’t be complete without the perfectly paced instrumentation of Mark Quinlan (drums), Tyler Long (bass), and Joe Reinhart (guitar). The lyrical content centers around relationships, working to live, and the frailty of the mind. Quinlan and Hop Along understand the grown up angst of those listening to their music and present their beliefs, emotions, life lessons, and flaws, in a brilliant collection of flawless songs. Painted Shut is American music. Hell, if they we’re running for president, they’d have my vote in a second.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” top_margin=”0px” bottom_margin=”30px” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [spb_blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/6″ el_position=”first”] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/3″]

Wanna listen to each of this year’s top albums, all packaged up nice and neat in their own Spotify playlist? Well you’re in luck. Dive into Nick’s favorite albums of 2015 playlist to the right and spread the love.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_text_block icon=”Third” animation=”none” animation_delay=”0″ padding_vertical=”0″ padding_horizontal=”0″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]

[/spb_text_block] [/spb_column]