AllMusic 2015 Year In Review

Favorite Indie Pop and Indie Rock Albums -

 This year's indie pop/indie rock highlights include Mac DeMarco's mainstream coming out party, Grimes' most ambitious and accessible album to date, and Battles' first instrumental release. Also, new records from Sufjan Stevens, Panda Bear, Speedy Ortiz, the Soft Moon, Protomartyr and Purity Ring made an impact.
Algiers

Algiers

Algiers

The explosive debut by this trio employs elements of gospel, blues, post-punk, funk, and psychedelic soul.

La Di Da Di

Battles

La Di Da Di

The band's first entirely instrumental album is some of their most engaging and exciting music yet.

Depression Cherry

Beach House

Depression Cherry

Combining Bloom's sophistication with the simplicity of their debut, the duo's fifth album demands and rewards close listening.

Thank Your Lucky Stars

Beach House

Thank Your Lucky Stars

The duo's second album of 2015 is a more down-to-earth, diverse affair that is equally beautiful and affecting.

Illegals in Heaven

Blank Realm

Illegals in Heaven

The band's first studio album combines more polished sounds and more heartfelt songs with stunning results.

Goes Missing

Cairo Gang / Emmett Kelly

Goes Missing

Chiming guitars, melancholic tunes, and loads of jingle-jangle '60s-inspired goodness on the band's second album.

Teens of Style

Car Seat Headrest

Teens of Style

Reworking of songs from precocious lo-fi whiz Will Toledo's 11 previous albums done with a full band.

Time to Go Home

Chastity Belt

Time to Go Home

Second album from this Seattle group that blends beguiling, mysterious guitar songs with sharply funny lyrical themes.

Abyss

Chelsea Wolfe

Abyss

Collaborating with members of Russian Circles and True Widow, Wolfe embraces the heavier side of her music with stunning results.

Captain of None

Colleen

Captain of None

Drawing from influences as wide-ranging as dub and '50s pop, the artist's fifth album is some of her boldest, most eclectic music yet.

Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.

Courtney Barnett

Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.

Invigorating, compelling debut from the wry and furious Australian singer/songwriter.

To Where the Wild Things Are

Death and Vanilla

To Where the Wild Things Are

The Swedish duo's second album is well-crafted and expansive, full of swirling keys, hypnotic female vocals, and soundtracky charm.

Fading Frontier

Deerhunter

Fading Frontier

Recorded in the wake of an accident that hospitalized Bradford Cox, the band's meditations on seizing the moment are some of their finest music yet.

Poison Season

Destroyer

Poison Season

A cohesive, intensely wistful, strings- and horns-washed epic exploration of New York city life from the bewildering Dan Bejar.

Melbourne Florida

Dick Diver

Melbourne Florida

The band's third album is their most accomplished to date, expanding their sound by adding horns and various keyboards.

Irreal

Disappears

Irreal

The Chicago trio strips its music down to its bones, with uncompromising and often riveting results.

Full Communism

Downtown Boys

Full Communism

Sax-enriched punk rock band cooks with righteous rage and inspiring joy on their first full album.

Perpetual Motion People

Ezra Furman

Perpetual Motion People

The frenetic Chicagoan offers a brilliant and colorful field guide to his personal chaos on his doo wop-inspired third LP.

Calling Out

EZTV

Calling Out

Full of breezily bittersweet power pop, the Brooklyn trio's debut feels like a long-lost classic.

I Love You, Honeybear

Father John Misty

I Love You, Honeybear

Caustic retro-pop confectioner Josh Tilmann finds true love on his second outing under the Father John Misty moniker.

FFS

FFS

FFS

An inspired, thoroughly fun collaboration between two of rock's most distinctive acts.

All Are Saved

Fred Thomas

All Are Saved

Eclectic and intelligent solo effort from the Saturday Looks Good to Me founder, embracing the personal as well as the global.

Art Angels

Grimes

Art Angels

Claire Boucher's independent pop is more ambitious and more accessible than ever on her Visions follow-up.

Y Dydd Olaf

Gwenno / Gwenno Saunders

Y Dydd Olaf

The ex-Pipette returns with a lovely solo album built on vintage synths and featuring dreamy songs inspired by sci-fi and sung in Welsh and Cornish.

Platform

Holly Herndon

Platform

The composer's fragmented, ethereal explorations of humanity and technology blur the line between intimate and invasive.

Painted Shut

Hop Along

Painted Shut

Consistently catchy, passion-steeped indie rock with raw lyrics and vocals by bandleader Frances Quinlan.

Peanut Butter

Joanna Gruesome

Peanut Butter

The band's second album is a hyper-focused blast of piercing pop and dynamic noise, poppier than their debut but just as strong.

Divers

Joanna Newsom

Divers

The singer/songwriter's fourth album questions the nature of time and love in dazzling, profound, and affecting ways.

Grey Tickles, Black Pressure

John Grant

Grey Tickles, Black Pressure

The singer/songwriter's third album is some of his angriest, saddest, funniest, and most adventurous music.

Have You in My Wilderness

Julia Holter

Have You in My Wilderness

A more intimate work, the singer/composer's fourth album is the most approachable example of her brilliance yet.

Hinterland

Lonelady

Hinterland

Inspired by Julie Campbell's time exploring Manchester's decaying outskirts, her second album finds funky, joyful resilience in isolation.

Another One

Mac DeMarco

Another One

The eccentric Canadian songwriter's follow-up to 2014's critically acclaimed Salad Days is a wonderfully beguiling mini-concept album about love.

Non-Believers

Mac McCaughan

Non-Believers

After over a quarter century of releasing records with Superchunk and Portastatic, their nominal frontman steps out with a synth pop-flavored solo album.

Are You Alone?

Majical Cloudz

Are You Alone?

A second album of unfailingly beautiful, relentlessly longing, sparse electronic song from the Montreal duo.

Somnaphoria

Matchess

Somnaphoria

Chicago-based experimental musician Whitney Johnson expands her otherworldly, hypnotic sound on her second LP as Matchess.

II

METZ

II

Smart and furiously powerful, the second album from this Canadian trio is a brutal but effective assault of sound.

Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

Panda Bear

Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

Fifth solo album by the Animal Collective contributor finds him in a class by himself with his hypnotic, electro-friendly pop.

The Agent Intellect

Protomartyr

The Agent Intellect

Third album from these Detroit indie rockers is a smart, furious combination of guitars and voices, each ranting with purpose.

Another Eternity

Purity Ring

Another Eternity

The duo refines its ethereal electropop with songs that are equally challenging and accessible.

The Clearing

Rachel Grimes

The Clearing

The composer and pianist returns with 11 outstanding new pieces that honor the joys and terrors of the world outside.

Masterpiece

Sheer Agony

Masterpiece

Sparkling debut album from a Montreal trio with a firm grasp on how to make killer rock & roll of all sorts.

Fear and Lies

Sick Sad World

Fear and Lies

Super-hooky scruff pop from Seattle delivered with tuneful swagger and introspection, like a leather-clad Beach Boys or a sweater-wearing JAMC.

Foil Deer

Speedy Ortiz

Foil Deer

Catchy, barbed, and unabashedly feminist, the band's second album builds on the best of Major Arcana and the Real Hair EP.

Carrie and Lowell

Sufjan Stevens

Carrie and Lowell

The acclaimed singer/songwriter confronts the death of his mother with this powerful song cycle of memory and loss.

Universal Themes

Sun Kil Moon

Universal Themes

The follow-up to Sun Kil Moon's 2014 breakout success Benji is another life-affirming triumph for songwriter Mark Kozelek.

Beat the Champ

The Mountain Goats

Beat the Champ

John Darnielle's lo-fi heroes deliver a concept album about pro wrestling and the lives of the people in and out of the ring.

TST

The Smoking Trees

TST

The West Coast duo's second record is a relaxed and calming modern-day psych-pop masterpiece.

Deeper

The Soft Moon / Luis Vasquez

Deeper

Written and recorded in near isolation in Venice, Luis Vasquez's third album is his most emotional, and compelling, to date.

Green Lanes

Ultimate Painting

Green Lanes

Second album of relaxed and lovely Velvets-inspired guitar pop from James Hoare (Veronica Falls) and Jack Cooper (Mazes).

Ivy Tripp

Waxahatchee

Ivy Tripp

Third full-length from this introspective songwriter delivers a more confident reading on the band's nakedly honest style.