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69 Excellent Indie Records You May Have Missed In 2015

Presented in alphabetical order.

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1. Bad Bad Hats, Psychic Reader

Sounds like: No-bullshit, ultra-dynamic '90s-style alt rock in the tradition of Liz Phair, the Breeders, and That Dog. Kerry Alexander's lyrics are as sharp as her songs are catchy.

Sample tracks: "Midway," "Say Nothing," "Psychic Reader"

2. Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Sounds like: Kinda like if Pavement was fronted by a brainy Australian woman. Barnett's lyrics are consistently brilliant, and she has a gift for juxtaposing mundane, funny details with heartbreaking lines about trying to keep your head together.

Sample tracks: "Pedestrian at Best," "Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go to the Party," "Depreston"


3. Beach House, Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars

Sounds like: Gorgeous shoegaze music built around electric organ drones and airy guitar arpeggios. The band put out two albums this year: Depression Cherry, which leans a bit more ethereal, and Thank Your Lucky Stars, which sounds a little more grungy and scuffed up.

Sample tracks: "Sparks" and "Levitation" from Depression Cherry; "One Thing" from Thank Your Lucky Stars.

4. Beach Slang, The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us

Sounds like: If you need your emo revival itch scratched, Beach Slang does it with aplomb. Think loud power chords lifted by anthemic sing-along vocals that (almost) make up for the fact that Japandroids didn't release an album this year.

Sample tracks: "Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas," "Noisy Heaven"

5. Belle & Sebastian, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance

Sounds like: It's got the classic Belle & Sebastian sound — wispy, melodic, literary — but a bit groovier in some songs, and more lushly produced in others.

Sample tracks: "Cat With the Cream," "The Party Line," "Play for Today"


6. Born Ruffians, RUFF

Sounds like: Imagine if Vampire Weekend had anxious Canadian cousins who were just as good with melody, but less predictable in their rhythms.

Sample tracks: "Stupid Dream," "(Eat Shit) We Did It," "Don't Live Up"

7. The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Mini Album Thingy Wingy

Sounds like: An old friend. BJM have been consistently putting out great records the last few years and you've probably been missing out. Sometimes the soul just needs some BJM, you know?

Sample tracks: "Pish," "Leave It Alone"

8. Broken Water, Wrought

Sounds like: The perfect midway point between the classic emo of Sunny Day Real Estate and Rainer Maria, but, like, a little less melodramatic.

Sample tracks: "High-Lo," "Psycho Static"

9. Built to Spill, Untethered Moon

Sounds like: Built to Spill, really. Which is to say — unassuming lyrics set to either monumental guitar epics or jangly little pop tunes.

Sample tracks: "Never Be the Same," "Living Zoo"


10. Bully, Feels Like

Sounds like: A band that can't decide whether they're the Pretenders or Nirvana and just compromised on something very fun and interesting between those extremes.

Sample tracks: "Trying," "Too Tough," "I Remember"

11. Car Seat Headrest, Teens of Style

Sounds like: Indie rock made by a guy who always sounds sleepy, but yet is more ambitious and restless than anyone else. Imagine if Guided by Voices were waaaay more morbid.

Sample tracks: "Something Soon," "Times to Die"

12. Ceremony, The L-Shaped Man

Sounds like: Like a hardcore band died and their ghosts ended up jamming with Ian Curtis in punk rock heaven.

Sample tracks: "The Separation" + "The Understanding," "Your Life in France"


13. Chastity Belt, Time to Go Home

Sounds like: Imagine if all the coolest stoner weirdo girls you knew in school got together to start a band and one of them turned out to be a world-class lead guitarist.

Sample tracks: "Cool Slut," "Time to Go Home," "Joke"

14. Damaged Bug, Cold Hot Plumbs

Sounds like: The guy from Thee Oh Sees got reallllllllly high and made his own versions of vintage psychedelic jams by Silver Apples and Can.

Sample tracks: "The Mirror," "What Cheer," "Jet in Jungle"

15. Deerhunter, Fading Frontier

Sounds like: Like one of the best American rock bands of the past decade coming out of a deep depression, and chilling out a bit, and kinda learning how to dance too.

Sample tracks: "Snakeskin," "Breaker," "Living My Life"


16. Deradoorian, The Expanding Flower Planet

Sounds like: One of the girls from Dirty Projectors breaking out on her own and diving deep into groovy psychedelia.

Sample tracks: "A Beautiful Woman," "The Expanding Flower Planet," "Grow"

17. Mac DeMarco, Another One

Sounds like: The album's title pretty much says it all — it's another chill-as-hell Mac DeMarco album. If you like Mac, you'll love this. If you don't, hell, give it a try, man. Life's too short. Enjoy life. Enjoy Mac.

Sample tracks: "No Other Heart," "Another One"

18. Destroyer, Poison Season

Sounds like: The music the smartest, crankiest guy at the bar wishes was being played while he sips his red wine and reads The New Yorker.

Sample tracks: "Times Square," "Dream Lover," "Girl in a Sling"

19. Diet Cig, Over Easy

Sounds like: Fuzzy female-fronted pop-punk that jumps between diary confessionals and attitude-laden ex-boyfriend write-offs. "Fuck your Ivy League sweater" may be the best lyric of the year.

Sample tracks: "Scene Sick," "Breathless," "Harvard"


20. Doldrums, The Air Conditioned Nightmare

Sounds like: If Radiohead had an even more paranoid and depressive little brother who had a voice that sounded weirdly similar to Perry Farrell.

Sample tracks: "Blow Away," "Hotfoot," "Loops"

21. Electric Six, Bitch, Don't Let Me Die!

Sounds like: One the most productive and underrated bands in the world clocking in with yet another batch of rock songs brutally satirizing fragile masculinity.

Sample tracks: "Two Dollar Two," "Roulette!," "A Variation of Elaine"

22. Erase Errata, Lost Weekend

Sounds like: One of the best yet most unfairly ignored bands of the '00s coming back for one more round of politicized post-punk tunes before calling it a day.

Sample tracks: "History of Handclaps," "My Life in Shadows"


23. Future Punx, This Is Post-Wave

Sounds like: Cyborg clones of Devo in their late '70s prime sent back from the future to save us all.

Sample tracks: "Post-Wave," "Endless Growth," "Any Other Way"

24. Gardens & Villa, Music for Dogs

Sounds like: Someone finally got around to sounding like those amazing rock albums Brian Eno made in the '70s. Such a great idea!

Sample tracks: "Fixations," "Everybody"

25. Girlpool, Before the World Was Big

Sounds like: Folk-rock that's cute in a sing-songy way but mean in a very punk way. The dual high-pitched female harmonies hit so hard that it's no wonder the duo eschews drums on the whole album.

Sample tracks: "Before the World Was Big," "Chinatown"

26. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress

Sounds like: If Explosions in the Sky make soaring instrumental music for the movie version of your life where you win, Godspeed make soaring instrumental music for the movie version of your life where you lose. And this time around, it's a truly crushing defeat.

Sample track: "Peasantry or Light! Inside of Light!"


27. Colleen Green, I Want to Grow Up

Sounds like: A cool stoner girl mastering the art of '90s indie rock while dealing with crushing anxiety and loneliness.

Sample tracks: "Deeper Than Love," "TV," "Things That Are Bad for Me (Part 1)"

28. Julia Holter, Have You in My Wilderness

Sounds like: The soundtrack to a whimsical yet melancholy movie about a young woman lost at sea. And somehow Wes Anderson was not involved at all!

Sample tracks: "Sea Calls Me Home," "Feel You," "Silhouette"

29. Hop Along, Painted Shut

Sounds like: '90s-style emo arpeggio-playing guitars (think American Football or Owls) bolstered by the powerful, instantly memorable vocals of singer Frances Quinlan. Best listened to at full volume.

Sample tracks: "Waitress," "Powerful Man"


30. Jenny Hval, Apocalypse, Girl

Sounds like: An incisive yet witty feminist social critique set to a funhouse mirror version of '70s rock.

Sample tracks: "That Battle Is Over," "Sabbath," "Take Care of Yourself"

31. Institute, Catharsis

Sounds like: Wiry and Wire-y post-punk. A bunch of dudes from Texas who love Crass but also love krautrock make a record that sounds like falling down the stairs drunk. In the best way possible.

Sample tracks: "Perpetual Ebb," "Admit I'm Shit"

32. Lady Lamb, After

Sounds like: Music that's a lot weirder and less straightforward than you'd think, with lyrics as strong as the voice that sings them.

Sample tracks: "Billions of Eyes," "Spat Out Spit"


33. Lower Dens, Escape from Evil

Sounds like: Music from a city of the future where gender is a fluid concept and emotions are more important than money.

Sample tracks: "To Die in L.A.," "Ondine," "Non Grata"

34. Magic Potion, Deep Web

Sounds like: It's 95 degrees but you've got the perfect piece of shade, a reclining lawn chair, and your beverage of choice. Like if Real Estate lived in the cooler part of town.

Sample tracks: "Deep Web," "Booored"

35. Makeshift Shelters, Something So Personal

Sounds like: A band fronted by a girl who hates that she writes so many songs about dudes, and so she makes sure those songs are full of hilarious jokes at their expense.

Sample tracks: "Lighterfluid," "This Song Is Definitely Not About a Boy"

36. Laura Marling, Short Movie

Sounds like: A folk singer who clearly worships Joni Mitchell trying her hand at some electric new wave vibes.

Sample tracks: "Gurdjieff's Daughter," "False Hope," "Strange"


37. Archy Marshall, A New Place 2 Drown

Sounds like: The guy from King Krule setting his guitar aside to make a mostly ambient portrait of the grimier corners of contemporary London.

Sample tracks: "Ammi Ammi," "Arise Dear Brother"

38. Micachu and the Shapes, Good Sad Happy Bad

Sounds like: The ideal soundtrack to walking around in an unfamiliar part of town in the middle of the night and somehow feeling simultaneously at ease and on edge.

Sample tracks: "Oh Baby," "Sea Air," "Crushed"

39. Moon King, Secret Life

Sounds like: There's a magical world hidden deep inside your mind, and this music is your only way to get there.

Sample tracks: "Impossible," "Secret Life," "Roswell"

40. The Mountain Goats, Beat the Champ

Sounds like: The poet laureate of indie folk spending an entire album pondering the lives of small-time wrestlers.

Sample tracks: "The Legend of Chavo Guerrero," "Werewolf Gimmick"

41. The Mynabirds, Lovers Know

Sounds like: An idealist, romantic woman moving to Los Angeles to find love and a new direction, but finding something a lot deeper somewhere along the way.

Sample tracks: "Wildfire," "Semantics," "All My Heart"

42. Neon Indian, Vega Intl. Night School

Sounds like: The sort of glamorous nightlife you imagine other people are enjoying while you're at home watching Netflix or reading a book.

Sample tracks: "The Glitzy Hive," "Dear Skorpio Magazine," "Annie"

43. Joanna Newsom, Divers

Sounds like: One of the most brilliant musicians of her generation writing powerful, poignant music about love, loss, and time.

Sample tracks: "Sapokanikan," "Divers," "Leaving the City"

44. No Joy, More Faithful

Sounds like: Someone finally had the genius idea to fuse My Bloody Valentine, Stevie Nicks, and Murmur-era R.E.M. into something at once familiar and entirely new.

Sample tracks: "Moon in My Mouth," "Everything New," "Judith", "Burial in Twos"

45. Jim O'Rourke, Simple Songs

Sounds like: The work of a songwriter so sophisticated and self-assured that he could write a record as sophisticated as this and title it Simple Songs.

Sample tracks: "Half Life Crisis," "Friends With Benefits"

46. Of Montreal, Aureate Gloom

Sounds like: Kevin Barnes finally finished his multi-album nervous breakdown, got a divorce, got a new band, and still can't help but feel angsty AF. But as always, his angst is also funky AF.

Sample tracks: "Like Ashoka's Inferno of Memory," "Bassem Sabry," "Empyrean Abattoir"

47. Protomartyr, The Agent Intellect

Sounds like: Simultaneously catchy and unsettling post-punk that sounds like where it's from — the ruins of Detroit.

Sample tracks: "Cowards Starve," "Why Does It Shake?"

48. PWR BTTM, Ugly Cherries

Sounds like: Well-crafted indie glam tunes about having fun while being broke and queer in the suburbs.

Sample tracks: "Dairy Queen," "Ugly Cherries," "I Want a Boi"

49. Ratboys, AOID

Sounds like: Being young and confused and trying to make some sense of life while playing an acoustic guitar.

Sample tracks: "MCMXIV," "Folk Song for Jazz"

50. Sexwitch, Sexwitch

Sounds like: Natasha Khan from Bat for Lashes teaming up with a psychedelic band to turn old folk songs into sexy, witchy jams. That's a literal description of this record, by the way, not a metaphor.

Sample tracks: "Helelyos," "Ha Howa Ha Howa"

51. Shannon and the Clams, Gone by the Dawn

Sounds like: '60s R&B/garage rock with a dose of modern psychedelic flavor. Imagine you (in a varsity jacket) and your best girl (in a poodle skirt) taking a mild drug trip at the local drive-in.

Sample tracks: "Point of Being Right," "Corvette"

52. Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love

Sounds like: One of the greatest rock bands of all time returning after a decade with a set of new songs that are just as urgent and powerful as anything they ever did back in the day.

Sample tracks: "A New Wave," "Bury Our Friends," "Price Tag"

53. Soak, Before We Forgot How to Dream

Sounds like: A wise-beyond-her-years Irish songwriter with a talent for writing songs that make small moments in life sound magical and romantic.

Sample tracks: "Sea Creatures," "Reckless Behaviour," "Blud"

54. Speedy Ortiz, Foil Deer

Sounds like: The kind of female rock star who sings "I'm not bossy, I'm the boss" in the chorus of a towering rock jam and absolutely means it.

Sample tracks: "Raising the Skate," "The Graduates," "Puffer"

55. Sports, Naked All the Time

Sounds like: You know that moment when you're out swimming late and the sun starts to go down but the bugs haven't quite come out yet? Sounds like that. Or, you know, if chillwave went through puberty.

Sample tracks: "You Are the Right One," "Panama"

56. Swervedriver, I Wasn't Born to Lose You

Sounds like: One of the great shoegaze bands of the '90s coming back with a set of songs that sound as though they could've easily come out circa 1996.

Sample tracks: "Autodidact," "Lone Star"

57. Teen Girl Scientist Monthly, Hyper Trophy

Sounds like: Perky, almost superhumanly catchy suburban alt-rock with a dark, subversive edge.

Sample tracks: "Games," "Dark Rip," "Blood on Yr Sundress"

58. Thee Oh Sees, Mutilator Defeated At Last

Sounds like: One of the best underground rock bands in the world really doubling down on the psychedelic side of their music.

Sample tracks: "Web," "Sticky Hulks," "Withered Hand"

59. Titus Andronicus, The Most Lamentable Tragedy

Sounds like: New Jersey's most ambitious punk band sprawling out over a triple album and getting in touch with their inner Springsteens.

Sample tracks: "Dimed Out," "Lonely Boy," "Fatal Flaw"

60. Toro y Moi, What For?

Sounds like: The king of chillwave discovering that he can rock out like the love child of Weezer and Electric Light Orchestra.

Sample tracks: "Empty Nesters," "Lilly"

61. Torres, Sprinter

Sounds like: Someone who has held in a lot of painful emotions and grim thoughts and is letting it all come out slowly over the course of several dark, tightly wound songs.

Sample tracks: "Cowboy Guilt," "Sprinter," "New Skin"

62. Twerps, Range Anxiety

Sounds like: If the Feelies were a bit more buzzed, and Australian. Range Anxiety has sneakily sophisticated arrangements for a jangle-pop record, and the melodies are a perfect balance of lovely and sloppy.

Sample tracks: "I Don't Mind," "Stranger"

63. Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Multi-Love

Sounds like: Prince, if he took a LOT of acid, then chased it with some molly.

Sample tracks: "Ur Life One Night," "Can't Keep Checking My Phone," "Multi-Love"

64. Veruca Salt, Ghost Notes

Sounds like: The majestically rocking Veruca Salt you might remember from the mid-'90s, back with a vengeance. Also, with a fresh perspective on the anxieties and insecurities that led to them breaking up the first time around.

Sample tracks: "Eyes on You," "Black and Blonde," "Laughing in the Sugar Bowl"

65. Kurt Vile, B'lieve I'm Goin Down

Sounds like: Imagine Kurt Vile…but…even more chill. Imagine late-night Kurt Vile jam...but for 3 a.m. instead of 2 a.m. There's even a song with psychedelic banjo. How are you going to say no to that?

Sample tracks: "Pretty Pimpin'," "Lost My Head There"

66. Jimmy Whispers, Summer in Pain

Sounds like: Some guy inviting you over to his place, and he pulls out some instruments and plays some songs just for you. And like, it's a little awkward, but the songs are actually really good!

Sample tracks: "I Get Lost in You in the Summertime," "Heart Don't Know"

67. Wolf Alice, My Love Is Cool

Sounds like: The graduates of a version of Hogwarts where instead of wizardry, the kids master every variation of '90s alt-rock, from the Smashing Pumpkins and Pixies to PJ Harvey and Hole. And the lead singer is Hermione, of course.

Sample tracks: "You're a Germ," "Giant Peach," "Freazy," "Your Love's Whore"

68. Yo La Tengo, Stuff Like That There

Sounds like: Indie's chillest elder statesmen doing unplugged versions of miscellaneous oldies, plus a few songs from their own back catalog.

Sample tracks: "Friday I'm In Love," "Deeper Into Movies"

69. Yumi Zouma, A Long Walk Home for Parted Lovers

Sounds like: A nightclub on Xanax. Extremely listenable dance pop tracks. Like a massage for the ears.

Sample tracks: "Catastrophe," "Alena"

Here's almost every song featured in this post in one Spotify playlist.