1. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Sloppy pop-punk from Aussie singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett whose particular brand of deadpan, hilarious lyricism and earworm riffs sounded her out as one to watch in the future. Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit never sits still and is throbbing with brilliant lines.
Listen to this if you like: Father John Misty and Los Campesinos!
2. Dornik – Dornik
From the skittering yacht-funk of Dornik's opener to head-nod jazz of its closer, South London-based drummer-turned-vocalist Dornik's gunning for Frank Ocean's crowd, and, by god, he might've just done it.
Listen to this if you like: Frank Ocean and Miguel
3. Vince Staples – Summertime '06
The true heir to the Compton crown, Californian MC Vince Staples paints vivid pictures of hard living and friendship in the fabled CPT. Songs move along at a clip
with most songs clocking in at well under four minutes and work together to create a thrilling portrayal of Staples' formative years over brooding beats.
Listen to this if you like: Earl Sweatshirt and Joey Badass
4. Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer
American indie rockers Speedy Ortiz came through with their third album (their second for Carpark Records) and knocked it out for a home run. Verses present sly, knowing winks, and their choruses are big and jumpy. The perfect soundtrack to a dull train ride or a 7pm set at a festival in a sunny field.
Listen to this if you like: Parquet Courts and Cloud Nothings
5. Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba – Ba Power
Neck-breaking left-field afrobeat from Malian ngoni master Bassekou Kouyaté. Ba Power makes full use of the West African lute, the ngoni, (and you thought we'd leave that bit unexplained...) and brings listeners a thrilling of tense, tetchy dance music that could've been made any time in the last 50 years. Shut your eyes, and it sounds exactly like the soundtrack to an epic West African blaxploitation film.
Listen to this if you like: Fela Kuti and Tony Allen
6. JR & PH7 and Chuuwee – The South Sac Mack
Chuuwee, 25-year-old rapper from Sacramento and man with one of the finest ears in hip-hop, hit the ground running with The South Sac Mack – another ode to his hometown. Smoky, blues-y beats by German production duo JR & PH7 and Chuuwee's slick, street-style delivery make this one of the most underrated records of the year.
Listen to this if you like: Ab-Soul and Kendrick Lamar
7. Haiku Salut – Etch and Etch Deep
Charming piano music with feet planted firmly in 2015, Haiku Salut's album Etch and Etch Deep is chocker with emotion, life, and ingenuity. A totally instrumental album that gets its message across loud and clear.
Listen to this if you like: Singing Adams and Standard Fare
8. Phony Ppl – Yesterday's Tomorrow
With a sound that ranges from neo soul crooning over piano licks to rapping with allure that instantly charms, the Brooklyn sextet's first LP is a towering, shimmering album filled with summer anthems for countless BBQs and sunshine escapades. Love it.
Listen to this if you like: Donnie Trumpet and Childish Gambino
9. Tuxedo – Tuxedo
Tuxedo takes the lo-fi disco-funk prevalent in the last few years and stretches it to its natural conclusion. With an album of hit-worthy jams, with smiling vocals, fun synth lines and percussion that calls to mind some of disco's greatest hits, Tuxedo's self-titled record is a party must-have.
Listen to this if you like: Metronomy and Chromeo
10. Tobias Jesso Jr. – Goon
One song that isn't for parties but is nonetheless an absolute achievement in songwriting, Tobias Jesso Jr. writes beautiful, heartbreaking songs that at once recall John Lennon's solo work (the good stuff) and the heart-rending innocence of indie-pop in its prime. Get a cup of tea, find a rainy window, and play it from start to finish.
Listen to this if you like: Vincent James McMorrow and Ben Howard
11. Nao – February 15
OK, so it's actually an EP, but London-based vocalist Nao's brand of neo soul shot through a bass-heavy lens was too good to miss. With a high-wire range and some of the funkiest, most progressive beats this side of Jessie Ware (thanks to Jai Paul's brother, A. K. Paul), expect Nao to be everywhere in the coming months.
Listen to this if you like: Jessie Ware and Etta Bond
12. Nosaj Thing – Fated
Up there with the very best of weird rap's production masters, Nosaj Thing takes ethereal synth and samples and turns them into spooky space music for guests such as Chi-town it boy Chance the Rapper to go in over. Highly recommended.
Listen to this if you like: Flying Lotus and Madlib
13. Kelela – Cut 4 Me (Deluxe)
OK, so the non-deluxe version was totally a 2013 release, but when it sounds this good, we can make exceptions. Utilising the full force of Fade To Mind's production talent – boasting the angular grime of label honcho Bok Bok and jittery cloud rap of Morris – Kelela creates an album of late-night love songs and odes to useless lovers that are unlike any you've ever heard before.
Listen to this if you like: AlunaGeorge and Katy B