Here we have a collection of 25 records that I feel as though not enough people are talking about in 2015. For each album I break down what it is, who it sounds like, and if it’s absolutely essential for your 2015 musical experience. You can click the album covers on this post to open up a sample of the record to see if you really dig it.
1. Ash Koosha – GUUD
What it is: An insane, frenetic mix-a-lot electronic album with intense, frenzied sounds collapsing & reforming at a breakneck speed.
RIYL: Arca, Clarence Clarity, Lotic
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Yes, if you’re looking for a really unique electronic experience from 2015, look no further. If not, it might be cool to check out for a bit.
2. Braille – Mute Swan
What it is: Moody mix of downtempo electronic, woozy RnB, laidback house and watery aesthetics. Lots of interesting textures and samples.
RIYL: Sepalcure, Machinedrum, FaltyDL
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Not really. If you’re super into the artists listed above, then yes. But if not, then you’re all good with skipping this.
3. Broken Water – Wrought
What it is: The best Dinosaur Jr. / Sonic Youth / MBV collab album of 2015. 80s/90s proto-grunge.
RIYL: Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Ovlov
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Maybe, there are a few really killer songs on here, but for those looking for a really faithful recreation of the distinct sound of the three artists listed above collaborating with each other, definitely.
4. Clarence Clarity – No Now
What It Is: The most absurd pop album you’ll hear all year. As if an alien listened to adult contemporary radio stations from the 90s/early 00s and created some mutated version of that.
RIYL: Man, fuck if I know. Tobacco?
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Yes. You have to listen to this at least once or twice. It’s wild.
5. Daniel Bachman – River
What It Is: Solo instrumental guitar wizardry. Dude puts fingerpicking tumblr stars into their graves.
RIYL: John Fahey, Itasca, William Tyler
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? It’s really nice to work to, plus hearing some straight-up DIRTY slides on the guitar is like a revelation. I like it a lot, so maybe.
6. Domenique Dumont – Comme Ça
What It Is: A vacation condensed into audio form. A bubbling, twinkling chillwave bubble bath on some Mediterranean beach. Don’t ask me why the Mediterranean exactly.
RIYL: Air France, Korallreven, Studio, Balearic revivalists.
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? I think so, for sure. Extremely overlooked & overwhelmingly pleasant. TREAT YO’ SELF
7. Gossamer – Automaton
What It Is: Experimental, downtempo electronic music. Lots of atmospheric field recordings & minimal, yet appropriate use of bass. Downright hypnotic at some points.
RIYL: Nosaj Thing, Jon Hopkins, Flying Lotus
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Absolutely – one of the most interesting and subtly unique electronic albums of the year.
8. Heathered Pearls – Body Complex
What It Is: Ambient techno, similar to Gossamer in some ways but in this case a bit more equipped for the dance floor. Lots of smooth, dreamy moments backed with steady, minimal beats.
RIYL: Tycho + Matthew Dear, Beacon, Ghostly Artists in general.
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Electronic fans; do it up. Totally great mix of low key and high energy aspects of electronic music.
9. Institute – Catharsis
What It Is: Austin, TX-based punk + post-punk + garage punk + who really knows at this point. It’s on Sacred Bones Records, so there ya go.
RIYL: Protomartyr, The Birthday Party, The Jesus Lizard
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Institute seems to be one of those bands that every time I bring them up and the other person knows of them they’re always super into it, so sure. Get into it, punk fans.
10. Jack + Eliza – Gentle Warnings
What It Is: Beach pop with some downright lovely guy+girl harmonies, but super minimal at the same time. Ultra refreshing pop for a world oversaturated in dreamy, too-reverbed effects. There are no drums.
RIYL: Tennis, Alvvays, Girlpool
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Not SUPER important, but a really interesting and good to have under your 2015 belt.
11. Jam City – Dream A Garden
What It Is: Bizarre hybrid electronic. Warped disco grooves, bent all which ways. Some moments of ambiance, others frenzied and hectic.
RIYL: Shlohmo, Evian Christ, The Range
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Not really, but it’s a pretty neat album nonetheless.
12. Lakker – Tundra
What It Is: Dark, experimental techno-leaning electronic. Huge swathes of dissonance and creepy, low-lying bass. Straight-up punishing at times. Really interesting sounding and badass.
RIYL: Andy Stott, Aphex Twin, Fuck Buttons, Haxan Cloak
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Yes, to electronic fans. Definitely, definitely, definitely listen to this.
13. LoneLady – Hinterland
What It Is: Wiry, post-punk influenced synth pop. Super unique, I really haven’t heard much else like this in my life. Definitey Talking Heads funk stylings going on here. Fuckin’ GROOVES-A-PLENTY.
RIYL: The Juan MacLean, Nite Jewel, Jessy Lanza
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Yes. Try it out for size & realize it’s your life’s calling to bob your shoulders to these beats.
14. Marriages – Salome
What It Is: Slow & moody rock with syrupy, yet cutting vocals. Guitar parts have some awesome distortion and have smoldering melodies.
RIYL: Chelsea Wolfe, Emma Ruth Rundle, Russian Circles
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? If you’re a fan of Chelsea Wolfe, this is a must-listen. Some really badass moments on this LP.
15. Outfit – Slowness
What It Is: Synth pop with smarts. Doesn’t go immediately for the sweetness factor, but let’s the listener boil in some sourness before getting into the grooves. Great use of noise, dissonance & atmosphere.
RIYL: Wild Beasts, Hot Chip
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Clearly a unique affair here. If you have lost your faith in synth pop, give this a try. But otherwise, nah.
16. Pinkshinyultrablast – Everything Else Matters
What It Is: Shoegaze from Russia with an incredible fusion of strange mathy elements and warping electronics. Brilliantly noisy and complicated.
RIYL: Wildhoney, Asobi Seksu, Westkust
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? If you’re into shoegaze or any type of euphoric noise, or hell even math rock to a degree, then absolutely. This record is a gem.
17. Roman A Clef – Abandonware
What It Is: You know I’m not really sure. Some really pure pop music; drawing from twee, to shameless 80s tropes, jangle pop, chamber pop, all condensed into one amazing package.
RIYL: Prefab Sprout, Nic Hessler, Belle & Sebastian
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Yes. This record is incredible and makes me feel nerdy for some reason. Please listen.
18. Ryley Walker – Primrose Green
What It Is: Ultra-satisfying blend of folk rock, classic rock & even some jam band-leaning material. Van Morrison worship, which ain’t a bad thing. Awesome guitar playing and layering of tons of different instruments.
RIYL: Van Morrison, Jessica Pratt, Steve Gunn
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Yes, at least give this one listen. There are some pretty incredible instrumentals on this album that you shouldn’t be missing in 2015.
19. Sauna Youth – Distractions
What It Is: Straightforward post-punk: high energy, simple songwriting, group vocals, British accents, some cool experimentation- the whole nine yards.
RIYL: Total Control, Ramones, Protomartyr
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Eh, nah. Post-punk is interesting because a lot of the time it’s like you’ve heard one, you’ve heard them all. I really like this record, but that doesn’t mean you NEED to hear it.
20. Seoul – I Become A Shade
What It Is: Blissful synth pop. So seriously smooth & lush, everything about this album feels good.
RIYL: Washed Out, Craft Spells, Braids
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Yes. Treat yourself to this summer breeze of an album. Just an overall feel-good time. They’re also really great guys in that band, so support them too.
21. Susanne Sundfør – Ten Love Songs
What It Is: Huge chamber/synth pop with incredible vocals and instrumentals. There’s one 10-minute song with a legit orchestral arrangement. There’s harpsichord, there are pulsing electronics, 80s drum hits and more. So much on this album and it’s all great.
RIYL: Chvrches, Purity Ring, Kate Bush
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Yeah, I think so. This album is MASSIVE and absolutely necessary if you’re looking for some satisfying, indulgent pop with smashing vocals that ISN’T Chvrches.
22. The Weather Station – Loyalty
What It Is: Light, smoky folk with lovely vocals. Slow melodies with nothing too in your face. Just a leisurely forest ride, delightfully simple.
RIYL: Luluc, Jessica Pratt, Laura Marling
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Yes, for folk fans and those wanting something slow & relaxing. If not, then that’s okay.
23. Wildhoney – Sleep Through It
What It Is: Shoegaze with a pop song mindset. Saccharine, buried vocals with really loud and piercing guitars. Dreamy, jangly, overpowering & fun.
RIYL: Pity Sex, Pinkshinyultrablast, Westkust
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Yeah – looking for shoegaze that isn’t as complicated as Pinkshinyultrablast? This is your target.
24. Yowler – The Offer
What It Is: Slow, flickering singer/songwriter Maryn Jones creating bedroom folk magic. Sad and lovesick, delicate yet passionate, hauntingly beautiful.
RIYL: Waxahatchee, The Microphones, quiet Mitski
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? Oh hell yeah. Everyone needs more barebones bedroom songs in their life.
25. 2814 – The Birth Of A New Day
What It Is: Vaporwave, but technically ambient electronic. Ultra atmospheric. Makes me fall asleep in the best way. I’ve listened to this on the way home on the train for two months now, a perfect accompaniment.
RIYL: Tycho, Biosphere, Eluvium
Essential To Your 2015 Experience? YES! Oh man, I love this record so damn much. Listening to it at night is so satisfying. An overall incredible experience. Just put it on and let it take you away.