Best of 2015 -'s picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2015's picks (2015)

staff picks

With another year past us it's time for another visit from our old pal math. This is our top records of 2015.

So who are we exactly? That's ever changing and up for debate.'s content is contributed by an ever-changing group of friends and music lovers who collectively haven't found anything better to do since 1999 or so. Unlike some other publications we have no editorial mandate, no particular plan and certainly no expectation that our volunteers have listened to anything in particular. If we've missed your favourite album this year, let us know by submitting some news on the band or tossing a review our way.

This overall list is tallied up based on the individual lists written by our editors, interviewers and staff reviewers. We've tracked the results of everyone's lists in a spreadsheet you can find here. We make no claim that it's 100% accurate. The individual lists are weighted so that a person's #1 pick is worth 20 points, #2 is 19 points, and so on down. Overall 175 full-lengths were voted on. The EP tally had no meaningful consensus but you can find the list on the second tab of the spreadsheet.

The individual lists from which we gathered the totals can be found here and here.'s Top 20 LPs of 2015

20. Hop Along: Painted Shut

Saddle Creek Records

Frances Quinlan's raw, raspy voice continues to light the way for the best act in indie-rock today. Her writing also carries a lot of weight with Joe Reinhart's guitars bringing further gravity to a band that knows how to tug at your heartstrings in the most warm manner. Get Disowned was always going to be tough to top but this does a pretty good job of trying. Infectious, scratchy yet as expected, melodiously profound as with “The Knock” about religious fanatics and “Powerful Man” about gender intimidation. Standout track: "Waitress." - Renaldo Matadeen

18 (tie). Runaway Brother: Mother

Tiny Engines

Runaway Brother is a fun band. Their energy and enthusiasm is outstanding and shines through the whole duration of Mother. These guys are so infectious and have molded their own sound ontop of bands like Motion City Soundtrack, Say Anything, and The Front Bottoms. The result is a wild pop rollercoaster that's so intriguing, its hard not to listen to the whole thing. - Jon Steinberg

18 (tie). Red City Radio: Red City Radio

Staple Records

Easily the finest sing along record of the year. We're talking windows down, lose your voice singing. Garrett Dale's gruff vocals show that he has definitely graduated from the school of Hot Water Music. Add that every song is air- guitarable and Red City Radio's self-titled album won't find its way out of rotation any time soon. - Nick Poyner

15 (tie). Turnover: Peripheral Vision

Run For Cover Records

I can't even begin with this album. I feel like the two of us have been through so much already. But really, Turnover's change in sound was just what the band needed to be refreshing and create something that is all their own. Every damn song on this album touches me differently and it's honestly just a masterpiece in my eyes. It's the record I didn't know I was waiting for. I've gotten to see this band five times since the release of this album and I still find myself dancing to "Humming" or singing along somberly to "I Would Hate You If I Could" like it was the first time I've heard them. There's not much else to say, this record is perfect. - Jon Steinberg

15 (tie). Protomartyr: The Agent Intellect

Hardly Art

The King of France, early internet pornography, the devil, shady drug deals, even shadier Pope visits, and boatloads of esoteric Detroit references (The eyes of Kayrouz are upon you!). All are present on Protomartyr's phenomenal follow up to last year's excellent Under Color of Official Right. The album is simultaneously dark and uplifting while maintaining the band's lyrical wit and knack for wry observation. The Agent Intellect is an undisclosed theory about what the mind is actually made of. Protomartyr don't pretend to know the physical makeup of the mind, they just know is what it looks like when it falls apart. - Keenan Novi

15 (tie). Desaparecidos: Payola

Epitaph Records

It's a rare feat -- a great reunion album. Politically sharp and sonically sharp, Conor Oberst and Co. bust back onto the scene and they mean business. - Greg Simpson

13 (tie). Downtown Boys: Full Communism

Don Giovanni Records

There were a few records that rocked my socks off this year, but none were as important as Downtown Boys' debut LP. Just when you thought punk had nothing left to say, along comes a bilingual blast that's equal parts "make you think" and "make you dance." - Adam Eisenberg

13 (tie). Titus Andronicus: The Most Lamentable Tragedy

Merge Records

It's one thing to make a 29 song three-LP rock opera, it's another to make one that anyone would care to listen to. While the format seems inherently self-important, in execution Titus Andronicus somehow delivered a tightly wound firehose for Patrick Stickles' various neuroses without needing a lot of padding to make the length. Nothing about this should really work, yet it's filled with bangers like "Dimed Out" and engaging 9 minute (!) tracks like "(S)HE SAID / (S)HE SAID." - Adam White

12. Screaming Females: Rose Mountain

Don Giovanni Records

Yes, yes, yes. We all know that the Screamales can shred. They've been doing it a decade. Put Jimmy Page next to 'em and ol' curly hair's frizz will be blown clear off. Put Joe Satriani next to 'em­ and baldy will be so embarrassed by his own work that he'll grow his hair back to try and hide his identity. But, for me, Rose Mountain is where the band masters the art of the shred and the art of the spirit. Dig "Wishing Well," man. That is the kind of song that makes you feel like you are floating three feet above the ground. My soul was moved. For real. Apparently this album is about breaking up with your own ache ridden body. Music like this can only come from pain and call me a sadist, but I'm glad the band is suffering if I get to hear tunes like this. - John Gentile

11. Success: Radio Recovery

Red Scare

I practically grew up on Less Than Jake, a sort of theme music to my adolescence and my growing obsession with the punk genre. As I got older, the sour, pessimistic grimness of Vinnie Fiorello's lyrics grew too painfully realistic, and though I will forever have a spot in my heart for them, it's harder to sing along to "Malt Liquor Tastes Better When You Have Problems" when you're heavily drinking malt liquor. Success picks up the Less Than Jake baton in style alone, replacing suburban heartbreak and alcoholic defeat with a younger, more youthful optimism. Radio Recovery makes it easier to bear the relentless 9 to 5, knowing that possibilities are endless if we keep working towards our goals and not let existence get the better of us. It gives equal doses of nostalgic fuzziness and optimistic hopefulness, and sometimes that's all I really need from music. - Alex Meylink

9 (tie). The Mountain Goats: Beat the Champ

Merge Records

John Darnielle wrote a concept album about wrestling. It is amazing because, like everything else he writes about, Darnielle approaches the topic with complete sincerity and understanding. Check out how he forges some very specific, obscure facts into a coherent rhyme scheme on "The Ballad of Chavo Guerrero" (heck, check out how he got the real Guerrero to appear in the music video. And yeah, he's a little tongue-in-cheek on tracks like "Foreign Object" and "Choked Out," but those songs are also totally bitchin'. These songs about emotional failure and physical ruin are very much in Darnielle's wheelhouse. Mountain Goats Mania is here, brother. - Joe Pelone

9 (tie). Teenage Bottlerocket: Tales From Wyoming

Rise Records

I’ve had a strange relationship with this band since I heard about them however many years ago. For me they never were a band that I would listen to on my own. Either people I knew would play them on a car stereo or I’d hear them in passing. But Teenage Bottlerocket was always been a band I’d love to see live. They also put on a fantastic show whether it was the time I saw them headline at the Troubadour in Hollywood or when I saw them open for Pennywise at The Phoenix Theater in Petaluma. When they released the track “They Call Me Steve” earlier this year all of that changed. I love that song and I think Tales From Wyoming is their best work. This was the album that got me to listen to their studio work a lot more. I gained a whole new appreciation for them after listening to this album. I got to see them this year at Los Globos in Los Angeles with The Copyrights and they truly stepped up their live performance game. It was the best show I had seen them play. RIP Brandon Carlisle. - Ricky Frankel

8. Beach Slang: The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us

Polyvinyl Records

This album is purely magical and one of my most anticipated this year. Beach Slang’s first two EPs (Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street and Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken?) have been on my constant rotation since I found out about them. Their debut full length The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us continues on the trend of becoming a classic and did not disappoint my expectations. James Alex seems to capture the best of what got me into punk the pure passion and youthful energy. His nostalgic and romantic spirit rings through in the strands of each song making it a very cohesive record. - Samantha Barrett

7. Leftover Crack: Constructs Of State

Fat Wreck Chords

A very solid return to form after a few years away from the scene. The number of guest vocalists concerned me at first, as it looked like the band might be overcompensating for something. Luckily, my fears were put to rest upon hearing the album. They are still able to blend punk, metal, ska and whatever the fuck else they choose almost effortlessly. For anyone wondering why this wasn't higher on my list, four or five years ago it would have been, no questions asked. I can't dispute the vast musical talent here, and I may find myself moving this album further up the list after it's published. But, as my tastes have changed over the past several years and I'm still digesting this album I decided this was the best place for it. - Johnathon Gallienne

5 (tie). The Wonder Years: No Closer To Heaven

Hopeless Records

TWY have evolved into more grittier territory while staying true to their pop-punk roots. What makes this album stand out even more is how much Soupy's lyrics and overall, storytelling, have grown; evident with the theme of 'we’re no saviours if we can’t save our brothers’. This record's filled with character and intimate stories from a tragic past that paint the band as contemplative and restless as ever. Yet they’re now optimistic, moving on and ready to harness that to make some of the best rock music flooding the market today. Standout track: "Cardinals." - Renaldo Matadeen

5 (tie). Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly

Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope

For his follow up to the rapturously received good kid, m.a.a.d city, Kendrick Lamar gave those of us who were hungry for more a lot to chew on. With excellent lyrics and fantastic, kaleidoscopic production (not to mention some great guest turns from George Clinton, Rapsody, Thundercat, Snoop Dogg and more), the album isn't just intellectually satisfying, it's a thoroughly entertaining listen. It’s one of those albums that you have to give yourself away to completely and trust in where it’s taking you. - Keenan Novi

4. Jeff Rosenstock: We Cool?

Side One Dummy Records

This is Rosenstock's "grown up" album, but the grown up Rosenstock still has plenty of pep in him. While focusing on the reflective lyrical themes touched on in Bomb the Music Industry! while dialing back the spastic sonics a smidge, Rosenstock finds that perfect balance of youthful and adult. - Greg Simpson

3. War On Women: War On Women

Bridge Nine Records

The problem that I have with a lot of hardcore bands is that they sound more like they are reciting a doctrine than they are speaking from their hearts. Maybe it's because a lot of the members come from outside the hardcore community, but War on Women sound frikkin' righteous. When Shawna Potter screams into that mic, you can tell she means it. Instead of this music degrading into a continuous rumble strip of feedback and blast beats, this is the kind of music that makes people shut up and listen. And their troll takedown track? Finally, a band telling jackasses that they are jackasses and the trolls' only possible retort is to admit they are jackasses through their subsequent jackass actions. MASTERSTROKE. - John Gentile

2. Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to Love

Sub Pop Records

"Invent our own kind of obscurity." The most powerful of power trios, Sleater-Kinney roared once more in 2015. While I loved Wild Flag and the Corin Tucker Trio, it's so very cool to have them back. If anything, the years have made them better. No Cities to Love is a heavy both in subject and in sound. "Price Tag" and the title track weigh convenient ends versus ethical means. "A New Wave" and "No Anthems" talk about relationships with music and with people. Epic classic rock riffs and pounded out dance beats burst forth. The vocals are full-throated. Everything is loud and living. - Joe Pelone

1. Night Birds: Mutiny at Muscle Beach

Fat Wreck Chords

First of all, not only does this record have one of the greatest titles ever, not only is it the band's tightest release to date, not only does it have secret Seinfeld references coded into it, not only is it non-­stop punk rock action, but it is a frikkin' modern day classic. No fat. No filler. No "pretty good" songs. This album is punk banger after punk banger after punk banger. And, while the band is clearly influenced by the first wave of leather jacket rockers, this ain't no retro record. This record is as fresh as it gets -- as wild as it gets­, as exciting as it gets. There's been too many mid­-tempo self­-pity records around these parts these days. I want tunes about cutting people up with sharp implements which are then shoehorned into some sort of political statement. That's Night Birds. Just let me know when the mutiny is going down. I'll bring the knives. - John Gentile