All Dogs - Kicking Every Day
Probably my favorite album this year (aside from the one mentioned at the end), and it might be tied with my next suggestion. Either way, it’s an incredible full-length debut. Soulful, emotionally driven indie rock/pop with engaging lyricism, presented with gracefully flawed female vocals and a hell of a lot of energy and passion. Absolutely could not get enough of this record. Check out the track “How Long” immediately.
The Money Pit - S/T
Featuring two members of criminally underrated (but personal favorite) indie band Gatbys American Dream, this was an album destined to make any kind of favorites list I made this year. This one features all of the weird, dark pop elements from previous Gatsbys records, but presented in a more straightforward, incredibly infectious package of 11 instantly classic tracks. If you’re not hooked after “I Want My Money Back,” this might not be the record for you.
Moving Mountains/Prawn - Split 12”
This was just released, but basically earned a spot as soon as it was announced. Moving Mountains haven’t released anything in a few years, so these two tracks are a great reintroduction to the band. Prawn, as always, has been busy, but still managed to put out two exceptional tracks on this split. Both bands are progressive, post-rock, and melodic, just in totally different ways. A can’t miss/must listen for fans of either band (or just great music). It’s only 4 tracks long, so just listen to them all.
Tricot - A N D
The only way I can explain Tricot is to recommend that you just listen to one of their songs (or, like me, listen to one, become obsessed, then listen to as many as you can). They’re a shaggy, jangly, powerful female fronted indie band from Japan. All the lyrics are in their native tongue, but the music and emotion is engaging and, frankly, fun enough that it doesn’t matter. Any track from A N D will give you a good idea of what to expect.
toe. - Hear You
This is a quieter, much more subtle effort from Japan’s reigning kings of mathy yet accessible indie jams. That doesn’t mean it’s any less impactful, though. One of the most imaginative bands making music right now, they love to challenge themselves and their fans and even new or casual listeners. The final track on the album, “Because I Hear You,” is beautiful and we'll worth seeking out.
Pinegrove - Everything So Far
This one is relatively new to me, but is filled with such passionate, intelligent songwriting it's impossible to ignore. These guys just signed to Run For Cover and are poised for big things in 2016. Just go snag this one off of Bandcamp and get ahead of the game.
Hidden Hospitals - Surface Tension
I've mentioned “intelligent” songwriting a couple of times, but I don't want to diminish what that means. Hidden Hospitals is comprised of four savvy, intelligent dudes who also happen to make complex, thoughtful, downright incredible music together. Surface Tension felt like a long time coming. And damn, was it worth the wait.
Dikembe - Ledge EP
This band is so consistently good, it's not even remotely surprising how great this EP is. They cornered the market on paying homage to the 90’s while also maintaining an absolutely contemporary rock/emo sound, and Ledge is just further proof. Please come to Cincinnati so we can all cry together, Dikembe.
Jeff Rosenstock - We Cool?
I admit to missing the Bomb The Music Industry train, but Mr. Rosenstock just had to go and write an impeccable rock and roll record (not to mention his thoroughly entertaining work with Chris Farren in Antarctigo Vespucci). This is a raucous album from start to finish. We are definitely cool, man.
Pet Symmetry - Pets Hounds
If I have one complaint with this album, it’s that it’s too short - it simply ends way too quickly. Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It. teamed up with members of Dowsing and created an honest to [insert deity here] indie/emo/pop record, heavy on the pop (and it’s all the better for it). It’s an album that’s so good, so listenable, that you don’t notice how quickly it’s moving along. Guys, we want more. Please.
This one I’m sure everyone is aware of, however, this record is just incredible and deserves all the attention it can get…
Sleater Kinney - No Cities To Love
Of all the comebacks possible, this one felt among the least likely. I've always been a fan, but their reintroduction into the modern music landscape has made me a fantatic. There's not one wasted second on No Cities To Love. Every note counts for something. Not only is this an incredible addition to their catalog, it was a bit so gentle reminder to go back and revisit that same catalog and discover just how great it really is. Oh, and their live show is on point, and may be among my favorite live experiences ever. Truly outstanding all around.
Go check out all of these artists on the Unheard Favorites of 2015 Spotify Playlist!