The Best Albums Of 2015

A very personal top 140...

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OK so I’ve decided I can’t wait any longer to let this go; here are my 140 favourite albums of 2015, more or less ranked.

As ever, a few caveats. The ranking is predictably pretty arbitrary beyond the top 20 or so; Natural Snow Buildings, say, should certainly not feel aggrieved to be at Number 140, given they could have ended up somewhere inside the top 50 on another day. I know admissions of imprecision like this don’t do much to foster an impression of empirical truth and authority, but I figure it’s best to be honest about how ad hoc the construction of a personal chart can be.

Nevertheless, there’s obviously a lot of sport and pleasure in ranking so many albums. I imagine plenty of you will be rather sceptical about there being 140 albums good enough to bother with from 2015, and while it’d be disingenuous of me to claim that every one here is to my mind an unimprovable classic, I’ve enjoyed them all and believe they all, without exception, deserve at the very least a few listens.


I probably say this around this time at 12 month intervals, but I remain convinced that every year is a good one for music, if you have the time, energy and enthusiasm to dig deep. That’s why I always think it’s useful to compile lists of such excessive length rather than tight little top 20s, or whatever: I’d like a lot more people to listen to, for instance, Byron Westbrook’s “Precipice” on the Root Strata label, so if I can give a bunch of these things a platform, and contextualise them with a few more familiar albums, that seems like a good plan to me.

I should say that for a much more democratic summary of the year’s music, we have a very fine Top 75 in the current issue of Uncut, compiled from the votes of 40-odd writers and staffers. If you’re concerned that Father John Misty and Jason Isbell’s albums are absent from my list, you’ll certainly find them there.

I’m sure, though, that a few things have slipped my memory, and that you’ll be able to turn me on to some other records I may have missed, so please post your own favourites/charts/recommendations etc at the bottom of the page. Many thanks, in advance – and thanks for your indulgence in reading this…


Follow me on Twitter @JohnRMulvey


140 Natural Snow Buildings – Terror’s Horns (Ba Da Bing)

139 !!! – As If (Warp)

138 Saun & Starr – Look Closer (Daptone)

137 Patrick Higgins – Bachanalia (Telegraph Harp)

136 Alif – Aynama-Rtama (Nawa Recordings)

135 Cat’s Eyes – The Duke Of Burgundy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Caroline)

134 The Unthanks – Mount The Air (Rabble Rouser)

133 Beirut – No No No (4AD)

132 Samba Toure – Gandadiko (Glitterbeat)

131 Pops Staples – Don’t Lose This (Anti-)

130 The Dead Weather – Dodge And Burn (Third Man)

129 Cannibal Ox – Blade Of The Ronin (iHiphop)

128 Lubomyr Melnyk – Rivers and Streams (Erased Tapes)

127 Blond-ish – Welcome To The Present (Kompakt)

126 Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe & Ariel Kalma – FRKWYS Vol. 12: We Know Each Other Somehow (RVNG INTL)

125 Peacers – Peacers (Drag City)

124 Panda Bear – Panda Bear Vs The Grim Reaper (Domino)

123 Wand – 1000 Days (Drag City)

122 Marry Waterson And David A. Jaycock – Two Wolves (One Little Indian)

121 M Dwinell – Golden Ratio (Amish)

120 Follakzoid – III (Sacred Bones)

119 Duke Garwood – Heavy Love (Heavenly)

118 Dungen – Allas Sak (Smalltown Supersound)

117 Aye Aye – Aye Aye (Richie/Testoster Tunes)

116 Tom Carter – Long Time Underground (Three Lobed Recordings)

115 Chris Connolly – Alameda (Caldo Verde)

114 Wand – Golem (In The Red)

113 Master Musicians Of Bukkake – Further West Quad Cult (Important)

112 Robert Glasper – Covered (Blue Note)

111 Trembling Bells – The Sovereign Self (Tin Angel)

110 Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Loin Des Hommes: Original Motion Picture (Goliath Entertainment)

109 Elephant Micah – Where In Our Woods (Western Vinyl)

108 Matt Valentine – Midden Mound (Child Of Microtones)

107 Leon Bridges – Coming Home (Columbia)

106 Fraser A Gorman – Slow Gum (Milk!/Marathon Artists)

105 Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood And The Rajasthan Express – Junun (Nonesuch)

104 Darts & Arrows – Altamira (Ears & Eyes)

103 The Arcs – Yours, Dreamily (Nonesuch)

102 Alasdair Roberts – Alastair Roberts (Drag City)

101 Moon Duo – Shadow Of The Sun (Sacred Bones)

100 Howlin Rain – Mansion Songs (Easy Sound Recording Co)

99 Alela Diane & Ryan Francesconi – Cold Moon (Believe Recordings)

98 Mbongwana Star – Kinshasa (World Circuit)

97 The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Freedom Tower – No Wave Dance Party (Bronzerat)

96 Omar Souleyman – Bahdeni Nami (Monkeytown)

95 Promised Land Sound – For Use And Delight (Paradise Of Bachelors)

94 Thunderbitch – Thunderbitch (Blackfootwhitefoot)

93 King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Paper Mâché Dream Balloon (Heavenly)

92 Gospelbeach – Pacific Surf Line! (Alive Naturalsound)

91 Simon Scott – Insomni (Ash International)

90 King Midas Sound/Fennesz – Editions 1 (Ninja Tune)

89 Michael Chapman – Fish (Tompkins Square)

88 Deradoorian – The Expanding Flower Planet (Anticon)

87 Yo La Tengo – Stuff Like That There (Matador)

86 Cath & Phil Tyler – The Song-Crowned King (Ferric Mordant)

85 Arthur’s Landing – Second Thoughts (Buddhist Army)

84 Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba – Ba Power (Glitterbeat)

83 Rachel Grimes – The Clearing (Temporary Residence)

82 Sonny Vincent And Rocket From The Crypt – Vintage Piss (Swami)

81 Chilly Gonzales – Chambers (Gentle Threat)

80 Crying Lion – The Golden Boat (Honest Jon’s)

79 Todd Rundgren/ Emil Nikolaisen/Hans-Peter Lindstrøm – Runddans (Smalltown Supersound)

78 Laurie Anderson – Heart Of A Dog (Nonesuch)

77 Laura Marling – Short Movie (Virgin)

76 The Cairo Gang – Goes Missing (God?)

75 Hot Chip – Why Make Sense? (Domino)

74 Colleen – Captain Of None (Thrill Jockey)

73 Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Just Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit (Anxiety/Marathon)

72 Byron Westbrook – Precipice (Root Strata)

71 Circles Around The Sun – Interludes For The Dead (Rhino)

70 Laura Cannell – Beneath Swooping Talons (Front And Follow)

69 Blanck Mass- Dumb Flesh (Sacred Bones)

68 United Bible Studies – The Ale’s What Cures Ye (MIE Music)

67 Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arkestra – The Reason Why Vol 2 (Headspin)

66 Rhiannon Giddens – Tomorrow Is My Turn (Nonesuch)

65 Liam Hayes – Slurrup (Fat Possum)

64 Steve Hauschildt – Where All Is Fled (Kranky)

63 Lou Barlow – Brace The Wave (Domino)

62 Chris Forsyth & Koen Holtkamp – The Island (Trouble In Mind)

61 William Basinski – Cascade (2062/Temporary Residence)

60 Martin Courtney – Many Moons (Domino)

59 Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal – Musique De Nuit (No Format)

58 James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg – Ambsace (Paradise Of Bachelors)

57 Richard Thompson – Still (Proper)

56 Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love (Sub Pop)

55 Bill MacKay & Ryley Walker – Land Of Plenty (Whistler)

54 Áine O’Dwyer – Music For Church Cleaners Vol. I & II (MIE)

53 Wolfgang Voigt – Rückverzauberung 10 (Kompakt)

52 Daniel Bachman – River (Three-Lobed)

51 Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Goin Down (Matador)

50 Sun Kil Moon – Universal Themes (Rough Trade)

49 Dave Heumann – Here In The Deep (Thrill Jockey)

48 Peaches – Rub (I U She Music)

47 Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)

46 Eleventh Dream Day – Works For Tomorrow (Thrill Jockey)

45 Bop English – Constant Bop (Blood And Biscuits)

44 Joan Shelley – Over And Even (No Quarter)

43 Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love (Jagjaguwar)

42 Low – Ones And Sixes (Sub Pop)

41 Kamasi Washington – The Epic (Brainfeeder)

40 Rob St John – Surface Tension (Surface Tension)

39 Necks – Vertigo (RER Megacorps/Northern Spy)

38 Jessica Pratt – On Your Own Love Again (Drag City)

37 Neil Young & The Promise Of The Real – The Monsanto Years (Reprise)

36 Meg Baird – Don’t Weigh Down The Light (Wichita/Drag City)

35 Dean McPhee – Fatima’s Hand (Hood Faire)

34 Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated At Last (Castle Face)

33 Houndstooth – No News From Home (No Quarter)

32 Holly Herndon – Platform (4AD)

31 Badbadnotgood & Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul (Lex)

30 Dave Rawlings Machine – Nashville Obsolete (Acony)

29 Kelley Stoltz – In Triangle Time (Castle Face)

28 Bitchin Bajas – Transporteur (Hands In The Dark)

27 Bjork – Vulnicura (One Little Indian)

26 Sir Richard Bishop – Tangier Sessions (Drag City)

25 Bilal – Another Life (BBE)

24 Nadia Reid – Listen To Formation, Look For The Signs (Scissor Tail/Spunk)

23 Soldiers Of Fortune – Early Risers (Mexican Summer)

22 Steve Gunn & The Black Twig Pickers – Seasonal Hire (Thrill Jockey)

21 Sam Lee & Friends – The Fade In Time (Nest Collective)

20 Matthew E White – Fresh Blood (Spacebomb/Domino)

19 Jamie xx – In Colour (Young Turks)

18 Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress (Constellation)

17 Floating Points – Elaenia (Pluto)

16 Jim O’Rourke – Simple Songs (Drag City)

15 Wilco – Star Wars (dBpm)

14 Israel Nash – Israel Nash’s Silver Season (Loose/Thirty Tigers)

13 Robert Forster – Songs To Play (Tapete)

12 Julia Holter – Have You in My Wilderness (Domino)

11 Four Tet – Morning/Evening (Text)

10 Alabama Shakes – Sound &; Color (Rough Trade)

9 Ryley Walker – Primrose Green (Dead Oceans)

8 Duane Pitre – Bayou Electric (Important)

7 Phil Cook – Southland Mission (Thirty Tigers)

6 The Deslondes – The Deslondes (New West)

5 Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass (Spacebomb)

4 Natural Information Society & Bitchin Bajas – Autoimaginary (Drag City)

3 The Weather Station – Loyalty (Paradise Of Bachelors)

2 Joanna Newsom – Divers (Drag City)

1 Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly (Top Dawg)





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