City Pages writers share their favorite albums of 2015

Did this record make any of the lists? Impossible to say.

Did this record make any of the lists? Impossible to say.

David Anderson


  1. Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp a Butterfly

  2. Sleaford Mods — Key Markets

  3. Sleater-Kinney — No Cities to Love

  4. Sufjan Stevens — Carrie & Lowell

  5. Downtown Boys — Full Communism


  6. Näive Sense — Art Failures

  7. Kill the Vultures — Carnelian

  8. Strange Relations — CENTRISM

  9. Carroll — Carroll

  10. Allen — Yeah Wings

    Gigi Berry


  11. Alabama Shakes — Sound & Color

  12. The Internet — Ego Death

  13. Drake & Future — What a Time to Be Alive

  14. Jeremih — Late Nights: The Album

  15. Shamir — Ratchet


  16. Strange Names — Use Your Time Wisely

  17. Lizzo — Big GRRRL Small World

  18. Mixed Blood Majority — Insane World

  19. Gospel Machine — Your Holy Ghost

  20. John Mark Nelson — I’m Not Afraid

    Jay Boller


  1. Titus Andronicus — The Most Lamentable Tragedy

  2. Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit

  3. Father John Misty — I Love You, Honeybear

  4. Grimes — Art Angels

  5. Bully — Feels Like


  6. Lizzo — Big GRRRL, Small World

  7. Low — Ones and Sixes

  8. Bruise Violet — Survival of the Prettiest

  9. Fury Things — VHS

  10. Mixed Blood Majority — Insane World

    Jerard Fagerberg 


  11. Torres — Sprinter

    Torres's sophomore LP really gripped me this year. The way Sprinter deals with teen melodrama and institutional disenchantment was, frankly, beautiful.

  12. Sufjan Stevens — Carrie & Lowell

    The popular pick for No. 2 on everyone's End of the Year lists, Carrie & Lowell was Sufy's frankest, most emotionally haunting album to date.

  13. Father John Misty — I Love You, Honeybear

    I battled with no album more than Father John Misty's this year. I probably overthought it, but I enjoyed the process of getting lost in I Love You, Honeybear's layers of irony.

  14. Bully — Feels Like

    An absolute ripper of an album. I'm not sure if City Pages ever mentioned this, but Alicia Bognanno is actually from Minnesota!

  15. The Mountain Goats — Beat the Champ and Sleater-Kinney — No Cities to Love (tie)

    Both incredibly fun albums for two very different reasons. I alternated between both for six months trying to figure out which I enjoyed more and never got to an answer.


  16. Bad Bad Hats — Psychic Reader

  17. Murder Shoes — Daydreaming

  18. Morly — In Defense of My Muse

  19. Bruise Violet — Survival of the Prettiest

  20. Bobby Raps and Corbin — Couch Potato

    Keith Harris


  21. Vince Staples — Summertime '06

  22. Oneohtrix Point Never — Garden of Delete

  23. Hop Along — Painted Shut

  24. Jazmine Sullivan — Reality Show

  25. Palehound — Dry Food

    Cecilia Johnson


  26. Purity Ring — Another Eternity

  27. Melanie Martinez — Cry Baby

  28. Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp A Butterfly

  29. Christine and the Queens — Christine and the Queens

  30. Marian Hill — Sway


  31. Lizzo — Big GRRRL Small World

  32. Bruise Violet — Survival of the Prettiest

  33. Aero Flynn — Aero Flynn

  34. Eric Mayson — Detail

  35. Doomtree — All Hands

    Chaz Kangas


  36. Homeboy Sandman & Aesop Rock — Lice

  37. Cavalier — Lemonade EP

  38. Speak — Fall Time Radness

  39. Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp a Butterfly

  40. Megaran — RNDM


  41. Villa Rosa (Maria Isa & Muja Messiah) — Lemuria

  42. Prof — Liability

  43. Bones & Beeker — Bones & Beeker

  44. Homeless & Big Cats — The Polar Bear Rug

  45. Sean Anonymous — Better Days

    Becky Lang


  46. Grimes — Art Angels

  47. Shamir — Ratchet

  48. Jamie XX — In Colour

  49. Panda Bear — Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

  50. Diet Cig — Over Easy

    Zach McCormick


  51. Royal Headache — High

    An almost but not quite perfect follow-up to their incredible debut. Really hope the rumors of their demise are unfounded.

  52. Radioactivity — Silent Kill

    These dudes have been making this same amazing record under different band names and album titles for the last decade and I hope they keep doing it for another.

  53. Tenement — Predatory Highlights

    Staking their place as another shambolic upper-Midwest pop-punk band making a ludicrously ambitious double album and almost completely sticking the landing.

  54. Downtown Boys — Full Communism

    Any band that sounds this much like Rocket From the Crypt and gets Rolling Stone to cover the Providence, Rhode Island, punk scene earns a special place in my heart.

  55. Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp a Butterfly

    Didn't so much "enjoy" this album per se, but damned if it isn't crucial listening and one of the most thought-provoking and well-crafted albums made in hip-hop this year.


  1. Fury Things — VHS

    Finally, a band that understands that all I ever wanted was for someone to combine Copper Blue and 24 Hour Revenge Therapy.

  2. Ego Death — Ego Death

    Expect to hear a lot about Ego Death in 2016. They showed a ton of promise on this first album, and they've barely been active for more than a year.

  3. Uranium Club — An Exploration in Humanity

    The best record by a local punk band that appears to have broken up before I could do my year-end list.

  4. Mixed Blood Majority — Insane World

    Crescent Moon and Joel Horton go Run the Jewels. What a stellar idea.

  5. Murder Shoes — Daydreaming

    Moody yet heartwarming, like a total bummer that you don't want to stop reliving. Can't wait to see what else they have in store.

Marcus Michalik


  1. Joanna Newsom — Divers

  2. Sufjan Stevens — Carrie & Lowell 

  3. Natalie Prass — Natalie Prass

  4. Beach House — Depression Cherry

  5. Tamar Braxton — Calling All Lovers 

    Pat O’Brien


    1. Tame Impala — Currents

    2. Beach House — Depression Cherry

    3. Ought — Sun Coming Down

    4. Low — Ones and Sixes

    5. Jamie XX — In Colour


    1. Fury Things — VHS

    2. BNLX — Good Light

    3. Strange Relations — Centrism

    4. Lizzo — Big GRRRL Small World

    5. Sonny Knight and the Lakers — Do It Live

    Raghav Mehta


    1. Drake — If You're Reading This It's Too Late

    2. Father John Misty — I Love You, Honey Bear

    3. Dr. Dre — Compton

    4. Vince Staples — Summertime '06

    5. Sleater-Kinney — No Cities To Love

    Honorable mention: Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp A Butterfly

    Michael Rietmulder


    1. Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp a Butterfly

    2. Jamie XX — In Colour

    3. Kurt Vile — b'lieve I'm going down...

    4. Tame Impala — Currents

    5. Royal Headache — High


    1. False — Untitled

    2. Low — Ones and Sixes

    3. Bad Bad Hats — Psychic Reader

    4. Obsequiae — Aria of Vernal Tombs

    5. Eric Mayson — Detail

    Erica Rivera


    1. Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

    2. Phosphorescent — Live at the Music Hall

    3. The Shivers — Forever is a Word

    4. Sharon Van Etten — I Don't Want to Let You Down

    5. Erykah Badu — But You Can't Use My Phone


    1. Greycoats — Adrift

    2. Bad Bad Hats — Psychic Reader

    3. Guante — A Love Song, a Death Rattle, a Battle Cry

    4. Peter Wolf Crier — Plum Slump

    5. Prof — Liability

    Danny Sigelman


    Kristin Diable — Create Your Own Mythology

    Moon Duo — Shadow of the Sun

    Tame Impala — Currents

    Bully — Feels Like

    La Luz — Weirdo Shrine


    Low — Ones and Sixes

    Dosh and Ghostband — Def Kith

    Gospel Machine — Your Holy Ghost

    Powermad — Infinite

    International Novelty Gamelon Ensemble — Metal Phonia

    Jack Spencer


    1. Young Thug — Slime Season

    2. Future — Beast Mode

    3. Fetty Wap — Fetty Wap

    4. FKA Twigs — M3LL155X

    5. Grimes — Art Angels


  1. I Self Devine & Muja Messiah — 9th House

  2. Kill The Vultures — Carnelian

  3. Taylor J — 1991

  4. Bobby Raps & Sin Grinch — Wicked City

  5. Sweetz P — Sweetz P EP

    Erik Thompson


  6. Algiers — Algiers

  7. Beach Slang — The Things We Do To Find People Who Like Us

  8. Sufjan Stevens — Carrie & Lowell

  9. Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp A Butterfly

  10. Bully — Feels Like


  11. Low — Ones and Sixes

  12. Strange Relations — Centrism

  13. Fury Things — VHS

  14. Bad Bad Hats — Psychic Reader

  15. Oaks — Animal Life

    John Thomas


  16. Sup, Muscles? — More Feelings

    This little emo band from the east coast broke up shortly after releasing this, but it's packed with everything that makes the emo revival great.

  17. Chastity Belt — Time to go home

    One of the best live performances of the year as well over at Triple Rock, Chastity Belt is the best the slow riot grrrl movement has to offer.

  18. Cyberbully Mom Club — Amy Locust Whatever

    Finally, a whatever-wave band whose sound lives up to the humor of its name. Everything these pals put out makes me feel like I just fell in love with a bad boy, and that's one of the best feelings in the world.

  19. TWIABP — Harmlessness

    The orchestral beauty of TWIABP is best on display in their latest offering, a meticulously crafted emo masterpiece.

  20. Krill — A Distant Fist Unclenching

    Not much to say other than Krill, Krill, Krill forever.


  21. Straya — Healthy Steps

    The best release out of Minneapolis this year. Healthy Steps plays with the form of a variety of genres to produce a record that hits on all the most poignant beats of getting better.

  22. Bruise Violet — Survival of the Prettiest

  23. Autumn Kid — Lullabies

  24. Treading North — Canopy

  25. Infinite Me — Awe Howler

    Youa Vang


  26. Wolf Alice — My Love is Cool

  27. Twenty One Pilots — Blurryface

  28. Mumford & Sons — Wilder Mind

  29. Boy & Bear — Limit of Love

  30. Punch Brothers — The Wireless


  31. Peter Wolf Crier — Plum Slump

    In Minneapolis and their new album, Peter Pisano has returned home. Pisano said their first album was written from the heart, their second the head, and this one is back to the heart.

  32. Taj Raj — Night Speech

    An album written around love, loss, hope, redemption, and of course, Lord of the Rings. Night Speech was a long time coming, but worth the wait. The opening track "Your Thief" captivates and weaves stories right before your eyes (ears?).

  33. Little Fevers — Field Trip

    Huge change for Lucy Michelle. This was the album she was meant to make. It's like her bandmate, Eamonn McLain, said, they were a rock band before, but just didn't have the right instruments.

  34. Matt Latterell — Phase & Field

    At moments sounding like Rufus Wainwright, at others, like Neutral Milk Hotel. This is Latterell's best album to date.

  35. Gospel Machine — Your Holy Ghost

    Balls-out Jesus in the tradition of soul and blues. Lead singer Jayanthi Kyle is amazing in personality and onstage.

    Ryan Warner


  36. Sufjan Stevens — Carrie & Lowell

    I’ve hated the precocious Sufjan Stevens and his cloying, toothless music from the moment I found out what a Sufjan Stevens was. I’ve been sour on everything from the pretty little altar boy’s Zach Braff-inspiring banjo days through the overcooked glam-folk of Age of Adz and all the dumb novella length song titles and “state album project” threats in-between. Then came Carrie & Lowell — a Sufjan Stevens album that I not only enjoy, but one that I found more compelling than any other album in a 2015 chock full of excellent music. Life is strange sometimes; I am a husk of a lost superior self.

  37. U.S. Girls — Half Free

    Darkly sophisticated songwriting that rewarded repeat listens and lyric parsing as much as any other record released this year. “Damn that Valley” and “Woman’s Work” alone are worth the price of admission but this is seriously subversive feminist pop music with hooks and challenges throughout. Brainy! Fun! Not Grimes!

  38. Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp a Butterfly

    What could I possibly say about Kendrick Lamar’s (brilliant, incendiary, provocative) To Pimp a Butterfly that hasn’t already been said by countless critics before me? How about this: The most socially important album of 2015 and the best to brine and smoke smelt to. I bet no one else has said that!

  39. Natalia Lafourcade — Hasta la Raiz

    Excellent pop music for grownups. Beautiful stuff that would scoff at its relegation to “world music” bins stateside if it weren’t so popular elsewhere. Inventive in its production without sacrificing the wide appeal Lafourcade deserves. The only album in this list that my mother might like. Wait, not true ...

  40. Carly Rae Jepson — Emotion

    I have no shame. I have no integrity. My opinions hold no water. I’ve no more right to critical dissemination than any Jill or Joe on the street. I loved Carly Rae Jepson’s 2015 album Emotion.


    It’s 2015 and I don’t buy records anymore. The vast majority of all the recorded local music I consumed this year was played on Bandcamp or Soundcloud. Besides that, I’m compromised by my allegiance to bands I know IRL. City Pages hotshot Cecilia Johnson did burn me a CD-R of Bruise Violet recordings which I listened to and liked. I like Bruise Violet and I don’t know them.

    Chad Werner


  1. Sleater-Kinney — No Cities To Love

    I suspect I am not alone here. Not a return to form, a reminder.

  2. Ancient Warfare — Pale Horse

    Southern gothica oozing with apocalyptic slowness.

  3. Big Data — ALBUM 2.0

    Headphones album of the year. Paranoia is always on the menu.

  4. Brandi Carlile — Firewatcher's Daughter

    Surprisingly rough and tumble. Worth it alone for the last bit of "The Stranger At My Door".

  5. Fantastic Negrito — Deluxe EP

    Maybe a little cheat since it is just an e.p., but the guy won the NPR "Tiny Desk Concert" context. Raw bluesy wailing. Deserves the spot.

    (Hat tip to Jennie Vee's Spying and Benjamin Booker's Live at 3rd Man)


  6. Gramma's Boyfriend — Perm

    Nothing can stop Haley Bonar and friends. Don't even try.

  7. Doomtree — All Hands

    So good. A weird sideways step after No Kings, but a necessary one.

  8. Low — Ones and Sixes

    The band puts the last 10 years together into one album. Minnesota band, national treasure.

  9. Sick Of Sarah — Anthem

    Another EP, but still ... Confident rock 'n' roll is on display.

  10. Birthday Suits — Spin The Bottle: Adult Party

    If you don't love Birthday Suits, you are wrong. Welcome back, guys.

    (Hat tip to BNLX's Good Light, Sonny Knight's Do It Live, Mixed Blood Majority's Insane World, and Lizzo's Big Grrrl, Small World)

    Alex Rice


  1. Wolf Alice — My Love is Cool

  2. Blur — The Magic Whip

  3. Drenge — Undertow

  4. Bully — Feels Like

  5. El Vy — Return to the Moon