12 Favorite Alternative/Indie Albums of 2015

It’s about that time of year when we get a little nostalgic for the past twelve months. We look back on where the year took us—who we met, where we went, what we watched and listened to. For me, it’s the time of year when I get to bookend things (aka I get to write lists of my favorite things from the past year).

2015 was a beast of year for music. We welcomed back Adele, we said goodbye to One Direction (for now?), we re-embraced Bieber, and (somehow) continued to listen to TSwift’s “1989” on repeat. But that’s just the pop side of things. And while I do love a little dose of bubble gum in my library, I’m more about the Alternative/Indie scene.

Now here’s the thing—this isn’t a list of “the best” Alternative/Indie albums of 2015. Let’s keep it casual and talk favorites! These are the albums that dropped in 2015 that I think you need to hear before you blink and it’s 2016.


1. American Beauty/American Psycho – Fall Out Boy

My hometown heroes started 2015 off on the right note with AB/AP. This one is chock-full of pop-punk anthems, dissectible lyrics, and melodies that’ll get stuck in your head for days. Not to mention, it perfectly showcases Patrick Stump’s ridiculous vocal range. Dude can still sing. You probably know “Centuries” and “Uma Thurman,” so check out “Novocaine.”

2. Covers One – The Wind + The Wave

There’s almost nothing I love more than a good cover. So when one of my favorite bands released an EP made up entirely of covers, I was a practically goner. The best part about The Wind + The Wave’s Covers One is that they reworked each to add their distinct gritty, alt-rock sound. Check out their badass version of “Ignition (Remix).”

3. Chaos And The Calm – James Bay

James Bay’s sound is totally captivating (so much so that I wrote about him earlier this year). In a nutshell, Chaos And The Calm is an album that’ll hit you in the heart. It’s one you’ll feel in your bones. You might know “Hold Back The River,” so check out “Collide” next.

4. Future Hearts – All Time Low

I haven’t outgrown my love of pop-punk and I’m happy to say that neither has All Time Low—in fact, I think they’re embracing it with Future Hearts. This is an album I have no shame in rocking out to. I mean it’s catchy, hopeful, and downright fun. It’s clear that the pop-punk dream is alive and well with the gents of ATL. Listen to “Dancing With A Wolf.”

5. Glitterbug – The Wombats

Glitterbug is infectiously catchy album made for twenty-somethings who just want to party like it’s the 80s. Beneath all the synths and pop melodies, The Wombats continue not to slack on their witty lyrics. After all, “life tastes sweeter when it’s wrapped in debauchery.” I was sold on Glitterbug as soon as I heard “Greek Tragedy.”

6. Wilder Mind – Mumford & Sons

What I love about Mumford & Sons is that they’ve shone a light on a folk-infused side of alt-rock. Even as they change and grow in their sound (read: less banjo), the one constant is their distinct, soul-filling vocals and harmonies. Wilder Mind is more rock than folk. It’s comfortable. It’s full of lyrics about love and life. With or without banjos, these guys are talented. Give “Ditmas” a listen.

7. Blurryface – Twenty One Pilots

Where do I even start on this one? Blurryface is an album that embraces and destroys the fear of failure, anxiety, and judgment. It acknowledges that we struggle, we hurt, and we grow. Twenty One Pilots are lyrical champs with an expertise for crafting songs that will get under your skin and in your mind—in the best way possible. These guys are a genre of their own. If you only listen to one album off this list, make it Blurryface. If you’ve heard “Tear In My Heart,” check out “Lane Boy.”

8. How Big, How Beautiful, How Blue – Florence & The Machine

There’s something unbelievably satisfying about the grand, soulful sounds of Florence & The Machine. After listening to How Big, How Beautiful, How Blue, I’m only more convinced that Florence can do no wrong. Each song is an epically ethereal, dreamy experience. Give “Various Storms & Saints” a listen.

9. Beneath The Skin – Of Monsters And Men

Of Monsters And Men’s sound is kind of ghostly and soft. Beneath The Skin is one of those albums I put on whenever I don’t know what I’m in the mood to listen to. The combination of male and female vocals/harmonies, warm melodies, and poetic lyrics is what makes this album so satisfying to listen to. Beneath The Skin has so many good tracks that I struggled to pick just one to recommend. But the one I always find myself going back to is “I Of The Storm.”

10. How Does It Feel – MS MR

I was a huge fan of MS MR’s first album, Secondhand Rapture. So when they released How Does It Feel, I was on board immediately. MS MR’s dreamy, dark pop sound with echo-y, layered vocals (often compared to the likes of Florence Welch) is really incredible. How Does It Feel delivers indie pop melodies with such grandeur that you’ll keep coming back for more. Check out “Criminals.”

11. Badlands – Halsey

Halsey is one of my absolute favorite discoveries of 2015. Her personality and music are both electric—she leaves a sting behind. Badlands packs a lot of dark, raw emotion into sixteen tracks. Between Halsey’s voice, lyrics, and musical skill, her debut album is one that’ll leave you totally hypnotized. You might be familiar with “Ghost” and “New Americana,” so give “Castle” a listen.

12. Astoria – Marianas Trench

If you haven’t heard of Marianas Trench, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with the Canadian rockers. Astoria is an 80’s-inspired album packed with dance-pop jams, fiery ballads, and theatrical interludes. Marianas Trench has always been known for their theatrical rock style and epic, story-like albums, but they definitely amped it up for Astoria. Get yourself started with the album’s opener, “Astoria.”

Do you have any favorite Alternative or Indie releases from this past year? Share them with us @litdarling or comment below!

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