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Words by Submerge Staff

Like holiday party hangovers and overly optimistic new year’s resolutions, year-end best album lists are a dime a dozen. So what makes ours so special? Well, for one thing, we made it. And we obviously have the kind of refined musical palate you don’t just find by clicking around on the damn internet. More importantly, we split this year’s Top 30 albums list into two distinct portions: 15 albums with connections to the Sacramento area, and 15 albums from the world beyond. There are, of course, many, many, albums that came out over the last year deserving of praise, but these 30 were our favorites. Why? Our staff explains, with Twitter-esque succinctness.

Submerge-15-Hiatus Kaiyote


Hiatus Kaiyote
Choose Your Weapon

I bet Jamiroquai is in his room enjoying this amazing, raucous, jazzy neo-soul album right now. Silky Rhodes piano over Roy Ayers grooves.

Submerge-14-Kendrick Lamar


Kendrick Lamar
To Pimp A Butterfly

One of the most timely pieces of street-influenced hip-hop shimmers w/ brilliant musicianship, immense production and one talented emcee.



Hop Along
Painted Shut

Equal parts punk, folk and indie music led by a female singer who can lull you into a sleepy daze or kill you in any moment on Painted Shut.

Submerge-12-La Luz


La Luz
Weirdo Shrine

Their third album on Hardly Art/Burger Records, La Luz is a badass, Seattle-based lady surf rock band. Weirdo Shrine will make you a Luzer.




A mix of religious imagery, Slavonic chanting & monolithic black metal conjuring images of Satanic rituals performed in a Catholic church.



No Cities to Love

After a 10-year studio hiatus, the original Riot Grrrls have re-emerged and released a collection of enthralling, liberationist sonic waves.




Slick, suave and oh-so smooth. Over Jake One’s funky beats, Mayer Hawthorne is finally making the kind of R&B tunes that suit him best.

Submerge-8-The Cairo Gang


The Cairo Gang
Goes Missing

Bonnie Prince Billy smoking hash with old Fresh & Onlys while tickling Greg Cartwright and James Mercer’s moody taints.

Submerge-2-Viet Cong


Viet Cong
Viet Cong

Angular post-punk from Canada featuring members of the sadly defunct Women. For fans of Echo & The Bunnymen and Joy Division.

Submerge-6-Mbongwana Star


Mbongwana Star
From Kinshasa

Intertwining African music, Congolese to be exact, with psychedelic, post-punk & modern electro sounds. Will blow your mind rhythmically.

Submerge-5-Tame Impala


Tame Impala

Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker is a psychedelic pop rock genius. Take an interstellar trip with his latest, on which he played every note.

Submerge-7-Sufjan Stevens


Sufjan Stevens
Carrie & Lowell

A cathartic journey: Sufjan returns to his trademark sparse, moody instrumentations. Exorcising family demons never sounded so lovely.

Submerge-3-Courtney Barnett


Courtney Barnett
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Delivering on the promise of a great 2014 EP, Aussie grungester Barnett broke out big in ‘15 with a critical and commercial homerun.

Submerge-4-Jason Isbell


Jason Isbell
Something More Than Free

Gritty blue collar Americana from a songwriter filled with addiction and regret that weaves together stories of passion, sobriety and hope.

Submerge-1-Neon Indian


Neon Indian
VEGA INTL. Night School

Less chill, more thrill. A glitzy paean to Italo-disco & intoxicated nocturnalia. Don your transparent raincoat & get on the dancefloor!??

See our local 2015 list