Fifteen writers, one list. Every fall, the LA Music Blog writing staff votes on our favorite releases from the past year of music, and every December, we share with our readers the 50 albums that earned the most acclaim amongst our eclectic crew. From stunning hip-hop debuts to highly anticipated reunion releases, the albums that made the cut are as varied as the current musical landscape, and while you’re sure to find at least some of your own favorites on our list, you’re equally likely to discover something new to love.

Check out LA Music Blog’s Top 50 Albums of 2015 list below, and be sure to let us know in the comments which albums you think should have been higher or lower on the list, how happy you are we included your favorite album from the past year, and why we’re crazy for leaving X, Y, or Z off the list.

#50: Drenge – Undertow

Coming off a win for Best New Artist at the 2014 NME Awards, it would have been stupid to expect anything less than greatness from Drenge in 2015. The UK duo released their sophomore effort, Undertow, in May, and it’s the album I recommend to people who haven’t heard the band before as it’s wildly accessible and exemplifies the Loveless brothers’ insane range.

While still maintaining the angst found on Drenge’s self-titled debut, Undertow single “We Can Do What We Want” is almost dance friendly (granted that dancing would likely take place in a mosh pit). Since the release of the new album, the duo has added a bass player to their live set, giving each track an even denser sound. Their already-explosive songs now reverberate in what feels like an infinite depth of heavy electric guitars and percussion.

The record kicked off instrumentally with “Introduction,” and though we’ve heard from the band themselves that they view vocals as the least important part of their sound, it was still Eoin’s voice that tied all the elements of Drenge’s sound together and ultimately made the album great and not just really, really good. – Angelica Corona

Listen: “We Can Do What We Want

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#49: Deafheaven – New Bermuda

If the more lush and gorgeous passages of the astonishing Sunbather gave a clue that Deafheaven would eventually abandon the metal tip, New Bermuda was proof that we had it the wrong way round. Calm moments were still scattered amongst the storm on the group’s new album (the mid-section of “Brought On The Water,” the lovely second half of “Come Back,” etc.), but an even more intense ferocity could be found at its core. The drumming was relentless, George Clarke’s voice harsher, and guitarist Kerry McCoy brought much thrashier elements into the mix to give the album some real punch.

The result? A worthy successor to one of the decade’s most unlikely breakthrough albums, a middle finger to the “Are they even metal?” crowd, and further evidence that although they might not be the only great band creating this sort of music (Bosse-De-Nage and Vattnet Viskar both released superb albums this year), Deafheaven is the biggest, a band attracting all comers to music they might never have approached before. They remain trailblazers. – Jay Chirinos

Listen: “Brought To The Water

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#48: Made In Heights – Without My Enemy What Would I Do

FINALLY. Sorry. I got excited. Kelsey Bulkin and Sabzi of Made In Heights haven’t released an album since their self-titled debut five years ago. That record was something of a revelation throughout the social media music sphere at the time, mainly thanks to “Wildflowers (Exhale Efreet)” catching fire. Without My Enemy What Would I Do was essentially round two.

Two things make Made In Heights special, particularly in comparison to the many electro-PBR&B acts. Lyrically, Kelsey Bulkin is a wonder. Her words are full of metaphors and imagery that evokes the otherworldly. She’s never awkward, and she’s able to switch rhythm from the angelic cooing found on “Death,” my personal favorite track on WMEWWID, to delivering bars on “Murakami.” She’s great, but so is Sabzi. The production is probably the catchiest and most original I’ve heard on any alt-R&B project this year. – Marcus Slater

Listen: “Murakami

Made In Heights – Without My Enemy What Would I Do

#47: Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Surf

Chance the Rapper broke the mold in 2013 with Acid Rap, and he did it again this year with Surf, a perfect collaboration between artists looking to explore territory beyond the confines of genre and expectations.

Released for free on iTunes, the album highlighted the talent of trumpeter Nico Segal (aka Donnie Trumpet) and his band The Social Experiment, which includes Chance the Rapper, Peter Cottontale, Greg Landfiar Jr., and Nate Fox. The tracks moved through jazz riffs, pop melodies, and spoken word breakdowns demonstratively and specifically, all without being too serious. The facetiously named and strictly instrumental track “Nothing Came To Me” is possibly the most inspired piece on the entire album.

Album guests Janelle Monáe, Busta Rhymes, Big Sean, Erykah Badu, and others each brought their own musical contributions to the mix, leaving every track rich with distinctive sounds and lyrics. Embodying the collaborative spirit in which Surf was made, the iTunes tracklisting doesn’t specifically credit any of the album’s contributors. It is a true Chance the Rapper production. – Christine Perez

Listen: “Nothing Came To Me

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#46: Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

It’s become increasingly more common for artists to drop mixtapes/albums without any announcement or pre-planned marketing. No one did that better this year than Drake with the release of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.

Backed by experimental beats, his lyrics reminded us all that he still has a lot of soul-searching to do (“Still findin’ myself, let alone a soulmate, I’m just sayin’…”). Drake gave the fans more than just tracks for the club with this mixtape, but like anything he releases, the songs on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late will be getting radio play for quite some time. – Kristen Meza

Listen – “Energy

Drake If You're Reading This It's Too Late

#45: Mac Miller – GO:OD AM

Mac Miller’s third studio album, GO:OD AM, marked the next step in the development of the rapper’s lyrics and highlighted his significant artistic growth since the release of his last full-length studio album in 2013. It also revealed some interesting aspects of the Pittsburgh native’s personal life.

Backed by a really chill vibe, Miller shared stories about what it was like working his way up in the music industry throughout GO:OD AM. With features from Ab-Soul, Lil B, Miguel, Chief Keef, and Lil Dragon, the album flows seamlessly from one song to the next, and the incorporation of jazz winds and modern hip-hop beats made it a fun listen for when you’re cruising around. We can’t be the only ones excited to hear what’s next from Miller. – Kimberly Quitzon

Listen: “100 Grandkids

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#44: Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

After a ten-year absence, Seattle’s favorite riot grrls returned to producing new material this year. Fans certainly weren’t selfish enough to ask for a new album (they left us in 2005 with one of the, if not the, greatest rock records of the 2000s, The Woods), but what we received in the form of No Cities To Love was a tight ten-track LP that pulls and tugs at the rock strings — a hefty reminder that Sleater-Kinney still dominates and will continue to dominate for the foreseeable future.

Released at the beginning of 2015 to a glowing reception (pretty much as expected), the record was an early contender for best of the year. Time had done nothing to deter Corin, Carrie, and Janet from being themselves, which is to say they were loud, constructive, and straight-up kickass. After seven hugely successful albums, this eighth one features more of the same rollicking tunes we know Sleater-Kinney can churn out seemingly effortlessly, and that is the best thing we could have asked for (even though we didn’t). – David Fisch

Listen: “A New Wave

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#43: Ought – Sun Coming Down

Ought sounds like something pulled straight out of Manchester, England in the late-70s, so it’s surprising to learn that they only formed in 2011 amidst the DIY subculture of Montreal, the same city where they recorded their debut EP, New Calm. Two albums later, they’ve already established an abundant following and critical acclaim thanks to their raw, garage-punk sound and the grizzled, meandering vocals of lead singer Tim Beeler.

With two albums in two years, the prolific Ought is only getting stronger and more polished the more unraveled their sound becomes. It’s thrilling in its unpredictability and unfaltering in its attitude, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve encountered an LP this intoxicating, keeping me on my toes without being too jarring or off-putting.

The combination of bendy guitars, reverb, and harmonically disparate layers create an impressive balance between past and present, somewhere between Parquet Courts and The Talking Heads. It’s a passionate, meticulously crafted endeavor from a band that manages to bring Canadian underground to the mainstream indie scene. – Jillian Goldfluss

Listen: “Men for Miles

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#42: Belle & Sebastian – Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance

It should come as no surprise to find Belle and Sebastian on our Top 50 Albums of the Year list. One of the hardest working bands in the industry, the Glasgow group has a signature sound anchored by the iconic vocals of frontman Stuart Murdoch.

2015’s Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance is a welcome return to form for the Belle and Sebastian fans who have loved the band since the release of their debut album, Tigermilk, in 1996, and even more so for fans of 2006’s The Life Pursuit. Appropriately titled single “The Party Line” is slightly fuller than the average Belle and Sebastian song, with more synth and heavy bass lines, revealing a band that is as dance-friendly as ever two decades into its career. – Angelica Corona

Listen: “The Party Line

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#41: Blur – The Magic Whip

The world knows this English rock band from their 1997 smash hit “Song 2” (I STILL hear people sing along when the “woohoo” vocal drops on that one), but that track is actually found on Blur’s fifth studio album. This year they ended the longest space of dead air in their prolific career with the release of their first album since 2003’s Think Tank, and I must say — the wait for Blur’s eighth LP was worth it.

I didn’t know what to expect from The Magic Whip. Would I like it? Or would I hate it and become bitter that the band took so long for practically nothing? Thankfully, I liked it. A lot. And so did many others, apparently!

Singer-songwriter Damon Albarn works in political references throughout the album, most notably the Sydney hostage crisis and society’s false sense of closeness due to the technology-driven modern world. He has moved and recorded around the globe, always looking for new energy and studios in which to create, and his nomadic lifestyle is apparent in his lyrics. The beats on the album sound like the little brother of those used in Albarn’s other project, Gorillaz, but some of the choruses are classic Blur, which keeps you listening and waiting for that moment when you can maybe, just maybe, sing along to something like the “woohoo” you fell in love with in ’97. – Anthony Marks

Listen: “Ong Ong

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