Top Albums of 2013

Yeezus

Kanye West

The Marshall Mathers LP2

Eminem

Nothing Was The Same

Drake

True

Avicii

PRISM

Katy Perry

The 20/20 Experience

Justin Timberlake

Blurred Lines

Robin Thicke

Crash My Party

Luke Bryan

B.O.A.T.S. II #METIME

2 Chainz

ARTPOP

Lady Gaga

Bangerz

Miley Cyrus

Pure Heroine

Lorde

Kiss Land

The Weeknd

Save Rock And Roll

Fall Out Boy
Early on in Save Rock and Roll, Patrick Stump sings he'll change you like a remix then raise you like a phoenix, words written, as always, by Pete Wentz, and sentiments that place this 2013 Fall Out Boy comeback in some kind of perspective. After the absurdly ambitious 2008 LP Folie à Deux, the band expanded and imploded, winding up in a pseudo-retirement where Stump released an inspired but confused solo record while Wentz pursued Black Cards, a band that went nowhere. Failure has a way of reuniting wayward souls, and so Stump, Wentz, Joe Trohman, and Andy Hurley all settled their differences and cut Save Rock and Roll, an album that acts like Fall Out Boy never went away while simultaneously acknowledging every trend of the last five years. Alone among their peers, Fall Out Boy are always acutely conscious of what's on the charts, not limiting themselves to the brickwalled blast of modern rock but also dipping into the crystalline shimmer of R&B and even sending up the folk stomp of Mumford & Sons on "Young Volcanoes." One of great things about Fall Out Boy -- the thing that's infuriating and intoxicating in equal measure -- is that it's difficult to discern where their sincerity ends and their parody begins. That's particularly true of Save Rock and Roll, where the group is negotiating its rapidly approaching maturity along with the fashions of the time. They're not entirely successful, partially because they rely on their trusty emo onslaught of unmodulated chords and emotions, partially because there still is a lingering suspicion that they may not truly believe anything they sing. Nevertheless, they're ambitious, admirable, and sometimes thrilling, particularly because the group never fears to tread into treacherous waters, happy to blur the distinctions between pop and rock, mainstream and underground. They bring in Courtney Love to snarl like it's 1993, they have Elton John act like the grand dame he is, but neither overshadows the group's intoxicatingly smeary stance on what rock & roll is. They're not traditionalists -- they're not about three chords and the truth, they're about misdirection and hiding their emotions, then letting it all spill out in one headstrong rush. In 2013, when so many bands are donning tweed caps and pining for a past that never existed, it's kind of fun to have a band tackle the modern world in all its mess as Fall Out Boy do here.

Hail to the King

Avenged Sevenfold

Life On A Rock

Kenny Chesney
Life on a Rock is the 16th studio album from country singer/songwriter Kenny Chesney. Recorded between London, Nashville, and Jamaica, Life on a Rock features guest appearances from the Wailers as well as Willie Nelson and includes the single "Pirate Flag."

Daniel Clancy, Rovi

Love and War

Tamar Braxton

LONG.LIVE.A$AP

A$AP Rocky
Harlem-born and blog-bred, ASAP Rocky first made a name for himself with the ethereal and hyper-referential YouTube favorites "Peso" and "Purple Haze." For "F--kin' Problems," the breakout radio hit from his major label debut Long. Live. ASAP., he mostly abandons this aesthetic—and the mic, handing it to more radio-ready guests Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar to complement a more upbeat and playful sound. So it's something of a relief to hear that the bulk of the album tends to retain the fog of his early work. Rocky is a competent rapper at best—a slithery midpoint between present-day Drake and early Three 6 Mafia—and isn't particularly present as a personality or songwriter, but he can still sound downright glorious when he sinks into the right bed of feathered and fuzzy production.

Andrew Nosnitsky, Google Play

Lightning Bolt

Pearl Jam
Lightning Bolt is the tenth studio album by the American rock band Pearl Jam. Produced by long-time Pearl Jam collaborator Brendan O'Brien, the album was released in the United States on October 15, 2013 through the band's own Monkeywrench Records, with Republic Records handling the international release.
The band begun composing new songs in 2011, and had the album's first recording sessions in early 2012 before the musicians decided to take a break. As all the band members got into side projects afterwards, work on Lightning Bolt only resumed in March 2013. The music for Lightning Bolt has a harder rock sound with longer songs to contrast predecessor Backspacer, and the lyrics convey singer Eddie Vedder's feelings on aging and mortality.
Preceded by a promotional campaign focusing on Pearl Jam's website and social network profiles and two moderately successful singles, "Mind Your Manners" and "Sirens", Lightning Bolt was well received by critics, who considered the album an effective return to the band's old sound, and topped the charts in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

~ Provided by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_Bolt_(Pearl_Jam_album)) under Creative Commons Attribution CC-BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode)

Something Else

Tech N9ne

Golden

Lady Antebellum
Golden is the fourth studio album from American country-pop outfit Lady Antebellum and follows their incredibly successful 2011 release, Own the Night. Recorded while the band toured Own the Night, the album sees the threesome expand their country palette, bringing influences such as R&B and funk to the mix. The single "Downtown" is also included.

Paramore

Paramore
The moment the gospel choir kicks in on ‘Ain’t It Fun’, urging some poor unfortunate to not go crying to their mother, signals that this is a Paramore album like no other. Following on from the breakup of the original line-up in 2010, singer Hayley Williams returns with a record that’s more commercial than ever, but unafraid to rock out the fuzzy guitars on tracks like ‘Now’ and ‘Part II’. Produced by Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who has worked with Garbage, Air and Nine Inch Nails, the album marries a bright, upbeat hyperactivity with Williams’ often downbeat lyrics to create a winning, No Doubt-style fusion of poppy highlights and sure-fire stadium hits such as ‘Still Into You, Grow Up’ and ‘(One of Those) Crazy Girls’.


Dave Pollock, Google Play

Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies

Volbeat
In the two-and-half years since Volbeat's wildly successful Beyond Hell/Above Heaven, they've traveled some miles, both literally and figuratively. They toured not only Europe but the U.S. and Canada in support for nearly a year, and parted ways with lead guitarist Thomas Bredahl. A permanent replacement was found in Robert Caggiano, formerly of Anthrax, who was enlisted to produce Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies and play on select tracks. His addition has proved integral to the band's ever evolving sound. While the meld of various kinds of heavy metal, country, and rockabilly is still present here -- it is now undoubtedly the sound of Volbeat itself -- the lines between those styles are less pronounced. The sometimes jarring shift from rockabilly to thrash, from death metal to the Johnny Cash-country on previous albums, still happens, but here these sounds often coexist within the same song. While it is accurate to say that this set is more accessible than anything Volbeat has attempted previously, it is also the most ambitious set of tracks they've committed to tape. The songwriting is tight, focused; there are lots of hooks, most of them heavy -- thanks, no doubt, to Caggiano's presence. His playing style is full of insanely catchy riffs, vamps, and intricate melodies. Michael Tomas Poulsen's vocals still blend Elvis, James Hetfield, and Keith Caputo, but they growl less; they're expressive and natural sounding. Hard rock and vintage HM are the prevalent sounds here -- as heard on cuts like "Pearl Heart," the riff-arific "The Nameless One," and the aggressive attack in "The Hangman's Body Count." The slow, doomy chug of "Room 24" melds early Black Sabbath to death metal with King Diamond guesting on vocals. Another surprise is in the cover of Young the Giant's "My Body." Thanks to Poulsen's awesome singing and the blasting guitars, it could pass as a Volbeat anthem. An excellent example of all the band's styles converging at once is in "Black Bart," with death metal, Gun Club-style punk-country, and even Thin Lizzy's twin lead guitars. Former Dubstar and Client vocalist Sarah Blackwood sings with Poulsen on "Lonesome Rider," where slap bass rockabilly and hooky '80s metal commingle. Thin Lizzy also get channeled on the killer "The Sinner Is You," while Civil War-era banjo introduces the theatrical country meets death metal choogler "Doc Holliday." A high lonesome desert harmonica à la Ennio Morricone introduces closer "Our Loved Ones," which is as fine a melodic headbanger as anything the band's ever cut. While it is accurate to say that Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies is more accessible than anything Volbeat has attempted previously, it is also the most ambitious -- and arguably enjoyable -- set they've committed to tape.

True Believers

Darius Rucker

Demi

Demi Lovato
Her return from darkness out of the way, Demi Lovato returns to the serious business of stardom on Demi, her fourth album and the first positioned as the work of a true adult. Maturity is a bit of a tricky business on Demi, as it finds her copping modern trends without quite shaking off the studio system that fostered her. The latter is problematic, resulting in half-baked exercises in pageantry -- such as the "Skyscraper" rewrite "Nightingale" -- and the occasional cultural dissonance, like when she tells a suitor "you try to take me home like you're DiMaggio," a name not heard in a pop song for almost 25 years. Unfortunately, a lot of these stumbles arrive early in the record, but the back half of Demi shifts into a place where the studio professionalism and blatant cash-ins click. She brings in Cher Lloyd, winner of the seventh season of the British "X-Factor", to rap on the brightly brickwalled kiss-off "Really Don't Care," she skips through the wildly appealing "Something That We're Not" -- quite easily the purest and best piece of pop here -- and deliriously rips off Katy Perry's "Firework" on "Fire Starter," which is shameless in its appropriating the prior hit's construction and progression but not its attitude. This second half is strong enough to make some of the earlier, tentative moments seem a bit better -- this is particularly true of "Made in the USA," which cops Miley's "Party in the USA," but it's not quite so fetching an exploitation as "Fire Starter" -- but ultimately, this isn't an album of purpose, it's a collection of moments, and it has just enough good ones to solidify Demi Lovato's comeback. [Demi was also released with a bonus-CD-R track.]

Stay Trippy

Juicy J

Excuse My French

French Montana

Hesitation Marks

Nine Inch Nails

Hall Of Fame

Big Sean

Stars Dance

Selena Gomez

Drinks After Work

Toby Keith

Mechanical Bull

Kings Of Leon

Yours Truly

Ariana Grande

13

Black Sabbath
13 is the 19th studio album from heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath, arriving nearly 20 years after 1995's Forbidden. Produced by Rick Rubin (Slayer, Metallica) and featuring the vocals of Ozzy Osbourne for the first time on a Black Sabbath studio album since 1978's Never Say Die!, 13 is a blistering return that includes the single "God Is Dead?"

Daniel Clancy, Rovi

The Bluegrass Album

Alan Jackson

House Of Gold & Bones Part 2

Stone Sour
Continuing the two-album arc started on House of Gold & Bones, Pt. 1, Stone Sour resume their two-part concept album on House of Gold & Bones, Pt. 2. Musically, the album feels quite a bit like its predecessor, making the band’s decision to release them as two separate discs a smart move, allowing listeners a chance to take a breather before diving back in for a second helping. That said, the quality of the record is still on par with the first part, so anyone who enjoyed the previous record will certainly find more to love here.

Gregory Heaney, Rovi

Ciara

Ciara

...Like Clockwork

Queens Of The Stone Age
Featuring the sprawling, riff-strewn single "My God Is the Sun" and guest appearances from the likes of Elton John and Alex Turner, …Like Clockwork is the sixth studio album from Queens of the Stone Age, following 2007's Era Vulgaris. With Josh Homme's trademark cool vocals and high-octane guitar lines backed by the powerful drumming of Dave Grohl, …Like Clockwork is an album full of invention and attitude., Rovi

Love In The Future

John Legend

Rebellious Soul

K. Michelle

Settle

Disclosure

Same Trailer Different Park

Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves could easily be contemporary country's next big thing. She's a sharp, detailed songwriter with a little bit of an edge, and while it's tempting to think of her as another coming of Taylor Swift, say, she's got the kind of relaxed sureness about what she's doing as a songwriter and performer that puts her closer to a Miranda Lambert. On her first nationally distributed album, Same Trailer Different Park, she definitely sounds more on the Lambert side of things, with a sparse, airy sound that lets her lyrics shine, and she'd as soon use a banjo in her arrangements as a snarling Stratocaster. From her debut single, the marvelous "Merry Go 'Round" (which is included here as the third track), Musgraves showed an intelligent, careful writing style that is as pointed as it is poignant, and even though the song seems to skewer small-town country life, it does it without malice or agenda, and is really more just telling it true than anything else, a trait that ought to be treasured in Nashville but usually isn't. Nashville wants one to tell it true as long as that telling conforms to the template, which Musgraves isn't likely to do. "Merry Go 'Round" might be the best song here, but there are others that are nearly as good, like the lilting, wise opener, "Silver Lining," the implausible "Dandelion" (one wonders how she manages to make such a winning song out of such a metaphor, but she does), and the gutsy (and again, wise) "Follow Your Arrow," all of which feature clear-eyed observations, unintrusive but appropriate arrangements, and a certain flair for telling it like it is and making it sound like bedrock, obvious wisdom. Musgraves has a sense of humor, too, and all of these traits add up to make Same Trailer Different Park more than a collection of songs just aiming for the country charts.

Steve Leggett, Rovi

Modern Vampires of the City

Vampire Weekend
Following the success of their sophomore album, Contra, Vampire Weekend released their highly anticipated third full-length, entitled Modern Vampires of the City. The record had been kept tightly under wraps since writing began in late 2011, and the four-piece discreetly hit the studio with producer Ariel Rechtshaid (We Are Scientists, Plain White T's, Usher) in their native New York. Lead single "Diane Young" illustrates the group in full flow, interjecting a rasping bassline and trashy drums to their crisp indie rock sound.

Scott Kerr, Rovi

The Next Day

David Bowie
Starting in 2002, David Bowie released two excellent albums in quick succession with old friend Tony Visconti (the brooding Heathen and the more rocking Reality) that showcased a refreshed and reinvigorated artist. Neither of these were the reputation-changers they deserved to be but funny how emergency heart surgery and a decade spent out of the public eye reverses the blasé attitudes of both public and press.

Taken as a complete experience, The Next Day comes off as a rebellion against everything in current pop. The album was recorded very quickly, without fuss (which, truth to tell, is the usual Bowie way of working) and the songs don't outstay their welcome. Instead of riding on endless grooves provided by industry insiders, Bowie once again works with Visconti and gathers old friends on songs that have a jagged, live-in-the-studio feel. Records may just be promos for monster, money-making tours now but Bowie isn't doing concerts. The internet gives us non-stop celebrity culture, but Bowie isn't talking—so there aren't any interviews with the warm, witty Cockney to contrast against the regal, iconic alien.

Spiky and agitated without coming off as bitter, the album hurtles out of the gate with the title track, slows down on the caustic "Dirty Boys" and jumbles celebrity and mortality on "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)." The majority of the songs here are lean rockers, with Station to Station's Earl Slick juggling the lead guitar slot with David Torn. Sometimes the songs brush past previous works (is that the drum intro to "Five Years" ending "You Feel So Lonely You Could Die"?) but this is an album about the rush to a future we know isn't going to end well for any of us. The elegiac love song "Where Are We Now?" treats memories like the walking dead and holds on to loved ones in the here and now. David Bowie doesn't pretend to have any answers with The Next Day but he still pushes ahead because that is what artists do -- they create. Instead of leaving you feeling empty, listening to this dark album is a strangely satisfying, enlivening experience. – Nick Dedina, Google Play

- Nick Dedina, Google Play

Three Kings

TGT

Annie Up

Pistol Annies
Annie Up is the second album of sassy and confident country-pop from Pistol Annies, a talented trio whose 2011 debut release -- Hell on Heels -- was famously endorsed by Neil Young in his 2012 autobiography, "Waging Heavy Peace". It's another set of self-penned songs injected with fun and conviction in equal measure, betraying a lightness of touch not always evident in the other recording projects of Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley. Once again produced by Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf, and Chuck Ainlay, the album features the upbeat and characterful single "Hush Hush."

James Wilkinson, Rovi

My Name Is My Name

Pusha T

The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars

IV Play (Explicit Version)

The-Dream

Reflektor

Arcade Fire

Doris

Earl Sweatshirt