13 Presents The List: The Top Ten Albums of 2013, Volume 2: 6-4

Our countdown to Album of the Year continues today with the next three spots on The List!

6. Fortress – Alter Bridge

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Alter Bridge has been busy in recent years. With Creed getting back together to record a new album and go on a reunion tour, and with Myles Kennedy heading up The Conspirators as Slash’s full-time frontman, one might think these guys would be too busy to worry about where Alter Bridge is going. One would be wrong. Fortress is a very solid album, perhaps the best AB has put forth so far, and serves as a worthy placeholder for their rank as one of southern rock’s premier acts.

If you have never listened to Alter Bridge before, Fortress is a great place to start. That rings true even if you are not a fan of Creed. The band is the same, but Myles Kennedy’s soaring vocals are superior to Scott Stapp’s growl in just about every way (and this comes from a guy who likes Stapp.) In addition to being prized by Slash, Kennedy was rumored for awhile to be in line to replace Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin. While these rumors turned out to be untrue, Kennedy did apparently write some unreleased music with Page, Jones, and Bonham.

None of that speaks directly to the quality of this album, however. The songs here are a perfect companion to the album art, painting a picture of crumbling walls and desolation, although these symbols are clearly metaphorical. AB finds a perfect balance of muscularity and restraint here, speaking of torn down trust through fire and flood, occasionally taking breaks to survey the wreckage. “Calm The Fire” provides a clear example of this with it’s haunting opener that builds into a roar:

Like a fine wine, Alter Bridge seems only to improve with age. Here’s hoping that that streak continues into the future.

Other standout tracks include “Addicted to Pain,” “Lover,” “Farther Than The Sun,” and “All Ends Well.”

5. Save Rock and Roll – Fall Out Boy

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A year ago today, fans across the nation rejoiced when it was announced that the indefinite hiatus was over, and Fall Out Boy was back. FOB spent 6 glorious years at the forefront of the punk/powerpop scene before announcing their not-exactly-a-break-up in 2009 due to a plethora of issues which included disillusionment with band life. Their return is an update of their sound which continues their evolution of leaning gradually toward a more pop sound than their punkish roots, but there is still enough crunching guitar around to call this a rock album. While Rock and Roll may be a misnomer for most of the music on this album, genre is not really what Fall Out Boy is trying to “save” anyway. It’s the rebel spirit of Rock and Roll; the mix of fun, refusal to submit to the norm, and true love of an art form that the band looks to salvage, and while this album may not be monumental enough to truly claim such a feat, it is damn enjoyable.

The songs remain as fun to sing along with as ever, one of Fall Out Boy’s greatest strengths, and the record features a creative if eclectic use of guests (Foxes, Big Sean, Courtney Love, and Elton John show up at various points). While their sound is not as rugged as it was when they began, the bullet-point puns and heart-on-your-sleeve, never-say-die mantra set to addictive melodies that their fans have always loved remains. Fall Out Boy is back, and it looks like they are here to stay. Here’s the title track, featuring Sir Elton John:

Other standout tracks include “The Phoenix,” “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” “Alone Together,” and “Just One Yesterday.”

4. Random Access Memories – Daft Punk

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Daft Punk’s first non-soundtrack studio album in 8 years arrived with much fanfare, and it was well-deserved. For those general music fans outside of the EDM crowd, it might be hard to imagine why such an album has consistently rated so highly on year-end album lists like this one, but Random Access Memories is a truly ambitious work that includes various elements of pop, hip-hop, classic rock, disco, and even theater. What makes the album truly great, however, is not simply the range of influence it draws from; it’s the timelessness of it. I don’t mean this in the traditional sense, as in “this is an album that will still be a classic 30 years from now” (though it could be). I mean to say that this album feels at once like it came out in 2013 and in any of the other decades from which it borrows. The modern electronic take on the represented genres succeeds in updating each while remaining subdued enough for the music to feel comfortable among a playlist of it’s predecessors. This is the music of the past for the future. As such, it is fitting that it ends with a voiceover from the past guiding us forward into the outer limits:

Other standout tracks include “Within,” “Touch,” Get Lucky,” and “Doin’ it Right.”

That’s it for this entry folks! Come back tomorrow to see who makes numbers two and three on my list, then pop back in the next day to see who is number one!

13

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