50 Best Albums of 2013

Vampire Weekend cut the cute and raised the stakes, Kanye assaulted our ears, Bowie shocked the world and Miley tossed a dance-pop party grenade

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Queens of the Stone Age, '…Like Clockwork'
Courtesy of Matador Records6/50

6. Queens of the Stone Age, '…Like Clockwork'

Josh Homme came back after a life-threatening illness, called up some rock-star pals (Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, Elton John) and revived his mordantly arch-metal outfit to kick out creepily torrid, darkly suave Camaro rock like only he can. Homme combines menacing riffs and glammy refinement, sounding like Bowie reborn as a winking dark lord of the underworld. "Fairweather Friends," featuring Grohl and Sir Elton, is a grunge-grease bitchfest. On "I Sat by the Ocean," Homme crushes riffs and mellows out with "a potion to erase you." Yet for all the awesomely negative vibing and genuine twistedness (see "If I Had a Tail"), Clockwork hit with an everydude heaviness that's getting rarer and rarer these days. Plus, the king of Queens still has the best hard-rock falsetto of his generation.

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