10. Hayley Williams, Petals For Armor
“Rage is a quiet thing/ Ooh, you think that you've tamed it/ But it's just lying in wait,” Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams growls on “Simmer,” marking her debut release as a solo artist. The album that followed pulled even fewer punches, as Williams opened up about years of apprehension, depression, her imploded relationship with fellow Warped Tour alum Chad Gilbert -- and bottling her anger over it all. Williams has explained that Petals For Armor “gave me a place to put some haunted thoughts I’d carried for far too long." The effort was worth it: “I'm alive in spite of me!” -- G.G.
9. The Strokes, The New Abnormal
It took nearly two decades, but The Strokes finally put out an album that nails a formula as well as their classic Is This It? debut. A mix of '80s-borrowed vocal hooks, New Wave-via-New-York synth-rock boogies, and a steely (or Steely) dose of middle-aged malevolence resulted in the strongest set of alt-rock rippers the band has released since they were appearing on rock magazine covers every other week. The loaded titles ("Why Are Sundays So Depressing," "Ode to the Mets") carry most of the weight of thematic expression, so the songs themselves can focus on reflecting the Strokes' uniquely lockstep chemistry, even (perhaps especially) when they can't seem to be in the same room with one another, let alone the same band. If we didn't appreciate how lucky we were to still have them around, we do now. -- A.U.
8. Phoebe Bridgers, Punisher
Phoebe Bridgers is a solo artist, but she is never alone as she shares personal, sometimes painful, scenes on her sophomore album, Punisher. Boygenius bandmates Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker harmonize on the folky “Graceland Too,” while the other half of Better Oblivion Community Center, Conor Oberst, sings and writes on a handful of tracks. Drummer and close collaborator Marshall Vore is onhand, with writing credits on six of the 11 songs, and Stranger in the Alps producers Ethan Gruska and Tony Berg return, cloaking Bridgers' quietly beautiful vocals in darkly ethereal, slightly psychedelic sounds. Though she often wields it as a delicate instrument, her voice reaches a full-throttle, therapeutic scream by the end of the apocalyptic closer “I Know the End,” where she and a chorus of voices bellow out “The end is near!" If you’re going to face the end of the world, might as well do it surrounded by friends. -- CHRISTINE WERTHMAN
7. Ozzy Osbourne, Ordinary Man