Nine Inch Nails Year Zero (Nothing Records)
Usually, concept albums like Year Zero, especially those with as lofty a goal as predicting the future, falter in spots. Not this time. Thankfully, political messages couched in NIN language never dictate the music. True, it's not a bangy, industrial-only disc. But Reznor's able to break the bounds of a genre he served to the mainstream. He even had the good sense to enlist the help of vocalist and poet Saul Williams on "Survivalism." Our furious rock gods are growing up. We're just lucky some of them got smarts and haven't overdosed on heroin.