Wow, this is late. Even for my recent late streak this is late. 11:15? And I still haven’t packed for orientation tomorrow. My house is still internet-less, which makes this whole blog thing increasingly difficult, and it also makes just about everything else increasingly difficult. I hate to admit it, but internet is just a necessity these days.
A not so brief word about my album choice this week: originally the intention was to do Frank Turner’s Tape Deck Heart, because I went to a Frank Turner concert on Friday (which was awesome) and he signed my copy of the album on vinyl. Unfortunately, I still don’t have my speakers for the turntable hooked up, so I can’t listen to it. If I had internet, I would suck it up and listen to it on Spotify or YouTube or something, but I don’t. Then, I said “What the heck?” and decided to purchase the Killers’ Hot Fuss because I wanted that album anyway. So I did. I bought the last copy at Best Buy. And it was blank. It was very disappointing. So I exchanged it for…
Album: Songs For The Deaf Artist: Queens of the Stone Age
Man, these guys are weird. I love Josh Homme because he isn’t afraid to be kind of a freak. Every time I listen to a Queens album the first time through, I have to get over the general sound of it first before I can really begin to rock out. Queens of the Stone Age definitely isn’t like anything I’ve written about yet.
Songs for the Deaf was the third album for Queens of the Stone Age, released in 2002. Dave Grohl plays drums on the album, and even put the Foo on hold to tour with Queens of the Stone Age following this album. And, lets be honest with ourselves here. Dave Grohl and Josh Homme always rock together, so shouldn’t this album? Songs for the Deaf was “produced” by Nick Valentine (but Josh Homme later criticized him for his work, claiming he merely recorded it and essentially did nothing else), and contains tracks written both by frontman Homme and Nick Oliveri.
Before I get to the actual musical quality of the album though, I want to talk about the album’s layout. Songs for the Deaf plays like a radio. When I say that, I mean that they actually put fake radio excerpts in the album. Basically the concept is a car ride from what I believe is supposed to be LA to somewhere else in California, and the driver tunes into the different radio stations of different cities on the way. All in all its a good concept: the album basically parodies the radio and criticizes it for being “KLON Radio” (Clone Radio), playing songs that sound “more like anyone else than anyone else,” and the “infinite repeat” that the radio often bestows. Like I said, all in all it’s a good (and mostly amusing) concept, but I agree with Eric Carr of pitchfork.com — eventually, after a couple of run-throughs, they get in the way of the music. (You can read Eric Carr’s review of QOTSA’s Songs For The Deaf here). I actually found myself trying to change the radio station in my car a few times. Oops.
But let’s talk about the music now, shall we? I guess I’ve most often heard QOTSA lumped into the “stoner rock” genre, but that seems a little general to me. Songs for the Deaf could definitely be thrown into the metal genre I think. Actually, there’s a radio excerpt that says “All death metal, all the time,” and it’s immediately followed by some screaming vocals with a somewhat creepy sounding chaos of guitars and drums. Whether that was done simply for parody purposes is for you to decide.
However, I think you could call most of the instrumentation on this album chaotic — but it’s organized. I think it was my sister who told me it was “robot rock” once. It’s made of layers and layers and layers. That’s something you can really hear if you listen, especially in tracks like “No One Knows” and “Go With The Flow.” And another thing: I guess you could call it “desert rock” (I don’t technically know the definition for this genre, so go with it). Literally, every time I listen, I can’t help but think about the desert or cactuses or something, but I think that was kind of the point. I don’t know, maybe the “Go With The Flow” music video had an impact on me or something.
The album isn’t “all death metal, all the time” though; the final hidden track (which is what it says on the CD, but it isn’t really all that hidden) entitled “Mosquito Song” has more of a mellow, western feel. The acoustic guitars in the beginning lend a “Hotel California” feel to the song, while later in the track the band seems to be joined by the symphony from hell. It’s a great end.
I’ll come out and say it — not every single song on the album had me flat out impressed, but overall I’d label the album as a success. Between the ultimate statement of the radio parody, the classic weirdness that only Queens can provide, and the straight up rock n’ roll, the album is a great listen, regardless of any hiccups. The writing partnership of Homme and Oliveri seems to be a successful one, but it’s late, I’m tired, and I have no internet so this post is gonna suck anyway so I’m just not going to go in depth with the lyrics tonight.
The eventual goal is to post about their latest album …Like Clockwork, but I need my turntable for that 🙂 But you’ll just have to keep listening until then.
As always, comments or suggestions are appreciated. Seriously, I would love to write about something you all suggest, so leave a comment with a request!
Honorable Song Mentions: No One Knows, Song for the Dead, Go With The Flow, Gonna Leave You, Do It Again, Mosquito Song (Really if you want some good, dark and twisty rock out music, just pop in the entire album)