Tag Archives: stoner rock

Right On Time

It’s 1:00 in the morning and I have to be up at 7:00 but I really wanted to get this out. As always, it’ll be edited once someone texts me my latest mistakes.

Teaser: something big is coming soon.

Album: …Like Clockwork             Artist: Queens of the Stone Age

Like Clockwork

So I’m sitting here reading Josh Homme interviews in preparation to write this, and I can’t lie about it. I knew there was a reason he’s one of my favorite musicians. He’s f***ing hilarious (sorry, being around recording industry majors has done a number on my language skills). The truth is, I’ve been out for awhile because sometimes school and life get in the way, but I’ve also been listening to this album nonstop for like two years months. I mean, two years later and it’s just as good as it was the first time. Better, even — because I wasn’t sure that I liked it the first time I listened.

…Like Clockwork was released in the good ol’ U.S. of A back in June of 2013. It was the band’s sixth studio album, and their first on indie label Matador Records after their time with Interscope. Actually, it was their first album since 2007’s Era Vulgaris. I guess 6 years seems like a helluva time between records, but Homme has been involved in several projects since (including Eagles of Death Metal and Them Crooked Vultures) so it’s not like I’ve missed him or anything.

But I did miss Queens. There’s something about their desert rock that welcomes me in every time — but that’s my dark and twisty side talking. QOTSA is a band that combines the sweet with the dirty and the raunchy with the emotional in a way not many bands manage, and …Like Clockwork embodies that better than any of their albums ever have.

This album is their return to the music scene, and boy do they come in with a bang. The album topped the Billboard 200 chart at number one after it’s release (the only QOTSA album to make it to the number one slot), and all of it’s singles placed on the Billboard Singles chart. …Like Clockwork had critics raving, and it got the band three Grammy nominations. It also landed itself on NME’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, coming in at #335.

And, if I do say so myself, there’s a reason. This is a band whose lineup has fluctuated over the years to the point of really only having one constant member (Homme), but they seem to have finally locked it in despite losing their drummer half way through recording. The album contains guest spots from everyone to former collaborator Dave Grohl (who rocks my socks, as I’ve said a thousand times before), to the Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner, to Elton freaking John — who volunteered as an “actual queen,” according to Homme. Former bassist Nick Oliveri even makes an appearance, though not on bass. Together with engineer Mark Rankin, the band has created their best album yet.

…Like Clockwork opens with the sludgy “Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” a track that’s got a slow groove. Right off the bat, you can tell that this album is gonna be good. The song is just a preview of the vocal and instrumental experimentation that’s to come, though. The album really doesn’t kick off until “I Sat By the Ocean.” It’s a groovy song with a slide guitar that sticks with you for days, but not in a bad way. Homme croons “Time wounds all heals as we fade out of view,” while comparing a dead relationship to “passing ships in the night,” on the track, proving from the start that he knows his way around writing lyrics.

Really, the album shows a type of restraint that’s not typical of Queens of the Stone Age. Tracks like “They Vampyre Of Time And Memory” and “…Like Clockwork” balance the slow and tame with the hard rock we’re used to and elicit emotions about rock n’ roll  you didn’t even know you had. There’s a personality in the playing that hasn’t been there before.

But what would a Queens album be if there wasn’t a hard rocker? The uninhibited “My God Is The Sun” brings the desert rock right to the table and flies by — more like what we’d expect from QOTSA — and reminds us just what they’re capable of. Really, there’s no wonder it was nominated for “Best Rock Performance” at the Grammys.

And then there’s my favorite track on the album: “Smooth Sailing.” It’s a cocky strut of a song, but the arrogance is earned as Homme sings, “It’s all in motion/ain’t not stopping now/I got nothing to lose and only one way: up.” It’s a clever song that locks in and rolls, and the way Josh Homme plays with his falsetto just adds to the effect.

Really, everything about this album impresses me. The lyrical content is just fantastic — some of the best the band has put out, I would say. It’s very dark and contains Homme’s ever so infamous cynical sarcasm, but that’s what makes it so great. Lines like “To be vulnerable is needed most of all/If you intend to truly fall apart,” found in “The Vampyre Of Time And Memory” are easy to miss on the first few listens, but once caught force you to think about their meaning.

While the album does lull a little in the middle during “Kalopsia,” it manages to hold your attention from start to finish. Even the six-minute “I Appear Missing” doesn’t feel so long. It’s an album that’s got talent and showcases it in the best way. In the words of Pitchfork’s Stuart Berman, …Like Clockwork is an album that “kicks like a mule even when it dresses like a queen.”

Like this album? Hate this album? Please, let me know in the comments below!

And as always, never stop listening.

Honorable Song Mentions: If I Had A Tail, Fairweather Friends, I Appear Missing, …Like Clockwork


Desert Drive

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)