With their new album releasing later this month, a retrospective of possibly my favorite band of the 21st century. I didn’t include Like Clockwork because it can already be found in another list, but it is well worth seeking out.
Queens of the Stone Age
Rising out of the ashes of the deceased desert-rock band Kyuss, the first Queens of the Stone Age album still bears the outline of its predecessor, but it is a promiscuous, rogue offspring rather than one that adheres entirely to its parents’ wishes. Josh Homme’s band retains the pulverizing, disagreeable, sun-burnt core of Kyuss, but they wear their proto-metal influences more lightly, letting in a more diffuse palate of melancholy and wry, cunning cheekiness, as well as more air and buoyancy into the notes. On their debut, listen to them inaugurate their two-decade career reanimating the corpse of rock ‘n’ roll not by sacralizing it as it was, but by authorizing a morbid, cut-up collage of body parts strewn from the comatose bodies of different bands. They are rock’s Dr. Frankenstein, and the electric charge that gives their creation life is deceptively radical instrumentation and their unique aura of ill-natured humor.
It’s easy to pigeonhole the band as an essentially classicist, backward-thinking entity, but they outflank their primordial riff rock with modernistic touches such as Homme’s liquid, even gender-fluid Jekyll-and-Hyde voice – osmosing from masculine lizard-lounge croon to frail and effeminate on a dime – and the disquieting fragility of the staccato guitar heroics that prefer to jab into the melodies like a shiv rather than serve as their skeleton. Homme’s desert wanderers respect rock without being hemmed in by it or stymied by an antiquarian sensibility. They treat the genre not as a cadaver to faithfully embalm and preserve but as a toolkit to draw from, a toybox to play with.
Rating: A-/B+ Continue reading