Queens of the Stone Age

By Zachery Oliver

WHEN:1997 – present

CULPRITS: Current members include Josh Homme (lead vocals, guitarist and other, 1997-present),  Troy Van Leeuwen (guitarist, 2002-present), Michael Shuman (bassist, backing vocals 2007-present), Joey Castillo (drummer, 2002-present), Dean Fertita (keyboardist, backing vocals, 2007-present), and about 30 other “contributors,” if not more who are unlisted (some have been members of the band, some just on certain songs, others on live performances only) // Former member: Nick Oliveri (bassist, 1999-2004) deserves a mention, as he was responsible for the “heavier” Queens sound in the first three albums.

ALBUMS: Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age EP (1997); Queens of the Stone Age/Beaver EP (1998); Queens of the Stone Age (1998); Rated R (2001); Songs for the Deaf (2003); Stone Age Complication EP (2004); Lullabies to Paralyze (2005); Era Vulgaris (2007)

HOW: Until the coming of Rock Band, I was literally ignorant of good music in general. Around early 2008, playing “Go with the Flow” caught my attention – the repetitive riffs, the chugging pace, the weirdly sweet voice of Josh Homme, and the lyrics themselves gave the song a twisted atmosphere that I never really heard before. I picked up Songs for the Deaf a couple months later, but I really hated the album for about six months. I tried to listen to it, but I just didn’t “get it” at all. The album just switches genres at the top of a hat; there’s no real consistency at all other than these quirky radio interludes.

However, one day it just clicked. Listening to it as a whole was a thrilling experience through all the ups and downs of the songs, and it just works, even though in the back of my mind there was a feeling that this roller coaster should just fly off the tracks, but it doesn’t. Every song is catchy, and even the more abrasive songs (like “Six Shooter” with Oliveri’s screaming) are the kind you grow to love. That’s what happened to me, at least – it was a slow churn, for sure, but I subsequently bought all the albums I could buy and download all the B-sides I could find (the first Queens albums, also, since it’s out of print at the moment). I’ve been listening to them constantly ever since.

WHY: Homme is willing to try anything within the context of “rock” music. He has described it as “robot rock” (especially the first album, and probably even more so Songs for the Deaf), but later albums show a ton of variety. Lullabies evokes the feeling of a dark Brothers Grimm fairytale, while Era Vulgaris goes into the dark underbelly of Hollywood. The dark, dank, dirty, grimy atmosphere of the music really pulled through to me; they really are mood albums, especially played straight through in order (that makes a playlist especially difficult). On top of that, the chops on display are marvelous; you can totally tell these guys really love to play whatever they play, and this passion pours through on their albums. It’s always interesting to hear what kind of flourishes will pop out, as well as a random new instrument or two from guest contributors. The ever-changing lineup means that one never knows what the Queens actually will sound like, honestly. They even switch vocalists on songs from time to time. Most of all, all of their songs are catchy. They stick in your head forever, and they don’t go out, and when you want to get them out, you end up listening to another song. That, for me, is the sign of a great band.

SONGS: I basically chose songs I felt represented what I would call the three different “moods”  of the Queens. Firstly, there’s the chugging “robot rock,” extremely riff based, straightforward and damn catchy rock music. There’s some popular stuff in there (I can’t leave out “Go with the Flow,” really) but there’s also some personal favorites as well (I like “Sick, Sick, Sick,” and “Regular John” has that nice intro riff that pops up later in the song which I love). Secondly, the middle of the playlist hits around the “acoustic” side of the Queens. It’s not that it doesn’t involve any electronic equipment, but that it has that laid back vibe to it even though it still classifies as “rock.” Thirdly, the last part is what I would call the “totally weird” Queens songs. They tend to be crazy, complex, long, and generally some of the best songs they have ever put out. “I Think I Lost My Headache” is Homme’s personal favorite, so it seemed a logical choice to close the playlist. I’ll let the rest of the songs speak for themselves.

LINK: Click on the list below to hear QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE for free on Lala.com!

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~ by Patrick Gosnell on December 17, 2009.

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