Music Reviews

Queens of the Stone Age

Songs For the Deaf


While it has spawned a million different offshoots, “heavy rock” still holds true to the principles set down 30 years ago by Black Sabbath. Listen to the first cut on Songs For the Deaf, the driving “You Think I Ain=EDt Worth a Dollar But I Feel Like a Millionaire” and tell me that isn’t a pretty damn good version of the Tony Iommi sound. In fact, QOTSA might toss some modern touches into this “concept” album, but they never stray too far from the ’70s arena sound that they grew up on. The concept of this record is a travelogue of radio encountered when driving from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree (or so sayth Josh Homme on the DVD), and while it’s ignorable enough not to detract from the record, the notion that radio sucks isn’t exactly news – or Tommy either.

As for the music, this is great stuff. The songs are simple without being primitive, forceful without brutality, and intelligent enough to be able to listen to without wanting to cause havoc to your surroundings. Featuring former Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan on several cuts, this is a darker, moodier record than the genre generally produces, and “Mr. Everywhere” Dave Grohl on drums is the energetic Freon that propels this chemical out of the can. In fact, musically there is just a single downside, the seemingly obligatory “song screamed by the bass player into a distorted mic” thing that every damn “heavy” record has, and like all the rest, this song (“Six Shooter”) bites. If you like this sort of thing, then go home and play Black Flag records on a crap stereo turned up too loud. Otherwise this is a deep, musically adept record that shoots for your head as well as your gut. And hits both. The extra DVD disc is one of those watch it one time things, basically a few cuts live at the Troubadour and the band in the studio, although watching it gives an insight into perhaps why this band is beloved by critics – they don’t look, or act, like typical hard rock lunkheads. Guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Homme looks like he wandered of the stage of any emo band you could name, in fact only bassist Nick Oliveri looks like the music sounds, with his shaven head and tats. Perhaps part of their appeal is the fact they don’t look like they are gonna rape your dog. Or maybe it’s just because they are a damn good band. Not Sabbath level (yet…), but far better than most of the rubbish we get handed. Rock.

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