Queens of the Stone Age
Queens of the Stone Age
Some records ooze so much personality, they reek drugs from the grooves. Sticky Fingers? Cocaine. Hotel California? Midol. The debut from Queens of the Stone Age is a beast powered by Nyquil, turgid and plodding (in the best way), with layers of fuzz bass and guitar that form a claustrophobic syrup of sound. Rising from the ashes of the mighty Kyuss, Josh Homme and QOTSA attack music here as if they were waist-deep in the La Brea tar pits. This isn’t an open record, but more a gift begrudgingly given, full of secrets unexplained, relentless in its repetitiveness, Blue Cheer in the age of computers. The opener, “Regular John,” begins with driving, distorted down strokes, adds an annoying “guitar as mosquito” buzz to your right ear, and then kicks into some sort of ugly beauty, both insouciant and urgent at the same moment. By the time Homme’s deadpan vocals enter, you’re entrapped in the sound, feeling as if you’re locked in a darkened subway car, careening through the night to a destination unknown.
Homme doesn’t create hooks so much as he simply wears you down, with brutal riff upon riff, underpinned by waves of growling, buzzy bass that, a la Never Mind the Bollocks, mimics the guitar part an octave lower (all are played by Homme, as it was in the Pistols with Steve Jones). Homme supposedly developed his sound in Kyuss by hauling big ass speakers into the Palm Desert near his home and listening to the sound careen around the canyons, and true or not, it sure sounds like music made in the baking sun; epic at moments, wiped out, exhausted, and drained. This reissue of the long out-of-print album sports three extra tracks: “The Bronze,” “These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For,” and “Spiders and Vinegaroons,” cut from the original release in 1998. “Droids” sounds like what you’d imagine Robert Fripp could do pressed into service in Black Sabbath, off-kilter and spacey but anchored by slabs of feedback and grit. QOTSA have become critic’s darlings and international stars since these early days, but they’ve rarely created a better example of their talents than this woozy, boozy riff fest. So stretch out on the floor, gulp down the rest of that Nyquil, put on the headphones, and melt into the carpet. You’ve found your soundtrack.
Queens of the Stone Age: www.qotsa.com