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Queens of the Stone Age - Songs For The Deaf


Review: Jack Foley

WHEN Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) burst onto the music scene in 1998, they were immediately hailed as the new Nirvana, such was the bone-crunching intensity of the Californian quartet's music. Yet while they aren't anywhere near as good as Kobain's outfit, QOTSA also seem unable to shake off the connection, and have even lured Nirvana's drummer back for their Songs for the Deaf LP.

The result is a fiery, grungy, anthemic CD of gutsy rock tunes, some of which border on the obscene, but others which impress with their quality. For fans, it is proof positive that Rated R was no mistake, while for the new army of big American rock music fans, this could be another group of artists to get excited about.

I have to confess that when it comes to rock music, I seldom go too heavy and there are times when Songs for the Deaf threaten to make you that way. But there are also times when the work of singer-guitarist, Josh Homme, and bassist, Nick Oliveri, took me by surprise and evoked memories of past favourites.

Hangin' Tree, in particular, has a very Seventies vibe to it with a chorus that evokes memories of Cream's White Room, while the more chart-friendly mainstream rock of God Is In The Radio, with its boogy/funky guitar rifts, is not unlike Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's recent Spread Your Love. Hell, there are even moments that conjure memories of early Gary Glitter.

Gonna Leave You features some pretty distinct lyrics, such as 'it's raining in my room, there's blood in my spoon', providing evidence of a band that likes to dabble in the dark side of life, while opening track (and gloriously titled) You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar But I Feel Like A Millionaire is a suitably robust, guitar-heavy launchpad for the mayhem which follows.

No One Knows manages to combine the guitar sound of early ZZ Top, while harking back to the Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret style of song-writing, Another Love Song has a genuinely Sixties California vibe, while the sublime hidden track, Mosquito Song, proves that the band can mellow out when it wants to - it is a folksy, acoustic classic which trades on musical roots dating back to Zeppelin, while also recapturing the sound of Nirvana unplugged. It is well worth discovering once the louder stuff has faded.

Elsewhere, however, the album loses its way and becomes too thrashy for its own good; never more so than during Six Shooter, a track so out of control and profanity-laden that it will have you reaching for the skip button unless you are truly a headbanger. Likewise, First It Giveth and A Song For The Dead, which are simply too manic.

Indeed, the second half of the album is far better than the first, by which time some newcomers may have pressed pause and given up. But the sign of any good band is an ability to be diverse and, with Songs for the Deaf, QOTSA do seem to have captured all aspects of the rock 'n' roll circus. Like I said, it took me by surprise and I would recommend it to anyone who currently digs the rock thing, even if it's too heavy at times.

Track listing:

1. You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar But I Feel Like A Millionare
2. No One Knows
3. First It Giveth
4. A Song For The Dead
5. The Sky Is Fallin'
6. Six Shooter
7. Hangin' Tree
8. Go With The Flow
9. Gonna Leave You
10. Do It Again
11. God Is In The Radio
12. Another Love Song
13. A Song For The Deaf
14. Hidden Track Mosquito Song


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