Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Point-Counterpoint: Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf


I came to Queens of the Stone Age the long way around - never mind the fact that they've been playing these guys on x96 for years.

I had a friend online who was a huge fan of Masters of Reality, and I started listening to them.  They typify everything great about the misnamed "stoner rock" scene, and through them I came to start listening to other bands in the genre - of which QotSA is the best example.

And this is their best record.  It's loud, brash, unapologetic, and mean.  It starts heavy and stays heavy throughout, with moments of calm hidden throughout, but even in the quiet passages, the loud is right around the corner once again - which is just the way I like it.

One of the things that I've come to love about the album is something that initially annoyed me a bit are the radio station interludes - the whole album is presented as the soundtrack to a drive, and in between many of the songs there are the sounds of tuning around the dial, with each station playing different songs off of the record.  Yes, I found it a little weird and off-putting from the beginning, but it's become one of its many charms.

And the songs in between all these interludes are memorable.  Album opener "Millionaire" starts the disc in just the right place, followed by the single and the song you've probably heard off it if you've heard anything - "No One Knows" is a catchy, lucid tune.  Sort-of album titler "Song for the Deaf" is mean and grungy, and the similarly titled "Song of the Dead" is equally so.  And everything else in between?  Also great.

Final verdict: Adore it (and enjoy it when you're feeling persnickety)


Two key points to get out in the open right up front.  First, these point-counterpoints are not full album reviews. They just aren't.  That will be important later.  Second, I am a very finicky music fan.

As to the first point, that means that I don't feel the same onus to really, really listen to all these choices.  That is good for me because, to be entirely honest, I don't have that much time to listen to music.  I have to actually work it in to my day.  It is an effort to listen to music.  This plays directly into the second point (almost called it number two, but thought that would be juvenile, so I didn't).  Because I have to actually work music into my day, I can be very picky.

Now that that is all out of the way, let's get down to this album.  I was aware of Queens of the Stone Age, but had not knowingly heard their music.  So when Braeden selected this as our next album I welcomed the excuse to familiarize myself with the band.  What you have here is a fuzzy, raunchy mix of solid rock with some metal overtones.  On paper that looks great.

Unfortunately, something about this album just kept itself distanced from me.  I never really felt interested by the songs.  I enjoyed the "radio" theme they had going on, and thought it was an interesting twist on the album.  And the music certainly had moments.  But the moments were not enough to draw me in.  I often found myself fighting the urge to hit "next" on the iPod about halfway through each track.

I suppose the fact that I have already deleted this from the iPod tells the story.  While I didn't have the immediate rejection of it that I have with some others, I just didn't find anything that interested me or made me want to go back for more.  As such, I won't discount this one out of hand, but I personally won't be going back for seconds.

Final verdict: Explore it (just explore it without me, I'm done exploring this one) 

1 comment:

  1. I really like this album a lot. But then, I like everything QOTSA has done. In fact, I gushed big time when we reviewed their Lullabies To Paralyse sometime ago. I won't bore you any further with more gushing. Good to read your takes on it, though.