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For better, for worse, or simply for the titular irony, the term "stoner rock" has come to define Queens of the Stone Age. And Josh Homme's stone-named outfit from Palm Desert, CA has done its best to complicate what was first a reductive description. On second album R, the group hinted at its ambition by culling metal's textures but setting aside its nastiness. The record was neo-psychedelic and chewy -- stoner rock exhibit A. Songs For The Deaf got stony in a different way: by melding the early metal power with festival-friendly hooks. And if the broad and noodled Lullabies To Paralyze brought on the munchies, new album Era Vulgaris inhabits the paranoia. From its sullen track titles ("Sick, Sick, Sick," "Misfit Love") to its taut, growling guitars, the record is packed with portent.
That's true from the get-go. "Turnin' On The Screw" segues from a ghostly dungeon harmony into stiff electro-beats (redolent of Trent Reznor, who was rumored to be appearing on Vulgaris and really ought to show up in concert for "Turnin'"). Eventually, the track develops into a post-Zeppelin electric guitar scorch.
"Sick, Sick, Sick," on which Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas makes an odd but alluring cameo, is differently grimy. It's the anti-Lullabies tune, built on dissonant distortion and speedy, searing low-end. There's not a lot of heft to the lyrics -- the chorus is simply "Sick, sick, sick/ Don't resist" -- but that's the idea. The song is aggressively basic, an argument for brawn over brains.
The funny part is, Josh Homme is a smart songwriter, and his decision to send his mind blank has obviously been well thought out. "3's & 7's" also has a postmodern moment. Its fiery opening chords half tease Nirvana's "Smell's Like Teen Spirit" -- a witty, possibly subconscious quote of a song that took witless rock abandon as Gen X's only option.
Both Nirvana and Led Zeppelin had that: an intelligence -- and cultural weariness -- carried out in an utterly visceral, almost sensual way. And this is what Era Vulgaris really drives at. "I'm Designer," the album's sharpest track, apes Jimmy Page's piercing "Dancing Days" chords and aims their razor edges at modern-age phoniness. "My generation's for sale," Homme wails, but notes that it "beats a steady job." Homme seems to realize that the best response to cultural fakery isn't a sorrowful critique. Indignant rock stars age quickly. Like his forebears, he has opted to jump in, get infected by the condition, and let the guitar describe it.
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|Artist:||Queens of the Stone Age|
|Number of Discs:||1|
|Shipping Weight (in pounds):||0.22|
|Product in Inches (L x W x H):||0.4 x 4.25 x 5.25|
|1.||Turnin' on the Screw|
|2.||Sick Sick Sick|
|4.||Into the Hollow|
|7.||Make It Wit Chu|
|8.||3's & 7's|
|9.||Suture Up Your Future|
|10.||River in the Road|
|11.||Run Pig Run|
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