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Archive for the ‘Queens of the Stone Age’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 7, 2019] The Distillers

The Distillers and Starcrawler were supposed to play a show at Union Transfer on June 1.

I bought tickets because I wanted to see Starcrawler–a band whose live show is becoming legendary.  I thought I didn’t even know The Distillers.  This turned out not to be true.  About a year earlier I had watched an NPR Field Recording with Brody Dalle.

Dalle (who is Australisn, which is hard to imagine given her speaking/singing voice which has no accent) has been in a bunch of bands.

First was The Distillers who broke up in 2006.
Then she formed Spinnerette who put out a couple of records until roughly 2011.
Then she did a solo album in 2014.
She has done all kinds of guest appearances, especially with Queens of the Stone Age.

Then she reconvened The Distillers in 2018.

I listened to a couple of their songs and was pretty excited to go to a old good punk show with a legendary singer. (more…)

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extremeSOUNDTRACK: QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE-…Like Clockwork (2013).

qotsa I have loved the earlier QOTSA albums, but I just couldn’t get into this one when it came out.  Perhaps it was too…subtle?  I put it aside, heard everyone rave about it and kind of forgot about it.  Well, I recently rediscovered it and now I get it.  It is just as good and complex as everyone said–I think I was just missing the subtleties, yes.

It’s still very QOTSA–Josh Homme is Josh Homme after all, but there are added elements–pianos, strings (!) and slower sections that add depth and bring really interesting sonic textures to their sound that make this album far more complex but no less sleazy fun.

The roaring sounds that are the guitars of “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” (accompanied by that bottom heavy bass are just fantastic.  “I Sat By the Ocean” has a chorus that goes from good to great when it builds to a second set of chords–it’s really irresistible.  I recall being surprised by the ballad “The Vampyre of Time and Memory.” Okay not a ballad exactly but a piano intro that turns into a classic rocker (complete with lengthy guitar solo).

“If I Had a Tail” is a wonderfully sleazy track with a great riff and a great sound.  It’s also got some of the more unusual lyrics I’ve heard–“If I had a tail, I’d own the place.  If I had a tail I’d swat the flies.”  It’s followed by “My God is the Sun” another great riff-based song where Homme’s falsetto is just another catchy element of the song.  It also has another great chorus (why didn’t I like this album last year?).

“Kalopsia” slows the disc down quite a lot–it’s a pretty, gentle song.  Until you get used to it being a mellow song and then it turns into a real rocker (and back again).  “Fairweather Friends” has another great riff and a funny ending with Homme cutting off his chorus and saying “I don’t give a shit about them anyway.”  “Smooth Sailing” reintroduces that sleazy falsetto.  It has a (another) great chorus and an amazing guitar riff that is slowly manipulated into sounding really alien.  It’s very cool.

Most of the songs are pretty standard length, but the final two songs really stretch out.  “I Appear Missing” pushes 6 minutes and has some slower elements, and a great guitar section that connects them all.  The five and a half-minute “Like Clockwork” also starts with a lengthy piano intro and then morphs into another classic rock soloing type song.

It’s one of the best albums of 2013 that I didn’t realize until 2014.  I do wish they lyrics sheet was included as I’m not really sure what he’s saying half the time, and I’m not sure if my guesses make any more or less sense than the actual words.

[READ: September 2014] The Extreme Life of the Sea

I saw this book when I took a tour of the Princeton University Press building.  I loved the cover and thought it seemed like a really interesting topic.  I was later pretty delighted to see it on display in my local library, where I grabbed this copy.

The book is small, but I was a little daunted by the tiny print size (old age or laziness?).  Nevertheless, I was quite interested in the subject, so I pressed on.

Interestingly, a lot of the information that I read in the book, my nine-year old son also knew about–he loves this kind of scary undersea information.  The difference here is that the Palumbis (a father and son team–Stephen is a Professor of Biology, Anthony is a science writer and novelist) write for adults and include a lot of the scientific information to support and explain all the stuff that my son knows–although he knew a surprising amount of detail as well.

And the writing was really enjoyable too.  Anthony knows how to tell a story.  The Prologue itself–about the battle between sperm whale and giant squid–is quite compellingly told.  And whenever an actual creature is involved–he engages us with the creature’s life cycle. (more…)

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 harper juneSOUNDTRACK: FUZZ-“Sleigh Ride” (2013).

fuzzHow can some 3 minute songs seem like they take a long time and others feel like they are about a minute long.  “Sleigh Rode” is one of those songs that is over before you know it.  With a big old fuzzy guitar riff opening the song it sounds straight out of classic rock.  Then the verses come in with faster riffing (like a less heavy Black Sabbath) and a sleazy kind of vocal.  It reminds me of a more garage band/sloppy Queens of the Stone Age.

This is (yet another) band from Ty Segall. Robin Hilton from NPR says that Segall had put out some 6 solo albums and is in a half a dozen bands as well (and he’s only 26).  he normally sings and plays guitar, but he plays drums in this band.

While I don’t actually know anything else by him, I really enjoy this piece of fuzzy distorted sleaze pop. and may need to see what he is other releases are like.

[READ: September 20, 2013] “Living Deluxe”

Diane Williams wrote Vicky Swanky is a Beauty which I did not really like.  It was experimental and flash fiction which I am growing to like less and less.  This short piece (which is actually longer than anything in Vicky Swanky, I believe), is from a collection in progress.  I’m not sure if that means that this is finished or not (it’s hard to tell with her).

This story deals with a woman who has taken money from her mother (and sister and brother) because her mother “knew I needed to be a person with flair” (I liked that line).

The thing about the rest of the story is that the narrator acts like a five year old telling a story.  The details that are added are not necessarily relevant to the story.  So we get two paragraphs on a man sneezing, a few paragraphs on her cat, and a couple of paragraphs about Leonard da Vinci.  These details might be relevant to the story.  But interspersed with these details are things that impact the taking-money storyline—that her sister took something that was hers (the Da Vinci bit is about a present she gave to her sister). (more…)

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xxSOUNDTRACKQUEENS OF THE STONE AGE-“My God is the Sun” (2013)

qotsaAfter a six-year hiatus, QotSA is back with this slinky song.  It has the sleazy feel that Homme does so well (how does he do that?).  This song feels a little more guitar based (meaning it is a bit more trebly–with interesting echoes on the guitars).  It’s not as immediately catchy as their bigger hits, but it’s got all the elements you look for from QotSA.

It opens with some slashing sounds and then the riff kicks in.  The song is propulsive but somehow doesn’t feel as fast as some of their earlier tracks.  Which is not to say it’s mellow at all.  And once Homme starts singing, well, it’s like they never went away.  There’s a lengthy middle instrumental section which is quite interesting and otherworldly, but it never gives up the propulsion, especially as the end gets faster and faster.

[READ: April 8, 2013] The Mays XX

This is another book that I saw at work and wanted to read (this job is wrecking my already long list of books to read).  I had some difficulty cataloging it (for various reasons), which meant I had to pour over contents.  And the more I looked it over the more I realized that I wanted to read it.

So The Mays Anthology publishes the best new student writing and art from Cambridge and Oxford Universities.  Read more about it at their website.  I’d never heard of The Mays before, but when I saw that John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats was a guest editor, I thought it might be a fun collection tread through.

Issue 20 features poetry, a graphic novel, photography and prose.  The other editors are Andrew Griffin (general), Sebastiano Barassi (Visual Arts), Tao Lin and Toby Litt (Prose) and of course, Darnielle (Poetry).

I was really delighted with the prose in this issue.  None of the stories are more than 1,000 words, which I decided is a wonderful length for a story.  I’m going to talk about the stories, but not so much about the poetry or art.

Darnielle’s introduction to the poetry section was excellent and really resonated with me because of my ideas and fears about poetry (how we feel stupid if we don’t get poetry).  He then explained the things that he looked for in this poetry and I imagined that i would love every piece here.  I didn’t, but on the whole I really liked the poetry. (more…)

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embryoyoSOUNDTRACK: QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE with EDDIE VEDDER-“Little Sister” (live) (2013).

qotsavedderThis is a live song from Chile (from what I gather it’s a Lollapalooza show–is that even still around?).  I have no idea if Pearl Jam were in Chile at the time, but what a strange thing to bring Eddie Vedder out on stage and then have him only sing backup vocals and play the cowbell.

The song sounds very much like the record, although a little sloppier.  I’m a bit surprised at that as I think of Homme as running a tight ship (but the sloppiness comes from him, so he has no one to blame but himself).  You’d never know Vedder was even there.  It’s one of the strangest guest appearances since Paul McCartney munched carrots and celery for the Super Furry Animals song “Receptacle for the Respectable.”

[READ: April 3, 2013] Embryoyo

Embryoyo is the final book of poetry I’m going to read for a while.  This book came out a few years ago but McSweeney’s had a garage sale version that I found for cheap.  I’ve always been intrigued by the title (so silly and odd) that I decided to give it a ago.  The blurbs on the back (and I know, no one should read blurbs) are telling: “Dean Young’s work will delight only two kinds of people: those who generally read poetry and those who generally don’t”  And, “No one is unsure if they’ve read a poem by Dean Young.”

I probably concur with the first but I definitely do with the second.  Because Young’s poetry is quite unusual.  And Embryoyo proves to be a demonstrative title.  Not that it means anything specifically, but in the way Young creates portmanteau words, which Young uses liberally.  Like the title “Empheroptera.”

I’m going to give some examples of his poetry that I found really enjoyable: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THEM CROOKED VULTURES-Them Crooked Vultures (2010).

So whose group is this?  Dave Grohl’s? Josh Homme’s? John Paul Jones’? (This question is kind of answered in the excellent Austin City Limits episode).  But while the question is a but silly, it’s also not.  This band sounds like Josh Homme (who pretty much makes into gold whatever he does) playing his own blend of rock over what is undeniably Led Zeppelin’s bassist.

There are times when it is so evident that JPJ played classic Led Zep riffs that you almost think Vultures are just ripping off Led Zeppelin.  Until you realize it’s the same guy and therefore it’s totally okay.  And Dave Grohl…after years away from the drums, it’s like he has a new vengeance to beat the crap out them.  I don’t know if his style is unmistakable, but once you know it’s Grohl, it’s very obvious that it’s him.

And the songs are really great.  A cool mixture of Homme’s Queens of the Stone Age sleaze within a solid, classic rock framework.  Many of the songs have monster, stomping riffs that are catchy and fantastic.  The longer songs (5 are over 5 minutes) loosen the band up a bit, with some jamming and fun middle sections.  But when they’re not jamming, the music is tight and fast and loud, and they play off of each other wonderfully.  There’s not a bad song in the bunch.

A few times while listening to the disc, I’ve felt that maybe it was a tad long (66 minutes of non-stop music).  But since this is ostensibly a one-off project, why shouldn’t they pack the disc full of everything they can?  Of course, if they can make a second album, that is as cool and interesting as this, I’ll welcome it right away too.

[READ: November 23, 2010] Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour

I have yet to see the movie of Scott Pilgrim (primarily because I never get to the movies anymore, but also because the DVD hasn’t come back at my library yet).  But I’m pretty psyched that I was able to read the final volume before seeing the movie. [I’m also hugely embarrassed to be so out of the loop that I didn’t realize the book came out BEFORE the movie–come on!]

But now, behold, the climax of this excellent series.

To summarize: Scott Pilgrim (the guy with the sword up on the cover) is in love with Ramona Flowers.  But in order to win her completely he must battle her seven evil exes.  The battles are video-game inspired (and are consequently surreal and funny).  And the revelation of the individual exes is also amusing.

This final volume is somewhat surprising in its contemplativeness.  While longing and depression are par for the course in the series, this volume was surprising for its early lack of action (leading up to the final showdown of course). The great news is that O’Malley handles this non-action with skill, and scenes of Scott moping and slouching around are amusing, not dull.  There’s also a great deal of introspection (again, handled deftly).  All of this navel gazing makes sense because at the end of Vol. 5 Ramona disappeared with neither explanation nor clue. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MASTODON-Blood Mountain (2006).

As I was in a metal/Black Sabbath kick, and Mastodon is always mentioned as a fantastic metal band, I figured I’d give them a try. As with The Sword, I saw no resemblance to Black Sabbath, and at first I was afraid it was just another sludgy death metal record.

[DIGRESSION]: I just read a great article in The Believer about the USBM (United States Black Metal) scene, and how it compares to the black metal in Norway and other European countries where the bands take the music seriously enough to burn churches and such. The article was really interesting. I knew some of the bands that he talked about, but the only ones I had heard were the “grandfathers” of the genre, like Venom and Bathory. Any of the new bands that he focused on, if I’d heard of them at all, I certainly hadn’t heard them. Regardless, it was a great read, and really got me hankering for a band like Mastodon, even though they’re not really in the genre at all.

Anyway, after two listens, I really got into the Mastodon album. I don’t know anything about their previous releases (except that they are heavy), but Blood Mountain is all over the map. It is a fascinating mix of thrash metal, hardcore, beautiful melodies, prog rock, and total chaos. In fact, the song “Bladecatcher,” is three and a half minutes of total insanity. I haven’t heard anything lie it since John Zorn’s Naked City. There’s a beautiful melody which progresses into a screaming guitar riff, which morphs into a headbanging thrash part which basically just unravels into a noisy spasm, wherein the high-pitched noises might be voices, or might by keyboards, or might just be the machine melting. (more…)

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