Hailing from Joshua Tree, CA, the Queens of the Stone Age titled their latest album Songs for the Deaf as a commentary on all of the great music being made today that is falling on deaf ears. They should have called the album Songs That Will Make You Go Deaf, because it is one of the most inspired collections of loud, aggressive hard rock songs to come out in recent years.
In an age when most hard rock bands are striving for hip hop credibility, it is refreshing to hear a metal band like QOTSA embrace a pop sensibility. Several of the burliest tracks are peppered with hand claps or “cha-cha-cha” background vocals. Songwriters Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri (formerly of riff-rock legend Kyuss) have crafted an album with stylistically disparate songs, and unified them with short radio sketches in between. The sketches are amusing, but not nearly as amusing as the title of the album’s first and most explosive track, “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire.”
Songs for the Deaf is much more accessible than QOTSA’s last album, the highly acclaimed Rated R. Like Rated R, Deaf is more of a collaboration project than a band. Homme and Oliveri have enlisted the help of Mark Lanegan (of Screaming Trees fame) to sing on four songs, and signed up hired-gun drummer Dave Grohl, whose skills behind the skins sound better than they ever have. In fact, after listening to his monstrous contribution to this album, you’ll wonder why Grohl ever left the rhythm section and wish he’d quit his day job with the Foo Fighters to join QOTSA full-time. His playing on the album’s first single, the bouncy blues-tinged romp “No One Knows,” is better than the entire Foo Fighters discography.
[AC Scordelis should stop trying to come up with a word and just flirt with the cute one.]