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Neek'd: Queens of the Stone Age

the definitive
8Queens of the Stone Age
...Like Clockwork

(extremely rough) Top 10 Songs:
1. “I Appear Missing” (…LC)
2. “Go With the Flow” (SFTD)
3. “Mosquito Song” (SFTD)
4. “…Like Clockwork” (…LC)
5. “My God Is the Sun” (…LC)
6. “3s and 7s” (EV)
7. “Mexicola” (QotSA)
8. “A Song for the Deaf” (SFTD)
9. “Un-Reborn Again” (V)
10. “Better Living Through Chemistry” (RR)
7Queens of the Stone Age
Queens of the Stone Age

The first and weakest album from Queens of the Stone Age could be the star of the show for any other band. A concrete slab of a record, its faults are extensions of its strengths—the raw sound, simple songwriting at the hands of just two members, and the tradmark repetition is only compelling when thrown at a stellar riff (just look at “Mexicola” versus “You Would Know”). Homme’s vocals also strain their first time behind the wheel, but they work in favor of the album’s unpolished tone. While it might not hold up to their latest work, there’s always a time and a place for it in my CD player for a long highway drive, and the majority of the tracklist holds up far better than you’d expect over time.

S: “Mexicola”
A: “You Can’t Quit Me Baby” “Walkin’ on the Sidewalks”
B: “If Only” “Hispanic Impressions” “Give the Mule What He Wants” “I Was A Teenage Hand Model” “Regular John” “Avon”
C: “You Would Know” “How to Handle a Rope”
6Queens of the Stone Age
Lullabies to Paralyze

At once the most complicated and cohesive record the band had released at that point, Lullabies’ tracklisting feels a bit bloated when compared to its equally-long predecessor due to some wonky sequencing that latches a lot of similar songs in close proximity to each other. Still, while it takes a while to get running, it’s an exciting new direction for the band as they lean into more bluesy, almost progressive territory. Lyrically it’s far darker and troubled, with Homme likely wounded from the press fiasco following Olveri’s banishment. Overall it’s an exciting new flavor of Queens, one that’s more hit-or-miss than most of their discography, but where the treasures are well worth the trip.

S: “Burn the Witch”
A: “I Never Came” “Someone’s in the Wolf” “The Blood Is Love” “Tangled Up in Plaid”
B: “Long Slow Goodbye” "Little Sister" "Everybody That You Are Insane” “In My Head” “Skin on Skin” “Broken Box” “‘"You Got a Killer Scene There, Man…’”
C: “This Lullaby” “Medication”
5Queens of the Stone Age
Rated R

Please don’t stone me for this one. While Rated R is an incredible record, it’s also their most scattershot, likely vying to prove all the tricks the band could pull off after their monochrome debut. The sonic ping-ponging makes for a hugely engaging listen, though it does rob the album of some overall identity compared to some of their later works. But I’m grasping at straws here, this album rules. Every song here (aside from maybe “Monsters in the Parasol”) manages to excel at whatever genre it’s trying to flip, and the experiments are always exciting, if not always captivating. Homme’s vocals soar compared to before, with Olveri and Lanegan proving equals in their respective chapters.

S: “Better Living Through Chemistry”
A: “Auto Pilot” “In the Fade” “I Think I Lost My Headache”
B: “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret” “Quick and to the Pointless” “Tension Head” “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” “Leg of Lamb” “Lightning Song”
C: “Monsters in the Parasol”
4Queens of the Stone Age
Era Vulgaris

Some might be shocked at the high placement here, but I assure you these people are lame. Once these jagged, restless, electro-rock numbers drill themselves into your skull, they never leave. The attitude of the album is at once petulant and irresistible, Homme settling into his status as a Rock God with temper tantrums and half-hearted musings on fame, love, and dread. The entire record feels like a unique moment for a band caught in a standstill, but it’s not so much of a creative rut as a sonic implosion, turning a sound inside out and pouring the goo. Exciting stuff. And every time I hear it I like it better.

S: “3s and 7s”
A: “Into the Hollow” “Misfit Love” “Make it Wit Chu” “Sick Sick Sick”
B: “Turnin’ on the Screw” “Suture Up Your Future” “Run, Pug, Run” “I’m Designer” “River in the Road”
C: “Battery Acid”
3Queens of the Stone Age

Oft-maligned and underrated, Villains follows QOTSA continuing to teeter on a creative peak. While it’s nowhere near as dense or emotive as its predecessor, this record sees Homme loosening up Queens’ trademark sound, weaving together winding riffs and his most audacious (ridiculous?) vocals to date. Does it all work brilliantly? No, sometimes the throw-everything at the wall turns up a maddeningly overcooked banger like “Head Like a Haunted House,” but other times we get an (unfortunately-named) bona-fide classic like “Un-Reborn Again.” Still, the quality manages to be frighteningly consistent. This is not QotSA at their tightest, meanest, or best, but it might just be their most playful offering, and one I’ve fallen fast in love with.

S: “Un-Reborn Again” “Villains of Circumstance”
A: “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” “Fortress” “The Evil Has Landed”
B: “The Way You Used to Do” “Domesticated Animals” “Head Like a Haunted House” “Hideaway”
2Queens of the Stone Age
Songs for the Deaf

Diving into the madcap genre-bending of Rated R instead of running away from it, SFTD manages to both create a narrative and consistency that its predecessor lacked. The way the album flits through so many different styles of rock music and succeeds at almost all of them is a testament to the chemistry of the band at this point, a true community of musicians at the top of their game. It’s rock in its purest form, pining, preening, and punishing its way down the open road. Everyone’s got their favorites, but everyone can agree—this is the quintessential album to blast out your windows while careening down the highway.

S: “Go With the Flow” “Mosquito Song” “No One Knows” “God Is in the Radio” “A Song for the Deaf”
A: “A Song for the Dead” “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar But I Feel Like a Millionaire” “Another Love Song” “Hangin’ Tree”
B: “First it Giveth” “The Sky Is Fallin’” “Six Shooter” “Gonna Leave You” “Do it Again”
1Queens of the Stone Age
...Like Clockwork

I’ve written about this album many times and I will many more—this is my favorite album. The perfect rock album. Gorgeous, monumental, muscular, and touching, Homme is at the top of his game as a songwriter here. While SFTD was a testament to the brilliance of the band, this is a testament to his brilliance as a musician. “I Appear Missing” is probably the best rock song ever. I don’t know what else to say. Listen to it now, even if you’ve heard it a hundred times before.

S: “I Appear Missing” “…Like Clockwork” “My God Is the Sun” “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” “Smooth Sailing”
A: “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” “I Sat By the Ocean” “If I Had a Tail” “Kalopsia”
B: “Fairweather Friends”
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