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The Northerner

‘Queens’ keep old sound

Chad Snowden

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Josh Homme has been busy lately.

The Queens of the Stone Age guitarist’s famed “Desert Sessions,” including a revolving door of who’s-who musicians, helped spawn The Eagles Of Death Metal, who released their debut, “Peace, Love, Death Metal” last year, and the current line-up to Queens.

Of course not all of this has been fun and games. Last year, Homme booted founding bassist and long-time collaborator, Nick Oliveri, from the Queens. This made “Lullabies to Paralyze” Homme’s first release since his days with Oliveri in Kyuss without his presumed musical life-mate.

This time around, Queens have a slightly different approach to their perfected stoner-rock assault. “Lullabies To Paralyze” begins with a quiet acoustic interlude, “This Lullaby,” with Mark Lanegan, member of Queen’s since 2001’s Songs For The Deaf. Sounding a bit like Greg Dulli from Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers fame (not surprising, Dulli and Lanegan have been working together on their Gutter Twins project). But the soft lure of Lanegan’s over-sexed lounge singer croonings is quickly dispersed by familiar distorted hallways of crisp guitar and progressive percussion. Yep, it’s still Queens of the Stone Age.

“Everybody Knows That You Are Insane,” is the Queen’s old style. Akin to their debut, “Rated R,” the song is flushed with digital canals where bass and guitar barley squeeze by each other in what would be a gondolier’s worst nightmare. The sound is more refined, but still all their own. The sweeping chorus of Homme’s apathetic ghost-chants helps to push the listener forward in a hopeful haze of uncertainty.

The first single, “Little Sister,” jabs from the middle of nowhere as the album’s stand out track.

The production is amazing, including the freak-out solo embraced by Homme’s Gregorian murmur, perfectly tracked for brilliant execution.

The album’s lighter side, “I Never Came,” reveals the beauty to having such an open admissions band.

Groovy snap beats bind this lush orchestration of delay and ambiguous channels of guitar. This work gives the Queens permission to not fall into any specific genre.

The album’s longest song, “Someone’s in the Wolf,” is a brilliant seven-minute romp of solid-rock beauty.

The song rests to breathe out television clatter, smirking whispers and the Italian-style staccato of a stringed instrument. It is then interrupted by Homme’s call into battle and the song charges to its demise.

The only drawback to “Lullabies” is that it seems like Homme and company are constantly writing, and good songs for that matter, but the 14 tracks of “Lullabies” help the listener lose track of where they are.

All 14 songs are great but do not flow well together. 2001’s “Songs for the Deaf” had an amazing flow, one that seemed to link the disc as one symphony. “Lullabies” seems like a collection of songs as opposed to a complete work.

That minor detail aside, the album’s strangest track is “That’s a Killer Scene There Man.” This is a song structure that seems almost wrong in the hands of such a young man.

The classic slide of old blues married to a fatal dose of experimental rock, not to mention Homme’s duet with Brodie Dalle from the Distillers crown this song king of the lullabies.

“Long Slow Goodbye,” closes out this record with seven minutes of blues wails, reverberating guitar, rustic bass and tambourine-jam drums.

Homme and company are waving goodbye to this chapter in Queens’ history.

He has been serving up clearer, more concise writing and an extremely well rehearsed execution of Homme’s brand of music for years.

“Lullabies” is an excellent step for Queens, and who knows? Maybe the next Queens album might feature Rod Stewart. I hear he likes the desert.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
‘Queens’ keep old sound