I bought this CD because I had been impressed by what I'd heard on a copy that a friend had given me - despite it's backwards track listing and the inclusion of Screaming Jay Hawkins' Fur Burger.
First it would be wise to mention the main players on this record; aside from Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri, Queens' core members, there is also present Dave Grohl, whose Foo Fighter records have been getting lamer with each consecutive release, and Mark Lanegan, last seen fleeing The Screaming Trees.
On top of this there is an impressive roster of "other musicians," all of whom have been summarily overshadowed by the presence of Ween's Dean Ween.
Based on the band's other output (Dessert Sessions, Mondo Generator, etc) it's plainly obvious that this band loves to make music, and they do it very well. However—and I might be making declarations that I cannot qualify in any meaningful way—there seems to be a certain detachment on the part of the band. It's as if they are making a conscious cerebral effort to write visceral music. I'm not sure how that's even possible, the sad fact is that I am not a musician, neither can I write.
I don't mention this as a criticism of the band but rather as a testament to their talent. Perhaps the key is understanding your genre—in the case of Queens of the Stone Age it's stoner-rock/metal—well enough that you can recognise the intricacies and work within them. Kind of like what Ween does. The inclusion of a cover of Everybody's Gonna Be Happy is what cements this impression. Tongue-in-cheek, my friends. Tongue. In. Cheek.
Anyhoo, the songs that I like are amazing—the songs that I don't like (there's one or two) are still excellently well written and performed and et cetera; it just so happens that I don't like them. I think that speaks more to my tastes than the CD itself.
Whichever way, Songs for the Deaf is an excellent album. I suggest you buy it.
Incidentally, my copy happens to be the special edition tour edition, which translates directly to a bonus CD with 5 live tracks - frankly, I couldn't be happier.
Also, the CD cover looks like this—perhaps its inclusion will help you track it down in CD stores:
(first half of a first draft that was deemed too convoluted, and, by its inclusion, has probably caused the review proper to appear convoluted. (it's a sordid little circle of recursion I weave.))
That the members of Queens of the Stone Age are prodigiously talented shouldn't ever be doubted. The trick to appreciating their music is to create a framework from which all your opinions—both criticisms and praise—should be derived. Now, everyone's framework will, naturally, differ from my own—whatever floats your boat, I guess. My framework is cobbled thus: Queens of the Stone Age is like the band version of the actor Harrison Ford.
See, Harrison Ford often plays action oriented characters who solves problems with violence—and I say "violence" emphasising its best connotation—case in point: Indiana Jones, Han Solo, maybe not so much The President in Air Force One. Despite these characterisations, Harrison Ford, from what I've gathered, isn't himself a violent man; he is merely an actor playing a part—play it well he does. This means that there is a talent—a skill—that permeates the molecules that exist in the space between Harrison Ford the actor and the characters that he plays. Like Harrison Ford there is a space, one in which seconds have time to tick, between the visceral and often dark music that Queens of the Stone Age write and the members of the band proper.
Songs for the Deaf is an excellently written stoner rock record written by people who were aiming to write an excellent stoner rock album and who were conscious of the fact that they were writing an excellently written stoner rock record. It's an amazing thing, these people have consciously written a visceral record.
my muse is an idiot
Reviewed on Sunday, 7 December 2003