Queens of The Stone Age’s “…Like Clockwork” (2013)

It’s been six years since Queens of The Stone Age released “Era Vulgaris” back in 2007. Now they’re back, and it’s awesome. I last “heard” front-man Josh Homme back in 2009, on Arctic Monkeys’ “Humbug” which he produced. Coincidentally, Queens of the Stone Age are touring Australia and New Zealand this coming March with another band I last heard in 2009, Nine Inch Nails.

Q: In a year of comeback albums; where does Queens of the Stone Age’s “…Like Clockwork” (2013) fall?
A: Somewhere near the top.

The concise ten-track album sounds different than Queens of the Stone Age’s past material, in a good way though, in the way that a band should experiment, change, and improve over the course of six years. The band has always had a broken-machine-like quality to their sound; something about the heavily distorted guitars staying on such impeccable timing sounded like machinery, but in deviating from the timing, finding funky, catchy rhythms, and dissonant sounds, that’s where Queens of the Stone Age finds their appeal. Not unlike the robotic duo Daft Punk that happened to find their humanity in 2013, Queens of The Stone Age sounds more alive than ever here on “…Like Clockwork.”

“Kalopsia”  starts off the second half of the album with the pulse of a breathing machine. And perhaps Josh Homme’s time with Arctic Monkeys was a learning experience as well as a mentoring of sorts, as the peaceful piano and harp-like heavenly guitars paired with the prettier notes of Homme’s voice seem more out of Arctic Monkeys’ playbook than Queens of The Stone Age’s. Of course, everything beautiful falls apart, and the album’s thematic battle between hope and despair wages on, with the band’s old dark sounds (slightly-off guitars, distortion, unrelenting noise) clashing with the new sounds (pianos, falsettos, acoustics, orchestra).

From the album’s third track: “The Vampyre of Time and Memory”
“I’m alive – hooray! / You’re wrong again / ‘Cause I feel no love”

“My God Is The Sun” the fifth track on the album is a personal highlight for me. Outside of the thematic elements of the album, the song is catchy, has a really nice rolling bass, an energy you can really feel, drum breaks; the kind of track that I can see myself playing intensely along with on guitar in the privacy of my own bedroom. I spent so much time playing along with tracks from “Era Vulgaris” (2007) and “Songs for the Deaf” (2002), and I’m glad to hear that “…Like Clockwork” will give me the same emotion-venting satisfaction.  “Smooth Sailing” finds a funky rhythm after a malfunctioning electronic introduction, and “Fairweather Friends” determines that gossip, drugs, and snakes are the friends that get us back into bed.

Title song “…Like Clockwork” hits you with the heavy emotions and really shows off all of the good things that Queens of The Stone Age have have learned to do over the years. Josh Homme almost sounds like Damon Albarn, in the album’s conclusion, and the song just encapsulates the feeling of surrender so well. It really captures the theme I was getting at earlier, that I think you can find through the album, everything beautiful and quiet about the beginning gets sledge-hammered by the familiar sounds of the band’s past music, and when the song returns to the beautiful, it’s not without the ominous march of the noise behind it. The friends that have told me that “…Like Clockwork” might be the best Queens of The Stone Age album might just be right, though I’m not going to start ranking things, I have to say – it’s a damn fine album.

2013 Is A Crazy Year For Music

Looking back at 2013, and I’m realizing how many new albums came out this year that I cared about.

Deadmau5, Daft Punk, Vampire Weekend, Nine Inch Nails

and MIA, Franz Ferdinand, and The Fratellis have albums coming out soon too!

So, I’m writing this little blurb right now just as a personal reminded that I need to listen to the new NIN album, and a commitment of sorts to try and review some of the albums that have came out in 2013.

Also coming out this year: new Beck music, new Arcade Fire, new Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr, new Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and new Queens of the Stoneage.

You understand? This is the year my iPod explodes.

What’s Up? (7/25/2013)

I’m playing guitar again after a painfully long hiatus. My fingers sting from building callus again, and I’m rediscovering my ability to play by ear. Today I improvised along with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” on my Epiphone Firebird and I was about the happiest I’ve been in recent memory. Since the last time I played guitar I’ve gotten into LCD Soundsystem, so I figure I’ll learn how to play a number of their songs. Also, I have to shine some of the old songs I used to know how to play, like Anamanaguchi’s “Mermaid.” It’s been too long, guitars, and I’m glad you’re back.

In other musical news: Goodness, I’ve never really ever mentioned GlitchFox here before have I? Well hey, I make electronic music under the name GlitchFox and two songs I’ve been sitting on for months are probably close to being ready for public release and whatnot. If you feel like checking out my music, see http://glitchfox.bandcamp.com/ for my newer stuff and https://soundcloud.com/glitchfox for my beginnings.

Slowly Losing My Mind

Another sleepless night, only this night I decided to listen to the entirety of Nine Inch Nail’s “Year Zero”  in between the 5:00 AM and 6:00 AM Hour, which does not bode well for one’s psyche I think. The glitchy atmospheric end-times album paired with rising sun made me feel slowly more and more detached from everything around me. I learned what time the street lamps are turned off, how the sidewalks stay so clean (a dude hoses them down sometimes, apparently!) and was thoroughly impressed by a Waste Management Driver’s ability to parallel park what is essentially a dump truck. 

The worst thing about staying up without getting any sleep is just trying to figure things out like “When will I shower?” Because you know that you’re just going to pass out and sleep sometime in the afternoon, so you might as well shower after that – so you can get your hair back in order and wash away the sleep funk. “When will I eat?” actually becomes an easy question, as suddenly you’re awake at an appropriate breakfast hour, and you have time for all three meals. And my least favorite question “When did I do that?” Without sleep to separate the days, it suddenly becomes very hard to remember what day it is, when you bought that, when you drank that, when you watched that video. 

I shouldn’t listen to Nine Inch Nails so early in the morning, fills my head with strange thoughts, too deep for…. 9AM. Daft Punk though, I’m listening to “Random Access Memories” right now and that’s helping to brighten up the morning. The sky is an off-white color right now, but with the arpeggios of “Giorgio by Moroder” it’s hard not to exaggerate the blues and pinks. 

I’m resolved to go to the bagel shop on Forbes and order two bagels. A Pumpernickle with butter, and a Cinnamon Raisin with cream cheese. Not because I need two bagels, or even because I want to bagels – but because I’m too fickle to chose just one. 

And it would be really nice to fall asleep again sometime.

Daft Punk’s “Homework” (1997)

(Originally Published July 3rd 2012)

 I had never really listened to any Daft Punk before the January of 2012. My electronic music experience was limited to Deadmau5, Kraftwerk and lots and lots of chiptune. I figured a good first step in getting a more solid footing in the genre would be to listen to one of its most prominent contributors – Daft Punk – and so I sat down and listened to their first album “Homework.”

…over and over again. Twenty-four times actually, some songs got more attention than others though. “Da Funk” stands at a solid fifty-four listens.

If those numbers don’t speak for themselves well, I really love Daft Punk’s “Homework.”  It’s such an interesting  debut for the French duo; their sample-heavy, funky, drum-machine-pulsed music is here in full force – and in “Homework” it feels new. It doesn’t feel perfected, or expected – it doesn’t even sound professional at times. “Homework” is an exciting listen and I love it for all of its top-tier tracks and its – well, not-so top tier tracks. I love the track “Teachers”  even though I swore time and time again “there’s no way this could possibly grow on me.”

Beware. Daft Punk grows on you.