REVIEW: Queens Of The Stone Age’s “…Like Clockwork”

 photo QOTSAlc_cover_zps591dab30.jpg Let me try something different here by focusing on my two favorite songs on this new album by Queens Of The Stone Age. For this we head towards the middle of the album with the great and powerful “My God Is The Sun”. For while I’m far from being a religious person, I enjoy the power of the sun due to my upbringing in Hawai’i so just as people back home value and respect the power of the ocean, many also know the value of that golden orb up in the sky, and what Josh Homme and the band do is take the perceived power of the sun and squeeze out some juicy revolution. The percussion that opens the song and is heard sporadically throughout can be considered the end product of that sun exposure, one that becomes a celebration of life and one another. Then there’s “Kalopsia”, which begins as a beautiful rock ballad in the vein of Todd Rundgren before getting into these wickedly crunchy bits that begins with guitar feedback, anticipating the bite of electricity that’s about to begin, resulting in something that some might hear as being Bowiesque.

That’s only a part of what makes …Like Clockwork (Matador), well, work. Queens Of The Stone Age have always been diverse in the music they create, whether it’s something close to being thrash or borderline punk, or leaning on country or soul. In “Like Clockwork”, it sounds as if Homme was bringing in the power of Beck and HIM of Powerpuff Girls by vocalizing with a falsetto voice, initially beginning with him playing the piano before the rest of the band come in to take the song (and the album) home. “If I Had A Tail” has a slight Neil Young feel too where the group plays in the studio, the equipment capturing the moment and things sound spontaneous and without the bullshit factor adding any fake mystiques before the guitars and bass come in to beat each other up, before leading to a drink outside the studio door. “Fairweather Friends” brings in Elton John to help out on piano and vocals, adding his harmonies to Homme’s lead and making things sound grand and efficacious while containing these small pop elements that some may not notice until a few repeat listens. All of this leads to the song’s eventual conclusion, which is funny to me because a moment like that is not meant to be heard but was included just because. “Smooth Sailing” gets smooth and funky, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it moved a lot of people at their live shows to dance and seriously get down.

With the departure of drummer Joey Castillo from the band, Dave Grohl was asked to contribute to the recording sessions of …Like Clockwork, so one can add this to the incredible discography Grohl has created for himself. It has that power that he is known for and definitely adds a nice aura to the music presented here. Overall, while this is a new QOTSA album, it almost sounds like a backyard or basement jam, just some friends and associates gathered around with a beverage of choice, simply playing what the moon, sun, stars, clouds, and sky brings to everyone. Under the persona now known as …Like Clockwork, it’s simply as edgy as they’ve always been, but perhaps more focused even though the creation of these recordings were done during unpredictable times. It seems once Homme and everyone else were locked into place, they were committed to creating this 10-song persona until it could present its own beauty and walk away in elegance. This album is merely the public looking at those heels and seamed stockings, wishing we could hold on to her forever.

VIDEO: Sound City (trailer)

If you read your liner notes, you’ll know about some of the recording studios that are considered “the best”, or at least those that offer a certain feel that welcomes artists from around the world. Sound City is one of those studios that was a mandatory visit for all, and perhaps some of your favorite records in your collection may have been recorded, mix, or mastered there. Sound City is a new documentary film which focuses on the magic and chemistry created in that room, and it stars everyone from Dave Grohl (who is presenting the film) and Josh Homme to Lindsey Buckingham and Barry Manilow, all celebrating the wonder of the room and some of the analog equipment that made it what it is and has become. I love the quote in the trailer which says “how do we keep music sounding like people?” The film will be released on February 1st, while the soundtrack album is scheduled for a March 12th release.

RECORD CRACK: U2 create a vinyl sunrise for an “Artificial Horizon”

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As U2 fans celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band’s debut album, Boy, the group are about to release Artificial Horizon, a 3-record box set consisting of various remixes going back to 1997, and three previously unreleased mixes. Here is the full track listing:

1. Elevation (Influx Mix)
2. Fast Cars (Jacknife Lee Mix)
3. Get On Your Boots (Fish Out Of Water Mix)
4. Vertigo (Trent Reznor Remix)
5. Magnificent (Falke Radio Mix)
6. I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (Live U2360 Remix)
7. Beautiful Day (David Holmes Remix)
8. Starting At The Sun (Monster Truck Remix)
9. Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Danny Saber Mix)
10. Get On Your Boots (Justice Remix)
11. City Of Blinding Lights (Hot Chip 2006 Remix)
12. If God Will Send His Angels (Grand Jury Mix)
13. Starting At The Sun (Brothers in Rhythm Ambient Mix)

The 3-record set features about 60 minutes of music (or 20 minutes average for each record), so the audio quality on this should be really nice. subscribers can obtain it for about $30, non-members can buy it for around $35. You can find out more about Artificial Horizon here.