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REVIEW: Queens Of The Stone Age – Queens Of The Stone Age [Remastered Re-release] (9/10)

Somewhat belated review of their reissue Queens put out toward the end of March. Sorry guys but I’ve been a little busy. Is it pointless to review an album that has technically already been released before?

The answer is no. If you had asked me upon the re-release of ‘Rated R’ to review the album I would have said no, for the simple fact that at that point, before the re-release it was already in print and you could easily get hold of it in record stores and online for a decent price. Whilst we are on this topic Joshua Homme didn’t agree with the re-release of that album, but the decision was taken out of his hands as his band had already parted ways with Interscope by that point; legal issues etc.

So why review yet another QOTSA re-release? Are they quite simply living past glories? Have they run out of ideas for new material? Again, the answer is no. No-oen has heard the new material that they are recording at the moment and I’m sure we will hear at least a couple of new songs on the UK tour this May. There is no point pre-empting what the new material will sound like. Obviously it speaks volumes that there are large majority of the Queens who think that ‘Rated R’ was their first album. Then again for whatever reason this album has been out of print for ten years or so. Homme has said himself that there is a need for this album to be put out, it has been a very long time since the songs that feature on this album have been played live, plus you would have been very lucky before the re-release to have got your hands on a copy for a very decent price. I saw on Amazon that it was going for $79 and was put up by a further $20 when it was announced that they would be remastering this album from the original tapes for a re-release. So in short there is a need; these songs come from the same family as the most well-known albums ‘Rated R’ and ‘Songs For The Deaf’, whilst ‘Rated R’ is more varied and dynamic and ‘Songs For The Deaf’ has a beefier and clean sound in terms of production, as you’d expect – the debut album has a much more raw feel and just crackles with energy. It was refreshing, and still is, to hear tracks like “Regular John” (which is the best album opener I have ever heard) and “Avon” at their most visceral at their most heavy, without any overdubs. There’s no need for them. With simple effects and using the switches on your guitar and fiddling with the amp the band have created the typical Queens crunch which makes the overall soundscape of the album very different from what you might find on other albums of other rock bands.

Their remastered rerelease of the debut album is amazing. It’s warm and dry like the desert, it has grooves that are constantly switching up, notably on “Give The Mule What He Wants” and “Walkin On Sidewalks”. Even listening to the original tapes at the time of it’s release, there was no way of knowing where Josh Homme would go from here, it’s not even a snapshot of the late nineties; this LP is still relevant as what it was back then and it’s blows most of what’s around right now out of the water.

I love how the bonus tracks aren’t just added on to the end of the original track list and are merged with the the rest. Makes this an essential copy nonetheless. You get tracks from the era as well as a track from the Kyuss/QOTSA split EP, makes it a must have for any hardcore fan.

Not as good as ‘Rated R, which offers more in terms of a variance in different styles on that record, plus the presence of Nick Oliveri on ‘Rated R’ is one you can’t ignore (however I do like their earlier work and I know he’s not coming back -_-), so I’m going to give it a nine.

REVIEW: Foo Fighters – Wasting Light (8.5/10)

By now most of you will have heard “White Limo” and “Rope”. Both songs being very different from other; “Rope” is you standard beer-chugging, hands in the air, fist-pummelling each other stadium-rock anthem whilst “White Limo” is probably the heaviest I have ever heard of the Foos.

It’s also worth clearing the reunions on this album. All merely coincidence and in danger of completely overshadowing release of this album; Pat Smear is now fully at the helm, Butch Vig who produced Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ is at the reigns this time, Krist Novoselic plays accordion and bass on “I Should Have Known”, and it has been twenty years since the release of ‘Nevermind’. But “I Should Have Known” is not about addressing the pink elephant in the room; it is not about Kurt’s suicide.
The geek in me was excited when I heard that the Foos would be returning back to basics for their new record. Recording straight to tape, working from analogue and recording in their garage. They’ve ticked every single box in their fifteen year career including a double album that was stretched pretty thin in places to be honest, so their last album left me wondering where could they possibly go from there; do they record and ‘Echoes…pt. 2’ or do they pursue in covering new (ish) territory and take their formula and turn it on its head.

The answer, I’m pleased to say, is the latter. Hanging out with Joshua Homme has clearly given Grohl a new lease of energy and creativity; I’ve always been a fan of the heavier Foos tracks (like Low and Have It All) and it seems they explore these avenues on this album, “Bridge Burning” has to be the album opener of the year with its gutsy riffs and drum rolls that will no doubt get all the kids jumping like loons at Milton Keynes bowl later on this year. Another notable example is “Dear Rosemary” where Nirvana and Foo Fighters influences are fully addressed by duetting with Husker-Du/Sugar icon Bob Mould; heavy in emotion and conveys a rawness never felt on previous work but carries enough restraint to truly showcase its warmth and beauty without feeling repetitive or cheesey.
“Arlandria” kicks in with a familiar groove and subtlety with its rhythm and throbbing bassline that wouldn’t feel too out of place on a Queens Of The Stone Age album, definite favourite here for obvious reasons.

This album benefits from painstaking production. A lot of time and care has gone into making this album sound good. It really is a disservice to listen to it on shitty laptop speakers, it has to be listened cranked to 11 on the your stereo speakers, you can hear the fretboard buzz, fingertips brushing strings, before the guitars cascade over you, without ever having the essence of a wall of sound scape like Muse. It feels like a friendship that was at a crossroads, what you fell in love with is still there but what has successfully worked has been turned into something fresh to engage old hardcore fans and to attract new listeners. The formula for good old fashioned rock anthems is still there and less cookie-cutter-y but this time with an omnipresent harder and faster delivery and this benefits all the more from it.