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Pop - Released January 1, 2002 | Polydor Associated Labels

On their third album, Songs for the Deaf, Queens of the Stone Age are so concerned with pleasing themselves with what they play that they don't give a damn for the audience. This extends to the production, with the entire album framed as a broadcast from a left-of-the-dial AM radio station, the sonics compressed so every instrument is flattened. It’s a joke run wild, punctuated by an ironic mock DJ, and it fits an album where the players run wild. As usual, Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri have brought in a number of guests, including Mark Lanegan on vocals and Dean Ween on guitar, but they’ve anchored themselves with the drumming of the mighty Dave Grohl, who helps give the band the muscle sorely missing from most guitar rock these days, whether it's indie rock or insipid alt-metal. QOTSA may be a muso band -- a band for musicians and those who have listened to too much music; why else did the greatest drummer and greatest guitarist in '90s alt-rock (Grohl and Ween, respectively) anxiously join this ever-shifting collective? -- but that’s the pleasure of the band, and Songs for the Deaf in particular: it’s restless and pummeling in its imagination and power. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released August 25, 2017 | Matador

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Gone are the times when these masters of stoner rock waved their throbbing heavy guitars while scrunching their eyebrows… Twenty years after forming their band under the Californian sun and palm trees, Queens Of The Stone Age have skilfully evolved without ever selling out. With Villains, Josh Homme and his crew have even taken on a rather unexpected passenger in the name of… Mark Ronson! Two years after his giant hit Uptown Funk carried by the voice of Bruno Mars, the Londoner who exploded onto the mainstream scene with his work on Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, finds himself producing QOTSA’s seventh album, which unlike usual doesn’t feature any guest. And the result fits in perfectly with this iconoclastic partnership: the band’s usual virile and sparkly rock’n’roll (irresistible on their single The Way You Used To Do) is beefed up by an energetic production. And Ronson’s funky and groovy DNA blends in with the Californians’, more Bowiesque than ever (obvious on Un-Reborn Again). By the way, isn’t the title Villains echoing the Thin White Duke’s Heroes? © MD/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 3, 2013 | Matador

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Rock - Released June 6, 2000 | Interscope

The second Queens of the Stone Age album, Rated R (as in the movie rating; its title was changed from II at the last minute before release), makes its stoner rock affiliations clear right from the opening track. The lyrics of "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" consist entirely of a one-line list of recreational drugs that Josh Homme rattles off over and over, a gag that gets pretty tiresome by the end of the song (and certainly doesn't need the reprise that follows "In the Fade"). Fortunately, the rest of the material is up to snuff. R is mellower, trippier, and more arranged than its predecessor, making its point through warm fuzz-guitar tones, ethereal harmonies, vibraphones, horns, and even the odd steel drum. That might alienate listeners who have come to expect a crunchier guitar attack, but even though it's not really aggro, R is still far heavier than the garage punk and grunge that inform much of the record. It's still got the vaunted California-desert vibes of Kyuss, but it evokes a more relaxed, spacious, twilight feel, as opposed to a high-noon meltdown. Mark Lanegan and Barrett Martin of the Screaming Trees both appear on multiple tracks, and their band's psychedelic grunge -- in its warmer, less noisy moments -- is actually not a bad point of comparison. Longtime Kyuss fans might be disappointed at the relative lack of heaviness, but R's direction was hinted at on the first QOTSA album, and Homme's experimentation really opens up the band's sound, pointing to exciting new directions for heavy guitar rock in the new millennium. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 22, 1998 | Matador

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Rock - Released November 22, 2005 | Interscope

Released a mere eight months after their divisive fourth album Lullabies to Paralyze, Over the Years and Through the Woods is a CD/DVD package documenting Queens of the Stone Age in concert -- and as the punning title indicates, it's not just on the 2005 tour, either, but from throughout their career. The centerpiece of the DVD, and all of the CD, is their London shows at the Brixton Academy and Kokos from the summer of 2005, but the DVD's bonus footage includes a wealth of performances shot at the time of each album's release. Which means, of course, that there's footage of QOTSA with Dave Grohl on drums for 2002's Songs for the Deaf, but that's hardly the only captivating footage here -- there's grainy audience tapes for the first album, Billy F. Gibbons playing "Burn the Witch" with the band for Lullabies, and the main feature has behind-the-scenes footage and interviews scattered throughout. It's an excellent DVD, and while the CD isn't nearly as an immersing experience -- how could it be? -- it is a lean, hard live album that thrives on its casual virtuosity. While that may not be the sort of thing that will win over new fans, this densely packed set is targeted at the hardcore fans and it more than pays back their long-standing devotion. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Interscope

Before heading into the studio in early 2004 to record the fourth Queens of the Stone Age album, Lullabies to Paralyze, the band's guitarist/vocalist/chief songwriter, Josh Homme, kicked out bassist Nick Oliveri for undisclosed reasons. Since Homme and Oliveri were longtime collaborators, dating back to the 1990 formation of their previous band, Kyuss, this could have been a cause for concern, but QOTSA is not an ordinary band, so ordinary rules do not apply. Throughout their history, from Kyuss through Queens of the Stone Age's 2002 breakthrough Songs for the Deaf, Homme and Oliveri have been in bands whose lineups were as steady as quicksand; their projects were designed to have a revolving lineup of musicians, so they can withstand the departure of key musicians, even one as seemingly integral to the grand scheme as Oliveri -- after all, he left Kyuss in 1994 and the band carried on without him. Truth is, the mastermind behind QOTSA has always been Josh Homme -- he's the common thread through the Kyuss and QOTSA albums, the guy who has explored a similar musical vision on his side project the Desert Sessions -- and since he's wildly indulging his obsessions on Lullabies to Paralyze, even hardcore fans will be hard-pressed to notice the absence of Oliveri here. Sure, there are some differences -- most notably, Lullabies lacks the manic metallic flourishes of their earlier work, and the gonzo humor and gimmicks, such as the radio DJ banter on Deaf, are gone -- but it all sounds like an assured, natural progression from the tightly wound, relentless Songs for the Deaf. That album contained genuine crossover pop tunes in "No One Knows" and "Go With the Flow," songs that retained QOTSA's fuzzy, heavy neo-psychedelic hard rock and were channeled through an irresistible melodic filter that gave the music a serious sexiness that was nearly as foreign to the band as the undeniable pop hooks. Homme has pulled off a surprise of a similar magnitude on Lullabies to Paralyze -- he doesn't walk away from these breakthroughs but marries them to the widescreen art rock of R and dark, foreboding metal of Kyuss, resulting in a rich, late-night cinematic masterpiece. One of the reasons QOTSA have always been considered a musician's band is that they are masters of mood, either sustaining tension over the course of a six-minute epic or ratcheting up excitement in the course of a two-minute blast, all while using a familiar palette of warm, fuzz-toned guitars, ghostly harmonies, and minor-key melodies. While Lullabies is hardly a concept album, its songs play off each other as if it were a song cycle, progressing from the somber Mark Lanegan-sung opening salvo of "This Lullaby" and steadily growing spookier with each track, culminating in the scary centerpiece "Someone's in the Wolf." The key to QOTSA's darkness is that it's delivered seductively -- this isn't an exercise in shallow nihilism, there's pleasure in succumbing to its eerie, sexy fantasies -- and that seductiveness is all musical. Specific lyrics don't matter as much as how Homme's voice blends into the band as all the instruments bleed together as one, creating an elastic, hypnotic force that finds endless, fascinating variations on a seemingly simple sound. Simply put, there is no other rock band in 2005 that is as pleasurable to hear play as QOTSA -- others may rock harder or take more risks, but no one has the command and authority of Queens at their peak, which they certainly are here. They are so good, so natural on Lullabies to Paralyze that it's easy to forget that they just lost Oliveri, but that just makes Homme's triumph here all the more remarkable. He's not only proven that he is the driving force of Queens of the Stone Age, but he's made an addictive album that begs listeners to get lost in its ever-shifting moods and slyly sinister sensuality. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 28, 2007 | Interscope

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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Interscope

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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | Interscope

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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | Interscope

Josh Homme is a man of many talents, but he's not quite a man of his time. He floats outside of it, sniping and sneering at it, but he's not part of it -- he's too in love with rock & roll to belong to a decade that's seeing the music's slow decline. You could say that Queens of the Stone Age keep rock's flame burning, but unlike other new-millennium true believers -- like Jack White, for instance -- Homme lacks pop skills or even the interest in crossing over (which isn't the same thing as lacking hooks, mind you), and unlike the stoner metal underground that provided his training ground, he's not insular; he thrives on grand visions and grander sound. He's an anomaly, a keeper of the flame that will never be played on Little Steven's Rock & Roll Underground because Queens of the Stone Age are too heavy, too muso, too tasteless in all the wrong ways to be commonly accepted or embraced as among the next generation of rock heroes -- which only makes them more rock & roll, of course. And if rock & roll is indeed in decline in the 2000s, Homme and his Queens of the Stone Age prove that rock & roll can nevertheless be just as potent as it ever was with each of their remarkable albums. All are instantly identifiable as QOTSA but all are quite different from each other, from the sleazoid freak-out of R to the dark, gothic undertow of Lullabies to Paralyze, a record so willfully murky that it alienated a good portion of an audience ready to bolt in the wake of the departure of Homme's longtime partner, Nick Oliveri. Its 2007 successor, Era Vulgaris, is as different from Lullabies as that was to their dramatic widescreen breakthrough, Songs for the Deaf: it's mercilessly tight and precise, relentless in its momentum and cheerful in its maliciousness. Like other QOTSA albums, guest musicians are paraded in and out, but here it's impossible to tell if Mark Lanegan contributed anything or if that indeed is the Strokes' Julian Casablancas singing lead on the lethal "Sick, Sick, Sick," because Homme has honed Era Vulgaris so scrupulously that it's impossible to hear anybody else's imprint on the overall sound. QOTSA retain some of the spookiness of Lullabies -- there's a ghostly hue on "Into the Hollow" -- but this is as balls-out rock as Songs for the Deaf, only minus the mythic momentum Dave Grohl lent that record. But Era Vulgaris isn't designed as a monolith like Songs; its appeal is in its lean precision, how the riffs grind as if they were stripping screws of their threads, how the rhythms relentlessly pulse, and, of course, how it's all dressed up in all kinds of scalding guitars, all different sounds and tones, giving this menace and muscle. If the songs aren't pop crossovers -- not even the soulful seductive groove of "Make It Wit Chu" (revived from one of Homme's Desert Sessions) qualifies it as a potential pop hit -- they still have hard hooks that make these manifestos even if they aren't anthems: "Misfit Love" digs in like a nasty Urge Overkill, "Battery Acid" is metallic and mean, blind-sided only by the gargantuan, gnarly "3's & 7's." It's hard to call Era Vulgaris stripped-down -- there's too much color in the guitar, too much willful weirdness to be that -- but this is Queens of the Stone Age at their most elemental and efficient, never spending longer than necessary at each song, yet managing to make each of these three-minute blasts of fury sound like epics. It's exhilarating, the best rock & roll record yet released in 2007 -- and the year sure needed the dose of thunder that this album provides. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 15, 2017 | Matador

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Rock - Released March 7, 2005 | Interscope

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 10, 2017 | Matador

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 20, 2013 | Matador

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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Interscope

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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Interscope

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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | Interscope

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Rock - Released November 22, 2005 | Interscope

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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | Interscope