Album Reviews


Queens of the Stone Age

Era Vulgaris  Hear it Now

RS: 4of 5 Stars Average User Rating: 4.5of 5 Stars


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"I'm one of a kind," Josh Homme boasts on the new Queens of the Stone Age album. "I'm designer!" Well, that's one way to put it. There aren't any others like him, that's for sure, and he's never been an easy one to figure out. Here's a rock star who seems to shuffle his band's lineup as often as he shaves his back, yet who always sounds like himself, making fun of solemn art types but working harder than any of them. He manages to be the token metal dude for indie kids and the token punk for headbangers, without compromising for either camp. Homme makes music in all kinds of incarnations -- the Queens, Eagles of Death Metal, his endless Desert Sessions projects. But he always seems to inhabit his own musical world, a zone where lost kids chase the desert acid-trip vibe of classic Seventies midnight movies like Vanishing Point and Two-Lane Blacktop. Really, the scene in Vanishing Point where the naked hippie chick cruises across the desert sand on her Harley, blasting Mountain's "Mississippi Queen," could be the starting point for every song on this album.

Era Vulgaris is Homme's fifth Queens album, and like the others, it's intricately crafted, meticulously polished and ruthlessly efficient in its pursuit of depraved rock thrills, with robotic rhythm machines like "Turning on the Screw" and "I'm Designer." Last time, Homme got slept on with the excellent but underrated Lullabies to Paralyze -- people were thrown off initially by its down-in-the-dumps mood, which may be why the music took longer to kick in for some fans. But Era Vulgaris is a lot cockier than Lullabies, clobbering you instantly with guitars louder and uglier than a psychedelic biker party at Joshua Tree's Skull Rock. "Misfit Love" is the ultimate Queens anthem, all low-register guitar crunch, with a percussion track that sounds like tennis balls the size of Betelgeuse crashing into a Moog factory. Homme snarls, "I wanna see my past in flames," and he gets his wish.

Supposedly, his party buddies at the Era Vulgaris sessions included Trent Reznor, the Strokes' Julian Casablancas and regular guest Mark Lanegan. But none of them are really audible -- are you surprised? Instead, we get the many moods of Josh Homme, most of which concern the miracle of physical love and the procurement thereof. He's always said he wanted the Queens to be a band for the ladies, not the menfolk, and from the vocals to the bass lines this is his most crotch-tensive music. "Make It Wit Chu" is an old Desert Sessions song, revamped into a ridiculous lover-boy plaint, with Homme doing his sleaziest falsetto over a lounge-lizard cousin of Neil Young's "Southern Man." "Into the Hollow" is a surprisingly tender purple-haze ballad, with Homme's vibrato amid a gently quivering wah-wah and the usual assload of bass. "Run Pig Run" is staccato jackhammer blues metal, "3's and 7's" sounds like prime Nirvana and "Sick, Sick, Sick" is manic punk riffing, offering "a lick on the lips and a grip on your hips." All excellent news for Brody Dalle.

Homme is a man of many surprises. Here's something you wouldn't expect about Era Vulgaris: the influence of New Wave synth geek Gary Numan is all over this record. Even rave-ups like "Battery Acid," "Suture Up Your Future" and "3's and 7's" have vintage-synth hooks copped from The Pleasure Principle -- it may sound crazy, but if there's one thing you should have learned about Homme by now, he'll heist a badass riff from anywhere. In "I'm Designer," he sings about his "generation" and means it, his fey falsetto a parody of hippie cosmic aspirations. But even though the joke is a great one, you hear that falsetto, and you realize it's here for one main reason, just like every other sonic flourish on Era Vulgaris: Josh Homme loves how it sounds.


(Posted: May 30, 2007) Icon Photo Add to   digg Photo DiggThis  


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Review 1 of 17

jackal66 writes:

Not Rated

Although I have listened it for just a few runs(6 or 7) I realized you HAVE GOT TO LET THIS CD SPIN a couple of times before you rate it. Each song is different, going from manic electric moods to Homme's individual uniqueness(?) when it comes to vocalizing this album and of course those goddamn riffs!UUUFFF those are just heaven for any guitar player,me being one, if you know what I mean. In conclusion each QOTSA album is different and for different moods... Why 4 stars then? Because I have to admit that my favorite album is till now, Songs for the deaf,but I must admit that each album has its own magic. Anyways..for those who have done the right thing and given it the time it requires to blend in you home stereo,car stereo,i pod(?) or whatever props to you! For those who haven't,big mistake,if i have learned something from my very best teacher's TOOL,is that you have got to give an album several tries before saying it sucks... At least this is what I think... Oh and by the way...thanks God we can still get some friggin' rock here

Jul 13, 2007 09:42:44

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Review 2 of 17

darkwhite writes:

5of 5 Stars

Queens blow my mind again. The first time I heard these guys I thought, wow, this is so honest and genuine, that was Rated R, the Songs for the Deaf, it was like the soundtrack for a B horror flick, I nearly came in pants from the heavy undertones with a sweet Homme layer of melodies to accent their completely unique groove, all I can think is how the hell did he come up with that melody to compliment that sterile rokin riff/groove. Oh yeah, Lullaby's, once again complete master piece and now Era!!! Wow, I took a day off from work to chew on this album and I must say, i'm still savouring it and CANT swallow. I eat breathe and sleep music, nothing has blown my mind like the Queens of the Stone Age, they give me faith in true musicianship and only Zeppelin has ever made me love the music and at the same time, be seduced by the fairy tale laden philsophical journies that Homme tailors. Thaks Josh, Joey andf Troy, you make me love music today

Jul 12, 2007 16:58:34

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Review 3 of 17

clydep123 writes:

5of 5 Stars

I agree 100 percent with the reviewer in Rolling Stone magazine. It takes the best of our past music (and film as the reviewer says) and delivers the goods. I am a fledgling guitarist and have determined that I will learn their version of "Make It Wit Chu" and later on, "Turnin' On The Screw". I am old enough remember the Beatles coming out in '64 and longed for more musical firepower. This album has musical firepower.Long live hardcore and punk music in this type of melting pot!!!

Jul 5, 2007 04:14:51

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Review 4 of 17

kickmyhead writes:

4of 5 Stars

It’s nice to see variety on an album. I’m so sick sick sick of EMO and this is definitely a light at the end of what has been a long lame tunnel. From the fun/cheeky “I’m Designer” to the ass kicken “3’s & 7’s” to the superb high vocal melody on “Into the Hollow” to punch of “Sick Sick Sick” to “Make It Wit Chu” circa Some Girls by another band w/ stone in its name to the falsetto-to-suave vocals on “Misfit Love” to the mellow gold of “Suture Up Your Future” to freakish “Run Pig Run” this album keeps me interested. If you want to be spoon-fed cookie cutter rock, then catch lemming bus 37 to Douche Ville. This album wasn’t for you in the first place.

Jun 28, 2007 16:45:48

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Review 5 of 17

AKhawkfan writes:

3of 5 Stars

I always listen to each new QOTSA album with no expectation of how it will sound, because I have learned that they NEVER repeat themselves. I have listened to Era Vulgaris a few times and it has yet to hit me with that ok this is a great album moment yet. If I say this is an average QOTSA album that means it is better than 90% of the music out, but I wouold have to say saddenly that it is their weakest offering to date. I know some pimple faced genius will say I just don't get it, but to them I say save it I have been a Josh Homme fan since KYUSS and have had alot good times with QOTSA serving as the soundtrack. I would at this point rate their albums as 1. Songs 2. Queens 3. Rated R 4. L2P 5. ERA . Despite my mild disapointment I still believe in Homme and will surely let Era Vulgaris guide me through the summer months. Also I have a new baby too and know that it can take alot of your energy that you put into your other passions.

Jun 22, 2007 10:37:11

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Review 6 of 17

Grungerocker writes:

4of 5 Stars

Era Vulgaris is a unique album with classic Homme-style riffs and NIN/Trent Reznor-over distortion. After hearing 3's & 7's on the pre-released teaser I was salivating at the thought of yet another legendary rock album with grunge roots. However, 3's & 7's is the only song that resembles classic Homme music. After listening to the cd straight through for the first time, I was very disappointed at the lack thereof. The overly distorted Nine Inch Nails style music put me on the brink of a migraine. Don't get me wrong, I love distortion, but NIN borderlines incoherent noise. Anyways, I decided to relisten to the cd on a different stereo, one of much lesser quality I might add, and this time the cd sounded much better. The first three songs on the cd, Turnin On The Screw, Sick Sick Sick, and I'm Designer are excellent songs with plenty of classic Queens riffs and Homme lyrics. The music is a direct link to the mastermind of Josh Homme. For those of you who think this album sucks, you need to relisten to this album several times and definitely give this album a chance. Throw it into your car cd player and just let it go. I guarantee you will crave to listen to at least 5 songs on this album. I'm listening to the cd right now for probably the 30th time and I'm nowhere close to being tired of it. Long live the Queens!

Jun 16, 2007 11:51:34

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Review 7 of 17

hamandegger writes:

Not Rated

My only complaint is that this rekkid lacks the jack-hammer percussion of 'Lullabies' (maybe muted just a bit?). Sounds like Homme reigned in and sat Castillo down on this one!

Jun 16, 2007 03:00:20

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Review 8 of 17

specialagentutah writes:

Not Rated

this band is overrated. monotonous riffs and boring lyrics

Jun 15, 2007 22:49:46

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