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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Queens of the Stone Age
Lullabies to Paralyze
Interscope Records

Rating: 7/10 ?

April 6, 2005
If Josh Homme has done anything, it has been to continually evolve and experiment in his music. During his tenure with Kyuss, the band went as far as to release a sprawling three track opus, with each track containing four songs within. Homme has since championed his Desert Series, a collection of various artists creating music basically in the desert, and now his current band, Queens of the Stone Age, continues to produce new sounds with each success release.

Over Queens of the Stone Age's four albums, the cast of musicians has been a veritable revolving door, with Homme being the only solid member to date. This hasn't necessarily altered QOTSA's sound a great deal, however. Homme's guitar work and trademark fuzzed out sound has been a common denominator throughout the band's life.

Since Songs for the Deaf, Nick Oliveri - who looked to be the other solid member of the band - was bounced and replaced with ex-Failure and current A Perfect Circle bassist Troy VanLeeuen. Unfortunately, Make Lanegan's vocal work - which was wonderful on Songs for the Deaf - has been limited to the opening track of Lullabies to Paralyze. Joey Castillo faces the largest challenge as he steps in on drums. Filling the shoes of Dave Grohl is something no drummer wants to do; Castillo does a very respectable job, but really Grohl is just a master when it comes to most things rock related.

Lullabies to Paralyze may be Homme and QOTSA's most ambitious album to date, as each song seems to spend more time developing than on past albums. Homme also takes time for a good number of solos on Lullabies. The band also fills many of the tracks with pianos backing vocals and strings. All of this experimentation takes its toll though; at first glance, Lullabies is not as rocking as anything QOTSA has released to date. The surface of Lullabies is lacking the attack and ferocity that past albums have had straight out of the gate. Where Songs for the Deaf found the perfect middle ground between aggressive rocking licks and experimental flourishes, Lullabies falls to the experimental side.

This isn't necessarily bad, though: after the first few listens, Lullabies starts to sink in, and Homme's creation starts to show itself through the layers of guitar, bass, drums, piano and backing vocals. Homme is a very accomplished writer, adept at creating rock songs that are incredibly catchy yet not mundane, that stand up to multiple listens. Homme even enlists the help of guitar hero Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top fame) for solo work on "Burn the Witch." Homme ingeniously buries Gibbons work a full layer below the mix, forcing the listener to dig in and really become familiar with the track before finding his expert guitar work.

Other standout tracks include the first single from Lullabies, "Little Sister" which features classic Josh Homme lead guitar work. Sporadic melody leaps from the guitar as Homme walks all over his fret board with a repeated lead part. The sprawling, seven minute long, "Someone's in the Wolf" takes Homme's lead straight to the top of the mix as he sings airy vocals. "Someone's in the Wolf" is Lullabies most ambitious track, and possibly the best on the disc as Homme combines the crunch of his guitar with softer floating vocals. The haunting "Skin on Skin" features an ominous bass line and swamp percussion. Homme sounds like he's been taking lessons from Primus' Larry LaLonde as he bends his guitar inside out, making "Skin on Skin" sound like something from the deep bayou. On "You've Got a Killer Scene Man…" Homme enlists Shirley Manson of Garbage fame and Brody Dalle of the Distillers to sing back-up to his sultry R&B inspired ballad, on which Homme sings, "I hate rock and roll."

Lullabies to Paralyze failed to grab me initially, but maybe that is my fault. Once I took the time to get to know this disc, it's really started to grow on me; Homme is taking chances on Lullabies and manages to succeed with each one. Lullabies has been hailed as the band's most realized and developed album to date, and is, at times, a masterpiece; more than anything, it definitely shows that Homme and QOTSA are quite capable to expanding their sound without diluting their rock roots.

Reviewed by Craig Mertes
Craig lives, works and listens to music in the general vicinity of Orlando, Florida, where he absorbs everything from hip-hop to indie, pop, rock, punk and metal. His all time favs include Hum, Clutch, Dismemberment Plan, and the Reverend Horton Heat. The last we heard, Craig was spinning Vast Aire, Soul Position, Blues Explosion, Motörhead, the Blood Brothers and Dead Meadow. Craig is also a life-long, die-hard Cubs fan, so lay off.

See other reviews by Craig Mertes



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