August 2002 - Blender: Deaf Jam
by Michael Leonard
DEAF JAM - Music's freakiest duo summons Dave Grohl and other pals for a kaleidoscopic rockfest.

Queens Of The Stone Age
Songs For The Deaf
****
Interscope

WHAT CRAZIES Queens of the Stone Age are. With one perv-dwarf (Nick Oliveri: bass, cockflashing) and one freak-Elvis (Josh Homme: guitar/vocals, spookiness), they became almost famous in 2000 with Rated R, a psychedelic-retro hard-rock masterwork. Their "nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, marijuana, Ectasy and alcohol" chant in "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" made them critics' faves, a cheeky diversion from the hand-wringing moan of millennial nu-metal. With Songs From The Deaf - dudes, you're killing us! - the odd couple will be taken much more seriously.

QOTSA 2002 have added former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, ex-Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan and comedy-rock dweeb Dean Ween. Pushed by Grohl, the Greatest Living Rock Drummer, this post-grunge commune utterly revels in classic-rock gestures.

Deaf kicks off by resurrecting the robo-punker "Millionare" (previously on the fifth volume of their Desert Sessions side project), then stretches out with "No One Knows" (a Britpop strut/fuzz-rock hybrid) and "First It Giveth" (tumbling with falsetto verses and a pummeling chorus), which demonstrate QOTSA's canny songwriting. While cliches abound, from druggy references ("We get these pills to swallow/How they stick in your throat/Taste like gold") to ballistic drum breaks that seem to arise from John Bonham's coffin, this huge music is delivered with panache. By the time Lanegan croaks "Song For The Dead" and "Song For The Deaf," both Arabic-gone-goth grooves that conjure visions of Black Sabbath rockin' the pyramids, you can only smile.

Bong-blitzed teens will still dig Queens, but the pop smarts of "Go With the Flow" and "Another Love Song" (a pristine slice of '60s psychedelia-lite) could also position Songs For The Deaf as crossover metal, if the world is willing to embrace Homme and Oliveri's freaky faces. QOTSA execute their hoary AOR moves with irony and conviction, having fun while making fun, creating a world where every month is Rocktober.

Huge thanks to Thomas (TyCobb) for typing this up!

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