Oct. 14, 2000 - Hip Online: Rated R Review
by Rick Hinkson
It seems to be getting better with every release. The once narrow stoner rock scene has just found its outer limit with the latest release from the Queens Of The Stone Age, simply titled R. Itís a riff-rock masterpiece that has frontman Joshua Homme spinning off the weirdness in every track. Some fall into the heavy category while others fall into the strange noise realm that Josh has been so proud of as of late. This band is no longer the three-piece it originated as; itís more a collaboration of all the cool guys in the stoner rock world. Nick Oliveri is still present, and the album was produced by Chris Goss of Masters Of Reality, but the rest of the lineup changes with every song. Mark Lanegan from the Screaming Trees sings lead on "In the Fade", Rob Halford of Judas Priest fame sings backup on the first single, "Feel Good Hit of the Summer", and Dave Catching from Earthlings? adds his input on most of the others. Itís basically the best of the best in the underground rock world, and Josh knew that when he started. Thatís why the album carries such a versatile sound while remaining true to its roots, although theyíre getting worked over with every new idea he has.

"Feel Good Hit Of The Summer" is an overbearing homage to the things that keep many people happy, "Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy, and Alcohol". Thatís it, thatís the song, repeated over and over, with the occasional "Cocaine" wailed as if it were forgotten in the original lyrics. "The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret" and "Leg Of Lamb" are washy visions of spooked rock, Munsters-style, that careen through quirky lyrics like "Education is so lame, when you bitch and moan." Josh doesnít really focus on lyrical prowess, instead reeling off warped grooves that have found a niche within themselves as they are like nothing else that is being produced today. "Better Living Through Chemistry" is a numbingly heavy wave of art-rock inspired by none other than Bjork. Itís a dreamy soundscape of propelling riffs that seem more in tune with 70ís psychedelic rock than bottom-heavy Sabbath tones.

"Monsters In The Parasol" and "Quick And To The Pointless" are groovy punk anthems that swirl with that spacey-spook thing, as the Queens roll closer to their goal of taking over the world with straight-up weird rock. "I Think I Lost My Headache" closes the album with a vast basin of clutter and power and all that is heavy in Joshís burnt and warped psyche. Itís the climax of Kyuss via Queens. Itís heavy in the music sense, and heavy in the lyrical sense, just without the cock-rock rumble that made Kyuss legends in the stoner rock world.

Josh and Nick have come full circle with this album. It reflects unparalleled maturity in their genre, and should place them at the top once again. R is not the Stoner Rock masterpiece some might have expected. Instead, itís the stoned conclusion to their most recent trip into the studio with Chris Goss. He brings out the genius in anyone he comes in contact with, and this album is no exception. Itís real music at a time when reality is being framed by Mtv and TRL. Fortunately, Josh wouldnít have a clue to what is cool in the Mtv world; heís too busy making music for the curious masses that were waiting to see what heíd do next. And goddamn, the man has done it again.

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