2002/06/25 - Movie Poop Shoot: Songs for the Deaf Advance Review
by Ivan Brandon
I'm out the door evading my landlord with a quick right turn when the album kicks in. The voice on track one says "Huh? What?" and I weave through BMX cruisers and escape down Clinton Street, and away from any distractions. "Millionaire" crashes in hard - fast paced, pummeling familiar riffs from the live scene reproduced here in full color with the amazing Nick Oliveri on vocals to drive it all home. This song is like a paranoid delusion and for about 3 minutes I think all of the lower east side wants to fight me.

"No One Knows" is powerful sounds, maybe the best on the album and up there with anything frontman Josh Homme has ever been involved with. When the song comes on I pull myself aside on Delancey Street and stare at the Williamsburg Bridge. The intro progression is deceptively upbeat, the first time I hear it I have no idea what I'm in for and when the lead-in to the first chorus comes I can feel my blood start to flow more evenly. I'm totally at ease with the moment and when the change comes I feel like I may leave my feet. The vocals are supercharged Homme: all over his range with a confidence rarely seen in the two albums previous. Oliveri's bass is produced so that every note hangs in the air for a split second before Dave Grohl's drums push it along into the darker side of perfect timing. The song is every bit an epic and sets the bar high early on for the rest.

"First it Giveth #1" is a muscle car chase scene with helicopters. The progression is sloped and fast and the chorus, although stale vocally, is like a pounding highway, relentless. It's songs like this that make me want to drive into the desert without a look back and there's a moment on the sidewalk where I can't walk fast enough.

Mark Lanegan's first song on vocals here is "Song for the Dead" - straightforward beats that lead you calmly into a showcase for Homme's clever fills and a rampaging Dave Grohl drum finale. It sets an easy tone for "Sky Is Falling" which is vocally the highpoint of the album, climactic in every way. I can't say enough for the production on this album, easily the best studio work I've heard in five years. The bass level is fantastic, effortlessly climbing up and down through the changes and setting a huge wall of background for the movement of the rest of the band. The chorus is soothing: "Close your eyes and see the skies are fallin"- soft and melodic like a lullaby to the end of everything.

"Six Shooter" is Oliveri mayhem at it's best - an amazing punk dance progression of cacophonic vocals and tsunami bass progressions that crash in like a tease for a minute and a half before changing lanes completely into the next track: "Hangin' Tree". Lanegan sings lead again here in a perfectly sped-up reproduction of a song previously released by Homme on his REKORDS REKORDS label. This is everything you want to hear out of anyone, full-speed, straight-up rock that keeps your attention until the very last note.

"Go With the Flow" brings in the keyboards while never slowing up for a second. It's a change of pace, like the theme song to a great TV show about spies who drink too much Mezcal. It's anthemic and uplifting and gets you excited for what's to come, which in this case is "Gonna Leave You", the album's bubblegum commercial break. "Do it Again" brings back a little of the old QOTSA swagger, with a strong hook and a good chorus to roll off your tongue if you're into the sing- along.

"God" has a pulse, parasitic drums lead a steady driving bass and all my actions are defined in these moments by two chords that enforce the low end. This is a guitar lap dance, Homme shaking it against a whisper of the snare that drops away into nothing before reminding me what I'm here for-raising the level of the album to the classic blues-driven metal jam.

"Another Love Song" takes it somewhere else completely: Pete Stahl sings and an organ is pounded over tambourines and hopscotch drumbeats. This song is a great fake-out. I'm amused and disoriented and crossing Delancey Street traffic, listening to a mid-track girl with an eastern European tongue speak to me in soft, dominant tones about the womb. The title track, "Songs for the Deaf" snakes in small and then shows you it's teeth: the bassline here is a relentless doom tether that pounds and slithers and seems to make the F train fly by at impossible speeds.

If the title track is an amphetamine, "Mosquito Song" is like the reflective comedown, wiping the foam from your mouth as the sun comes up. The song is all guest vocals and an acoustic twelve string, and when Dean Ween comes in, the album's terrain changes completely: crashing toms and a horn section that sounds like the ghosts in your attic found a bottle of downers and started a marching band.

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE: "Songs for the Deaf" is scheduled for release in stores on August 27th.

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