Queens of The Stone Age
"Queens of The Stone Age"
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die
Ask someone what genre the Queens of The Stone Age fit into, and you'll get a wishy-washy answer. Popular answer no. 1: "Stoner rock." Great, we've established that you can smoke pot and listen to the band's music…unlike every other rock band. Popular answer no. 2: "Desert rock." Josh Homme (the boss of QOTSA) was born in Joshua Tree and his first group of note, Kyuss, played legendary shows in the middle of the desert, plugging their instruments into portable power generators. Awesome, but still not a genre per se. I propose we get really radical and just call the band something simple: rock 'n' roll.
Consider the focus on riffs within QOTSA. Openers "Regular John" and "Avon" exemplify Homme's guitar style, rumbling along with disregard for what's hip. There's no weird chord changes or loopy effects, just Homme going hard. The riffing on "Avon" mirrors the chug of Johnny Ramone (but Homme proves to be more flexible). If you play "Guitar Hero," you can visualize the same style from the hook during "No One Knows" (which unfortunately is not from this album).
Of course any hard rock/rock 'n' roll band needs solos, and Homme is happy to provide. The frontman peels off some bluesy bridges on tracks such as "If Only" and "Mexicola," among others. A riff-based band that punctuates most of its songs with bluesy riffs? Sounds like a modern equivalent to ZZ Top (and admit it; ZZ Top makes you think of the desert too). And essentially, that's what Queens of The Stone Age is. Homme does have a unique tone when soloing at times, making his instrument sound like a guitar-theremin hybrid on tracks such as "Avon" and "You Can't Quit Me Baby."
So if Queens of The Stone Age sounds like the new ZZ Top, why do critics try so hard to not classify them as regular ol' rock 'n' roll or hard rock? Sure, sometimes Homme's lyrics are bizarre by nature, and often the band uses a fuzzy audio quality. That fuzziness has certainly earned The White Stripes alternative status, but Jack White would always prefer to be labeled as rock 'n' roll. The only difference between Queens and the Foo Fighters, the biggest band in rock at the moment, is that the Foo make rock for arenas. I don't mean it as a dig against Dave Grohl and company, but those songs are meant to sing along with. Homme's are not. Still, I feel both those bands belong in the same genre.
Of course, some might argue that the Foo also belong in the alternative category, but I'd label that as "genre-ism." You can't say Queens of The Stone Age are alternative and Puddle of Mudd is hard rock because one is awesome and the other isn't (if it wasn't clear, Queens is the awesome one).
INTERESTING FACT: Homme wrote the theme song for "Aqua Unit Patrol Squad One," the renamed version of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" that aired for one season before changing titles yet again.