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Queens of the Stone Age: Era Vulgaris

Queens of the Stone Age: Era Vulgaris

Release Date:2007

By Jess Harvell | Posted 9/5/2007

Straight outta Palm Desert, Calif., and homesteading with the cacti on the periphery of mainstream rock radio/video culture, Queens of the Stone Age's idiosyncratic take on hard rock doesn't have much truck with most of 98 Rock's current playlist. You're more likely to find kin to the Queens sound in the baked rhythms of, say, Texas hip-hop. Both dig a rolling groove (albeit a good 30 to 80 bpm faster in Queens' case), both swagger with a cowboy's gait, both sound woozily silly and menacingly intoxicated, both come from hot climates with longstanding car cultures, and both Screwston rap and QOSTA's new Era Vulgaris sound best behind the wheel. Dispersing the production murk that smothered Queens frontman Josh Homme's hooks on 2005's Lullabies to Paralyze, Vulgaris is nevertheless just as dark as that album's grim glam. It's also beefier and more immediate than 2002's breakthrough Songs for the Deaf, an album that sounded like it had been caked in habanero sauce and then cooked in a kiln.

And Vulgaris proves that Josh Homme's knack for lizard-brain riffs--ZZ Top changes reduced to gulps of feedback on "Sick, Sick, Sick," the strutting, skronky, stereo-panning funk licks on celebrity culture kiss-off "I'm Designer"--is still unrivaled on a major-label level. And his love of motor-friendly rhythms--the moronic Mo Tucker minimalism of "Into the Hollow," the terrifyingly tribal "Run Pig Run"--means shit stays simple, despite his band's obviously proficient chops. But while Homme eschews bombast, he's still a hard-rock prick at heart--even the album's most tender moment is a plea to "Make It Wit Chu," probably not a reference to domesticity and the aging process--codpiece metal's hypermasculinity being another trait he shares with his distant hip-hop cousins. If you can't get with cock rock, even arty cock rock topped with a sly wink, Homme's priapic throb is probably not for you. But for those who don't mind a little bump and grind with their guitars, Era Vulgaris is the year's best bet so far for fans of fanatically unadorned boogie.

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