Sunday, June 9, 2013

Queens of the Stone Age
…Like Clockwork

On some of the slower, more sedate songs, the band seemingly can’t decide if they’re heavy adult rock, or on the faster, louder songs, heavy rock, but that’s a minor quibble. This is excellent no-frills rock, smart, and extremely contemplative. The slower songs move with a lot of nuances, the faster ones tear it up.  The guitar playing is wonderful, never too much or too little the drumming is precise and not overdone,  and frontman Josh Homme has never sounded better.

Homme was hospitalized for 13 days, and then bedridden for four months due to complications of routine knee surgery.  He sank into a deep depression during that time, and his bandmates pulled him out of it by getting him to work on …Like Clockwork.  Needless to say, he had a lot to think about, but for all the darkness, this album is about moving forward. In Homme’s case, he could run away mentally from the situation he was in, or get into the thick of it.  He chose to run toward it. and it shows, because these songs aren’t downers. They’re more like waking up after a very bad, long day and night and finding it’s a new, different day.

Heavy rock can be a sludgy mess. This is anything but.  Lean, economical, exciting, a headlong rush, and for me, desert rock at it’s best.  The fans will have a ball with this. If it’s a little sedate, so what, it’s still QOTSA.  This album is a great way for new fans to get into this band, and they will have fun with it, too.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Camera Obscura
Desire Lines
4 AD

The big difference between this new album and their previous ones is that it’s more rock, less pop. No strings, more guitars.  Much tougher than in the past. And yet they haven’t lost their knack for the nuances, no matter how subtle, within music that is slightly harder, less edgy than their past work.  They had more help this time.  Neko Case sings backup on four of these songs, Jim James one. Tucker Martine produced the album, and the band had a wonderful time recording the album in Portland, Oregon.

Tracyanne Campbell will always sound beautifully beguiling, making bitter truths and heartbreak go down easy.  But this time around, her lyrics are happier and more loving and intimate which makes you feel as if you're talking over coffee.  

Adult rock can sometimes be bland and boring. And while Camera Obscura is adult rock, they are anything but boring and bland.  Their music and lyrics are fully mature and wise, from a band that has learned a lot about life and love.  It’s one of the best albums I’ve heard all year,  and if you want to hear an album that shakes things up, gently but very firmly, this is the album for you.
Andrea Weiss


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