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Lullabies to Paralyze

Queens of the Stone Age

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Album Review

Before heading into the studio in early 2004 to record the fourth Queens of the Stone Age album, Lullabies to Paralyze, the band's guitarist/vocalist/chief songwriter, Josh Homme, kicked out bassist Nick Oliveri for undisclosed reasons. Since Homme and Oliveri were longtime collaborators, dating back to the 1990 formation of their previous band, Kyuss, this could have been a cause for concern, but QOTSA is not an ordinary band, so ordinary rules do not apply. Throughout their history, from Kyuss through Queens of the Stone Age's 2002 breakthrough Songs for the Deaf, Homme and Oliveri have been in bands whose lineups were as steady as quicksand; their projects were designed to have a revolving lineup of musicians, so they can withstand the departure of key musicians, even one as seemingly integral to the grand scheme as Oliveri — after all, he left Kyuss in 1994 and the band carried on without him. Truth is, the mastermind behind QOTSA has always been Josh Homme — he's the common thread through the Kyuss and QOTSA albums, the guy who has explored a similar musical vision on his side project the Desert Sessions — and since he's wildly indulging his obsessions on Lullabies to Paralyze, even hardcore fans will be hard-pressed to notice the absence of Oliveri here. Sure, there are some differences — most notably, Lullabies lacks the manic metallic flourishes of their earlier work, and the gonzo humor and gimmicks, such as the radio DJ banter on Deaf, are gone — but it all sounds like an assured, natural progression from the tightly wound, relentless Songs for the Deaf. That album contained genuine crossover pop tunes in "No One Knows" and "Go With the Flow," songs that retained QOTSA's fuzzy, heavy neo-psychedelic hard rock and were channeled through an irresistible melodic filter that gave the music a serious sexiness that was nearly as foreign to the band as the undeniable pop hooks. Homme has pulled off a surprise of a similar magnitude on Lullabies to Paralyze — he doesn't walk away from these breakthroughs but marries them to the widescreen art rock of R and dark, foreboding metal of Kyuss, resulting in a rich, late-night cinematic masterpiece. One of the reasons QOTSA have always been considered a musician's band is that they are masters of mood, either sustaining tension over the course of a six-minute epic or ratcheting up excitement in the course of a two-minute blast, all while using a familiar palette of warm, fuzz-toned guitars, ghostly harmonies, and minor-key melodies. While Lullabies is hardly a concept album, its songs play off each other as if it were a song cycle, progressing from the somber Mark Lanegan-sung opening salvo of "This Lullaby" and steadily growing spookier with each track, culminating in the scary centerpiece "Someone's in the Wolf." The key to QOTSA's darkness is that it's delivered seductively — this isn't an exercise in shallow nihilism, there's pleasure in succumbing to its eerie, sexy fantasies — and that seductiveness is all musical. Specific lyrics don't matter as much as how Homme's voice blends into the band as all the instruments bleed together as one, creating an elastic, hypnotic force that finds endless, fascinating variations on a seemingly simple sound. Simply put, there is no other rock band in 2005 that is as pleasurable to hear play as QOTSA — others may rock harder or take more risks, but no one has the command and authority of Queens at their peak, which they certainly are here. They are so good, so natural on Lullabies to Paralyze that it's easy to forget that they just lost Oliveri, but that just makes Homme's triumph here all the more remarkable. He's not only proven that he is the driving force of Queens of the Stone Age, but he's made an addictive album that begs listeners to get lost in its ever-shifting moods and slyly sinister sensuality.

Customer Reviews

iPod Garage reviews Lullabies to Paralyze by QOTSA

I don't know what it was that possessed me to finally go and download QOTSA's new album Lullabies to Paralyze last week. I do know what triggered me to head down the path, though: I came across a story in which Josh Homme finally publicly stated that the reason he had fired the bass player was because the guy had been physically abusing his girlfriend, not due merely to a clash of egos, as had been widely assumed. While it's an interesting social statement, from a musical standpoint, this didn't mean anything to me. But what it did finally make me realize was "Hey, the bass player that can't sing isn't on the new record!" And from there, I just talked myself into buying the thing, despite the fact that I had heard nothing but three cowbell whacks from the first single. Right away, staring in iTunes, I noticed that the first two tracks on the album were no more than ninety seconds long each, and this struck me as, I don't know, perhaps a bit insane. But I fired it up anyway, and right off the bat, found myself listening to what could best be described as a child's lullaby. No, really, the first track might as well be Rock-a-bye Baby. It's that mellow. And to my astonishment, the first voice you hear on the album is not that of Josh Homme, but that of Mark Lanegan. Wait a minute, didn't he supposedly quit the band before they even started recording this album? So the first song is a child's lullaby sung by a guy who has recently quit the band. Alright, now you've got my attention. And with that I realized that this whole album was very much going to be insane. You see, there are several times on this album, not just one but several, in which a child's toy piano is one of the featured instruments. There are several songs in which Josh Homme's voice is so distorted that it doesn't sound anything like him. Some of the guitar parts are so distorted, so fuzzed, so messy, that you'd think I was playing them. And I don't play guitar. And man, is it all ever fun. I cannot ever remember having listened to a new album for the first time and having so thoroughly enjoyed how immensely insane it all is. It's going along and, just after you think you've discovered some kind of twisted influence ranging anywhere from possibly U2 to David Bowie, then it's suddenly time for that toy piano part to make its re-entry at just the right time and you realize that the truer influence is perhaps the devil himself. The the third song is entitled "Everybody Knows That You're Insane," and although the title gets repeated probably twenty times in the course of the song, it never gets repetitive because it's sung completely differently every time. It's also both the fastest and the slowest song on the album. You'd have to hear it to understand. On the fifth song, here comes Lanegan again, and nevermind the fact that he's not in the band, here he is trading lyrics with Homme, at least for one verse, after which Lanegan's part mysteriously disappears (perhaps that's the precise moment at which he quit?). It's one of the easiest songs to sing along with I've encountered, and yet I don't know, and can't figure out, a single word of it. Singing along with it just sort of sounds like "Bum-ba-dum, bum-ba-bum-ba-dum." If you walked down the street listening to this song on your iPod and singing along to it, anyone who heard you would think you had escaped from an asylum and call the cops immediately. But this highlights what makes the whole thing work so well: at some points, Homme isplaying the part of a traditional lead singer, and at other points, his voice is just another strange instrument to add to the mayhem. For every song like "In My Head" witstraightforward, radio-friendly lyrics (this is likely the next single and probably a big hit), there's a song like "Someone's in the Wolf" in which you really have no idea what's going on at any point during the song, except that it's a lot of fun to listen to. And sure enough, that stupid cowbell at the beginning of the first single, which comes in out of nowhere on the radio, actually works on the album, where it acts as a bridge between it and the song that came before it. As the album progresses, both the music and the lyrics get weirder. But astonishingly enough, the eleventh and twelfth tracks are two of the catchiest and perhaps the most fun entries on the album. And the fourteenth and final song, "The Long Slow Goodbye," just might be the best of the bunch (and might make its way to radio as well). I've never been one to fall for gimmick rock. I'm just as unimpressed with the shreiking of System of a Down during their fifteen minutes as I was with the rasp of Marilyn Manson during his fifteen minutes. So what is it that makes QOTSA to completely different than any of these other self-proclaimed insane artists? Well, for one thing, the musicality on this album is really, really good, which is almost a 180 from most bands who go about trying to convince the world how insane they are. And for another thing, Josh Homme doesn't try to be insane in his music -- he just is. He's either blissfully unaware of it, or he simply doesn't care. And the fact that most of his bandmates have left him doesn't seem to have hurt things one bit. I have a feeling that they were just getting in the way of his insane vision for this insanely great album anyway.

Rare does a 4th album compare to the 1st!

if you were to rank all of QOTSA's albums from best to good it would be in this order 1) queens of the stone age/q.o.t.s.a. (self titled and most amazing rock cd ever!!!!) buy it if you can find it...NO JOKE!!!! 2) Lullabies (mass apeal and listenable) 3) Songs for the deaf (most complete album) 4) rated R (contains the best single to date...art of keeping a secret) To not like queens is to not like rock as a whole. this is by far the best album of 2005. i thought audio slave's new CD might be able to meet there first but it fell short. If you are reading this, ask yourself(from a mans perspective) would you rather dance with a hot rocker chick to some awesome swinger rock that just rose up from the firey pits of hell, or go into a mosh pit and slam into a bunch of dudes sweaty bodies and listen to bad vocals and zero lyrical content. that is the difference between QOTSA and all the other short commings of ther rest of the current rock scene! "aint it something, I'm born to hula!"

Lullabies to Paralyze

This is QOTSA's best album, hands down. Although it has nothing on the level of No One Knows, its a more solid album overall, with many different elements, ranging from soft (This Lullaby) to hard rock (Medication) to scary (Someone's in the Wolf) to weird ("You got a killer scene there, man..."). Here are my five favorite songs: 1. Burn the Witch. This song is so far above Little sister, its not even funny. Great guitar, and interesting lyrics. Funny opening, my second favorite QOTSA song. 2. Someone's in the Wolf. The first time you hear this song, you'll think I'm crazy for rating it this high. But the more times you listen to it, the more you like it. Its very distorted, and in some way I cant describe, terrifying. Not many bands can make a song like this, it really displays QOTSA's talent. 3. Little Sister. The opening single, and a good song. Check out the cowbell. The only song that will make it to the radio, still above anything on songs for the deaf except for no one knows. 4. Tangled Up in Plaid. Good guitar when it breaks into the chorus, and powerful lyrics about suicide. Great song. 5. In My Head. This songs is pretty good, but it sounds like QOTSA made it ready-made for the radio. I dont like hearing them catering to the radio like that. There are plenty of sell-out rock bands out there that can do this too, and I like hearing QOTSA's individiual style more than this. Three songs I can't stand: 1. This Lullaby 2. "You Got a Killer Scene There, Man..." 3. Long Slow Goodbye Overall a good album and definitely worth the money.

Biography

Formed: 1997 in Palm Desert, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed from the ashes of stoner rock icons Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age reunited the group's singer/guitarist Josh Homme, drummer Alfredo Hernandez, and bassist Nick Oliveri along with new guitarist/keyboardist Dave Catching. The project's origins date back to Homme, who in the wake of Kyuss' 1995 demise relocated to Seattle to tour with the Screaming Trees; he soon began working with a revolving lineup of musicians including the Trees' Van Conner, Soundgarden's Matt Cameron, and Dinosaur Jr.'s...
Full Bio

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