Tag Archives: Josh Homme

20 years of WELCOME TO SKY VALLEY

sky valley

Last Saturday I was reminded of the 20th anniversary of Welcome to Sky Valley, the third album of the Palm Desert band Kyuss, and this time it’s made me give it a lot of thought, and listen to it again. I’m not one of those who worships this band as if there isn’t anything better in the world and I’m not looking forward to witnessing a reunion between John Garcia and Josh Homme because I don’t regard it necessary. I don’t criticize Homme for forming QOTSA working hard to rise to stardom, but I do get upset with Garcia for not managing to keep a single project steady for long time. There was a time and a place for Kyuss, and for that reason this band probably achieved the status of underground legend, and if its members decided to split ways, I’m sure there was a good reason for that, so there’s no point in insisting on a reunion. Believe me, I learnt the lesson with GN’R some time ago.

I love Kyuss records though I hate the diehard fans of the band, no offence. In my PERSONAL opinion, they are often too narrow minded musically speaking.

I’d say Welcome to Sky Valley is not my favorite album of the band, however every time I recover it and listen to ‘Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop’, ‘Whitewater’ and ‘Demon Cleaner’  I must surrender and admit it’s a masterpiece. Thinking of the first time I approached it and Blues for the Red Sun in cassette, I reckon the experience was totally mindblowing. Kyuss opened the gates to another musical dimension for me, and I learnt to listen to music in a different way, tasting and enjoying the different instruments, both separately and together, feeling the different vibes and atmospheres created thanks to the changes in rhythm, the guitar effects, and the distortions, and I also discovered my favorite instrument was drums. Kyuss could make me travel in my mind (no acid involved), and I think it didn’t happen again until I discovered Monster Magnet’s Dopes to Infinity.

Moreover, it was the first band that I reckon I felt passionate for which wasn’t mainstream, highlighting the fact that in that day even Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam were popular on a global scale, broadcast on MTV and any radio station. In the past it was more difficult to get acquainted with cult bands, due to the complexity of spreading the word, and getting to discover overseas bands in first place, mainly caused by a period of isolation our country was forced to go through for too many years. Also the fact that not many people around shared the same interest in music as me made things a bit worse. Whatever, the point I really intend to make here is that Kyuss was an unknown band for the majority of people here. I was introduced to the band through my friend Pablo, and he heard of, or better said, read about the band on a magazine, so we didn’t know the actual impact and popularity of the band in the States and abroad. As far as we were concerned they were some sort of gurus, with all the Palm Desert scene, playing in the middle of nowhere, just surrounded by cacti, and enlightened by the creative and magical power of weed…or something like that.

I think the cult towards this band had to do with this mysterious halo they were involved, at least we perceived it as such, and the evocative music combined with wonderful hard guitar riffs.

scott reeder

I was talking about Welcome to Sky Valley, huh? Getting back to it, there’s one more thing. I’d like to give the credit to one of the most remarkable bass players in rock/metal scene, Scott Reeder, who joined Kyuss at this point, but I think he earned by far enough credit to be recognized  as THE bass player in the band. His style, his rough way to play, and his attitude just made it. We always focus on the roles of John Garcia and Josh Homme, comparing them to another rock couples such as Plant and Page, Slash and Axl, or Tyler and Perry, as they’re more remarkable and easy to identify and analyze, and after all, their current bad relationship with suing involved makes us all wonder what happened between them, forgetting the rest of the members in the band and their contributions. I couldn’t affirm which is the main Kyuss drummer though, Bjork or Hernandez, no matter their influence on other musicians after their contribution to the band, however, regardless the fact that Nick Oliveri was there first on the 4 strings, Reeder won his place in rock history.

 

…LIKE A CLOCKWORK

This is the first moment this week I’m having a coffee, relaxed, and even though I’m wasted after a exhausting week of work, I feel like writing. It’s weird because it’s afternoon, there’s still daylight and I’m more like a night writer, but perhaps the fact that I’m isolated from any external noise thanks to the headphones makes me be in the mood for this.

Subtle artificial light, my house in shades, and the recently leaked new album by QOTSA, …Like a Clockwork, right into my ears, help me to withdraw and forget about the damn containers, endless excel charts and other crap.

like a clockwork

I love experiencing the first encounters with an album which has been so long awaited. It’s like having a date with someone you feel attracted and somehow you idealize. You’re excited, exultant, yet you’re nervous and uncertain, because there’s a chance there’s something you don’t like which could ruin the whole situation.

I had a chance to listen to …Like a Clockwork last night with the headphones on too, and even though I was knackered, I did like the songs. But I admit my criteria at 1.30am is not the most objective, and the album became kind of soothing lullaby. Wonderful all the same.

Now I’m awake and ready to dissect probably the darkest QOTSA work up to date. I reckon this album is darker and harder than Lullabies to Paralyze.

I really like the evolution of Homme’s main project. QOTSA are not rookies anymore, and their current style is very unique, completely detached from those desert stoner tunes which marked their starting point 15 years ago. Homme is not the ginger kid anymore, took control of his career and kept on experimenting until he found his own thing. This is a fact that annoys those Kyuss crazy fans who can’t comprehend why he split ways with Garcia, and therefore will never accept QOTSA. With the passing of years I’ve learned that things most times happen for a reason, and if Homme decided not to go on with Kyuss he could justify if case he felt obliged to provide explanations.

Probably you’ve read this already but nowadays I like QOTSA more than Kyuss, or at least their presence is more constant. Of course Kyuss  are very important in my musical personal story, and their albums are unbeatable, but QOTSA and I are growing old together and at this time I feel completely related to their style. It’s rock, even pop, refined and classy, and keeping groove.

The campaign for promoting the album is one of the most fascinating I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy in long time. QOTSA and the British artist Boneface have joined to deliver one of the most attractive combinations of music and artwork ever. The amazing cover, likeclockworktv.com, the videos, the promo on social networks…the tenuous atmosphere created is simply brilliant and magnetic.

I really like when bands try to set some kind of ties with their fans by this constant bombing of gifts for your pleasure which will eventually conclude with the release of the album. This leak wasn’t casual.  It was a strategy, and I’m very glad about it, otherwise I’d have waited for 3 more weeks.

qotsa

This is the 4th time I’m listening to …Like a Clockwork. I like it. I really like it, but it’s not an easy piece of cake. It’s like a trip to an awkward place, a bit frightening but appealing at the same time.

The opening cut Keep Your Eyes Peeled is a dark and insane blues, a risky bet. I don’t think everybody is ready to face it, and it’s a statement implying what’s to come is definitely rough. There are absolute lysergic songs such as Kalopsia, The Vampyre of Time and Memory or Like a Clockwork. There’s lots of Pink Floyd scent in there. And then direct hits such as I Sat by the Ocean, If I Had a Tail, My God is the Sun which are 100% QOTSA.

At this moment, the hidden surprise is definitely Feathered Friends. Instant crush. It’s epic, intense and overwhelming. Haven’t read much about collaborations, but apparently Trent Reznor, former QOTSA bassist Nick Oliveri, Mark Lanegan and (!!!) Elton John are present in this song.

My date has finally been a total crush and I’m now glad and excited. Now I’ll have to wait for the record to be officially released and receive it at home. Today Homme and QOTSA have made my day. Wish all were like this. I’m happy!

ALBUM OF WEEK 15: RATED R

Just one month remaining till QOTSA new album release, … Like a Clockwork, I’m starting to get nervous. It’s taken Josh Homme 6 years to take control back of the band, leave his others projects for a while, and record an album. It’s been too long since the fans don’t received new stuff, and we are eager! Got my copy preordered.

Little by little I’m recovering the different albums of their discography, and every time I do it, I’m full of enthusiasm. Queens Of The Stone Age has become one of my favorite bands, and Josh Homme not only an object, well, figure of desire, but also one of my favorite personal rock icons, thanks to his unique voice, so criticized by many, his style playing guitar, his talent writing music, and his charisma.

This time Rated R, QOTSA’s second work, is the album of the week.

rated r

Released in June 2000, when I was still living in London, I attended a promoting show at The Underworld, actually 3 days before its release worldwide and even though it was a great night and I was introduced to Josh by -cough, cough- Dave Wyndorf, I was a bit disappointed. They didn’t sound as groovie as their previous shows, and songs were too fast.

Somehow it discouraged me from listening to this album for long time and for some time, as I’ve already explained here, I really lost my interest for the band. Just because of one show. Sometimes I don’t understand myself, really.

I remember as if it was yesterday when I decided my hissy fit had to come to an end. I went straight to the record store, didn’t feel like digging and wasting my time, so I went straight to the guy and asked him for the album. I said R, and he didn’t know what I was talking about. I said Rated R and he stared at me as if I was an imbecile. Finally I asked him for QOTSA and he reacted. This was the “blue album”. What a pro, holy shit!

I came back home and started playing it on the stereo nonstop. First impression was that it wasn’t as great as the debut album, but quickly I swallowed my words.

Rated R was the album which took them to massive success. Apology for drugs, Mark Lanegan’s first collaboration providing lead vocals on In The Fade, which is AWESOME, and backing vocals on several songs, charismatic and insane Nick Oliveri  also joining the band for the first time and becoming a very active member, both as a showman, musician and troublemaker,  and  a handful of hit songs which blew people’s minds. The cocktail couldn’t fail.

hommeoliveri

Not only QOTSA’s trademark were Homme’s killing guitar riffs and voice, which by the way he’s been polishing throughout these years adding more varied dynamics, and widening his register. The master formula,  was based on the repetition. Repetition of riffs, of drums, of backing vocals, of phrasing…of everything. Sometimes drums barely change from verse through chorus, and don’t perform “complex” rolls. With this I do not mean drums are simple, no way.

One of the most boring things a drummer has to do is to play on their own, in order to practice and improve their skills. You might ignore I used to play drums a bit. Not a skillful one, neither a crappy one. But as usual, missing people to jam with, and lack of encouragement from certain people, prevented me for attempting to go further. My story with instruments is a sad one. Never was too constant, I didn’t get my own drum kit and since all men I’ve been related to have been musicians (some of them very talented and multiplayer), I never took myself very seriously and didn’t believe in myself enough as to give it a try.

All this confession has to do with the fact that for some time I went to these rent-a-studio-per-hour places for some months one hour a week, to play drums by myself. I had these hearing protectors for workers, with my headphones inside connected to the iPod, in order to play over the music. Considering the repetition of QOTSA’s songs and the structures, I used to play the debut album and Rated R a lot, at a low level, of course, but it was definitely a good motivation. Auto Pilot and You Can’t Quit Me Baby used to blow my head. But I quit drumming eventually.

When you face R for the first time, first impression is based on the hits I was mentioning: Feel Good Hit of the Summer, The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret, and Monsters in the Parasol. It’s when you start digging beyond that when you start truly enjoying this album. If I had to choose my favorite songs probably the chosen one would be In the Fade and Auto Pilot, followed by Leg of Lamb and Better Living Through Chemistry. Still, in my opinion Rated R is not as complete as Queens of the Stone Age or Songs for the Deaf, but I love it anyway.

 

ALBUM OF WEEK 4: …AND THE CIRCUS LEAVES TOWN

circus leaves town

I’ve just discovered that, inexplicably, there isn’t any album by Kyuss commented here up to date. I’d even say it’s unacceptable I had allowed this to happen, thus first of all I’d like to apologize and amend my mistake immediately.

I wouldn’t spend so many cheap words into something meaningless, but Kyuss is one of these bands which back in the day also left a mark on me.

I’m not 100% sure of having explained the way I got acquainted with this band from Palm Desert, so briefly I will give the credit to my friend and also a great artist EvilMrSod, who used to record albums in cassette almost 20 years ago, and he sent me three tapes with one of the holiest (stoner) rock trilogy in my life: Blues for the Red Sun, Welcome to Sky Valley,…And the Circus Leaves Town.  Inevitably Kyuss drove me crazy and managed to earn all my attention, but sadly they broke up too soon.

These guys had something special, a combination of many features which turn them into something genuine, unique. As usual, everybody highlights John Garcia’s powerful voice and the amazing riffs created by wonder boy Josh Homme, but their legacy and future influence over many musicians and rock lovers are beyond them. Drums by both Brant Bjork and Alfredo Hernandez marked a difference, Scott Reeder’s bass lines merging perfectly with drums and guitars, building a heavy and solid body of sound, their style moving from pure heavy metal to progressive rock, the simplicity of some of their compositions facing other complex pieces…

For long time I used to be obsessed with understanding the lyrics, till Ben Ward  said “who the fuck cares about their lyrics when they play awesome?”. That was the end of the discussion. He was right after all. Years later, let’s say lyrics aren’t their strength nor key for their music.

I’m experiencing a kind of stoner revival lately thanks to bands such as Orange Goblin, or my last two discoveries: Baroness and Clutch (finally, after some friends talking wonders for years. This new decade seems to bring back the essential stoner, closer to classic metal, separating from the doom tendency predominating  years ago. Thus, with this thought, first I paid my respects to the great Lullabies to Paralyze, and then I stepped back further to Down on The Upside.

It was just a matter of time Kyuss came to mind, thinking of the impact they had on me back in the day. Musically speaking, they meant the end of the Seattle sound chapter, and the starter for the stoner rock, which lasted several years too, sharing their hegemony with the Scandinavian punk rock bands. It’s overwhelming to think of certain bands as the beginning/end of different musical eras, huh? At the end of the day they also mark stages in life.

Kyuss

With memories and ideas twisting in my head I went straight to the CD shelves and chose my favorite album by Kyuss, which is …And the Circus Leaves Town. Love its title, by the way.  It’s one of my Winter albums. It spreads a scent of coldness and abandon hard to explain, which evokes the dead season.

Whenever I say  it’s their best album, diehard fans react surprised as Blues For The Red Sun is considered the best. Gotta say one of the reasons I got a bit tired of Kyuss has to do with their radical defenders. Narrow minded, too obsessed monothematic. You know what I mean,  for them John Garcia close to be a Messiah. Too boring!

…And The Circus Leaves Town is probably one of their most complete albums, combining trademark killing riffs in One Inch Man, lysergic passages such as in Catamaran or Phototropic, powerful in crescendo tracks such as the amazing Rodeo, those unique Hernandez’s drums in Hurricane or Thee Ol’ Boozeroony

But there’s a song I will never get tired of, which probably reflects the essence Kyuss at its best. It’s the fascinating Spaceship Landing, including a sequence of different parts, plenty of fuzz, riffs and solos, effects in voice, repetition, cymbals… so many details, one time is never enough to discover new things. I can easily imagine these guys playing this song at night in the middle of the desert, enjoying the effects of some heavy weed and perhaps some other downer, just allowing the music flow. So good…

Fate is tough and unpredictable. Josh Homme achieved stardom with QOTSA, Garcia the leader and one of the most charismatic frontmen in the last 20 years is doomed to start and eventually abandon every single project he’s gets involved with, and for some awkward reason, Hernandez plays for minor musicians keeping us deprived of his awesome skills. How come Kyuss was always a band for minorities? Some of the bands inheriting their legacy  however, are quite popular.

Anyway, sometimes it’s necessary to recover some classic albums I have to, and feel really good when I do it, because these records, already to be considered part of my life, bring back lots of past memories. This time it’s been greater, coming with this feeling of the stoner rock more alive than ever. Yeah, I dig!

ALBUM OF WEEK 1: LULLABIES TO PARALYZE

The first week of a year is always confusing. While most people are still in Xmas mood (in Spain we also celebrate the Epiphany on the 6 and the visit of the 3 Wise Kings to baby Jesus), I’m just sick and tired of this consumer mayhem. Determined to behave and control myself regarding partying, everybody is approaching these last days to gather and get booze. I try to be low profile on those days, and even though it’s not on purpose, I’m usually moodier and lower spirited than usual. I’m also a bit sensitive too, thus my appetite for music varies in extreme.

Lullabies to Paralyze

Thus, I started the year with Elvis and Backyard Babies (Total 13,  can be too predictable sometimes), I recovered some Steve Earle‘s stuff and listened intensely the two first albums of Mink DeVille, but the first 2013 album of the week goes to Lullabies to Paralyze.

I’m a QOTSA diehard fan, you already know that. One of my first posts related to the album of the week featured Songs for The Deaf, which took me many years to realize it’s probably their most solid work up to date.

Fans are usually divided into those who prefer the first albums, moving closer to Homme’s former band, Kyuss, and those who find the band finally found their personal style with Songs for the Deaf.

Lullabies to Paralyze is a step forward. Nick Oliveri had been fired from the band, Mark Lanegan and Homme working hand in hand delivering this dark album, and Joey Castillo on drums and the guitarist Troy Leeuwen as super active new members in the band. Great changes in short time.

QOTSA

Even though in general ratings Lullabies to Paralyzed is considered not as good as its predecessor, this was the album charting the highest.

As for me, this is another album designed for slow digestion. It didn’t get me crazy when it was released, however as I’ve been listening to it through all these years, I’ve been developing passion for it. it’s a great album, including amazing QOTSA’s classics, such as Little Sister, Burn The Witch, In my Head, Medication…songs to turn you on and in the mood for anything.

I love these albums which keep something unique, a treasure which cannot be compared to the rest of the track list due to its greatness. Lullabies to Paralyze has one, I Never Came. This song usually comes to my mind and evokes me different feelings. It’s sexy, decadent, sad, transmits some abandon…it’s one of my favorite QOTSA songs actually. Just for this song, this album is worth listening.

 

I really can’t wait to listen to Queens Of The Stone Age new album. It’s been more than 5 years since their last album release. I feel very curious about what they might deliver, even though I don’t get disappointed with anything coming from Homme. Perhaps I’m no longer objective, but after a long process and some struggle to overcome my state of denial, I must admit I love this band. We’ll see…

RUMORS AROUND QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE

This evening I was a surprised by a strong rumor regarding a possible tour of Queens of the Stone Age, spread by the band themselves.

What would you think if a tour playing just their debut album was confirmed? I’d get crazy for sure and move my ass anywhere to witness such moment.

I was lucky in my good old days I could see their first performances in small clubs in London, and can tell you shows were AWESOME.

Would you like to come with me?

Here you are the band @ the Bizarre Festival back in the day, Homme was a kid, my God!

By the way, before I forget, in March the reissue of this absolutely necessary album will be released both in vinyl and in cd with bonus. I’ve got my album already preordered 🙂