Queens of the Stone Age ‘... Like Clockwork' (Matador)
Elton John and Dave Grohl churning it up on the same track. Twenty years ago, probably even less, that would have made a true connoisseur of fine alternative hard rock raise an incredulous eyebrow. A joke. Science fiction, even, one might say.
Only on a Queens of the Sone Age album, kiddies. Josh Homme is a mad scientist of heavy-music experimentation, playing with a revolving-door cast of musicians each time out, and “... Like Clockwork” is one of his most potent, smoking, sparks-shooting formulas to date.
A choir does an “ah-ah-ah” opening to the thundering “Fairweather Friends” (rumblings courtesy Grohl on drums), while John adds piano and backing vocals and Homme shreds on lead guitar, singing in a quavering, operatic fever a lot like Cream lead singer Jack Bruce (who is one of his major influences, don't let him tell you differently).
This is the best, most melodic, most hard-punching music to come out so far this year, which is no surprise, since Homme can't help but be the best purveyor at work today of tuneful, rolling-boulder songs such as the moody title cut, the slow-pounding opener “Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” the highway-worthy “I Sat By the Ocean,” and the beautifully-shaded bluesiness of “The Vampyre of Time and Memory.”
Stop it, Joshua, you're killing us.
No, wait. Don't stop.
— Gene Triplett