Now that the leash is finally off ‘…Like Clockwork,’ the monstrously good and long-awaited new album from Queens of The Stone Age, you can listen to the album as you read our in-depth review (pick it up from Matador Records while you’re at it). We’re celebrating the next chapter in QOTSA with a look back at the Top 10 Queens of The Age Age Songs of All Time. They’re presented in no particular order – picking ten was hard enough over the span of six albums and a blaze of B-sides!
Mark Lanegan’s gravel-growl leads the way through what sounds like a demented nursery rhyme riding a galloping low-end groove. The version on Songs For The Deaf is cleaner and meaner than the original iteration (found on Desert Sessions Vol. 8), but both encompass the band’s sinister darkness in a popped-collar Halloween-rock vibe that never grows old.
Sweet spot: At 2:15, the solo squeals to life, taking an awesomely short flight before a final chorus sees the song over the cliff.
The menacing drone that immediately hits your ears gives way to a jittering, violently drunken robot, razors whirring in a downright mean riff that doesn’t relent for nearly six minutes. In the handbasket ride to Hell, frontman Joshua Homme has found the perfect soundtrack. To capture the song’s chug-strut glory, check out this clip from the band’s 2007 appearance on the Henry Rollins show.
Sweet spot: Rounding the bend for the final stretch at 4:44, badass becomes cataclysmically sick: “Just a dead man, walking through the dead of night…”
The Fun Machine Took a Shit and Died
The studio version of this non-album track recorded at the end of the Era Vulgaris sessions is a disturbing, staggering slugger, but it’s in live performance that “Fun Machine” really becomes a monster. It begins as a slow dance in a nightmare funhouse, massaging discomfort in the darkest pits of your imagination as tempo shifts, demented lyrical designs and an absolute motherfucker of a middle-section breakout groove strap you in for one of the most epic rides in the Queens’ amusement park.
Sweet spot: At 4:13 the middle-section groove gives way to a breakneck-speed rhythm that kicks every single ass in existence.
I Appear Missing
A centerpiece of QOTSA’s latest album is a personal apocalypse wrapped in a gargantuan nightmare cabaret full of enchanting trap doors and left turns. It’s a complex and enchanting composition, several independently moving parts coalescing in the highest dramatics of sound. The heart is strapped to a space shuttle and sent hurtling to the ground in a white-fire intensity that nakedly lays out a hopeless situation, a man at the very edges of existence, sadly waving back at what is gone forever.
Sweet spot: We’re cheating with two here for the studio version – the first being the percussive blizzard beginning at 2:42 before bursting over the edge of a cliff into a moment of stunned silence. Then there’s the 4:23 kickoff of the guitar solo that leads the song out in a powerfully rocking but achingly ominous conclusion.
Make It Witchu
Sometimes you just need to be direct in your lusting intentions. Many Queens diehards are still partial to the Desert Sessions version, but the looser vibe on the Era Vulgaris rendition still conveys the sex-swagger charm that makes this unforgettable singalong a self-lubricating slice of slow-burning sonic lust. The song also appeared on the band’s live DVD Over the Years and Through the Woods.
Sweet spot: That one vocal hook that digs into your head like a barb, forever and ever, at 1:53: “If I told you ’bout the sun and the moon, I’d be untrue. The only thing I know for sure is what I wanna do.. anytime, anywhere”