Thursday, January 31, 2019

100 Albums: "Songs For The Deaf" by Queens Of The Stone Age

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Queens Of The Stone Age
Title: Songs For The Deaf
Released: 2002
Genre: hard rock



The record that broke QotSA into the big leagues. It was the last album with bassist Nick Oliveri and featured drumming from none other than Dave Grohl. Songs For The Deaf is the album where the band cuts loose with false song endings, multiple hidden tracks, crazy breakdowns, and pithy interludes. It presents itself as a radio "saga"--you the listener are surfing the channels and hearing the various songs on the album played on hard rock, college rock, top 40, hip hop, easy listening, and tejano stations. It's a satire of terrestrial radio while also seeming to beg for radio play.

Good thing SftD has two spectacularly radio-friendly tunes, the ubiquitous No One Knows and the non-stop drive of Go With The Flow, which really drove the album's success. But even the non-radio tracks are plenty fun. Song For The Dead and God Is In The Radio play around with structure. I'm a big fan of First It GivethHangin' Tree, and Another Love Song. The intrasong shenanigans make for a better album-listening experience than song-listening experience, so if you shuffle this on your iPod you're going to get intros in the wrong places, etc. Whether or not this is a feature or a bug is at your discretion, but I'm a firm believer that a good album should be more than just a collection of songs, and while the interludes are gimmicky, they're fun and do contribute to the album's cohesiveness.

The record isn't completely flawless. Six-Shooter and You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar But I Feel Like A Millionaire feel like filler, but they're also super short. Mosquito Song is amusing, but by the time it comes around the album feels like it's running out of steam. But these are minor quibbles for a an otherwise fantastic album.

Further Listening: I debated whether or not to use Songs For The Deaf or Villains for this list. Villains is tighter and is just excellent, but it doesn't have the two massive hits you find here. ...Like Clockwork is excellent as well, and while I don't know if I like it enough to include it on this list, Lullabies To Paralyze is solid.

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