There is a two word sentence everybody loves. It shall be forever adored by all humans everywhere purely for the utter excitement and apprehension. Have you guessed it? Thats right, “Road trip”! Josh Homme, the 6′ 4” band leader of Queens Of The Stone Age knows this, and having lived in the California desert all his life, you get the impression those conquests would have been epic. Songs For The Deaf, the third and possibly most acclaimed record of QOTSA’s discography, is the soundtrack to any road trip whether it be across a barren wasteland, an urban sprawl or simply just the highways of your mind.
Treated like car journey, Songs For The Deaf features door slams, and songs coming from the unknown driver’s constant flipping of radio stations as DJs ranging from Punk loving Mexicans to God fearing hicks. Album opener You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire introduces ‘the saga’ with a bombastic and rifftastic blast of stoner rock energy that has then bassist Nick Oliveri screaming “Gimme Toro, Gimme some more!” with such vigour that could rip lungs to shreds. One last scream and we launch into No One Knows… need I say more? Indeed the band’s signature hit in context with the explosive opening feels twice as massive as it does on its own with Homme’s fantastic guitar licks teamed with the dynamic force of guest drummer, former Nirvana sticksman and renowned Foo Fighter, Dave Grohl.
Guests aren’t in short supply on the record as Grohl takes the drummers seat for the majority of the album contributing to some of the bands most notably rhythmic tunes such as title tracks A Song For The Deaf and A Song For The Dead. Notable on both are the guest vocals of Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan, his trademark baritone growl dominating the fan favourite track. Elsewhere Lanegan features on the rollocking gallop of God Is On The Radio, a track crafted out for foot-stomping and hip-shaking if there ever was one. Long time collaborator Alain Johannes also leaves his stamp on the record with his own penned tune Hangin’ Tree as well as adding spooky organs to Oliveri tune Another Love Song.
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The sense of collaboration and friendship is dear to the band’s hearts and it clearly comes across on Songs For The Deaf, an album that you can believe was born out of good times. Despite the albums somewhat balls-to-the-wall and brash nature, there are plenty of delicate nuances to be taken in especially lyrically. First It Giveth‘s refrain of “I would beg, I would plead, I would shake” details a desperation for a mate whilst acoustic closing track Mosquito Song sees Homme croon softly about what many fans believe to be the story of a guilt ridden cannibal, never a man to Go With The Flow… ahem.
The legacy of Songs For The Deaf is clear with the album often described as Josh Homme’s masterpiece, seeing the album ranked highly on many publications lists as one of the greatest albums of all time. The current line-up of the group often revisit moments of the album live and their most recent album …Like Clockwork has been described by many as the most alike to Songs For The Deaf once again featuring Grohl, Lanegan and former member Oliveri. Whatever came before or after is unimportant however, regarded on its own, its clear Songs For The Deaf is something special. So go get your friends, a car, play it in your stereo and pick a direction. Wherever you end up, with Songs For The Deaf, you’re bound to have one hell of a ride.