Ranked: Queens of the Stone Age

Before I start the ranking, I must disclose that Queens are my favourite ever all-time band. Despite the suggested bias, they are one of the few music artists that have never released a “bad” record. In fact, all of their studio albums are excellent, making this ranking very tough.

Formed in 1996 from the ashes of frontman & lead guitarist Josh Homme’s prior band Kyuss, QOTSA have seen many lineup changes with their records often involving significant input from guest musicians. For now however, it seems for the first time in the band’s history there is a permanent lineup which should make LP7 very interesting as it bucks the trend of guest musician contribution. Here is my ranking of their discography.

 

[6] Rated R (2000)

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So immediately, this may come as a surprise to many fellow Queens fans. Generally considered one of their, if not best albums for its evolution from the debut album as well as flow and consistency. However, this ‘Ranked’ series is based on my personal opinion therefore I shall explain why their sophomore and breakthrough record comes in at last place.

Let me begin by stating that some of my favourite QOTSA tracks are on this record (The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret/In the Fade) but it’s the one I also do not go back and replay in its full entirety that often. As I stated above, Queens have only released good records, and this is no exception. Yet it does not possess the intense replayability I get from other, superior Queens records.

Essential tracks: The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret // Better Living Through Chemistry // In the Fade

 

 

[5] Era Vulgaris (2007)

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This may be considered the outlier and weird one of the bunch, but that resulting experimentation and its successful execution is what makes Era Vulgaris a brilliant, memorable record. Its dark, deeply mechanical and is the closest thing the band have come to crossing into other identifiable genres without straying from their quintessential desert sound.

Tracks such as ‘Turnin’ On the Screw’, ‘I’m Designer’ & ‘Misfit Love’ are peculiar gems, with off-piste grooves and aggressive, robotic riffs. Homme claims the inspiration for this record came from a drive through Hollywood, perhaps reflected in its glitzy & shimmering but also dark & dirty production in many tracks. The record contains the quintessential floaty/dreamy verses and choruses, with Homme’s falsetto often gliding above complex, multi-layered guitar compositions.

Essential tracks: Into the Hollow // Make it Wit Chu // Run, Pig, Run

 

 

[4] Self-titled (1998)

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QOTSA’s self-titled debut is a great rock record. It kicks off with the punchy and effortlessly groovy ‘Regular John’ (also a personal favourite) and there are many, many other great tracks present here. Josh Homme handles songwriting, vocal, guitar & bass with Alfredo Hernandez on drums. This was also the first record to kick off the trend of guest/additional appearances from other musicians, in this case fellow desert rocker Chris Goss.

Self-titled has a great flow from start to finish. Homme claims the band’s debut record is more “robotic” than anything, evident throughout with its repetitive riffs and unusual sounds and structures. It is clear to see the progression from self-titled to Rated R and it may be more refined on the latter yet Queens’ debut pips the post for me.

Essential tracks: Regular John // If Only // Mexicola

 

 

[3] …Like Clockwork (2013)

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The band’s most recent record took nearly seven years to drop following a swathe of side projects, other commitments and personal issues for the band members. The re-release and supporting celebratory tour of their debut album in 2011 also shaped this record and made them rework some tracks. …Like Clockwork is the band’s most refined and calculated record yet. It’s absolutely all killer, no filler.

The flow of the ten-track album goes through many ups and downs, creating a significant swell and multitude of emotions. It features some of Homme’s best, most honest songwriting. The record also contains tracks that are more guided towards the mainstream, such as lead single ‘My God is the Sun’, a straight-forward rocker but with deeply complex instrumentation from the now three-guitar lineup. Penultimate track ‘I Appear Missing’ is a highlight of Queens’ entire discography. It’s tough to even tie this track to a genre, it’s completely unique in terms of structure and instrumentation.

Essential tracks: Keep Your Eyes Peeled // If I Had a Tail // I Appear Missing

 

[2] Lullabies to Paralyze [2005]

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Queens of the Stone Age’s fourth LP took a delightful turn for the pitch dark. Again, with heavy input from guest musicians, the core members comprised of Josh Homme, Troy Van Leeuwen & Joey Castillo. Lullabies to Paralyze is a fitting title for a collection of tracks that is equal parts brash and mellow, possessing abilities that knock the listener into a blissful state, as well as wake them up from a ten-year coma (see my full review).

Lullabies to Paralyze features a dark swagger and sexiness throughout. Despite the album runtime coming in at just under an hour, there is no filler. Every track serves its purpose and deserves a spot on this fantastic record.

Essential tracks: Little Sister // I Never Came // You Got A Killer Scene There, Man…

 

[1] Songs for the Deaf [2002]

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Behold, Queens’ magnum opus that is Songs for the Deaf. Based on the concept of taking a drive through the Californian desert, the record features fictitious radio stations and hosts that intertwine and weave among tracks. SFTD is the band’s heaviest album, featuring borderline metal instrumentation. Josh Homme’s riff-building is cacophonic, as is Nick Oliveri’s tight bass-playing. Dave Grohl’s drumming is fantastically dynamic, never feeling out of place and is one of the main assets of the record.

I can return to this record infinitely and enjoy it, always discovering something new along the way. The record flows seamlessly, each track blends into one another effortlessly. It’s just a shame that Six Shooter made the main tracklisting…

Essential tracks: No One Knows // Go With the Flow // Do it Again // God is on the Radio

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