Liner Notes

Friday, April 24, 2020

Queens Of The Stone Age // ...Like Clockwork

Released: 2013
Double 45RPM LP Black
Favorite Track: "The Vampyre of Time and Memory"

I don't think I've ever put this record on before midnight. It's a nighttime record. "Keep Your Eyes Peeled" is a nasty opener. Driving a shitty car in a bad part of town, nasty. Nighttime records are tricky. When I first hear them, I tend to hate them. Usually because I first listen to them in broad daylight and am not ready to hear them. It's incredible how much context affects your enjoyment of something. I used to trap people in my room and force-feed them my favorite records.
Nothing makes you love a record more than someone staring up expectantly at you after a killer drum fill, right?!

I offer a formal apology to every friend or potential mate I've ever subjected to this well-meaning but misguided behavior. Now, on rare occasions, when I want to share a record with someone, I usually loan it to them so they can listen to it on their own time. I wanted to share Queens with my listening party accomplice and made two different mix tapes (constructed in this, the 21st century, using the thoroughly modern convention of Spotify playlists). The first was composed of the dyed-in-the-wool bangers, or "cheap thrills" as she calls them. The phrase haunts me, but we'll come back to this.   It's heavy on Songs For The Deaf and Nick Oliveri's contributions. The second mix was comprised of the more mid-tempo, seductive, and moody Queens.
Which brings me back to "cheap thrills." I love a tasty morsel of rock 'n roll, a line of cocaine in 4/4. I'm ride or die for the bangers. But the phrase "cheap thrills" is ferocious; both perfectly apt and massively undermining. It cut me to the quick. Is that all my record collection is? Cotton candy for my ears? Is that what I love? Is that all? Have I only swum in the shallow end? I went down a rabbit hole of self-doubt.

Two words unraveled me.
Shockingly, the second mixtape had twice as many songs. I never realized how many of their more contemplative, thoughtful songs I loved. Maybe it's my age showing, or how incredibly well-crafted their quieter jams are, but my "cheap thrills" were outnumbered 2 to 1. Maybe I'm dividing my cheap thrills into cheap and cheaper thrills, but listening to this record, I will go full Daniel Plainview with a bowling pin for Josh Homme's song-writing.
Their catalogue is handsome and calls to my desert casino-trash heart. They are one of the last great rock 'n roll bands. Cheap thrills, heart-breakers, and cautionary tales are all in rock 'n' roll DNA. And on the off-chance my musical tastes never got deeper than rock 'n' roll, so be it. Jazz can fuck off with its math. If you want music that's more fun to talk about than to listen to, you won't find it in my house. Four on the floor with my bass drum heart.
I'm tempted to share the mixes with you here, but that would undermine their bastion of specialness.  For now, let me simply recommend this record to you. Take a long drive on an open road through the desert in the dead of night and let this record kidnap you.

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