It's a sad comment on the state of rock radio that Limp Bizkit gets massive airplay and the Queens of the Stone Age don't. The Queens' 2000 album Rated R was more than a classic riff fest--it was one of the flat-out catchiest hard-rock albums in recent memory. "Feel Good Hit of the Summer," "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret," and "In the Fade" all took immediate root in my subconscious. Maybe the tag "stoner rock," which the music media also affixed to front man Josh Homme's previous group, Kyuss, has made it harder to market the Queens--but does anybody, even radio execs, really believe that giving music that label means only stoners can like it? Whatever the problem is, the Queens aren't about to take it lying down: on the forthcoming Songs for the Deaf (due in August on Interscope) they link their tunes with a series of tongue-in-cheek skits that feature drive-time jocks discussing the sorry condition of commercial radio. They've also brought in one of radio's favorite sons: Foo Fighters front man and former Nirvana power plant Dave Grohl drums on nearly every track. Not that the Queens have "gone grunge"--or that they've ever been particularly far from it, for that matter. The handful of songs I've heard stick to the band's usual woozy vibe, particularly the quasi-psychedelic "Hanging Tree" and the brooding "Song for the Deaf," an epic draped with overlays of echoing air-raid-siren guitars. On "Millionaire" Homme ramps up into full cat-scratch howl over a giant vintage-AOR riff, and the stop-start shuffle of "God Is Radio" showcases both Homme's mastery of hooks and Grohl's rhythmic assurance. This show is sold-out. Thursday, June 6, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Schmelling.