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Green Baron

Queens of the Stone Age - 'Villains'

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39 minutes ago, xeph said:

WARNING: the quality is kinda quiet. Sounds OK but you have to crank it up. Still, excited to give this a jammy jam

I read there's a watermark in the form of a couple tracks dropping in volume. Kind of a bummer,  I really want to lay back and fall into this when I get home but I also don't want the experience to be tarnished by wonky audio. 

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This is real good. My instinct is that it's probably my least favorite QOTSA album, but it's more because a handful of little issues than the music itself not being great. 

- "Un-Reborn Again" is definitely my favorite song. Delightfully weird, almost Bowie-esque, but totally compelling. 

- "The Evil Has Landed" is a great jam that resembles Zeppelin, and the bridge in particular is maybe the finest moment of the whole record with Jon Theodore's ridiculous drumming, but I think the last minute is a really unfortunate miss. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's the big moment you'd really expect to kick it into overdrive and take the record to the next level, and it just kinda peters out with a generic riff that doesn't go anywhere, and doesn't hit hard enough to justify it. 

- "Head Like a Haunted House", "Domesticated Animals", and "Hideaway" are all undisputed wins. The first is a total joy, going 100mph and constantly feeling like it's about to derail. "Hideaway" is sultry and dark, reminds me of Peepshow-era Siouxsie. 

- The first two songs are both good, somewhat standard QOTSA single fare. There's an emphasis on groove which sets up the album's direction well. Neither are especially memorable to me, but that's almost always been the case with QOTSA singles. 

- Of the two ballads, "Villains of Circumstance" is a home run closer with some career-best Homme lyrics nestled in the verses. "Fortress", on the other hand, is hampered by some career-worst Homme lyrics throughout. The music good, kind of reminds me of "Into the Hollow" from Era Vulgaris, but it's the worst on the record. 

- Overall Ronson's production is a mixed bag. It's punchy, and has that "air sucked out" sound that works great with a pair of good overear headphones, and I'm sure he aided a lot with the synth parts, but the mixing of Theodore's drums is almost unforgivable. Great drumming has always been core to the band's sound, and this was the full-length studio debut of the most technically proficient drummer they've ever had. 

- On the plus side, this is also the probably the most focused they've sounded as a unit since Songs for the Deaf. There seems to be emphasis on doing away with the the revolving door line-up and sticking with this group of five as THE band, and it shows. Mikey Shoes's bass in particular is a highlight and the best bass I think I've heard from Queens post-Oliveri. 

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QOTSA Power Rankings:

1. Lullabies to Paralyze 

2. Rated R

3. Era Vulgaris 

4. ...Like Clockwork 

5. Queens of the Stone Age 

6. Songs for the Deaf

7. Villains

It's by no means a pronounced gap though, and I'm always prone to change my mind on this stuff with this band. I can't place my finger on what it is that's keeping it at 7, maybe it's just me not being quite as into the dancy sound. Or maybe it's just there being only one song that really blows me away and the rest are varying degrees of very good/great, where all the others have had at least two "HOLY SHIT" level songs. 

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