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Posts Tagged ‘Josh Homme’

5. Queens of the Stone Age – Mosquito Song

The Queens of the Stone Age can make spectacular rock music when they put their minds to it. Most of the time, they take the easy route by sticking meaty hooks over a few desert grooves, giving us tracks like No One Knows and Make It Witchu that sound too convenient, with their stuttering rhythms and pansy percussion lacking the proper venom that their brand of rock and roll truly deserves. Some of their other tracks, (Hanging Tree, Burn The Witch, In The Fade) make me want to believe that the Palm Beach rock scene didn’t die a horrid death when the almighty Kyuss disbanded. Mosquito Song is a tranquil moment for Josh Homme and the boys; a mellow acoustic trip that couldn’t have gotten lovelier if Mark Lanegan had joined him for the final chorus. Thankfully, the searing violins did.

4. Natalie Imbruglia & Sneaker Pimps – Cold Air (Download)

The music industry hated everything about Natalie Imbruglia except her Torn video and pre-emo emo haircut so that we, the quasi badass nerds and fantasy music critics with our beady eyes, could enjoy her music without feeling brainwashed by MTV. Naaaah they probably didn’t like her because she was too far away from what they perceived as the future template of mainstream pop music – Lady ‘mother loving’ Gaga. Not that the poor thing was either a very good singer or a talented songwriter. In fact I wish Cold Air, a B-side remix from her White Lilies Island album, was originally written by someone else, let’s say, Isobel Campbell or Shara Worden. I can’t though. So here goes, a scrumptious pop tart from someone the collective consciousness previously rejected as a flash-in-the-pan. Surely that gives her some sort of reverse pop psychology credibility. Yay for Sneaker Pimps too.

3. Pantera & Kerry King – Goddamn Electric

Heavy metal is like that stepdad who beats the living daylights out of little Johnny. Yet Johnny keeps coming back for more; not because he likes it, but rather out of the flimsy hope that someday his stepdad just might show him some love. See, Johnny is a lot like us, haggard metal fans. Tired of the abuse handed down to us; and just not enough love going around. I say, enough with the shrieking drama kings and queens clad in black designer wear, posing as the prima donnas of popular heavy metal. Whenever I listen to Bad Brains, Pantera or Zakk Wylde, I can understand why little Johnny still gets excited whenever the drunken oaf puts the belt away and makes him a paper airplane to play with. “Goddamit man, you’re not the best daddy that little Johnny could hope for, but screw it, paper planes are awesome and so was this moment…for little Johnny”. So Pantera jams with Slayer’s guitarist and pays a fearsome ode to Black Sabbath and whiskey? How could this not be inspiring? Solos like this are meant to be used as a case against civil decency.

2. Saul Williams – Twice Upon A Time (Download)

Saul Stacey Williams is to alternative hip hop what Lou Reed once was to punk music. We can’t always see the connection, but we can only be sure that they somehow revolutionized it. Saul’s not just an incredible rhyme slayer; he’s an open mic beat poet, a very competent writer and a decent enough actor. That’s already 3,456 things that Ice Cube is not. Over the years his albums have sonically pushed all sides of spectrum and much like his enviably retro afro have grown more captivating. So much so that his 2007 album NiggyTardust was sometimes unlistenable from a pop perspective, but was intensely captivating in its own right, as dense collages of sound that challenge listeners to break down barriers. Twice Upon A Time is an amazing track that can be found on Disc 3 of Xen Cuts – a Ninja Tune compilation. This track is so poorly misrepresented on the Web that this blog shows up when you Google it. It starts off with a chilly broken blues lament that leads to Saul Williams coercing poetry and hip hop to writhe in imperfect harmony, the kind that sounds really good. “As if a heartbeat wasn’t enough…” Also read the Scholar wax lyrical about this track, as always.

  1. John Martyn – Glory Box

These lists that bloggers make are so absurd. Top 25 this, top 3 that.  Someone should make a top 100 list of things to do that are more worthwhile than sitting in front of the laptop, hoping that strange (and possibly lonelier) people think we’re cool because we assume that great and obscure music is drawn to us.  Aren’t we just precious? Let’s all approach Gollum and just bend over. More importantly, let’s just pretend that I’m above such judgment and move along. Singer-songwriter John Martyn sounds like the child that Frank Sinatra and Tom Waits could have never had.  Give him a Vogon poem and he’ll make that sound mesmerizing. Arundhati Roy’s articles too. His 1998 album – The Church With One Bell – has one of the most jaw-dropping covers ever made. His raspy tone segues with the seductively lounge-y instrumentation to turn Portishead’s Glory Box into a gorgeous jazz number that you can kick back and smell the nicotine stains to. Get the entire album, minions…there are promises of Billie Holiday and Dead Can Dance too. (PS: Yes I’m aware that the list says 1999-2009).

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50. Eagles of Death Metal – Anything ‘Cept The Truth

Palm Beach-based Eagles of Death Metal, despite what Axl Rose might say, have paid proper respect to the almighty desert rock groove. Sometimes light-headed, mindlessly rhythmic rock music is what the soul craves. This track from NHL 10’s soundtrack is just that.

49. Gypsy Soul – Wicked Game

I have felt guilty about liking Chris Isaac’s original version as much as I used to. California-based Celtic pop band Gypsy Soul, with their singer Cilette Swann coaxing the melody to travel to a far more ethereal place, makes me feel cool again.

48. Iggy Pop – King Of The Dogs

Iggy Pop has reinvented himself in a sensibly drunken way. The Godfather of Punk went eclectic jazz and lounge pop in his latest album Préliminaires, shining like a mad friggin diamond on this track. I can’t help but wonder if the meeting with Tom Waits in Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes had something to do with this.

47. Aimee Mann – One Is The Loneliest Number

Not since Bjork’s All Is Full of Love has a woman’s voice had me feeling this giddy and diffident at once. You might have heard her during one of those wonderfully screwed up sequences in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia. I heart Aimee Mann.

46. Colin Meloy – Summertime

I have a very high regard for the music of The Decemberists; Colin Meloy’s their singer and songwriter, and a very fine one at that. A million artists have covered George Gershwin’s Summertime but a nay a musician in recent years has done it with such style and restrained grace.

45. KlaxonsNo Diggity

It’s scary how good Klaxons were in conducting this experiment in weirdness. Blackstreet & Dr Dre dare not complain; these London-based new wave poppers have done them proud, with an insanely catchy cover that has no business sounding as good as it does.

44. Mos Dub – Ms Vampire Booty

Max Tannone’s remix project lets Mos Def’s badass verbosity loose on the dancefloor with some funky reggae sampling to keep it company. The killer snares behind acapella vocals dare you to sit still.

43. Circa Survive – Spirit Of The Stairwell

Pennsylvania-based Circa Survive makes common music with uncommon talent. Their brand of lo-fi acoustic music isn’t going to win you over with originality, but the altruistically dreamy psychedelia of tracks like this one will whip your ears into soulful frenzy. Check out their 2010 album Blue Sky Noise.

42. Cold War Kids – Electioneering

This isn’t if for everyone, kiddies. Amongst all the tracks on the OKX album, Stereogum’s tribute to Radiohead’s 1997 masterpiece, the Cold War Kids’ cover is probably the boldest. The militant thumping of percussions, along with Nathan Willett’s dry-throated call for political compromises, takes me back to the first time I heard APC’s Counting Bodies Like Sheep.

41. Josh Homme & PJ Harvey – Powdered Wig Machine

Josh Homme’s decade-long pet project – Desert Sessions – has him collaborating with the coolest musicians from the vastly underrated Palm Desert Scene. PJ Harvey brings sultriness back with the ferocity of a she-wolf in heat, seducing, howling, “Come on, come to me”; very, very sexy.

40. The Constellations – A Perfect Day

I get misty-eyed whenever heavy slabs of soul are injected into the veins of straight-up rock music. Little Richard spawned it. The Beatles stole it. The Rolling Stones lost it. Coldplay and Maroon 5 almost screwed it all up. Now The Constellations have resurrected it on their Southern Gothic album. If only their songwriting improved, they’d be a force to reckon with.

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Supergroup Them Crooked Vultures comprise Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and John Paul Jones. Nine years earlier, the coming together of a grunge outcast, a savior of stoner rock and the son of one of the greatest bassists ever could have meant great things for rock and roll. Today, it amounts to little else than a consistent rock and roll album. Their debut album, despite its southern fried anthems, a couple of solos that should have little straitjackets dangling by the guitar chord to contain their ferocity and one of the coolest album covers of 2009, humbles itself in front of the altar of the almighty groove.  While songs like the sleazy and sweaty Scumbag Blues or the decidedly indie Warsaw Or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up make me want to believe in Them Crooked Vultures, the rest just meanders, endlessly flirting with stoner rock and garage rock and roll. I’ll just wait for another Josh Homme Desert Sessions mixtape to whet my appetite for rock and roll’s eventual resurrection.

*****

Truth be told, Pearl Jam are the most successful emo band ever. We don’t like to admit it because of our tryst with their music. Don’t worry, my minions, we have all clutched our pillows, and drowned ourselves in tracks like Animal, Alive and Even Flow to escape the tedium of wading through post-pubescent tears. Still, go back and listen to your favourite Pearl Jam songs and listen real close. Sshhhhhh. Can you hear it? Hopelessly romantic lyrics, monotonous riffs, crispy clean guitar solos and socially-responsible drumming. Case in point, the weeping Black, one of those songs that I, along with my friends, have out-drank pirates, Vikings and Malayalees to. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the song ends with Eddie Vedder crying out “I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life, I know you’ll be a sun in somebody else’s sky, but why whyyyyy, whyyyyyyyyy can’t it be, can’t it be mine?” followed by the rest of the band vocally harmonizing with a fading solo. If that’s not emo, I don’t know what the fuck is, man.

*****

My fondness for heavy metal went for a ride in a hearse three years ago. I haven’t heard from it since then. With my favourite metallers Sepultura and Pantera calling it quits, Machine Head discovering musical horizons that are quite frankly beyond their natural abilities, and Ozzy Osbourne becoming a parody of the parody he was a decade ago, Slayer is now the only metal band I still listen to. See, Tom Araya, Jeff Hanneman, Kerry King and Dave Lombardo have been creating gnarly, blood-soaked metal for years; they just might be one of the most consistent metal bands out there right now. While God Hates Us All remains Slayer’s most impressive case study of this  evolved sound, their new album World Painted Blood finds them in supreme form, as they churn out skull-crushing anthems against a hateful world that has wronged them by offering all the intoxicants they could dream of, lucrative record deals, mainstream popularity, free guitars and respect from their friends and peers. No wonder they are so pissed off. Cynicism besides, Playing With Dolls is the best they have sounded since the wickedly groovy Bloodline from GHUA.

Watch

Them Crooked Vultures – Warsaw Or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up

Pearl Jam – Love Reign Over Me (The Who cover)

Slayer – Playing With Dolls

Buy

Them Crooked Vultures’ debut album

Sleepless In Seattle: Birth Of Grunge

Slayer’s World Painted Blood

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