New York Music Daily

No New Abnormal

Tag: queens of the stone age

Tantalizingly Heavy Freebies from Riding Easy Records

In 2021, record labels are like video stores were twenty years ago. Riding Easy Records are the rare label who have managed to carve out a successful niche – in all things heavy. Stoner boogie, doom metal, psychedelia, biker rock, they’ve got you covered. Their Xmas 2020 mixtape – a free download at Bandcamp – is an obvious ploy to get you to stock up on their vinyl. And practically everything they put out is worth owning on vinyl, as this playlist confirms.

There’s an insane amount of music here, seventeen tracks. Some of these acts are well known, others less so, and many have received coverage here. Take the Goners, who mash up psychedelic garage rock with metal riffs and whose album Good Mourning recently got the thumbs-up. They’re represented by the album’s most bizarre track, Down and Out, a blend of Ventures and early Iron Maiden with a spacy interlude for horns. Go figure.

Here Lies Man, an Antibalas spinoff who metalize Afrobeat, open the mix with I Told You (You Shall Die), a killer minor-key number that could be a heavier Budos Band with a mellotron. Lake, by Spelljammer, has brisk fuzz-and-wah bookending the surprisingly slinky sludge in between. Warish‘s hammering Say to Please looks back to Queens of the Stone Age, while Deathchant‘s Holy Roller is a surreal mashup of heavy 70s boogie, screamo and hip-hop.

Alator’s Lost and Never Found has vintage Sabbath gloom and catchiness, plus a cool funeral organ solo. Biker rock band the Death Wheelers earned a good Halloween month review with their latest album, whose title track is the chugging faux-bikesploitation theme Divine Filth. Death Is Coming, by R.I.P., is a more 70s-oriented throwback to Bon Scott-era AC/DC and Judas Priest.

Hellfire‘s Victims moves forward in time about seven or eight years to the new wave of British heavy metal and Iron Maiden, whose catchiest, poppiest side they emulate. Headbang, by Rapid Tears, and the Mopptops’ Our Lives are pretty standard-issue Nuggets garage nostalgia at slightly higher volume

The ersatz Hendrix of Randy Holden’s Blue My Mind appears on the reissue of the former Blue Cheer guitarist’s extremely rare 1970 vinyl debut, Population II. First State Bank’s lysergically multitracked Mr. Sun and Debb Johnson’s politically volatile heavy soul single Dancing in the Ruin are also 70s rarities digitized and resurrected on the latest volume in the popular Brown Acid compilation series – they’re up to eleven now, just like Spinal Tap. And Gypsy, by Indianapolis psychedelic band Ice, is the strangest rediscovery here, a bizarre riff-rock tune with hints of the Moody Blues and the Move. Riding Easy Records reissued their lone, similarly surreal 1970 album, The Ice Age, last June.

Thomas V. Jager, frontman of Monolord, contributes The Bitter End, a lo-fi gothic ballad evoking a well-known Animals hit. The album’s final cut seems to be a stoner joke: no spoilers. Download and enjoy.

Warish Bring Their Hard, Fast Attack to the Knitting Factory

Warish play hard, fast, heavy music that sounds a lot like Queens of the Stone Age: metal chord changes at punk speed. They’re not big on guitar solos but they are big on hooks and evil chromatics. They like their textures fuzzy and dry, Pantera-style. Their new album Down in Flames – which doesn’t seem to be a Dead Boys reference – is streaming at Bandcamp. On the record, they tend to pair similar-sounding songs together, maybe because the tunes here are on the short side: no wasted notes. Warish are playing the Knitting Factory on Sept 30 at 8 PM followed by the epic Wizard Rifle and then psychedelic doom legends Acid King; cover is $20. Because of the L-pocalypse, you’ll need to find a way to take the G train – which doesn’t have any scheduled delays that night, at least as far as we know – to connect with whichever subway you’re taking home.

The album’s first track, Healter Skelter doesn’t sound anything like the Beatles, but it does sound exactly like QOTSA: fast, gritty, simple riffage, mostly a one-chord jam. You’ll Abide has the same kind of hammering QOTSA drive, but the changes are just as fast and furious and a lot catchier.

Big Time Spender has gleefully evil doomy hammer-ons from frontman/guitarist Riley Hawk in between the bludgeoning riffs; Bleed Me Free follows the same pattern. With its catchy 3-2-1 minor-key hook, the desperate wartime trench tune In a Hole is the album’s punkest tune. Then they follow with Bones, which is much the same.

Voices has an especially tasty chromatic menace and hints of horror garage rock. They go back toward punk with Fight and its slithery raga-rock intro. Then, in Shivers, they shift from wide-angle psychedelic chords to straight-ahead punk and a little halfspeed Sabbath.

Running Scared could be surf punk legends Agent Orange at their heaviest. The album closes with the cynical, QOTSA-style blues-tinged Their Disguise – finally, a shreddy guitar solo, and it’s unhingedly good! Not a single weak song on this record: these guys have really figured out their sound. If you like speed and power, this is for you

Queens of the Stone Age at Joe’s Pub?!?

Queens of the Stone Age at Joe’s Pub: makes you smile, right? If you’re a New Yorker and you know that band, that’s worth at least half a laugh: QOTSA rocking the hell out of that sedate, shi-shi venue? That concert may not exactly be on the horizon, but you can see an entire set of QOTSA songs there when Nouvelle Vague mastermind Olivier Libaux brings his Uncovered QOTSA project there on Oct 15 at 10. And it’s a lot different than his regular band. Nouvelle Vague have a polarizing effect: some love them for their sarcastic loungey covers of 80s music, from punk to new wave; others dislike them because they lampoon iconic bands (Joy Division, for one), or because Libaux’ satire is so scattershot. In his world, everything from the best to the schlockiest is fair game for a spoof. Libaux has a whole album of QOTSA covers just out, and not only is it very funny, it’s also very revealing. Stripped to their core, these are really good songs, some of them maybe even better than the originals! Even if the sarcasm drips off them like fresh camembert.

There are a dozen songs on the album, delivered by a parade of female vocalists from genres across the spectrum, indie rock to jazz to straight-up goth music. Libaux’s M.O. here is to turn the tracks into goth-pop, which works as well as it does because QOTSA’s tunes draw a straight line back to Sabbath with their macabre chromatics. The opening track, River in the Road has Rosemary Standley’s nonchalantly warm vocals over a sway that hints at trip-hop – and it might be creepier than the QOTSA version. Katharine Whalen sings Medication as a catchy oldtime swing shuffle, as Jolie Holland might have arranged it. Clare Manchon (of Clare & the Reasons) does a deliciously blithe take of Burn the Witch, reinventing it as droll goth-pop that wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Twilight.

Libaux’ Lynchian bossa arrangement of No One Knows, with Inara George on vocals, is the closest thing to Nouvelle Vague here. George also sings a lingering version of Hangin’ Tree. Susan Dillane’s faux-seductive goth delivery washes over carefree fingerpicked guitar and minor-key string synth on In My Head, while Skye sings 3/s and 7’s with hints of corporate “R&B” over funeral parlor organ and castanets: RZA might have done it this way.

Tangled Up in Plaid reaches for a Lynchian trip-hop swing with Gaby Moreno on the mic and, like a lot of the tracks here, manages to outdo the menace of the original despite itself. The comedic factor gets amped up when Ambrosia Parsley sings “I roll my bloodshot eyes,” on the devilishly droll cover of The Blood Is Love. Likewise, jazz chanteuse Youn Sun Nah’s deadpan “when I was a little boy” as Running Joke, done here as a mid-90s style Blonde Redhead-style waltz, gets underway. The Vegas-y space-pop version of Go with the Flow, with Emiliana Torrini on vocals, is as silly and over-the-top as Libaux gets here. The album winds up with Alela Diane singing a swaying, electric harpsichord-driven gothic cabaret take of I Never Came. Plenty of LOL moments here, especially if you know the source material (although some QOTSA fans might disagree vehemently). It’s also disquieting, something that Libaux seems to be going for, and if that’s the case he’s succeeded as mightily if a lot less loudly than the band that wrote these songs.