Archive | September 2011

Queens of the Stone Age (Self Titled)- Album Review

Image of Josh Homme

Josh Homme

Queens of the Stone Age- Queens of the Stone Age

Rekords Rekords, 1998

The album is an amalgamation of sorts between Josh Homme’s first band Kyuss and his new creation (QOTSA) after Kyuss split up in the early 90’s. Kyuss’s reputation, and success, was largely down to Homme’s guitar creating catchy head swaying riffs which stick in your head months after the first listen.This largelyunknown, and hard to find, debut album, from the Californian desert rockers, in 1998 contains many QOTSA fans festival favourites and shows the birth of their signature sound of electrifying fuzz riffs, deep bluesy bass lines and catchy lyrics.

Opening the album is ‘Regular John’, a song with drumming which you just cannot help but stomp your foot to. A mix of rock groove, with the bands trademark fuzz guitar, and delicate squeals make the song one of the best on the album. Homme’s unmistakable leering voice glides across the song, which fans more familiar with QOTSA will know and love.

‘Avon’ is a previous Desert Session’s recording, where Homme and twenty or so likeminded rock musicians gather at Homme’s ranch in Palm Desert to jam, and is also a mainstay on their tours to this day. It’s rolling guitar and steady drum beats repeat incessantly throughout, with a solo which grooves steadily with the march like beats.

‘If Only’ is perhaps one of the more pop like songs on the album with an opening riff that remains their most catchiest to date. The swinging harmony of the track is the perfect backdrop to Homme’s heartfelt lyrics like ‘those long long days with no escaping’.

The song which would epitomise Homme’s own assessment of QOTSA’s style as ‘robotic rock’ is ‘You Would Know’. The short and snappy riff repeated behind Homme’s melodic squeaks on top of his robotic voice. The heaviest sound of the album comes from ‘How to Handle a Rope’, a mix of deep fuzz infused guitar and a primitive drum beat which erupts into a chaotic solo at the end.

But there is no song on the album quite like the majestic ‘You Can’t Quit Me Baby’. From the opening infectiously catchy wavering bass line, to Homme’s iconic melodic croon ‘ahhing’ after every verse with contagious passion , to the song’s instrumental type break where the words, ‘your solid gold, I’ll see you in hell’ is harmonised perfectly with more subtle guitar overtones. The track doesn’t give in there though; the undeniable brilliance of the soaring solo, bouncing off the hazy bass line will stick in your head for years. Live renditions of this song have never failed to let fans down, and it remains the longest onstage jam session to date at fifteen minutes.

Queens of the Stone Age performing live

Rocking a lucky crowd

There are just a couple of songs however which don’t quite hit the mark. The final song ‘I Was a Teenage Hand Model’ plods along aimlessly without any signature QOTSA riffs or bluesy bass lines. The ending is just a mess of loud beeping noises. ‘Hispanic Impressions’ is a strange track which doesn’t seem to have a consistent beat throughout, making the odd time signature unsettling.

From a band which offers something different, yet always satisfying, in every album they make, this glorious debut is an absolute must listen. Due to be re released on March 7th with bonus tracks and a revamped sound, the album will most definitely not disappoint.

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Is Mikel Arteta the Right Signing for Arsenal?

Mikel Arteta celebrating a goal for Everton

Arteta celebrating for Everton

A question that has been lingering over Everton FC, and the premier league, for several years now has been why Mikel Arteta has not been prised away from Goodison Park sooner than August 31st2011? He made the move to Everton in January 2005 from Real Sociedad initially on loan. That season Everton were pushing for a UEFA Champion’s League place which they achieved thanks to the help from Arteta. He then signed a five year contract for a paltry £2 million after his loan finished in June 2005.

Season after season from then on, Arteta cemented himself among the Premier League greats. He received numerous Player of the Year awards, North West Player of the Year, Midfielder of the Year and even Sports Personality of the Year via the Liverpool Echo.

His career stats for the Merseyside club read well to, in 208 appearances in all competitions for them he scored 33 times and made 41 goals.

So why hasn’t he been snapped up by a title contending team before?

One of Arteta’s strengths is his loyalty to the club. Every performance he has on the pitch oozes with passion, determination, leadership and vigour. Everton FC under David Moyes are known for their strength and direct style of play, thanks to Arteta’s vision and passing abilities, so it would seem he doesn’t need to move anywhere else as he’s idolised by their fans, will always be first on the team sheet and feels valued by the club.

What more does a professional footballer want?

For most players it’s money. But in Arteta’s case his move to Arsenal was resoundingly not about money. He reportedly took almost a 30% pay cut to join the Gunners. His move was about his own ambitions to become a champion’s league player, be part of a title contending (only just) team and put his name firmly in the Premier League history books.

This signing represents a moral victory for football. All too often we see greedy players and their greedy agents negotiate contracts with obscene wages. This victory is made all the sweeter by the fact that he has gone to Arsenal. Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy’s move to Manchester City materialised because of the riches that awaited them.

Arteta smiling

Cheeky grin

Had they truly wanted to become better footballers, be in with a shot of gaining trophy glory and becoming world superstars, they would have stayed at a club like Arsenal with rock solid foundations, financially as well as behind the scenes and with Arsene Wenger who is renowned for improving players.

At least the gunners have gotten rid of the negativity in the dressing room and replaced it with a player as humble and loyal as Mikel Arteta.

On the pitch, it remains to be seen whether the Spaniard can create as many chances as his countryman Fabregas did. Arteta though can be viewed by the fans as a watered down version of Fabregas in relation to his ability to pass, read the game and make pinpoint crosses to forwards, Arteta though adds a cool head, proven leadership and experience which is exactly what the Arsenal team need. Oh and we can assume he won’t get homesick and pine for a move back to Spain to.

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