12/11/13 – Queens Of The Stoneage – Like Clockwork – 2013

From the first oblique sonic grinding that turns the core of the opening track, the mood of the motor, the mid tempo shunt, you can hear that someone involved has a sonic plan. Someone has a vision and someone knows about sound. Is this happening naturally or is Josh Homme directing an engineer? Perhaps it is a simple collaboration between the two but the engineer Mark Rankin (who has worked with Adele and Florence And The Machine) certainly deserves to take a lot of credit for this record’s sonic quality. Proper attention to guitar sounds and arrangements, weird bits, catchy bits, it’s actually a very strange record and for me that’s welcome in a rock band. It’s crafted, intelligent, melodic, upbeat, offbeat and still a rock band. The latter probably responsible for it going straight to Number 1 in the USA and Number 2 in England. But also it’s catchy songwriting in a rock shaped box. It’s hip rock.

It has 3 drummers, old drummer Joey Castillo, who didn’t complete the record, stand in Dave Grohl and new drummer Jon Theodore who only played on one track but has joined the band for their world tour. Jon Theodore played drums with The Mars Volta on De-Loused In The Crematorium, Frances The Mute and Amputechture as well as collaborations with Rage Against The Machine’s Zack de la Rocha on the One Day As A Lion project. Considering there are 3 drummers on the record, it doesn’t distract or interrupt the flow. They all play so simply and that’s why it works, letting the songs take the limelight, but there is also  great attention to inventive guitar parts.

The record has a ridiculous list of famous collborators, a returning Nick Oliveri and Mark Lanegan, Trent Reznor, Jake Shears from The Scissor Sisters, Alex Turner from The Arctic Monkeys, James Lavelle from Unkle and even Sir Elton John on piano on one track. But for all their fame and personality, their talent and contributions, it must be the most unobtrusive star-studded guest list on a record – the album never loses its focus.

With Homme having been out of action after a simple operation on his knee went south, it seems that he had time to reflect and dig into his own truth and this has resulted in a personal and introspective record. He carries off this weighty load quite effortlessly in the songs melodies – his swoops into falsetto are a delight. If you want a slightly bent and intersting rock record in your collection, this is the record for you.