I had the pleasure of meeting Queens Of The Stone Age when they toured their first album. I had press passes for a show at a little venue in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, called The Loop. There were some complications with my getting my press kit, and I blame it on an incompetant person that was in charge of the Journalism program I was in at the time. However, this allowed me the chance to hang with the band and play foosball. The downside was I didn't care for the band. There was one or two songs that kind of grabbed me, but for the most part it was kinda shitty. A couple albums later I become a fan, and the joke of my dislike of that first show continues years later.
As for Era Vulgaris, this was the first album I bought from Queens Of The Stone Age. My buddy Drew allowed me to borrow a few of the previous albums, and for some reason, that I can only think of as timing mixed with money, I've never picked up any others. I will be changing that eventually. Because this album proved that they are worth buying for the right price.
Turnin' On The Screw opens the album with this odd, droning, head nodding, humming kind of track with a guitar that sounds crystal clear in comparison. I personally find you can't help but pay attention to the lyrics as well. "You got a question? Please don't ask it, / It puts the lotion in the basket, / You say bigger's better but bigger's thicker, / White boy dressed up like a figure, / Drawn inside a toilet on the wall, / The world is round, / My square don't fit at all, / They say those who can't just instruct others, / And act like victims or jilted lovers, / You can't lose it if you never had it, / Disappear man, Do some magic, / You want a reason? How's about "Because"? / You ain't a has been if you never was. / I sound like this, / Scared to say what is your passion, / So slag it all, / Bitter's in fashion, / Fear of failure's all you've started, / The jury is in, verdict: / Retarded, / I'm so tired, I'm wired too, / I'm a mess, / I guess, / I'm turning on the screw." This is one of those songs where you get why they are refered to as Stoner Rock, and it totally works. It's just not for everyone. I do think it is a great song.
Sick, Sick, Sick follows that up by doing a complete 180 it feels like. Instead of being all mellow and drifting, this song is wild, erratic, and panic stricken. It really has a great vibe to it, and it feels like the perfect counterpoint follow up to the lead track. I seriously love what's done with the guitar on this song. It adds great texture and vibe. However, on a personal level I generally skip this one.
Take away the erratic tension and swap it with whimsical cocksure strut and you get I'm Designer. This song is still in your face, but more laid back about it.
Into The Hollow is one of those songs that I enjoy when it's on the CD player, but it's mainly just background music for me. I love the sound and dynamic it uses, but nothing really stands out to me.
I like the tense and release feel behind Misfit Love. It's almost Surf Rock mixed with the tone of Grunge. This is one of those songs I've always dug and it almost makes me want to get up and dance. Then I remember I don't do that.
Battery Acid just feels like your basic punk track. There's some cool twists and turns that make it very Queens Of The Stone Age, but it's more or less a clever filler.
Make It Wit Chu is my favourite song on the album. I love the groove. I love the sexiness of the music. I love the way Josh Homme croons out his lyrics, and the way the background vocals lend a perfect high counter. "You wanna know if I know why? / I can't say that I do, / I don't understand the evil eye, / Or how one becomes two. / And I just can't recall what started it all, / Or how to begin in the end, / I ain't here to break it, / Just see how far it will bend, / Again and again, / I wanna make it, / I wanna make it wit chu, / Anytime, anywhere, / I wanna make it, / I wanna make it wit chu, / Sometimes the same is different, / but mostly it's the same / these mysteries of life, that just ain't my thing / if I told you that I knew about the sun and the moon, / I'd be untrue, / The only thing I know for sure / Is what I wanna do, / anytime, anywhere and I say / I wanna make it, (again and again) / I wanna make it wit chu, / Anytime, anywhere, / I wanna make it, (again and again) / I wanna make it wit chu, / I wanna make it, (anytime, anywhere) / I wanna make it wit chu, / I wanna make it, / I wanna make it wit chu. / I wanna make it, (again and again) / I wanna make it wit chu, / I wanna make it, (anytime, anywhere) / I wanna make it wit chu, / I wanna make it, (again and again) / I wanna make it wit chu, / I wanna make it, (again and again and again and again and again..)" This is like some serious getting hot and heavy music. It's full, and heavy, but full of gentle and sweet textures. My introduction to this album was 3's & 7's, thanks to Guitar Hero. This was one of those songs that I played over and over because it was a challenge and it was so much fun. I still love listening to the track and the way it bounces around like that Superball from the first Men In Black movie, but with some slow down periods.
The next song is totally forgetable to me. It works in the mix, but I never ever remember or think of Suture Up Your Future. It's good for the background noise.
By the time River In The Road comes on it's very clear I never pay much attention after 3's & 7's because I never think of any of these songs, and still don't know the names of them without looking at the cover. This song is faster paced than the last, and has what I would call a great Sci-Fi vibe, but it's once again great background music.
The album finishes with Run, Pig, Run. This is just about the most crazy and erratic song on the album. It`s really a wild and crazy ride and you always know when it comes on, and exactly who it is, because the only other group found in my CD player that can be compared to this would be early Frank Zappa, or maybe some really early Alice Cooper. This is some youthful agressive stoner stuff. It works as a closer, and as an opener as well. If it had been in the middle of the album it would have been really odd and out of place.
To me the key to this album is that it's great background music when you are doing anything from sitting around hitting the bong, to cleaning the house, playing video games (I don`t play too many games where I feel the need to listen to the sound), web programming, or anything else that requires some real attention, but not audio attention. To me it's not the kind of album you sit down with headphones and listen to.
Also as a quick last note. While the sound of this album is a bit raw, I love how much of that classic vibe it has from the classic days of Rock record making. Most of the album to me sounds like the bands jammed out the main track together live, and then they went back and mixed in the vocals later. It`s a total killer retro vibe to me, that I personally love to use.
6/10 - content
8/10 - production
8/10 - personal bias