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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Queens of the Stone Age, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County and more...

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Sunday, June 2, 2013

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Queens of the Stone Age

"...Like Clockwork"



It's been a long between-albums wait for Queens of the Stone Age fans -- a nearly interminable six years from a group that spaced just two years between each of its five previous heavy rock releases. And while there's a slightly disjoined feel to the 10 tracks on "...Like Clockwork," Josh Homme and company have made something that was certainly worth the wait. It helps that this incarnation of QOTSA, which includes Royal Oak's Dean Fertita (Waxwings, the Raconteurs, Dead Weather) is the most potent that singer-guitar hero Josh Homme has yet assembled, and it's only bolstered by a guest list that includes Homme's Them Crooked Vultures bandmate Dave Grohl drumming on five songs as well as Elton John, Trent Reznor, QOTSA alumnus Nick Oliveri and frontmen from the Arctic Monkeys, the Scissor Sisters and Screaming Trees. The expected bunch of heavy is amidst the sinewy grooves of "My God is the Sun," "If I Had a Tail" and "I Sat By the Ocean," the industrial psychedelia of "Keep Your Eyes Peeled," the theatrical drama of "Kalopsia" and the dynamic drama of "Fairweather Friends" and the swampy "Smooth Sailing." That's the group's stock in trade, of course, but this time out it's accented by its quieter changes of pace -- the dark power ballad "The Vampyre of Time and Memory" and the album-closing title track; the latter may be the prettiest thing Homme has ever recorded, while in the angsty former he asks "Does anyone ever get this right?" On "...Like Clockwork," QOTSA certainly does.


Various Artists, "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County" (Hear Music): ***

This collaboration between John Mellencamp and Stephen King has been written and spoken about so much that it seemed like the perfect set-up for a let-down. Not quite. The dark musical -- which ties together sibling rivalry, romance, murder, accidental death (i.e. all the good stuff) -- comes to life thanks to an all-star cast (Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Kris Kristofferson, Ryan Bingham, Rosanne Cash and others) and musical direction from Grammy Award winner T Bone Burnett that keeps things well away from the bombastic trappings of the Great White Way. And that's a good thing. Standouts among the 17 songs include the Bingham-Will Dailey joust on "Brotherly Love," Kristofferson's haunting delivery of "How Many Days," a trio of tunes featuring Crow and Blasters brothers Phil and Dave Alvin, and the majestic, Mellencamp-led coda "Truth." A unique, fully realized and thoroughly original endeavor.

New & Noteworthy:

Barenaked Ladies, "Grinning Streak" (Vanguard): The Canadian troupe's second outing as a quartet shows that its knack for craft and good humor remain solidly intact.

George Benson, "Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole" (Concord): The guitar ace leans on his voice to pay homage to the singing legend, with help from Wynton Marsalis and a set of Nelson Riddle arrangements.

Ben Folds Five, "Live" (ImaVeePee/Sony): The reunited trio's first-ever live album is comprised of tracks from various dates on its 2012-13 world tour.

Capital Cities, "In a Tidal Wave of Mystery" (Capitol/Universal): The New Wavey Los Angeles group's first full album comes nearly two years after its single "Safe and Sound" lit up the charts.

City and Colour, "The Hurry and the Harm" (Dine Alone): Dallas Green, formerly of Alexisonfire, gets help from members of My Morning Jacket, Soundgarden, the Raconteurs and others on his fourth singer-songwriter release.

Dave Davies, "I Will Be Me" (Cleopatra): The Kinks guitarist returns with a new solo set, joined by members of the Jayhawks, Anti-Flag and Dead Meadow, as well as Chris Spedding and Oli Brown.

DJ Clay, "A World Upside Down" (Psychopathic): The Detroit turntablist`s latest mix tape sports new tracks from Insane Clown Posse, Kottomouth Kings, Legz Diamond & the Purple Gang and many more.

Melissa Ferrick, "The Truth Is" (MPress): The singer-songwriter's latest includes a guest appearance by kindred spirit Paula Cole n the track "Wreck Me."

Filter, "The Sun Comes Out Tonight" (Wind-Up): Richard Patrick brought in former Kill Hannah guitarist Jonathan Radtke to be his chief creative partner on the sixth Filter studio album.

Eleanore Friedberger, "Personal Record" (Merge): The second solo album from the frontwoman for the still-on-hiatus Fiery Furnaces.

Joy Kills Sorrow, "Wide Awake" (Signature Sounds): The Boston-based string band follows its 2012 sophomore album with this more aggressive seven-song EP.

Lonestar, "Life As We Know It" (4 Star/The Orchard): The country group's first new album in more than three years marks the return of original frontman Richie McDonald.

The Maine, "Forever Halloween" (Rude): Late spring seems an apt time for the Arizona rockers to bring out an album whose title celebrates an autumn holiday.

Megadeth, "Super Collider" (Tradecraft/UMe): The thrash veterans' 14th album covers Thin Lizzy's "Cold Sweat" and features Disturbed/Device frontman David Draiman on two songs.

Matthew Morrison, "Where It All Began" (222): The "Glee" star's second album moves from pop to standards, a more natural fit given his theatrical background.

The Olms, "The Olms" (Harvest): Pete Yorn and J.D. King team up on this lo-fi retro-flavored and melodically stirring 10-song set.

Portugal. The Man, "Evil Friends" (Atlantic): The Alaskan psychedelic rockers teamed with Danger Mouse on their eighth, and second major-label, album.

Quadron, "Avalanche" (Vested in Culture/Epic): The second album by the hip Danish electro-pop duo has already spawned a hit in the track "Hey Love."

Rogue Wave, "Nightingale Floors" (Vagrant): The Oakland (Calif.) indie rockers make a label switch for their fifth album, with three new members on board.

Various Artists, "The Beautiful Old: Turn of the Century Songs" (Doubloon): Richard Thompson, Graham Parker, Dave Davies, Kim Richey and others are part of this two-disc set celebrating songs of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Gretchen Wilson, "Under the Covers" (Redneck): The onetime queen of Nashville's MusikMafia covers Bob Seger's "Her Strut" and songs by the Faces, Led Zeppelin, Cheap Trick, Bad Company and others.

From The Vaults: Deep Purple, "Live in Cophenhagen 1972" (Eagle Rock); Doobie Brothers, "Live at Wolf Trap" CD, DVD, Blu-ray (Eagle Rock); Killing Joke, "The Singles Collection 1979-2012" (10 Spot); Various Artists, "2013 Warped Tour Compilation" (Sideonedummy)

Soundtracks: Original Cast Recording, "Dogfight" (Ghostlight); Original Cast Recording, "Giant" (Ghostlight); Original Broadway Cast, "Motown The Musical" (Motown/UMe); Various Artists, "More From Pitch Perfect" (UMe)

New Music Videos: Destiny's Child, "Video Anthology" (Music World/Columbia/Legacy); Garbage, "One Mile High...Live" (Eagle Rock); Frank Zappa, "A Token of His Extreme" (Eagle Rock)

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