Complex Commerciality

Era Vulgaris (Interscope Records)
Queens of the Stone Age

By Andrea Hunt

Queens of the Stone Age is Josh Homme's raucous party; everyone else is just a guest. The fifth QOTSA album, Era Vulgaris, adheres to this maxim, delivering guttural, edgy, even raw garage rock that will easily find a home on The Walrus 104.3/105.1.

The frenetic single "Sick, Sick, Sick" features the vocals of Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas; former band member Mark Lanegan lends his velvety vocals to the relatively blithe "Make It Wit Chu." "Era Vulgaris," a track featuring Trent Reznor, was to be included on the album but was separately released. (N.B.: iTunes, f.y.e. and Best Buy each offer different bonus tracks with purchase; Best Buy's is a cover of Billy Idol's "White Wedding.")

"Sick, Sick, Sick" and "Make It Wit Chu" are the patterns from which the album's other tracks are cut. Layers of harsh, metallic riffs predominate opening track "Turning on the Screw" and the single "3's & 7's"; meanwhile, "Suture Up Your Future" and "Into The Hollow" highlight QOTSA's more mellow, or at least mournful, side. This bifurcation brings welcome complexity to what could have been a too-heavy, straight-up thrashing-rock album.

Check out the Stone Age at www.qotsa.com.