Few people in rock music keep as busy as Josh Homme. With multiple side projects always on the go, as well as his main gig with Queens of the Stone Age, it feels like Homme never takes a chance to slow down and smell the roses.
But that works out perfectly for us, because it means we get more music from him! Whether he was with Kyuss, Eagles of Death Metal, Queens of the Stone Age, or one of his other side projects, Homme never ceases to surprise us when a new project is launched.
So in celebration of his new record with Iggy Pop this week, Post Pop Depression, we’re looking back at Homme’s best five albums. With a repertoire like Homme’s, five is pretty limiting, so you might be shocked at what does — or doesn’t — make the list.
Eagles of Death Metal
The latest record from Eagles of Death Metal feels like a total one-off from Homme. Much like his on-again, off-again relationship with the band, Homme embraces his on-again, off-again relationship with old-school rock and roll for this record.
Zipper Down has absolutely no substance value. There is nothing here to listen for deeply. It’s greasy, sexy, riffed-up fun that has no major theme, and nothing to prove. And that’s what makes it so great: more than perhaps any other band, Eagles of Death Metal exists purely to entertain. And that’s wonderful.
Queens of the Stone Age
…Like Clockwork was the first time a Queens of the Stone Age record hit number one on Billboard, a feat that I’m not sure anybody in the band particularly cares about. It was also their most critically well-received album since Songs for the Deaf, with critics fawning over the album’s weirdness and strange charms.
Make no mistake, …Like Clockwork is weird. It’s undeniably Rolling Stones-esque, but beneath all the sex and booze barely hidden in the album’s riffs, there’s a sense of darkness. The best Queens of the Stone Age records always had a whiff of darkness, and this one is their darkest in years — perhaps ever. Coupled with Homme’s propensity for weird ideas, …Like Clockwork is one of the weirdest albums in rock music.
Blues for the Red Sun
Blues for the Red Sun was not Homme’s most popular record, selling only 39,000 copies originally. But it might be his most influential work: today, almost all of stoner rock is indebted to Kyuss’ sophomore album for setting templates and defining the sound within the spectrum of Homme’s desert rock.
Part of the album’s success is undoubtedly its unhinged sound: Homme churned out the album’s Black Sabbath-style riffs by plugging his down-tuned electric guitar into a bass amp, distorting its tone beyond what a traditional guitar amplifier would be able to accomplish. It makes the album sound unearthly, despite the earthy qualities of its riffs.
If ever there was an album that could be described as the sound of a lumbering giant, Blues for the Red Sun would be it.
Them Crooked Vultures
Them Crooked Vultures
Them Crooked Vultures is an unusual supergroup: with Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, and John Paul Jones (of Led Zeppelin fame) in the group, it’s unusual not because of its talent, but because the band is actually great. Somehow able to get past all their egos and make music together just for fun, the resulting debut record is a formidable slab of groovy rock that sounds like a more textured version of a Queens of the Stone Age record.
John Paul Jones is the band’s ultimate weapon. His ability to add texture to a track makes the album stand out. But when the band comes together and unites on a single riff, the possibilities feel endless. The last half of No One Loves Me & Neither Do I is a hard rock tour-de-force that you can’t be prepared for, with the huge riff and pummelling drum work by Grohl hitting you in the face.
Scumbag Blues and Elephants are two perfect examples of the Led Zeppelin influence that Jones brings to the table as well, but they’re also interesting because they reveal a larger sense of scope and texture. Them Crooked Vultures feels like exactly the sort of record you’d expect from Homme, but it also carries a certain amount of surprise with it too.
Queens of the Stone Age
Songs for the Deaf
Songs for the Deaf was a critical darling that catapulted Queens of the Stone Age into the mass media. Featuring drum work by Dave Grohl, the concept album was meant to simulate driving through the desert while listening to different radio stations along the way. Hence, in between tracks, there’s often a fake radio excerpt played as if the station were changing.
In a sense, that running joke became the album’s stroke of genius and made Queens of the Stone Age known as total satirical oddballs. Detractors of the band say that Queens of the Stone Age has one style, and the big joke of the record is that every radio station sounds the same. It’s a tongue-in-cheek admission that the band is neither radio-friendly or stylistically well-rounded, but also a simple suggestion that if the radio was all it was cracked up to be, then it would play Queens of the Stone Age.
All of that would mean nothing if the album wasn’t any good, but it might be the band’s best. It’s balls-to-the-wall riffs, with Homme at his absolute best as a songwriter and vocalist. As the band cycles through riff after riff, they make it clearer than ever that they are not their influences, and they’re able to continue pushing hard rock and metal to new limits.