Queens Of The Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork (Vinyl)

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...Like Clockwork is the sixth studio album by American rock band Queens of the Stone Age, released on June 3, 2013, on Matador Records in the UK, and on June 4 in the United States. Self-produced by the band, it is the first Queens of the Stone Age album to feature full contributions from bassist Michael Shuman and keyboardist and guitaris Dean Fertita, who both joined the band in 2007 to tour in support of the band's fifth studio album and record its bonus tracks.
After several false starts and stops, the band began recording ...Like Clockwork in August 2012, initially hoping that collaborator Trent Reznor would produce the album. Following a stormy recording period, which included the departure of long-time drummer Joey Castillo, founding member Josh Homme described the album as "documenting the journey of moving forward, you know. It was a tough time and I thought, 'I can run away from this, or I can run into it.'"
The cover art for the album was created by Liverpool-based artist Boneface. It is based on a publicity still for the 1931 film Dracula. 


Expectations can really fuck up your experience with an album sometimes. This is exemplified in how utterly turned off I was by …Like Clockwork upon first listen. I guess you could say I expected Josh Homme and crew to bust out of the gates and kick my ass with stoner rock jams and blisteringly intense rock music. What I got instead was a record that most certainly was not that, and I dismissed it as being another middle-of-the-road radio rock album with a great lead single and nothing else to ride on. Kind of funny that I thought that, because after being convinced to revisit …Like Clockwork with an open mind I’ve found that the rest of the tracks are so goddamn infectious and well written, produced and performed that “My God is the Sun” might surprisingly be the weak spot for me now.

Not that it’s a bad song, but the way this album as a whole sneaked up on me and captivated me even just on a second listen is unlike most other musical experiences I can say I’ve had in 2013. The repetitive bass line of the opener “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” was once mildly interesting if not fairly underwhelming. Now it is utterly hypnotic placed with the piano line and Homme’s vocal melodies, like stranded in an endless desert that goes on far as the eye can see. “If I Had a Tail” and “I Sat By the Ocean” one appeared to me as middle-of-the-road, aimless dad rock with no rhyme or reason. Now they’re not only two of the catchiest tracks on the album, but two of the most anthemic and dynamic pieces on the record as well. Those are just a few examples of just how much this record revealed itself to be more than just its guise of a mainstream rock record.

Josh Homme enlisted the drumming skills of Dave Grohl on several tracks of this LP and while I’ve never been a fan of Nirvana or Grohl’s main band today the Foo Fighters, as a drummer I have an enormous respect for the dude. He is a powerhouse drummer and I was hoping he would showcase that on …Like Clockwork, though at first I was put off by even that. His simplified style on tracks like “If I Had a Tail” really underwhelmed me on first listen, but as this album grew on me more and more the nuances and personality that Grohl was able to show in even these simple drum patterns really started to reveal themselves to me. And the inclusion of Grohl’s more pounding drumming style is found on moments like “My God is the Sun” and “I Appear Missing.”

But what shines most of all on …Like Clockwork is Homme’s performances and his songwriting. This album likely has some of the most understated and moody tracks in Queens of the Stone Age’s repertoire, specifically the piano ballads “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” and the title track. These songs show Homme showing real vulnerability and bitter sadness in his vocal takes which is a side of him I haven’t much seen before. And on some of the more rock oriented tracks like “Kalopsia” and “I Appear Missing” Josh’s vocals are more pained and strained than usual. Even the songs that aren’t so overtly emotional showcase great songwriting, like the building hook and climax on “I Sat by the Ocean” and just how fucking catchy a lot of these songs are like one of my personal favorites “If I Had a Tail.”

Lastly, the production value of this album is just superb. It’s expected that a band as widely popular as Queens of the Stone Age can put together a decent recording budget, but what surprised me is not only the dynamic shifts of a lot of these songs but just how huge a lot of them feel. The way the guitars burst in on the hook of “If I Had a Tail” is a fantastic example, the song is just dominated by the big sound they possess. The chorus vocals on “Fairweather Friends” and the multiple guitar parts on “I Appear Missing” have a similar mass to them that brings a sense of epicness to those songs. Speaking of the guitars, I never thought that Queens of the Stone Age, or Kyuss for that matter, have ever been that heavy of a band. That being said though, while the guitars on this album aren’t heavy by any means the tones are just magnificent. The loud distorted guitars on “If I Had a Tail,” “Kalopsia,” “I Sat By the Ocean,” and many others on this LP are just sheer ear candy for me, and the guitars are able to have a similar power on “I Appear Missing” where for the most part they’re fairly clean.

The only real complaints I have with this release is that “Smooth Sailing” would have been far more entertaining as a silly 1-2 minute interlude rather than a nearly 5 minute song, although for sheer comedic value the lyrics are fantastic. And I wish the opener “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” evolved as much as some of the other tracks here do. But besides those minor quibbles I am so impressed by the way Josh Homme and crew were able to make an album that is clearly a mainstream rock record and is not masquerading as something else, but the songwriting is so strong and dynamic and the production is just so fantastic. Queens have really found a winner with …Like Clockwork and I’m happy to really be loving an album by this band again.

By: ClydeNut.

A1 Keep Your Eyes Peeled
A2 I Sat By The Ocean
A3 The Vampyre Of Time And Memory
B1 If I Had A Tail
B2 My God Is The Sun
B3 Kalopsia
C1 Fairweather Friends
C2 Smooth Sailing
D1 I Appear Missing
D2 ...Like Clockwork

150 gram vinyl in gatefold sleeve. Also includes lottery ticket with download of entire album on MP3 and FLAC.

Engineered by Mark Rankin at Pink Duck Studios in Burbank, CA
Additional Engineering by Alain Johannes & Justin Smith
Mixed by Mark Rankin at Pink Duck Studios except Fairweather Friends mixed by Joe Barresi at JHOC in Pasadena, CA
Mastered by Gavin Lurssen of Lurssen Mastering, Los Angeles, CA

OLE-1040-1 P&C 2012 Queens Of The Stone Age Under License To Matador Records