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  • Josh Homme Albums From Worst To Best

This week, Queens Of The Stone Age scored their first-ever No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with …Like Clockwork, the first album Palm Desert native Josh Homme has released with QOTSA in six years. It’s a richly deserved honor, and one that had been long overdue. With a host of different bands — and different lineups within those bands — Homme has now presided over, and provided for us, a vast catalog of energetic rock music dealing almost exclusively in hooks and distortion.

And with …Like Clockwork, Homme has done it again — whatever it is, exactly, that Homme always does. …Like Clockwork stands out in the modern pantheon of rock music for its relative straightforwardness. Homme requires no gimmicks, theatrics, or even fretboard acrobatics; he simply sounds compelling enough to influence a host of other bands, yet original enough to have no competitive imitators. Josh Homme is one of the only guitar heroes remaining in commercial hard rock.

His work also stands apart in attitude. Homme’s lyrics fall somewhere between the stoned-immaculate nonsense of bands reliving the Summer Of Love, and the constant dick-waving of bands trying to revive the ’80s Sunset Strip sound. He’s too sleazy to be a flower child and too sophisticated to play a concert with Buckcherry. Homme’s onstage persona may be that of a womanizing drug vacuum, but a very casual, relaxed one. He would swat the flies if he had a tail, but he does not, so he’ll just recline and play guitar. In that respect, …Like Clockwork may — more than any other record — most ideally represent Homme’s … Homme-ness.

Josh Homme’s steadfast unwillingness to compromise has probably served him well in the long run; in a parallel universe he could have been part of the early-’90s grunge explosion and it might have killed him. Consider: He began his career as the axeman in Kyuss in 1987 — the same year as Nirvana and Alice in Chains were founded — making heavy, vital music on the razor’s edge between heavy metal and alternative rock. But while grunge largely rejected the machismo and swagger of its ’70s hard-rock influences, Homme embraced those elements. His more downcast contemporaries took pages out of Neil Young’s book, but Kyuss sounded more like Cactus, Vanilla Fudge, and a laundry list of less famous monster fuzz bands drizzled with a bit of melted ZZ Top.

And while Kurt Cobain and Jerry Cantrell’s albums dominated mainstream taste, Homme’s successes were more modest. Some Kyuss records performed admirably in sales, but nothing close to Nevermind or Dirt. Instead, during its brief existence, Kyuss more or less created the entire American stoner metal sub-genre. Stereogum recently named Kylesa’s Ultraviolet the 25th best album of 2013 so far, and it’s hard to imagine that band existing without Kyuss having paved the way.

Tragedy hobbled Nirvana and Alice In Chains, but when Kyuss died, Homme soldiered on with Queens Of The Stone Age, and here I sit, listening to Homme’s 11th album between three bands — not including a wiki’s worthof guest performances, EPs, his bizarre stint as drummer in the Eagles Of Death Metal, and the long-running Desert Sessions experiments.

Meanwhile, Homme’s former bandmates in Kyuss have re-united to play his music without him. The Kyuss Lives! experience has been making the rounds since November 2010, with Bruno Fevery of Arsenal attempting to fill Homme’s shoes. A subsequent lawsuit from Homme forced his former bandmates to persevere under the much-less-interesting moniker Vista Chino — the band performed for the first time under that name at the Orion Festival. The message from Homme is clear: He was Kyuss as much as he is Queens Of The Stone Age.

Walking back through Homme’s career is a daunting task — even this abridged discography is a monster — and chronologically is no way to approach it. Homme’s had his creative peaks and valleys, as well as long periods of relative silence. In the interest of celebrating his successes, finding the gems in his failures, and cleaning his demons, these are Josh Homme’s albums, from worst to best.

Start the Countdown here.

Comments (45)
  1. there is nothing ‘bizarre’ about his playing drums for EODM. Homme is 1 of 2 founding members o fthe band. do some research.

    • It is because that’s not what he’s known for. It was bizarre like Probot was for Dave Grohl. What research is needed? If you told me that Kerry King and Dave Mustaine were going to be drumming for a new band they started with Rihanna that would be bizarre too – doesn’t matter that they were ‘founding members o fthe band.”. Learn some context.

      • “what research is needed?” you sound like ESPN, USA Today, etc. Anyway, with research, one would know that he is known for EODM and therefore it’s not remotely ‘bizzare’ nor was it a ‘stint’.

        But per your suggestion, here is some context:

        -Homme and Jesse Hughes, the other half of the core members of EODM, have been friends and have been playing together since high school
        -Homme first wanted to play drums before guitar
        -Homme is a self-proclaimed “beat freak” and “wanna-be drummer” – Pitckfork, 2007
        -listen to the drums sounds on QOTSA (and EODM) records…notice the similarities despite the different drummers…thanks to Homme’s quest for “the snare sound that I’ve been chasing for years” – PItchfork, 2007
        -Homme plays drums on every EODM record and the band are still together….i.e., not a ‘stint’.

        Also, your Rhianna analogy is a terribly flawed one, because it implies that EODM sound nothing like QOTSA, which is categorically untrue. In my and others’ opinion, EODM sound like a more garage-y, poppier QOTSA: “…the record’s churning guitars and hook-driven choruses suggest a bizarro-world version of Queens of the Stone Age” – Pitchfork, 2004.

        Bizarre? Not even close if you’ve done your research.

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  2. Still get excited every time I hear the opening riff to “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire,” no matter how hard T Mobile tries to ruin it for me.

  3. This is funny because Songs for the Deaf is the first QOTSA album I bought the day of its release and listened to full length. What a great album. Turns to be a personal classic but it never came to my mind that it was an instant classic for so many people. I thought people usually prefers Rated R.

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  5. I definitely prefer Rated R to Songs For the Deaf and Blues for the Red Sky to …Welcome to Sky Valley. But this is an good list otherwise in my mind. Why were the Desert Sessions not included though?

  6. Kind of surprised to see Era Vulgaris so low. Some of Homme’s best work is on that album in my opinion.But no Eagles of Death Metal? That group has Josh Homme written all over it.

  7. Love the new record but ranking it higher than their debut just ain’t right.

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  9. “the unforgivably boring pairing of “Misfit Love” and “Battery Acid”" BLASPHEMY. say what you want about Battery Acid, but how does Misfit Love, with those drums and percussive, blocked strings rhythms not make you want to punch someone in the face with both fists at the same time?!

  10. I’ve always had a tough time getting behind Lullabies to Paralyze. I was jacked for it at the time due to my rabid Songs for the Deaf/Rated R fandom, but it seemed then –– as it does now –– to have about 4-5 great songs, a couple of decent ones, and a lot of filler. So for me that and Era Vulgaris are at the bottom, at least as far as Queens albums go –– I’m not nearly as well versed in the Kyuss canon (I’ve only heard Blues for the Red Sun), and I’ve always felt pretty ambivalent about Them Crooked Vultures.

  11. “This isn’t a side project for me. I’m in two bands. I have musical schizophrenia, and this is one of those personalities.” Josh Homme on his band, Eagles of Death Metal. They might have been low on the list, but it would have been hard for me to separate Eagles of Death Metal from the rest of his catalog. That said, I don’t have many problems with the sequence of this list. I generally loved what you had to say about Homme and all of the records.

    My list:
    Songs for the Deaf
    Rated R
    Like Clockwork
    Blues for the Red Sun
    Welcome to Sky Valley
    Lullabies to Paralyze
    Queens of the Stone Age
    Them Crooked Vultures
    Era Vulgaris
    And the Circus Leaves Town
    Wretch

    I love Like Clockwork. I hope to see people appreciate it more in time. I think Kalopsia and I Appear Missing are some of the best songs in QOTSA’s catalog.

    • You know what we need soon? A Mark Lanegan list. That guy has put together quite a catalog. In the Fade, Song for the Dead, and Hanging Tree might be the best songs he’s ever done, but there are a lot of gems to be found in the rest of his stuff. He fronted Screaming Trees for a few decades, he has made at least half a dozen mostly superb solo albums, and he has done three albums with Isobel Campbell of Belle and Sebastian. Oh, and Mad Season with Layne Stayley. And guest appearances all over the place. And don’t get me started on his instantly recognizable voice. It’s time he got some recognition from the indie community.

      • I’d be all about a Lanegan list – Bubblegum & the EP that set it up were both killer. His newest one with Duke Garwood is really good, too.

        And don’t forget The Gutter Twins, which was half him/half frequent collaborator Greg Dulli.

    • I’m very confused that your list doesn’t include any EODM after you open your post talking about how it’s hard not to include any EODM…

      • Revised list to satisfy the comment police:

        Songs for the Deaf
        Rated R
        Like Clockwork
        Blues for the Red Sun
        Welcome to Sky Valley
        Lullabies to Paralyze
        Queens of the Stone Age
        Peace, Love, Death Metal
        Heart On
        Them Crooked Vultures
        Era Vulgaris
        Death by Sexy
        And the Circus Leaves Town
        Wretch

  12. “Lanegan’s performance on “A Song For The Death” channels John Garcia and then beats him at his own game.” No offence to the writer but I find this perplexing (apart from the song name being wrong), Lanegan channeling Garcia? The only thing only thing Lanegan channels on Songs for the Deaf is a voice that sounds like the four horsemen of the apocalypse riding into town.

  13. Mine:

    1. Songs for the Deaf
    2. Rated R
    3. Welcome to Sky Valley
    4. Them Crooked Vultures
    5. Like Clockwork
    6. Era Vulgaris
    7. Blues for the Red Sky
    8. Queens of the Stone Age
    9. Lullabies to Paralyze

    Never listened to the first and last Kyuss albums, can’t weigh in there. Looking at that list, though, what an airtight catalog this guy has. I put Lullabies last, but I really like a good portion of that album and was all about it when it came out.

    I also obviously like Era Vulgaris more than a lot of people. “Turning on the Screw”, “SickX3″, “Misfit Love”, “Suture up Your Future”, “Into the Woods”, “3s and 7s”, “Make It…” – that’s a damn good album. I also don’t know why the writer is stuck on this notion that the second half is so consistently smoother than the apparently barbaric first.

    Like Clockwork has grown on me to a pretty comfortable level at this point, which I’m glad about. Not that I ever disliked it, “Kalopsia” and “Fair Weather Friends” took a few times through for me to settle one.

    And I really like TCV – it could do with cutting a song or two, but the guys play great on it and I love Homme’s lyrics. What, lyrically and sonically, is not to love about stuff like “Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I”? When they really get going they really are like a herd of futuristic war elephants.

  14. Nice piece, even though ranking QOTSA debut at #8 is batshit bonkers. It’s just as much a classic as the top four. I always felt Lullabies was weaker, only recently was able to make it all the way through without snoozing and enjoyed it a bit more. Still their weakest though. …Like Clockwork is #1 album of the week on Billboard, cheers to that!

  15. The first Queens of the Stone Age album is Homme’s masterpiece and …And The Circus Leaves Town is almost as good as Welcome to Sky Valley (El Rodeo! Spaceship Landing!) and both are much better than Blues for the Red Sun. The QotSA discography actually is quite simple: start with a masterpiece and it’s all downhill from there – although at a very low angle – until …Like Clockwork, where Homme re-invents himself again.

    So my list is:
    1. Queens of the Stone Age
    2. Welcome to Sky Valley
    3. …And the Circus Leaves Town
    4. Rated R
    5. …Like Clockwork
    6. Songs for the Deaf
    7. Blues for the Red Sun
    8. Lullabies to Paralyze
    9. Era Vulgaris
    10. Them Crooked Vultures

    I have to admit I never listened to Wretch.

  16. I’m honestly a little hurt that Eagles of Death Metal isn’t even ON this list. Death By Sexy is one fuckin’ great album you guys.

  17. Did Josh make it with Polly during their collaboration?

  18. I think Era Vulgaris is such an underrated record, it always is everyone’s least or second-least favorite QotSA album (which is understandable, the other ones are also great) but i don’t know, the A Side is just so fucking killer.

    That said, you guys should DEFINITELY do a worst-to-best Phil Elverum list.

  19. “River in the Road” and “Battery Acid” alone propel Era Vulgaris past Lullabies in any ranking. I don’t mind EODM being off this list. In fact, I would have replaced any Kyuss picks with some Desert Sessions.

  20. Long Slow Goodbye and Hangin Tree are Alain Johannes tunes. I’m sure there are others that he wrote. Surprised to see him get no mention at all.

  21. Pretty sure most would agree Queens Of The Stone Age – Queens Of The Stone Age (1998) is one of his best albums he has. Eagles of Death Metal’s first two albums should be up there as well.

  22. My List (if EODM were included)

    1. Queens of the Stone Age
    2. Songs for the Deaf
    3. Rated R
    4. Lullabies to Paralyze
    5. Welcome to Sky Valley
    6. Peace, Love, Death Metal
    7. Death by Sexy
    8. Blues for the Red Sun
    9. Era Vulgaris
    10. And the Circus Leaves Town

  23. You used the words “Misfit Love” and “boring” in the same sentence and I can’t even comprehend how that is possible.

    • srsly. when the guitars start to kick in and sound like cars honking as they speed past….and the blocked strings sounding like a jackhammer in the road….yeah, real boring

  24. Pretty good assessment. I don’t think Like Clockwork is all of that (so far), it’s in the bottom half of his catalogue, although a very worthy effort. I’m glad someone mentioned his connection to “grunge”. His work with the Queens is the true evolution of grunge. In a perfect world, Queens and Afghan Whigs would have conquered the charts instead of Creed and Nickelback, showing the world what “grunge” truly evolved into – a sexy version building on the metal/punk hybrid that the big 5 of grunge (Nirvana, Alice, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, AND Mudhoney! don’t forget them) successfully laid down. They really are the successfully realized version of what grunge should have lead to (hell QOTSA success showed that it did lead to something great, just not in a commercial world conquering sort of way). This list reminds me I really need to get into Kyuss more……

  25. 1. Queens of the Stone Age
    2. Rated R
    3. Blues for the Red Sun
    4. Welcome to Sky Valley
    5. Lullabies to Paralyze
    6. Songs for te Deaf
    7. …And the Circus Leaves Town
    8. Them Crooked Vultures
    9. Era Vulgaris
    10. Wretch

    …Like Clockwork…TBD

  26. Mehhhhhh. Totally clueless about Lullabies. No way is it a near equal to Songs for the Deaf. Better than the self titled and Era? Highly questionable. Era is very underrated. Ridiculous statement: “unforgivably boring pairing of “Misfit Love” and “Battery Acid.” Boring? Those songs cook. This list does not.

  27. Some nice insights here and you’ll get no argument from me about the placement of SKY VALLEY, BLUES, RATED R, and even LULLABIES. But here are my issues:

    1. People who got into QOTSA through DEAF don’t get how original, radical, and NEW the first two albums sounded in the wasteland of the late ’90s. They were raw, hallucinatory, and gorgeously hypnotic and monotonous–like Sabbath playing a rave. I saw QOTSA four times from ’98-’00 in tiny, empty Bay Area clubs and those shows remain some of the best rock shows I’ve ever seen, and I’m in my 40s, saw Nirvana, Pixies, Breeders, Pearl Jam, Pumpkins, etc. in tiny clubs. It was fresh, druggy, and cool: Heavy enough for the guys and danceable enough for the ladies, to paraphrase a Homme description.

    2. By contrast, for fans who were around in the early days, DEAF sounded bloated and overwrought when it arrived, as if QOTSA were trying to hard. I still prefer the version of “Millionaire” in a different key on Desert Sessions 5 & 6 to the one on DEAF. Despite obvious brilliance such as “Go with the Flow” and “Hanging Tree,” the album doesn’t flow well. The arrangements are choppy. It’s hyper and restless, never settling into a groove. The early QOTSA was looser, groovier, and headier. LULLABIES was a better album though.

    3. Not including Desert Sessions, Eagles, and the early Man’s Ruin EPs and singles gives a distorted picture of Homme’s post-Kyuss work. Again, for early fans, those Desert Sessions albums were as good as the “real” releases, especially 5 & 6, which is light years ahead of VULGARIS, the worst Homme album period. I can’t even listen to side 2 of that album–terrible. The low point of his career.

    4. CIRCUS is a seriously underrated Kyuss album. It may be a plate of leftovers, but it pointed toward a versatility and willingness to experiment with sounds and song structures. In hindsight, it’s a transitional album, but songs like the colossal melancholy of “Phototropic,” “Gloria Lewis,” “Hurricane,” and “Catamaran” are blissed-out desert anthems, keeping the faith. Also, perhaps giving a clue to why it’s disrespected, Homme isn’t the star on this album; Garcia and Alfredo are. Maybe that’s why the album is underappreciated.

    5. Brant Bjork wrote some of the great songs on BLUES. Attributing it solely to Homme is serious revisionist history. I hear more Bjork than Homme when I listen to BLUES. And Bjork carried that style and songwriting into his great post-Kyuss projects: the solo stuff, especially JALAMANTA, Che, the Fu Manchu albums, and now Vista Chino, some of which rivals Homme’s post-Kyuss career. So discussing BLUES solely through a Homme lens is distorted, like talking about Vol. 4 as an “Iommi album.”

    6. VULTURES was real return to form. It’s the best album Homme has released since LULLABIES. I’m still listening to the new one.

  28. Homme albums from best to worst:
    Sky Valley
    blues for red son
    circus leaves town
    rated R
    songs for the death
    wretch
    era vulgaris

    After that it does not matter cause its all poser pop crap. I didn’t think it was possible for homme to make an album worse than lullabies but then like clockwork dropped. Nothing qotsa has done even touches kyuss, hopefully some day when hommie is done sucking celebrity dick he”ll try to make a good album a gain.

  29. The author of this article is a complete fucking retard. QOTSA? What a load of tripe! comparing anything of his post Kyuss material to the Kyuss legacy is ridiculous. They are such different genres its like saying Miles Davis is better than Slayer. Stupid comparison, stupid author, stupid comments, and and even more ignorant online publication for wasting bandwidth on this crap. Did I mention a completely retarded premise to begin with? Fucking retard.

  30. I’m interested in hearing this “A Song For The Death” the author likes so much. Not sure it exists…but hey, it might be great.

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