Released August 27, 2002
Favorite track: A Song for the Deaf
You know who loves a good concept album? I love me a good concept album. The album takes you on a road trip through California from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree, with every song being another song you're hearing on the radio, with short skits featuring the radio announcers and changes between different stations. Just thinking about blasting music through car speakers and speeding down the freeway fills me with joy, so I was naturally very drawn to this album. Pretty much every track on this is something that sounds great when you're on the road, from the more energetic tracks (First It Giveth) to the more subdued ones (Hangin' Tree).
This album in particular features a good chunk of heavier metal tracks than you might find on other albums, but many are pleasantly balanced out with Josh Homme's gentle vocals. Lending to the atmosphere of "switching between radio stations" are the other vocalists on the album, namely Nick Oliveri and Mark Lanegan. Nick has a more screamo style whereas Mark's vocal style can range from a harsh growl to warm and airy. Even though a lot of the tracks have differing vibes, they all blend together so cleanly, leading to a quite enjoyable listening experience.
I think this is Queens' most pleasant and relaxing album out of their entire discography. Even though most of the tracks are pretty loud, I always found myself coming back to songs like The Sky Is Fallin' when I need a little cheering up or something to soothe me. Perhaps its because I've listened to this album probably a million times, but the heaviness evens out and you just start to mellow out... I think it's something in particular about how the rhythm guitar is mixed, but I'm not an expert on that kind of thing. It just completely envelops you. Obviously this doesn't exactly apply to Nick's tracks, but I still stand by this assessment.