To mark the release of their eighth album Sonic Highways, part-time Queens drummer Dave Grohl’s “other band” Foo Fighters have been documenting their creative process in a weekly HBO show of the same name. The fact that each of the album’s eight tracks was inspired by a different American city has given viewers an opportunity to follow the band as they travel the USA and uncover the rich musical history of each of their stops. This week was, according to the episode title at least, an exploration of the world-renowned Los Angeles music scene – however, to the joy of many of the frequenters here, much of the hour was spent in a cluttered little recording studio about 150 miles further inland.
Set just on the outskirts of California’s Joshua Tree National Park (and just across the road from where another Joshua grew up), the Rancho De La Luna recording studio has become a Meccah for artists who seek inspiration from its beautifully barren surroundings. Rancho was founded in 1993 by Fred Drake and Dave Catching and has played an integral part in the Palm Desert Scene, hosting bands such as Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age, earthlings? and Fatso Jetson. Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions, an entire catalogue of genre-spanning jams and future hits, was borne of the lack of distraction offered by the setting and the versatility that arose from the restricted equipment available in the studio. This week it was Foo Fighters’ turn to experience the magic of the Mojave desert as they wrote their new track, Outside.
Regardless of your feelings toward Foo Fighters, if you have any interest in the musical context surrounding Queens Of The Stone Age (or in seeing some amusing shots of Josh as a fifteen year old) then with a bunch of interviews from important Desert Scene figureheads and a touching tribute to the late Fred Drake, the episode is definitely worth catching up on.
Today marks the release of Fragments and Wholes Vol. 1, the first solo album from regular Queens collaborator Alain Johannes in four years.
Alain’s name will be familiar to many of us – having been accurately described by Josh as his own “secret weapon”, Alain has left his mark on every QOTSA album since Songs for the Deaf, made multiple appearances on Desert Sessions records and joined supergroup Them Crooked Vultures onstage for every live show.
On his new album the revered multi-instrumentalist expands on the unique sound he introduced in 2010′s heartfelt and bittersweet Spark, a record written in response to his wife and creative partner Natasha Shneider’s passing.
For an idea of what to expect from the new album, check out an acoustic version of Alain’s track Kaleidoscope below.
Apologies for the amount of time in between updates. Most of you have already heard about these news items, but they are so cool that a post is required.
First, the newly released video for The Vampyre of Time and Memory:
And in addition, check out QOTSA’s new live EP: …Like Cologne, which was recorded on September 4th. Sorry to all of those people who live in places where Spotify doesn’t work. We’re trying to come up with a better way to share this with you.
In this day and age, do album sales really matter? People download music for free, they pick and choose individual songs to buy and just generally buy significantly fewer albums than they did just a decade ago.
However, QOTSA’s new album …Like Clockwork debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and I think that’s pretty cool. It’s the band’s first number 1 album (their previous best was Lullabies to Paralyze which peaked at #5) and also the first number 1 record from Matador. Lullabies actually sold 6,000 more copies in its first week than …Like Clockwork did (97,000 vs. 91,000), but record sales are declining every year, so this debut is still pretty impressive. Many people deserve to be congratulated for this awesome achievement:
1) Josh Homme – because there is no such thing as QOTSA without Josh
2) Troy, Mikey, Dean, Dave, Joey and Jon – because there is more to QOTSA than just Mr. Homme
3) Trent Reznor, Alex Turner, Elton John and all the other guests – because each of them brought something unique to the table
4) Matador Records – because the buildup, marketing and execution of the album launch were done exceptionally well
So this piece of news isn’t really a big deal. But it sort of is. Queens of the Stone Age has created something wonderfully unexpected with …Like Clockwork and they are being rewarded for their creativity. QOTSA should be incredibly proud of this accomplishment. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last #1 record we see from Josh and the gang.
This is an absolutely incredible concert from last night at The Wiltern in Los Angeles courtesy of NPR.org. Enjoy all of the songs from …Like Clockwork (except for Fairweather Friends for some reason) along with a bunch of older tracks. The band has never sounded better: