By Victor Jaimes | Staff Writer

For some of us, the days of sharing cigarillos at the back of school are over, as we are consumed by school work, athletics, club involvement, and other extracurricular activities. But when I listen to Queens of the Stone Age, I flash back to those days when I would meet up with my skater friends after class, sit back, and smoke a pack of cigarettes while listening to albums like “Rated R” or “…Like Clockwork.”

In order to understand why “Villains” is such a “breath of fresh air,” we should first look into the band’s discography. Their first album,“Queens of the Stone Age,” was released on Sept. 22, 1998. This album sprouted from the ashes of grunge rock and into a popular genre of the late 90s known as desert rock—a subgenre of hard rock and heavy metal that uses gritty guitar riffs and a psychedelic sound. This debut album pushed desert rock into the mainstream. So, how did Queens of the Stone Age become so big? Their hit song from their later album “Songs for the Deaf,” released on Aug. 27, 2002, put them on the rock-n-roll greats radar. The opening riff from the song “No One Knows” defines the whole band, a group that reaches into our souls and takes them out for a dance.

On Aug. 25, 2017, Queens of the Stone Age released a new album titled “Villains.” Josh Homme, the lead singer and guitarist of the band, said he got the inspiration to write the album after listening to swing and rockabilly records while growing up. The band also recruited British producer Mark Ronson, the funk magician who produced “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. From the sound of that, you can already tell some magic is bound to happen. As the first track, “Feet Don’t Fail Me”, kicks in, it starts off very eerie with the sound of faint droning and chanting in the background. A minute in, a metallic groove kicks the door in with lyrics like “I was born in the desert, May 17, in ‘73.” The riffs keep coming. The sound puts you into the groove like you’re driving through the Mojave Desert with the top down. However, true grooves don’t come until the next couple of tracks.

“The Way You Used To Do” is a black sheep if you’ve listened to Queens of the Stone Age before. Its boogie guitar riffs, slapping bass line, and provocative lyrics from Homme will lead you to the dance floor. “Head Like A Haunted House,” on the other hand, utilizes a lot more bass than the last track and picks up the tempo into punk. It is very reminiscent of the Dead Kennedys, a classic punk band from the 70s. If you haven’t listened to the Dead Kennedys, think of the song as something you’d listen to while you’re fleeing from cops in a high-speed chase.

As a big Queens of the Stone Age fan myself, I find “The Way You Used To Do” to be the breath of fresh air that the band needed—the reason why you need to give “Villains” a listen. Its successful incorporation of swing and rockabilly has rebirthed the “bad boy” aesthetic from the dirt and the grime of our skateboarding days to the sleek and grease of the days of our grandfathers. Even if you are not a Queens of the Stone Age fan or you’ve never listened to them before, I suggest listening to their previous work first, especially the album “Songs of the Deaf,” so you can listen to “Villains” with a greater appreciation.

As we approach the new age of the 2020s, Queens of the Stone Age is reminding us that the rock of the “Stone Age,” like the antiquated rockabilly and the seemingly outdated desert rock, is coming back fresh and new, returning us to our rebellious days.

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