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Queens of the Stone Age with ... And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead and Peaches 

Friday, September 20; Pageant

Imagine, if you will, a late-night visit from the shade of poor dead Brian Jones wherein he charges you with putting together a band to fight the holy lugubrious rot of Creed. "We're in dire straits, lad," he hisses from behind floppy bangs. "The kids are gonna think rock has to be humorless, formulaic and bland if you don't show them the way. And tell Jagger to hang it up: He's not helping matters any." Then he's gone, back to that big swimming pool in the sky.

Brian, the fix is in. You could spend a lifetime pondering whom to put in an anti-Creed supergroup, but why bother? Queens of the Stone Age already exist. Their newest foray into rock genius, Songs for the Deaf, is so good, it's almost as if they cheated. As a songwriting duo, Nick Oliveri and Josh Homme have proved several times over that the guitar/bass/drum formula is unbeatable when combined with strong songwriting, sterling musicianship and a hard-nosed disdain for the whims of fashion. Adding Mark Lanegan's grain-alcohol-and-gravel vocals and Dave Grohl's divine hammers to their little party was like Slayer teaming up with Tom Waits and John Bonham. Songs for the Deaf is the distillation of everything this version of the Queens is capable of: The biker thunder that rumbled overhead at the dawn of Kyuss. The gritty snarl of Screaming Trees. The psychedelic backwash of the Desert Sessions. The big roar of attaining Nirvana. There's not a weak moment, not a bad song, nary a less-than-rocking moment on the album.

And even though Grohl's part will be played by the capable Kelly Scott for the rest of the tour, your enthusiasm for having your skull rocked by the Queens should in no way be diminished. When the Queens stretch their songs out live, all that bunched muscle becomes sinuous and supple but no less capable of pounding your ears in, no matter who's on the drum throne. Brian Jones can rest easy, but not in peace.

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