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Queens of the Stone Age

"Lullabies to Paralyze"

Available at All That Jazz for $15.99

The latest Queens of the Stone Age album opens with Leonard Cohen-esque song. The singer plays a quiet, deep-voiced lullaby, accompanied by the single-string plucking of an acoustic guitar. If you've ever listened to this band before, this introduction is a true tension builder. Known for short songs played at a feverish pace, "This Lullaby" seems disturbingly calm, and you keep waiting for the screaming to begin. Call this song effective.

The volume hits on the next track and the next -- blending into what seems to be amounting to a disc of heavy metal ballads. Until you get to the jester-hat, carnival atmosphere of "Tangled up in Plaid" and the simple, drum-driven "I Never Came."

If you don't feel alienated from society before you start this album, you will by the end. "Lullabies to Paralyze" is a funhouse you enter full of characters who jump out to scare you, haunting echoes and whispers that come over cheap loudspeakers, the sound of a knife being sharpened.

There's an insanity theme that runs throughout the whole thing that ends with a werewolf doing a pole dance in "You got a killer scene there ..."

Rated: Sartre called this feeling "nausea."

Moby

"Hotel"

Available at All That Jazz for $15.99

I've always liked the idea of Moby, even if I've never, ever bought any of his albums. There he is in his bedroom with a computer and a few instruments, redefining the term one-man band. I picture him with eight arms, pulling samples and pushing buttons, voicing his theories into a microphone. He's like Laurie Anderson with more melody and less irony.

But my fascination with this album ends there.

"I am in love with the idea of being in love," as they say.

In my mind, Moby is more of a composer than a lyric writer, which is what makes "Hotel" so surprising. Instead of offering complicated electronic ideas, piecing together concepts that have never met before, this album offers pretty straightforward songs with repeating hooks. Hooks that repeat and repeat and repeat.

One critic called it "rock by number." Well said.

Rated: This latest album was released Tuesday. You could be the first.

Wes Montgomery

"A Day in the Life"

Available at All That Jazz for $10.98

The cover of "A Day in the Life" has a closeup shot of a full ashtray. Lipstick marks one of the mashed butts. It looks like a late night.

I learned about Wes Montgomery from one of those musicians who Mahogany Ridged their way through town for a night. Wes was tucked in among the other "what is this guy listening to" lists that I usually plop on the page with an article.

It sounded promising.

Wes Montgomery is a great jazz guitarist. In this album, he leads his band through "covers" of songs you may think you've heard, but won't recognize here, like "A Day in the Life," "Eleanor Rigby" and "When a Man Loves a Woman." There's also a good recording of Montgomery's original "Angel," which you will recognize.

According to jazz snobs, this was Montgomery's "sellout" album, but the well-known songs give non-jazz listeners an entry into his music, and there's nothing wrong with that.

If you are a jazz lover and don't need sugar with your medicine or water in your run, try "Impressions: The Verve Jazz Sides" instead. Or recommend something to me.

Rated: It's all about the thumb.

-- Autumn Phillips

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