Queens of the Stone Age Queens of the Stone Age II

"Nicotine, valium, percodan, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol - ccccccocaine." So read the complete lyrics of "Feel Good Hit of the Summer," the opening track off the Queens' latest. But what else were you expecting? Songs about dragons and garden gnomes? After all, this is Josh Homme - the Sergeant Major of stoner rock. Of course, the strategic placement of this tune might be to appease long-term fans that were perhaps expecting a return to the sludgy Kyuss sound. Indeed, after this reaffirming disc opener, Queens II veers down a different, more song-oriented path. "Auto Pilot" and "The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret" sound increasingly MTV-friendly, while "Leg Of Lamb" is akin to hard rock Devo (a wicked concept, by the way). The quirky, yet pummelling "Monsters In The Parasol" is an even weirder trip. But some stoner things die hard, while a new air of gothiness seeps into "Better Living Through Chemistry," the Hawkwind riffery is hard to ignore. As well, "Tension Head" is full on doom rock. A disc that sees Homme explore new textures and dynamics without alienating a soul. (Interscope)