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Overlooked Alternatives: Queens of the Stone Age, the Traveling Wilburys

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This is an easy week for me. Just a couple of essentials, one of which was an unexpected one following the band's previously lackluster album.

Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris: Josh Homme's band thankfully picks up where 2002's exquisitely fun Songs For The Deaf left off, ignoring the dreadfully boring Lullabies To Paralyze that emerged in between the two. We'll just count that one as growing pains from Homme kicking bassist Nick Oliveri out of the band following Songs.

Vulgaris, happily, indulges in the same goofy time-traveling sound that the band always has, borrowing riffs from their roots in Kyuss as well as dipping back to the 60s for vocal melodies straight out of Cream, backed by thick, heavy drumming. It's a hell of a fun album.

And, as usual, watch which version you pick up: Best Buy will have a download of the band covering Billy Idol's "White Wedding" (I can practically hear it) while the Itunes version contains "Running Joke" and indie stores will get the album bundled with till-now MIA Lullabies-era "The Fun Machine Took A Shit And Died." Circuit City also gets something special, but I can't locate any resources that indicate what that track is – my guess is that it's the title track, featuring Trent Reznor, which was previously only available as a free download on a Queens-related website and also as a b-side to a promo-only single. Collectors will probably have their work cut out for them with this one. I would wager that we'll be seeing a "deluxe" edition of this album in about, oh, say, 6 months, right before Christmas, with all 7 of the non-album tracks that I've seen mentioned.

The Traveling Wilburys: It's about damned time. These have been out of print how long? And all of the band members are major artists? What was the deal with that? Regardless, I missed out on these the first time around because I really didn't listen to any of these guys back then and now I do – strange how that happens when you grow up – so I'm very happy to see this release, with both albums bundled together, complete with documentary, videos, etc., on accompanying DVD.

The set comes in two flavors – standard digipak and special cloth-bound deal with 40-page book and stuff. I managed to get my order in at Amazon before they sold out on the latter (they had a killer price, to boot,) so this may truly be a limited edition – get it while you can.

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