Final Rating: 8/10
Is Joshua Homme turning into the next Bowie?
I get it, the planets have yet to realign themselves following the still-unfathomable passing of Space Oddity David Bowie. When the time is right and The Thin White Duke decides to break his silence and speak from beyond the grave (you know he will one day), I’m confident Bowie would wax philosophically about how the continuous creation of art is the fabric by which our fragile universe is held together.
All alien talk aside, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bowie sincerely believed this to be his mission on Earth. More than any other musician from the past fifty or so years, you could easily argue that characters like Ziggy Stardust have been successful in cultivating a creative community to carry on Bowie’s life work, molded in his unique, eccentric image. One such individual I think is following these weighty footsteps to a T is Mr. Joshua Homme.
While Queens of the Stone Age have headlined their share of festivals, their coyote-eyed pack leader is admittedly not at the same level of fame as his hero in 2016. Homme hasn’t been confused with Bowie in terms of being a trendsetting style icon, although his chiseled good looks and leggy height make him a punk-chic modelling candidate should, y’know, that music career not end up working out. He was even on a Sunset Strip billboard as part of Saint Laurent Paris’ “Music Project” campaign, so there.
The comparisons to Bowie came screaming to mind as I saw Homme looking dapper af on Stephen Colbert’s late-night show back in January. There was the badass QotSA frontman, bright red-soled shoes and all, sitting next to James Newell Osterberg, Jr. introducing the new Iggy Pop album Post Pop Depression. After the deaths of Scott Weiland, Lemmy, Bowie, Glenn Frey…it was the kind of news that was almost enough to get fans like myself out of the funk that had been lingering over music for the last few months. Hope springing anew. This isn’t some sort of reclamation pity project; the Godfather of Punk doesn’t intend to shuffle off this mortal coil anytime soon if HE has a say in the matter.
There is a strange sense of optimism that pervades throughout this collaboration that also features multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita as well as Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders. Through Homme’s otherworldly channeling of Bowie the producer, Post Pop Depression is Iggy laid bare, beating the feeling of being down in the dumps as best he can, facing his own mortality and leaving a lasting legacy. Oh, and flipping off pretty much everything do to with the First World in an awesome, profanity-laden prospective postcard from “Paraguay”. Pop’s restrained, loungy vocals somehow mesh wonderfully with what may have been fragments of future Queens or even Them Crooked Vultures songs, eerily summarized at the end of “American Valhalla” when Iggy repeats, “I’ve nothing but my name”.
Even though his pseudonym is the most protruding one on the cover, the album is just as much Homme’s and Bowie’s.
I was too young to have felt the reverberations myself, but I’ve since heard the near-folktales of how Bowie salvaged Iggy Pop’s floundering career once the Stooges imploded. (Again!) Bowie had legendarily tried to help, mixing-wise, during the production of Raw Power to little avail. No amount of drug taking at the time could have foreseen that recognition would eventually come in the form of a Coachella reunion thirty years later. Bowie absconded his addicted f(r)iend, defecting him into Germany to work and focus on solo efforts The Idiot and Lust for Life, both released in 1977. Bowie wasn’t doing this for kicks-and-giggles; he saw promise in the singer, however bizarrely blitzkrieg-ish the shirtless dynamo may have been. Fast forward to present day, and the odded-than-ever Iggster has experienced plenty of tragedy, including the deaths of founding Stooges Ron and Scott Asheton. And now his mentor Bowie, who you figure he had to know was ailing. Enter Homme, who had been going through some trying times himself.
Much in the same manner as Bowie did with Iggy, Homme took an emotionally sensitive albeit committed rock ’n’ roller in Jesse Hughes and shaped him into a tattooed, New Millennium version of everyone’s favourite leather-skinned rockstar. He isn’t usually a visible onstage member, and was thousands of miles away when the infamous incident happened, but make no mistake about it, Homme is a joint owner when it comes to Eagles of Death Metal. Despite his tough-guy exterior, he is human too, and the attack in Paris affected him greatly. Post Pop Depression is an apt title for all parties involved, and if there was ever a good excuse to award an A+ grade for therapeutic rock, this has earned head of the class honours.
David Bowie has been rightly eulogized for his five decades of artistic contributions, from Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes” to “Reflektor” with Arcade Fire in 2013. Iggy Pop is the most recent link between Bowie and his music-multitasking soulmate Josh Homme, but it’s not the only one – In the mid-’90s, Bowie hitched his wagon to Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails and the post-grunge, industrial revolution embodied in the worldwide Outside Tour and “I’m Afraid of Americans”. Why isn’t THAT song getting more airplay in relation to presidential hopeful Donald Trump, by the way?
Josh Homme and Reznor share the same May 17th birthday, their respective bands visited North and South America together in 2005, and they made heads explode through their “Mantra” one-off for the Sound City documentary soundtrack, with some guy on drums named Dave Grohl. Friendships such as these are important to Homme and Bowie; they’ve proven to be more than willing to experiment with roughnecks and ragamuffins, if for no other reason than to keep things weird and interesting. Post Pop Depression has this in spades. Highly ROCKmended!
There will never, ever be another one like David Bowie, but here’s to Josh Homme for giving it a go as his heir apparent, even if he isn’t trying to do it consciously. If anything, we appreciate the great playlist fodder you continue to give us.
Download Post Pop Depression on iTunes.
Listen to our curated Post Pop Depression playlist on Spotify.