All right, okay, it isn’t Halloween anymore, and I’m not trying to spook you anymore. So instead of horror and dread, how about a loud, heavy response to grim life? Good! Then Queen Chief is right up your alley.
The band is based in Portland, OR, but singer and guitarist Justin Lien infuses every song with the sound of growing up between places: the reservations and dead-end suburbs that are the flipside of the shiny hipster Northwest. Faced with bleak surroundings, he opted not to be sucked into despair, but instead to rage back at it. This album is that much juicier when you consider it as not just a description, but an argument.
Enough philosophizing! Let’s get into the meat of the thing. This self-titled EP opens with “North Dakota Spirit,” a song that might make you wonder if you maybe accidentally grabbed the wrong band with “Queen” in their name and pulled out a Queens of the Stone Age cd instead. Um, pretend other people than me still listen to cds, for the sake of argument. Shut up. Anyway, this song kicks ass. And how about the line “Dance with the sun and talk shit about the moon”? Seriously, who does that moon think she is, anyway. Oh, look at me, I’m the moon, I control the tides! Like she’s so cool.
The stoner rock sound continues throughout the record, with a brief quieter interlude with “Stands and Looks Back,” which sounds like the soundtrack to the part of the movie where Our Hero is prowling through an empty power plant, knowing the Bad Guy is hiding in there somewhere… which then bleeds into “Sleeping Under Trees” and suddenly we’re alone in the entire world as tumbleweeds roll down the middle of abandoned suburban streets. Do you ever listen to a song and think of a book? This makes me think about certain parts of Douglas Coupland’s Girlfriend in a Coma (which, if you haven’t read it, please do so – see your friendly local Vancouverite [me] for assistance).
In short, I dig this a lot. I don’t know if Queen Chief plans to play any shows outside of their immediate local area, but if they come around this way sometime, I’ll be there.