Photo by Deborah ViereckMondo Generator A Drug Problem That Never Existed
If Queens of the Stone Age earned a reputation for artsy cool with their 2002 album Songs for the Deaf, then Queens bassist Nick Oliveri hilariously squanders it with this spazzy hard-rock side project. The tone is a tossup between a cartoon version of Taxi Driver and a permanently shelved comic opera about crystal meth. That'd be preposterous if the music sucked, but Mondo's heavy wallop just makes the caustic jokes a headbanger's delight. Opening with the speed-metal spin-out of "Meth, I Hear You Callin'," the sounds are cuckoo-clock chimes, nutjob guitars and tweaked vocal samples (such as a clearly wigging-out Carol Channing). The other 14 cuts are variations on the theme of high loserdom enunciated by Oliveri's hacking cough of a voice. But Mondo Generator also find time to chill: there are acoustic numbers such as "All I Can Do" (sort of a spaghetti-western soundtrack featuring the cast of Richard Linklater's 1991 cult flick Slacker) and "Day I Die," a farewell song iron shellacked with withering sarcasm. But the respite is brief. This album is as loud and fast as your drug-casualty brother's old metal records, only a lot smarter and funnier—something that'll remind you of the Hessians in high school who you swore Super Glued their Iron Maiden T-shirts to their backs.