Stoner rock? Isn't that just heavy metal, but played slowly and controlled?
Stoner rock is what it says on the tin. Imagine a rock band getting extremely stoned, to the point of near-paranoia. They then discover that the music they had been playing wasn't what they felt like playing now. Well, that's what it sounds like, anyway.
So, they throw out all of their amps and speakers. They plug their guitars into bass amps, tune them down, and play calm, melodic, slow heavy rock. If that makes any sense at all.
The birth of Stoner Rock is often accredited to Black Sabbath, who had a song called Sweet Leaf which had a rather unique sound for its time. But with further research, it becomes obvious that the ideas expressed by Sabbath had already been explored by Jimi Hendrix in the early 1960s. The Stoner rock sound was further explored by bands such as Judas Priest and King Crimson. Canadian Rush are also said to have played some of their songs in a distinctive Stoner Rock-style on some live gigs. The trend continued, and was picked up by bands such as Grand Funk Railroad and Monster Magnet - the latter of which was catapulted to fame when they went on tour with Metallica in the mid-1990s.
The genre of Stoner Rock is something entirely more complicated than that - In many ways, Stoner Rock is a deliberate move away from much of the rock music (and, indeed, many of the other genres on the billboards today) that is available out there. Many of the Stoner bands have made the conscious choice to take heavy rock to a new level, by going back to the basics. With strong inspiration from slow blues, and grunge from the time when grunge still meant something (think Nirvana), lyrics that actually mean something, and musicians who are actually vaguely competent at playing their instruments.
If you have ever been to a concert - no matter what genre - where you can feel yourself slip into a groove, an intense feeling that the music is speaking to you, and you alone, you know what many Stoner gigs are like; The musicians go to a great length to just play their instruments, and pour raw emotion into high-skilled rock music.
Stoner rock bands worth listening to include Abdullah, Acid king, Alabama Thunderpussy, Big Elf, Blind Dog, Boris, Clutch, Danko Jones, El Caco, Electric Wizard, Fu Mancu, Green River, Grand Magus, High Tide, Keelhaul, Kyuss, Melvins, Mondo Generator, Monster Magnet, Nebula, On Trial, Orange Goblin, Queens of the Stone Age, and Spirit Caravan.
If you have never heard of any of the bands above, I would suggest starting with Abdullah, Clutch and Danko Jones - three very different bands within the genre of Stoner Rock, but together they form a good introduction to the genre, so you can make up your mind if it is worth exploring further!
More info: www.stonerrock.com