Album Review: Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures

Them Crooked V

In the midst of career chaos and musical void, three rock gods united to merge their powers into one: the almighty Them Crooked Vultures. Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) boasts his paramount guitar skills and wicked vocals. Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) commands thunder with his signature drumming. And, legendary John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) proclaims ceaseless psychadelia with bass, keytar, mandolin and more. Together, the Vultures are an unstoppable rock n’ roll legion.

The dawn of the supergroup started as Grohl’s dream. Sharing ample musical history between Grohl’s past drumming with QOTSA on Songs For The Deaf, and Jone’s contribution to Foo Fighters’ In Your Honor and several live performances, coming together was something of fate. But, wanting to test the waters of his brainchild, Grohl first set Jones and Homme up on a blind date in January 2009, using his 40th b-day bash at Medieval Times in Buena Park, Calif. as an excuse. Grohl was sure to sit the pair together so as to observe them during the party from his royal roost. Within a month, the threesome found themselves recording at Joshua’s Pink Duck studios in Burbank, where they completed their debuted in July 2009.

Released in November, the self-titled record is exactly what’s expected of the group: a melting pot of Jones, Grohl and Homme, topped off with extra QOTSA and Dessert Sessions. All 13 tracks swell with moody riffs, swanky vocals and trippy melodies, creating a dual kickback/gung-ho of an album. Opening track “No One Loves Me & Neither Do I” oozes with Homme’s signature bad boy sexy, built on slow, swaying guitar and hip-shaking drums. Kicking off with a cowbell injected bluesy riff, the melody doesn’t stay light for long as aggressive bass and electric strings invade midway, leading with dirty passion into the album’s most inventive track, “Mind Eraser, No Chaser.” Homme and Grohl switch between vocals, swimming through erratic guitar and mad fits of stop-go drums.

Hit single “New Fang” is a hit for a reason. Grohl by far prevails with his ridiculously bouncing “No One Knows”ish drums, creating the perfect backdrop for soul-consuming slide guitar.

“Scumbag Blues” is all in the title, featuring a groovy Red Hot Chili Peppers-esque (Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik era) bassline. Homme lures you in with his heart-breaking falsetto peaking in perversion at lines like “Shall I lead you to my parlor, poison offers disguised, in just your size” and “You may think me altruistic, feel my dark hypnosis closing in.” The spicy, Southwestern “Bandoliers” conjurs up images of Grohl, Jones and Homme with swirled, conquistador mustaches riding on stallions; glam-rock axes in hand. Jones’ kaleidoscopic Led Zeppelin nature is released with the 7 minute vengeful “Elephants.”

The final somber, psychoactive trip “Spinning in Daffodils” is pleasingly misleading between its delicate title and soft piano intro. Homme soon turns on his low, graveyard voice, humming over gloomy strings and drums that could command an army of skeletons (very Lullabies To Paralyze: think “Love Is Blood”). At this point, you might want sit back and pour yourself a hard drink. Keep on the look out for future shows and videos on Them Crooked Vultures’ Web site.

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One Comment

  1. VE
    Posted March 31, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I think that “reptiles” has the most overt Led Zeppelin influence on the album. I also think that Josh Homme’s vocals sound like he’s drawing a lot of influence from David Bowie- and even a little from Jim Morrison- especially in “Elephants” when he sings the repeated line “are we coming over?” – more in the pacing and style than in the actual sound of his voice. I think they’ve brilliantly fused together a huge variety of musical influences into something new, but still recognizable, and very hard to classify into any of the usual categories.

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