When I first heard about Them Crooked Vultures, it instantly sounded like one of the best ideas concocted in the last five years. It was instantly an idea I was jealous of. Why didn’t I suggest this, or even think of it? There are certain things in life we have to just learn to get past. Whoever suggested this, whichever of these power three it was, deserves all the credit in the world.
Them Crooked Vultures consists of:
Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) – Guitar/Vocals
John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) – Bass
Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) – Drums/Vocals
Josh Homme has been riff sliding his way into my heart since I first heard the track, No One Knows, off the Queens of the Stone Age album, Songs for the Deaf. I’ve said it before, Homme is one of the two best riff writers out there, Jack White being the other. His riffs are rough, melodic, dark and catchy as hell. He brings all of this to Them Crooked Vultures.
John Paul Jones is best known for his work with Led Zeppelin. His bass work here is nothing I’d write home about in terms of complexity, but the framework it creates allows for Homme’s guitar lines to slink and slide before exploding.
Dave Grohl has always been a great drummer, and I’ve always preferred to think of him as such because I’m not that interested in the Foo Fighters. Grohl’s drumming essentially made Nirvana into the all-encompassing entity we think of them as today. His style is bombastic at times, yet always controlled. It is something few drummers can pull of with such astounding ease.
All of that background is hardly necessary. While these talented musicians are all members of other great bands, Them Crooked Vultures’ debut album stands completely alone. Not to say that its better or worse, but simply it can stand apart as something separate.
On the first few listens, all I could hear was a new Queens of the Stone Age album, which is fine with me. Had the release simply been that I would have been happy enough. This is an easy trap to fall into because Homme helms the guitar and vocals duties in both bands, and his signature lyrical style and riff writing is definitely present and prominent throughout the album. But after a couple listens, you start to realize home great the drumming is, and how perfect that bass line is, and how well Grohl harmonizes with Homme on tracks like: Mind Eraser, No Chaser. These are the things that make albums have a lasting impact.
The album begins with a great break beat and it quickly hands us over to the care of John Paul Jones and Josh Homme. The guitar slides here and there, distorted and ringing. The sound is almost distant, but not quite, as if Homme is just waiting to unleash and unleash he does. The first track begins a bluesy romp and ends almost mechanical and distorted. The momentum builds and doesn’t let up until track four. tracks two and three, the two singles (Mind Eraser, No Chaser & New Fang) are incredibly strong. Mind Eraser, No Chaser, is extremely catchy with a quick-moving bass line and just the right amount of serious rocking. The lyrics are top-notch as well, “ignorance is bliss until they take your bliss away.” After the first breakdown in track four, the second romp begins with, Elephants, a quick paced rock tune, and then quickly the energy drops back down to a more focused sixth track. These dynamics continue, keeping the album interesting and keeping it from droning on at any given place.
Them Crooked Vultures are able to hold the energy level throughout the album, whether the track is slow and melodic (Interlude with Ludes) or loud and in your face. They travel through various levels of intensity and many volume levels and musical styles. Where ever they go, you want to go along, if for no other reason than to just figure out where exactly it’s going.
I think what I like most about this album is that it doesn’t sound like a “supergroup album” That’s to say it doesn’t sound like three talented musicians competing for the spotlight and showing off their skill. Instead it showcases three great musicians playing in perfect unity. John Paul Jones’ bass lines are fairly simple, but fit perfectly. Grohl’s drumming is as reserved or bombastic as it needs to be, its adjusted well in each song. And Homme is picture perfect, and in top-notch form.
I’d highly recommend picking this album up, especially if you’re a Queens of the Stone Age fan. But if you’re a try before you buy kind of person, then you can listen to the entire album on the bands youtube, http://www.youtube.com/user/themcrookedvultures
All in all, I give this album, a 3.8……………outta/5.