Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures

Them Crooked Vultures

Them Crooked Vultures

2009

DGC Records

 Them Crooked Vultures is the new supergroup consisting of Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Nirvana (like you didn’t know that), Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, and John Paul Jones.  Do I really even need to state where he’s from?  It’s John Paul Jones.  Alright, of Led Zeppelin.  I don’t think you’re catching on…  JOHN PAUL JONES of LED ZEPPELIN.  Grohl and Homme must’ve been the most ecstatic people on the planet.  Ever.

So, the group formed in 2005, and… wait.  2005?  Is that true Wikipedia?  If it is (which apparently it is, since Grohl provided an interview with Mojo about the collaboration), why wait so long?  It’s been four years!  I understand that yes, they’re all busy people.  Grohl has the Foo Fighters, Homme has QotSA, Kyuss, Eagles of Death Metal, whatever.  And yeah, Jones does a lot, but nothing extremely substantial.  If I were Grohl and Homme and I heard I’d be collaborating with John Paul Jones, excuse me, Mr. JOHN PAUL JONES of LED ZEPPELIN, I’d drop everything.  Foo Fighters can take a backseat for a little bit.  This is more important.  By far (and I like the Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age.  Imagine if they were bands I didn’t like, what I’d say?). 

So anyway, they just released their debut album,  Them Crooked Vultures.  The album starts off with “No One Loves Me & Neither Do I.”  The song’s a bluesy slower tempo romp.  The percussion is amazing (with Grohl on drums), and the guitar is pretty cool too.  And let me get this out there, the entire album is extremely bass-heavy.  Which is awesome, because Jones is amazing on the album.  This song features distant sounding vocals from Homme, with tons of reverb.  While it’s not a great song, it at least shows that the three meld together really well, and it’s still interesting, and enjoyable.  Best part though (which gets the album really going): halfway through, the band stops, and a big volume jump occurs.  The bass is so heavy and the repletion is awesome.

“Mind Eraser, No Chaser” features a great guitar riff, with a less-than-great raw solo in the intro.  The chorus is pretty catchy, with a call-and-answer section.  This is one of the best songs on the album, but unfortunately, it suffers from too much.  There’s too much noise, too many guitars, and the vocals have too many effects.  This regrettably is a theme for the whole album.  Luckily, the arrangements of the songs almost make up for it.  Strangely, after the heaviness of “Mind Eraser,” midi horns (I think horns) come in, providing a great contrast to their sound.

“New Fang” is the first single from the album, and the audience can understand why.  It’s starts with great drums from Grohl, and then really cool-sounding contrasting guitar and bass.  The vocals are great, even with Homme using falsetto a little bit.  The memorable chorus features Homme’s witty writing, “Sometimes you break a finger on the upper hand, I think you’ve got me confused with a better man.”  The instrumental breaks are great as well, ringing guitars, heavy bass, pounding drums, and noise solos that actually work in this song.  Then, showing off their talent in arrangements, a key change comes in!  It’s definitely one of the best singles of the year, I submit.

“Dead End Friends” starts with out-of-tune guitars, leading into a rhythmic riff.  It’s a heavy song, so the vocals aren’t particularly outstanding.  They’re unfortunately monotonous.  Jones, however, has a great bass line that shows off a lot on this track.

“Elephants” is one of my favorite songs from the album.  The intro riff is admirable, and leads perfectly into a fast paced rhythm, that will get stuck in one’s head.  And before any vocals come in, the band shifts into a math-rock style.  The lyrics are some of the better ones in this song (“Slick back my hair, you know the devil’s in there?” offers a great image, I believe).  The band keeps the song interesting, for being so long, with slower parts and buildups as well.  It’s construction is almost flawless.

“Scumbag Blues” is, indeed, a blues-based rock (seems I’m using that phrase a lot this week).  Homme’s vocals are different here, showing a higher-register than we’re used to.  Also, not as much noise is heard on this track, and the guitar lines are kept to a minimum of bleeding into each other.  Dave Grohl, keeps a great beat during the middle-eight of the song, which offers an almost acid-rock genre bend.

The next two songs, “Bandoliers” and “Reptiles”, while both being enjoyable, are regrettably forgettable.  The latter at least uses a different technique on the vocals, bass, and guitar lines which is cool.  But the song just doesn’t hold up as well as some other songs.

“Interlude With Ludes” is the song that doesn’t fit on the album, allowing for a break in the heavy-rock tone for just a little while.  Echo is heard on the vocals (along with other effects).  The best part of the song is Grohl’s drumming which takes the lead.  The percussive hits are unlike any sounds I’ve heard before, and fit perfectly with the psychedelic noise which is ninety percent of the song.

Afterwards, the listener is treated to the epic song “Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up” (what a goddamn, long name).  After a few guitar noises, a slow-tempo hard rock song comes in, perfect for a sloth-like, muddy sound.  After the verse, the song picks up a little bit, introducing keyboards and strange, creepy background vocals.  The bass and guitar have a powerful riff, creating the heaviness more than anything else.  During the extended solo, the pace picks up seamlessly, leading into a nice drum fill section with ringing guitar.  This reminds me of “Dazed and Confused” during the noise section where the bass and drums follow each other perfectly.  And finally, the outro is awesome with noises coming in and out, the bass keeping the song balanced.

Again, “Caligulove” and “Gunman” are two really enjoyable songs, but fail to stand up to the rest of the album.  The problem is with so much to sift through, the listener will skip over a few songs if they don;t take a break from the album.  They are two thoroughly acceptable songs though.

Finally, the ultimate track, “Spinning on Daffodils” comes in.  The intro is a beautiful piano solo.  With guitar noise and feedback in the background.  Which makes it awesome for being different.  Then a pull-on guitar riff comes in, one of the better ones on the album.  With deep vocals (and harmonies), the song retains the heaviness of the album.  During the first half on the song (again, it’s an epic over-seven minute song), the bass and drums play off of each other, keeping a repetitive nature going.  After four minutes, there’s finally a buildup (and Homme groaning, keeping a weirdness factor relevant), that lasts for a few minutes.  Indeed, the song is all buildup, which is actually pretty cool.  A fadeout comes early, leaving atmospheric guitars and a kick-ass bass solo.  Honestly, the end of the album is done perfectly, leaving only a hint of a song left in the mind of the listener.  Perfect “what the hell?” moment, but done in a great creative way.

The debut album from the power trio does seem a little long, and could be better, but it’s the debut album (Hopefully, there will be more!), so it can be forgiven.  The band amalgamates (damn, look at that word) very well.  The sound could’ve been developed slightly better, with less noise overall, but for fans of hard rock, it’s a relief to the mundane offerings by most hard rock bands currently.  Surprisingly, Pitchfork has a very insightful review on the album.  Although I would’ve given the album at least a seven.  Still, they have a point that with all three huge members, the album can get a little muddled.  But it’s worth it for some kick-ass rock.

Buy This Album

Official Site

Last.fm Page

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