Thursday, December 17, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures (Album Review)

Josh Homme (QOTSA), David Grohl (Foo Fighters), and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) team up and in turn create a so-it-right-now rock "supergroup" with their debut self-titled album Them Crooked Vultures. (Homme on drums/guitar, Grohl on vocals, John Paul on bass). Them Crooked Vultures sounds a lot like QOTSA only with better material. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say this debut is better than the last few albums these people have made with their own respective bands. Talk about an unflappable will to rock.

Seriously, this is head-pecking rock at its best.

Now, first, let's talk about that album cover: that's one moody flagitious looking vulture - plus, it looks totally crooked! The red white and black very much remind me of the album cover for the QOTSA album "Songs For The Deaf" - simple yet effective. Intentional or not, the look and quality are pretty much on par with said album, which really is a great thing. However there is a picture of the band standing around - sorry, looming - and one of them is holding an umbrella. What does that even mean! That confused me more than that vulture in that one Hostess commercial... but I digress.

The first two songs on the album are truly mind molestingly great, especially Mind Eraser, No Chaser which features table pounding riffs and both Homme and Grohl harmonizing. Amusingly, the album ends with some soft syrupy trumpets - totally unexpected and unintentionally funny. Another stand-out is "Elephants" which is pretty much the "jam" of the record, and the lyrics "Pachyderms full of germs" totally kill me (so vulture-esque!). If anything solidifies John Paul Jones' statement that Them Crooked Vultures is the best band in the world it's those lyrics (/sarc, just kidding, but their catchy supersonic riffs do put them up there). Scumbag Blues sparkles greatly with Homme's trademark falsetto ear candy and some really hook-y bass playing. Though there is one song that I have tried to fight myself into liking: "Vandoliers." The song features a certain (insert drums) triteness which kind of sucks goat dong. However, the riffs kind of have a magnetic grab to them what with the whole Spanish flavor. Los Crooked Buitres?

One song that is kind of middling-at-best is Interlude With Ludes (great title, though). The cringe-worthy vocals, banal whispers, and "garbage can drums" really do nothing for me, and the only thing that really saves it is the semi-morose ending lyrics: "I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I am." A redeemer of sorts would have to be Caligulove (nice wordplay). The intro will probably turn you into a dancing foot twisting imbecile like Elaine from Seinfeld, and there's a lot to (Caligu)love about the face buffeting tribal drum thrash. The song ends with soft piano music, another throw you for a loop kind of thing like they did on Mind Eraser. The gem of the album has got to be Gunman which has some interesting "swooshing" doped up riffs and solos as well as a highly clappable bridge. The last song on the album is Spinning With Daffodils which starts off with very somber and sweet piano playing that you would expect to hear playing during a Hallmark commercial while a pregnant woman is looking outside a rainy window. It's not that great of a song, though, the vocals are kind of hard to make out and I would put this together with Reptile as the only songs that would make you do that left and right hand tilting motion and basically say "it's okaaay" But hey, it has some tambourines and stuff. Does that count?

In summation: The fact that people laud this band as a "supergroup" and cite the members won't exactly hurt album sales, but I find it kind of annoying as it then makes that part of the selling point and takes away a bit from the music itself doing that (good for business, bad for me - I find the term "supergroup" incredibly irritating). In "short," Them Crooked Vultures have officially succeeded in doing what they sought out to do, and that is sweeping me off my feet (both literally and figuratively).I like most people hope this album and Them Crooked Vultures isn't just a one time thing, because these guys are extremely talented. I guess you could even call them...vultureosos.

Final verdict: 4 1/2 stars

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