Them Crooked Vultures is a true supergroup, unlike some bands that aspire to that moniker. It’s just a 3-piece, but what pieces: Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and The Eagles of Death Metal on lead guitar and vocals, Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters on drums, and John Paul Jones of Led (Freaking) Zeppelin on bass. In retrospect, I’m not sure why it took me so long to listen to their self-titled album, “Them Crooked Vultures.” I had heard about this project, but no one had played it for me or told me about the music. Last week, my brother told me I had to have it, so I picked it up.
Wow. My very first time through this album I loved it. Song after song had me checking my iPod to see the title. As is commonly noted about 3-piece bands, there is nowhere to hide. You have to be on your game 100% of the time to create a full sound. Well, all three men are notorious monsters on their instruments and they have created a sound here that is not only full, but also complex and edgy. Some of the songs hearken back to older rock, but it sounds like inspiration, not borrowing. Not to mention it’s OK for your band to remind people of Led Zeppelin if one of their members actually plays with you.
I’ve been a big fan of Homme’s for years. His twisted melodies and lyrics are the hardest, darkest, and coolest music to pump from my speakers since old Alice in Chains. Grohl is, of course, a great singer, songwriter, and guitarist, but it’s great to have him back on drums. In fact, Homme and Grohl have worked together before on the great Queens of the Stone Age album, “Songs for the Deaf,” on which Grohl played drums. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised that John Paul Jones is so very impressive on this album, but I was. I guess I expected him to have lost a step, but he still has his chops and carries as much of the load as anyone else.
I could write up every song on this album, but I won’t. Just give a listen to these half dozen and you will want to go buy this album.
- No One Loves Me & Neither Do I – I’m not sure what it is about having John Paul Jones in your band that makes you write hooks like this. The song rocks and the lyrics are fantastic.
- New Fang – All three men are kicking ass in this song, though perhaps Grohl is hitting it the hardest on drums. It’s hard to say. One thing for sure, this song demands maximum volume from your sound system.
- Dead End Friends – This one sounds more like something off of “Songs for the Deaf,” which is a good thing, of course.
- Elephants – Jimmy Page would have been proud of the guitar work on this one. It is very Zeppelinesque all the way through, but not tired sounding at all.
- Reptiles – Homme’s guitar riff is busy and jangling, Jones is relentless on bass, and Grohl keeps things moving along. Something about the vocal melody reminds me of Cream.
- Warsaw, Or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up – This has a dirty, swinging groove and cool lyrics during the verses and then odd harmonies at the chorus. I love how heavy the song feels when they jump back into the verses after each chorus.
I picked these six more or less at random from this disc and have left out a bunch of great music, like ‘Spinning in Daffodils,’ ‘Interlude with Ludes,’ and ‘Caligulove.’ This album is all killer, no filler and I hope these guys had enough fun doing this that they want to do it again. Maybe if we all go buy it and see their shows they’ll make so much money they’ll HAVE to go back into the studio.