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Them Crooked Vultures - Self Titled

Them Crooked Vultures

Them Crooked Vultures


The term “super group” doesn’t seem fitting for Them Crooked Vultures. Often the moniker recalls a failed blind date, with the members’ managers like overbearing mothers throwing the rock stars in a room, yelling “Go,” and little chemistry resulting. But the union of Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Dave Grohl (Nirvana), and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) is not lacking a spark. These guys clearly dig each other and their jams, and the project has a natural feel.

Grohl’s fit is a given, seeing he was a member of QOTSA in possibly their finest hour, Songs for the Deaf, and is a devotee of the Bonham school of drumming. But what’s delightful (in a bad-ass, hard rock sort of way) is how well Homme and Jones play off each other. As a riff maker, Homme has always had a good ear for what notes to leave out, and, as a rock legend, Jonesie has the chops to make good use of these spaces. So while he keeps in line during the majority of “New Fang”’s weird syncopation, as soon as the song is cut with a jagged riff, Jones goes off, darting around between vocal lines, anchoring the chorus, and kicking way too much ass to care. Even with the great guitar and drum work on this record, what’s going to keep classic rock fans smiling is that the 61-year-old bass-god still has it.

All and all, however, it’s Homme who has the album. Homme’s style is prominent on every track, with the Vultures’ music having his signature gloom and grandeur. But once again, the pieces fit. Jones and Grohl definitely get their say, but this doesn’t stop the LP sounding like a QOTSA album recorded in the mid-1970s. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially with this set of songs. The biker rock of “Dead End Friends,” the black-hearted funk of “Gun Man,” the Cream (the band, not the dairy product) send-up of “Scumbag Blues,” and the hellish lounge of “Interludes with Ludes” are all done successfully, with expert tact behind strong riffs. The standouts are the band’s self-proclaimed “Battleships,” the instant classic “Elephants,” the proggish “Warsaw,” and “Spinning in Daffodils,” which, with over 22 minutes between them, don’t have a wasted note.

geoff anstey

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