Tuesday, November 24, 2009
ThePRP.com has reviewed Them Crooked Vultures debut album, giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars...
[theprp.com] Given the talent involved, the expectations for this debut offering from Them Crooked Vultures are nearly astronomical. The past pairing of Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme and Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters fame resulted in the formers “Songs For The Deaf“, arguably one of the most pertinent rock albums of this decade.
Adding in rock royalty like Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones only ups that already impossible ante further. And yet somehow, through the hype, responsibilities and the no doubt crippling external pressures placed upon them once the veil was lifted, Them Crooked Vultures are a reality.
A functional entity not only capable of making an entire album, but also of touring relentlessly in support of it. Sure the stigma of a supergroup will plague them till the end of their days and fans of each respective outfit will come to the table expecting their own participating ‘hero’ to make a familiar contribution.
But all the bullshit that comes along with the music industry aside, these three gentlemen have managed to record an album that focuses on the music rather than the ego. It doesn’t merely sound like Queens Of The Stone Age with a new drummer and bassist, nor a Led Zeppelin tribute.
Instead, it incorporates each of the involved parties styles and channels them into what could probably best be described as a homage to their classic rock influences. Though in John Paul Jones‘ case, one could say he is merely reliving his youth. To that end a heavy dose of Led Zeppelin is unquestionably integrated throughout the album, though if anyone, Homme’s crisp guitar work is the biggest offender of Zeppelin worship.
Beyond that, Jones injects a bluesy and undeniably funky rhythmic prowess into the tracks, commandeering the generous amounts of groove left in the wake of Grohl’s monstrous skin bashing. While Homme’s vocals stick close to the classic rock era, with lush harmonizing and ever colorful, though sometimes brash and goofy, lyrics.
In steeping themselves in a heavily modernized take on eccentric 60’s and 70’s psychedelia and galvanizing it with bluesy guitar boogie, Them Crooked Vultures are definitely exploiting a certain niche. But there’s an admirability in that they don’t just go after what they know. In fact, surprisingly one main influence that seems to pop up more often than not throughout the album is Cream.
Still, a throwback album this is not. Yes it draws influence from an era and harnesses its atmosphere to great effect. But the band refuse to limit themselves, whether they mine the late 60’s in “Dead End Friends“, tackle some particularly booty shaking atmospheric funk in “Gunman” or freak out with “Spinning In Daffodils“; a song that easily could have been included on Primus‘ “Tales From The Punchbowl“.
Few albums are this abundant with talent, and even fewer feature musicians familiar and comfortable enough with themselves and each other to let loose like this. The interplay between each instrument exudes not only confidence, but creativity as well. It’s a near perfect storm of musical ambition that branches out and experiments while retaining both style and class.
That said, at least having a marginal interest in the late 60’s and early 70’s era of rock n’ roll, or even early Queens Of The Stone Age outings, is probably recommended for maximum enjoyment of this album. But that’s not to say it’s a prerequisite. For there is plenty of meat to these vultures, ensuring they won’t be picking at the bones anytime soon.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 5:03 PM