ARE YOU SERIOUS?
With the plethora of truly bad “supergroups” that have infested this planet in recent years (Chickenfoot anyone?), when the real deal comes along it is a shock to the system. When rumors began to swirl that the long awaited project from Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and John Paul Jones was going to debut at The Metro in Chicago after Lollapalooza 2009 was over with, the buzz was pretty intense. Then the reviews of the show came out the next morning, and it appeared this was no mere hype. Them Crooked Vultures appeared to be the Real McCoy!
Before I get into the review, big kudos to Kimber Lanning over at Stinkweeds Records! Thanks to you I had this disc in my hands to listen to early on Tuesday. If you live in Phoenix, AZ, support local, independent music and shop at this great record store rather than hitting up one of those big chains that is killing the industry. I did say I would occasionally get on my soapbox …
A quick bio of Them Crooked Vultures, Tfronky-style
Now for the uninitiated, Dave Grohl told Mojo magazine in April 2005 that the next project he was interested in pursuing was a collaboration between him, Josh Homme and John Paul Jones. “The next project that I’m trying to initiate involves me on drums, Josh Homme on guitar, and John Paul Jones playing bass. That’s the next album. That wouldn’t suck.” That kind of statement naturally created quite a stir. Grohl is one of the industry’s heavy hitters right now, with stellar work in the Foo Fighters and Nirvana. If you want to hear work of his from the wayback machine, check out Washington D.C. punk rock legends Scream. Grohl played on their last two albums. With Them Crooked Vultures he is once again behind the drum kit, and he destroys on the skins as well as ever.
Guitarist/vocalist Josh Homme has already carved out an impressive career with his work in Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss and Eagles of Death Metal. Them Crooked Vultures is another fine feather in his cap. Homme and Grohl already have a history together from when Grohl played drums on the third QOTSA release Songs for the Deaf.
The third key element of this band needs no introduction. Dave Grohl and Josh Homme may be rock legends one day, but they added a true legend to Them Crooked Vultures with John Paul Jones on the bass. The most overlooked member of the legendary Led Zeppelin is an amazing musician, and the smooth but heavy grooves he adds to this band are incredible. I was a big fan of the work he also did with art-rock alternative musician Diamandra Galas.
The debut self-titled album
Here is something that immediately needs to be said about this album. Alan Moulder mixed Them Crooked Vultures. Now I have a feeling there will not be too many of you out there that will realize the significance of this, but when I was reading the track listing on the back of the disc, I went nuts when I saw his name. Alan Moulder was a big-time producer during the heyday of Creation Records back in the late eighties-early nineties. I would be referring to work from incredible bands such as Swervedriver, My Bloody Valentine and Ride. He also worked with Lush, Smashing Pumpkins and the Jesus and Mary Chain, but the one disc he will always be known for working on was the 1994 release of The Downward Spiral from Nine Inch Nails. Alan Moulder has some serious credibility in the industry, and his handiwork is very evident on Them Crooked Vultures.
No One Loves You & Neither Do I leads off this album, and the force of this trio is immediately evident. The rhythm section of Jones and Grohl is outstanding and complemented well with Homme’s unique vocal style and volatile guitar work. The first four tracks are similar in the sense each possesses a sound that bulls forward in an aggressive manner, but with each possessing a strong sense of melodicism as well. This is basic rock and roll done very, very well.
There is a brief lull during songs 6-8, but the intensity picks right back up from track seven through the end. I was really impressed with the song structure of each tune on the disc. Them Crooked Vultures may be stripped down rock and roll, but there is nothing basic about the make-up of each song.
Now, some of you may have noticed I skipped track five. For my money Elephants was the highlight of this album, a brutal track with extreme tempo changes and a sound that pummels you into submission. Elephants puts the power and talent of Them Crooked Vultures on full display. This song has to be absolutely insane live.
What an impressive debut, and what a way to redefine the whole theory of the supergroup. The wait was well worth it folks. Go out and pick up this amazing piece of work today!