(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, March 8, 2010

CD review - Them Crooked Vultures, Them Crooked Vultures (2009)

Every band has a focus. That's especially true in super groups like Them Crooked Vultures. One person often provides the basic direction, while the others add their voices. Josh Homme takes on that role for Them Crooked Vultures, largely by virtue of singing lead vocals and playing guitar. While John Paul Jones contributes several instruments beyond bass and Dave Grohl's drumming is quite interesting, it's more like they're extending a Queens of the Stone Age session.

Homme's vocals throughout Them Crooked Vultures recall a languid David Bowie circa Scary Monsters. Tossed out casually, they rob many of the lyrics of some of the sting, letting them under the skin that much easier.
Then she said, No one loves me & neither do I
You get what you give
I give goodbye
Aside from Bowie, Homme channels Jack Bruce's vocals on the Cream-y Scumbag Blues. Jones provides the appropriate bass work, but Josh Homme is no Eric Clapton on guitar. Still, it's got a great vibe.

The catchy Elephants has a Led Zeppelin style intro, but drives into more of a metal grunge feel, maybe QotSA meets Soundgarden. Jones' bass work is as epic as anything Zeppelin did and Grohl's drumming harks back Nirvana's rowdier moments. Like all of the best rock and roll, this sounds rough and casual.

My favorite track, though, is Bandoliers. There are some nice paired guitar lines, but the bass is what grabs the ear. It's busy and hypnotic -- Jones is inspired and isn't rehashing any old Led Zeppelin work here. There's some Cream here again, as well as a more progressive rock mindset. Many of the other songs point back at the players' earlier bands, but this is something unique to this group. The balance between an opiate groove and underlying tension is exquisite. "Prepare and take aim and fire"

There are other good moments, the Beck influenced Interlude With Ludes and Warsaw or the updated T Rex feel of Reptiles (featuring some John Paul Jones slide work). The band has promised more recording, so Them Crooked Vultures might not be a one-off super group.

I'll wait with bated breath and a whiskey sour highball.

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