Released: Nov 17, 2009
Genre: Rock, Alternative Rock
Label: Sony BMG, DGC/Interscope, Columbia
Number Of Tracks: 13
While a heavy QOTSA influence exists on Them Crooked Vultures' debut record, there's a new chemistry that is undeniable in the Homme-Grohl-Jones combo.
Them Crooked Vultures
UG Team, on november 20, 2009 17 of 17 people found this review helpful
Sound: We've all seen many a supergroup come and go, but Them Crooked Vultures has the potential for staying power. Besides the obvious fact that vocalist/guitarist Josh Homme already has an established rapport with drummer Dave Grohl, there's a familiar enough quality to the songs on Them Crooked Vultures' self-titled debut record to not alienate any previous fans. To put it simply, if you've enjoyed the most recent work from Queens of the Stone Age, you'll likely embrace TCV with open arms. And when you add in the wild card (i.e.. Led Zeppelin'sJohn Paul Jones on bass and keyboards), well, the cool factor has been solidified. It's true that there are a few songs on the new record that veer into highly experimental and self-indulgent territory, but the vast majority of the 13 tracks maintain a good balance between melody and awe-inspiring arrangements.
Grohl and Homme have already made an obvious connection through their assorted collaborations, so one of the most interesting aspects was to see what Jones brought to the table. There are a few times along the way when the songs take a Zeppelin-type turn (and yes, Zeppelin's influence is something found in a good deal of rock today), but for the most part it's the dark, grooving QOTSA-like riffs from Homme that steer the way. No One Loves Me & Neither Do I starts it all off with the trademark sexy-scary sound, and the song features a variety of musical sections (other than the obvious chorus and verse). Most of the 13 tracks pack in some sort of surprise or twist that you wouldn't necessarily expect arrangement-wise, and that's one of the most intriguing aspects to TCV.
The first single New Fang is infectious from the opening slide work to Homme's amazing falsetto abilities. Behind the generally enjoyable root melody to tracks like New Fang, Elephants, and Bandoliers is the creative approach take to layering the instrumentation. QOTSA utilizes this technique often, but TCV takes it to the next level, which becomes extremely obvious when you listen to the intricacies through headphones. Some might feel it's all overkill with so many instrumental sections smashed together, particularly in the closing experimental track Spinning In Daffodils, but by the same token this is a band that is attempting to go beyond the norm.
While Homme's sonic guitar sound and capable vocals usually steal the show, Grohl and Jones have their moments. Grohl's at his best in New Fang and Gunman, which both feature an unbelievably vibrant percussion section, as well as the uniquely timed Mind Eraser, No Chaser. The bass is always thick and is certainly a driving point to TCV, but Jones shines when he delivers a funky Stevie Wonder-like keyboard solo in Scumbag Blues. The sum total of instrumentation ends of being the key selling point, with Alan Moulder (Smashing Pumpkins, A Perfect Circle) often creating a head-scratching, but intriguing mix of the musical mish-mesh. // 9
Lyrics: There's always an undercurrent of sexuality with Homme's music these days it seems, and TCV keeps that tradition going strong. Of course, the key is to not make the topic mundane, and you don't get the same old regurgitated lyrical content. Whether it's the twisted and hilarious Caligulove (Hold me real close; Clap me in irons; Come on caligulove me) or the tense Reptile (Don't rest too long; It's a mistake we can't take back; Take one lying down for a change; And oh it's like cleaning up after an orgy), it's hard to not get sucked in to the unusual rhyme schemes that TCV devises. // 9
Overall Impression: While there are a few moments along the way when TCV get wrapped up in what seems to be an extended jam session, for the most part the self-titled record is a satisfying one. There is no shortage of thinking outside of the box with song construction, and that's refreshing in itself. From the slide work to the strong vocals to the often-changing rhythmic quality, the 13 tracks set the bar high. Again, there is an obvious extension from QOTSA that is undeniable, so your opinion of albums like Lullabies to Paralyze and Era Vulgaris will likely predetermine how you'll respond to the Homme-Grohl-Jones trio. // 9
Them Crooked Vultures
americnidiot, on november 20, 2009 5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: Whenever news of a new supergroup comes out, everyone gets inevitably excited about how awesome the band is going to sound, the the album is released and a major letdown occurs. This is the case in nearly all of the situations, but the say Them Crooked Vultures is a let down would be perpetrating one of the biggest lies I could conceive. This album may be one of the finest debut albums ever produced and could contend for album of the year. The awesome sound, as expected, comes from Dave Grohl on drums, Josh Homme on guitar and vox, and John Paul Jones on bass. This supergroup came in knowing exactly what they wanted to produce from what I can gather from this epic disc and they executed with perfection.
01. No One Loves Me and Neither Do I: starts the album with a little bluesy type music. You get into right from the start, feel the need to move around a little bit, then the sound builds to a climax around 2:44 where it kicks into balls to the walls rock mode and refusing headbanging is nearly impossible.
02. Mind Eraser, No Chaser: continues right where track one left of. The intro is very reminiscent of Velvet Revolver but Homme's vocals make the song quite distinct. This track isn't one of my favorites but it's still solid nonetheless.
03. New Fang: the first single off the album is a pretty solid choice for it. This one also has a certain groove to it and is amazingly fun to play along to no matter what instrument you play.
04. Dead End Friends: is one of my favorites on the album. This one is probably most like Homme's past work in QOTSA, but the sound is by no means a copy, it just has a similar vibe, which is fine by me.
05. Elephants: also starts out with a great guitar riff. Another of my favorites on the album because it's like nothing you've heard before.
06. Scumbag Blues: is just what the title implies. It's some nice gritty blues with a catchy groove to it. This stretch of the album is about as solid as it gets.
07. Bandoliers: starts with a simple guitar riff, but the tone on it makes it seem almost personal to the listener, as if they knew the intentions of the song exactly. It's melancholy and Homme's vocals only drive home the mood. A great piece of music.
08. Reptiles: sounds like a quazi mix of a piece of slide-guitar country music and some beat that came straight from hell. It's got some great quality I can't quite place my finger on, but the song makes you want to get up and dance.
09. Interlude: with Ludes really does sound like a cornerstone from the soundtrack of a carnival in Hades. Homme's lyrics are really haunting. At first, this song didn't really do anything for me, but it has grown on me a considerable amount. It's actually a bit scary, both in terms of fright and how exceptional a band this really is.
10. Warsaw or the First Breath You Take: features a really low, perfectly distorted guitar riff which makes you feel slightly dirty after listening to it. Then the chorus kicks in and reassures you that it's not so bad, considering the church like choir backing Homme.
11. Caligulove: starts out with some guitars and organs and keeps a simple but heavy guitar throughout. Not one of my favorites, but the song still is interesting and doesn't at all warrant a skip, especially for the fact that Homme's vocals are so intriguing.
12. Gunman: is the irresistible dance track of the album. It has such a catchy drum beat to it coupled with a funky bass/guitar line. Sitting still during Gunman is impossible.
13. Spinning in the Daffodils: starts with a beautifully haunting piano piece then some scratching leads into a nearly equally haunting guitar and vocal work. A perfect way to end the album. // 10
Lyrics: While I haven't delved into the lyrics in depth, it's clear Josh knows exactly what the group wanted and he executed. They compliment the mood of the music perfectly. There's not much else I can comment on in the category, except that they're brilliant. If you like Homme's work in QOTSA, then you'll inevitably like his work here. If you've never heard QOTSA or don't like them, this album is in a style that you'll enjoy nonetheless. You have to respect what he has done on this album in comparison with most mod. rock singers. It's unique in a grand way. // 10
Overall Impression: I would recommend this album to any rock fan. While I thought that no album could compete with Muse'The Resistance for album of the year in my mind, Them Crooked Vultures has come along and put something out so unheard of, so amazing, that it may warrant that honor. Rolling Stone called the the greatest supergroup of all time and I'd be hard pressed to disagree with them. Them Crooked Vultures is a must buy, you will not be disappointed. I would love to give the album something other than a 10, but I cannot find any flaws severe enough that makes the album less than perfectly enjoyable for me. // 10
Them Crooked Vultures
mattiscool7337, on november 20, 2009 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: One thing that is really impressive about this album is its diversity in its sound. It's not your "Ok, we have three guys that can play these instruments, let's make a band." These are highly talented musicians, and it shows. Josh Homme is one of the only people that could've pulled off the singing on this album, and his somewhat abstract vocal style really contributes to making this CD fantastic. John Paul Jones (yes, THAT John Paul Jones, the one from Led Zeppelin) plays a variety of instruments, including bass, mandolin, keytar, slide guitar, keyboard, and the occasional piano-riff. His contributions to the diversity of the sound is incredible, and it really shows off the bands ability to step out of the comfort zone that says, "Will they think we're weird if we do this?" My only complaint is Dave Grohl's drumming. It's not that he's not a good drummer, it's that he just didn't stick out a lot! In places where he beats out crazy-fast fills, he sounds great, so I'd say that if there were any future TCV albums, he should definantly go for making himself heard a lot more. // 9
Lyrics: Ok, ok, the lyrics aren't the greatest in the world. But the focus of this album is NOT the lyrics! It is on everything else that's going on while Josh Homme sings. The lyrics aren't terrible, though. They're just abstract, and this really contributes to what the band was trying to get at in the first place. Josh Homme isn't the best singer in the world either, but his voice was key to making this album sound the way it does. So I'd say, "Don't worry about it, guys, just keep doin' what you're doin', 'cuz it sounds great." // 8
Overall Impression: This is one of the most diverse albums that I've heard this year. There's never a dull moment, and there's always something going on. The musical style IS VERY DIFFERENT; that is what makes it so great, but it's also a vice for some listeners, who will think that the album is strange. Being strange is what makes it a success in my mind. Why create something if you're not going to create something new? The order of the songs is also a winner. A majority of the catchy songs are at the beginning to get you hooked, and the really crazy, in-depth tracks follow, giving you a chance to get used to the style. Overall, the album is great, the musicians are great, and (eh) the lyrics are pretty good, too. But most of all, the music is AWESOME. And that's all that really matters. // 10
Them Crooked Vultures
KurdtStaley, on november 20, 2009 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: I'd say the band has a classic rock sound but a bit heavier, faster, and funkier. There are also some psychedelic/progressive influences. The guitar tones are very similar to those used in QOTSA. Parts of the record are very very reminiscent of later works by the Beatles. For example there is a weird ending to Mind Eraser that I believe is just a trumpet. // 9
Lyrics: Josh Homme has a very unique lyrical style which has really grown on me, especially on this record. A few of the songs seem to be about sexual attraction. I would call them love songs but they're more about lust than love, which I like since love songs are usually pretty corny. My favorite songs lyrically and otherwise are Mind Eraser and Dead End Friends. To me Dead End Friends seems to have many meanings but I think mainly it is about Heroin and those who use it. Lines like "nights in these veins it's calling me, racing through these arteries" lead me to believe that. Parts of the song seem like Homme is the user and Heroin his Dead End Friend, while other parts give the feeling that he is talking about someone else.
Mind Eraser seems to be very much about ignorance and happiness. It features some of my favorite lines ever such as "give me the reason why the minds a terrible thing to waste? Understanding is cruel the monkey said as it launched to space"
I'd say in general Homme's lyrics are sort of all over the place. At times he makes it difficult to see what the subject of the song is. This may bother some people, but I personally like it more, as I find lyrics that are too literal to be boring since there's not much to interpret from them. // 9
Overall Impression: I love this album and would replace it if it were lost/stolen. I find the the first four tracks to be significantly better than any others. Those are No One Loves Me & Neither Do I, New Fang, Mind Eraser, and Dead End Friends, after those my next favorite track is Bandoliers. I think this band sounds most like QOTSA, I don't think they sound the least bit like the other artists (Grohl, Jones) previous acts. I also think they distance themselves from previous acts and their influences enough that I wouldn't really compare them to any other band. Aside from maybe QOTSA only because the vocals and guitar tone is similar (as to be expected).
Overall this is a great album, one of my top three of the year along with Daisy (Brand New) and BGWTB (AiC). I would recommend the album to anyone who likes QOTSA and/or anyone who likes semi-heavy music that's got a lot of energy. // 9
Them Crooked Vultures
gunnersandmash, on february 17, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: A musical dream team provides just the album you would expect them to. John Paul Jones and Dave Grohl probably make the best rhythm section in the world, and Josh Homme continue to show his musical prowess. The album is constantly slick and exploring new ways. There are some guitar solos like little I've heard before and just want to hear again and again and again, for example Warsaw, a sheer show of musicianship as they slowly accelerate the tempo before bringing it all back. Although I do fear a little bit that it might not be for any non-instrumentalists, as so much of the album is difficult to appreciate if you didn't understand how they were doing what they were.
Josh Homme regular uses different tunings to achieve his sound, and in a few of his songs tuning his bottom E string down to an A, giving the great drop effect of "Mind Eraser, No Chaser". John Paul Jones continues to show why he is such a great bassist, holding the band together whenever any of the guitars go off on a tangent. He plays lap steel and keyboard on some tracks, adding originality to the music. Dave Grohl is just such a phenomenal drummer it is difficult to comprehend. I don't think much needs to be said about how good he is. // 9
Lyrics: Josh Homme is a fine rock singer as ever, and no questions need to be asked. His sense of rhythm is often showcased on the album, playing tricky guitar lines while still sounding composed and comfortable singing as well. Dave Grohl and JPJ provide backing vocals when necessary but Alain Johannes who provides second guitar live takes most of the bulk of backing vocals.
The lyrics are mostly average and often sound made on the spot. Although they never sound cheesy or cringeworthy, there are times when they lack substance. Occasionally though, a great line is spluttered out by Josh. // 6
Overall Impression: Overall I would say that this is one of the best albums, and though it did actually take me a couple of listens, because it is such a mammoth album (1 hour and six minutes, and that is dense music, little filler). This supergroup if there ever was one produce exactly what you would expect and more. A truly great album of top song after top song. // 8