I have been going mental over the past few months over a new band (something I just don’t do) called Them Crooked Vultures (also known as the supergroup consisting of Joshua Homme, John Paul Jones and Dave Grohl). Let me first say, the concept in itself sold me tickets, and the album.
The album, self-titled as Them Crooked Vultures, is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin and Queens Of The Stone Age, but at the same time, it’s not. It’s got the same spirit, but the clothes have changed and its face is all battered and bruised, so it’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before. It’s been called many things, but the best way to describe it would probably be sleazy hard blues rock.
It’s got groovy, blues-infused beats and rhythms fused with good old fashioned hard rock, along with ethereal lyrics and some interesting riffs, time changes, instrument tones and all the swagger you’d expect from three of the biggest names in rock and roll.
It’s not for everyone, admittedly, as it’s somewhat of an acquired taste (in the same vein of Led Zeppelin and Queens Of The Stone Age) but it does have some things that should appeal to everyone.
The first half of the album (tracks 1 to 6) is undoubtedly the better portion of the whole affair, the second half drifting dangerously into the muddled world of confused prog, nearly all of them sounding the same and disappearing inside it’s own surreality. But, it grows on you after a while, and you start to hear the differences between the tracks.
The singles, “New Fang” and “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” are rousing stomp fests with some serious groove, and they are sure to get the crowds bouncing and singing along, as well as the sex-fuelled “No One Loves Me & Neither Do I” and “Caligulove”.
There’s some lofty ideas being banded about (take the dissertation-inspired song title “Warsaw Or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up” as an example, or the just plain strange “Interlude With Ludes”), and it’s hard to believe most of this came together in the studio, with very little being used to inspire the tunes. What little was used quickly evolved into completely different beasts.
And as for the artwork… well, let’s just say it’s odd. Done by Liam Lynch (infamous for the hit “United States Of Whatever”, and the epic movie “Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny”) with a theme of people with Vulture’s heads (obviously) set strangely around about London, as they appear to be British gangster-like. Told you it was odd.
It’s well worth at least the one listen, but I’d suggest listening to the two singles first, just to ease you in to the madness of the whole album. Again, it’s not for everyone, and no one will think less of you if you run cowering in fear from it; it’s proper music, experimental, yet oddly familiar, pushing the boundaries until they break and producing the Marmite-effect.