Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brain of a Fish Album Review: Them Crooked Vultures

It's not often that you listen to a new album and it literally (well, almost) blows you away.  With the exception of the latest Mother Hips (my favorite band) release, Pacific Dust, it's been quite a while since new music has had that effect on me...until now, that is. And, if you're interested in having the same mind-blowing experience, I've got three words for you -- Them Crooked Vultures.

They're referred to as a supergroup since the band is comprised of Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) on vocals and guitar, John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) on bass guitar and keyboards, and Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) on drums.  In this case, the word super certainly applies in more ways than one. 

This self-titled debut album of theirs is chock full of aural pleasures reminiscent of each members' current and former bands….as well as some pretty obvious influences.  The album opener, "No One Loves Me & Neither Do I" is a sexy, badass tune that starts as pure Queens of the Stone Age, yet turns into a heavy, pounding Led Zeppelin-ish tune. "Elephants" has the raw, angry, tempo-changing riffs remindful of Led Zeppelin, as well.  "Scumbag Blues" sounds like a modern-day Cream. (Josh Homme's falsetto, Jack Bruce-ish vocals…the bone-crunching distorted guitar solo supported by Jones' solid bassline)..  "Warsaw, Or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up"  would be completely at home on a Doors album.  "Bandoliers" has some Foo Fighters-esque chorus melodies interwoven with some exotic guitar sounds.

At times, it seems that Grohl is channeling John Bonham. Grohl and Jones are so in sync, it sounds like they've been playing together for years. Jones' ripping bass lines along with Grohl's heavy-hitting, yet ultra-tasteful dynamic beats provide the stiff backbone for these tunes.

Aside from superb songwriting and top-notch musicianship, something that sets this album apart from others is the production. The album was self-produced by the band…and trust me, that's a good thing.  The production on most current albums make it difficult to assess the talent of these musicians since we're virtually unable to isolate each instrument. The overproduced tunes with layers upon candy-coated layers of guitar tracks almost making the whole band sound as if it's just a single sound.

In contrast, on  Them Crooked Vultures,nothing is overproduced. To the listener, it sounds like a band in a rehearsal studio simply playing their asses off and having a great time doing it. The listener can easily focus in on any one instrument at any time and be dumbstruck by the raw talent.  The best part though is when you listen to the band as a whole and how each instrument works with the other to produce a tight, ultra-collaborative album. 

Homme, Grohl, and Jones each shine at any given moment in any song.  Grohl, who played drums in Nirvana, pleasantly surprised us when he started Foo Fighters as not only a frontman, but a guitar player.  In Them Crooked Vultures, we're able to see him go back to his original instrument and showcase his talents like never before.  John Paul Jones, who we all know from Led Zeppelin, shows that he's still got it.  We're now able to realize how distinctive his bass lines are by hearing him play with yet another top-notch set of musicians.  Josh Homme is a fantastic vocalist and a kick-ass guitarist. I've only listened to the Lullabies to Paralyzealbum by Queens of the Stone Age thus far.  However, you can bet that I'll be checking out their other albums after hearing him in TCV.

I could go on and dissect each song separately, but I won't.  What I will do is tell you that, if you like good, smart, instantly-classic music, run to the store (or your computer)…don't walk…and buy this album! Oh yeah, and listen to it loud!


  1. Did I mention what a great album this is?

  2. Hey Jon! Also check out the first Eagles of Death Metal album (and maybe the one after, although I haven't heard it yet) -- it's Josh Homme and others, and it's pretty fantastic...


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