Rockin' Our Turntable: Them Crooked Vultures

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 16, 2009 5:40PM

2009_11_ThemCrookedVultures.jpg We were not sure why Them Crooked Vultures wasn't calling themselves Queens Of the Stone Age, since singer Josh Homme leads that group, Dave Grohl has spent a fair amount of time drumming for them in the past, and the addition of a new bassist -- in this case Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones -- is really nothing all that unusual. After listening to their self-titled debut though, we can see why a name change was in order. Them Crooked Vultures shares many similarities with Queens Of the Stone Age, but the former is a group effort while the latter is driven by a single man ... and it shows.

The album opener, "No One Loves Me & Neither Do I," creeps in with a bluesy boogie riff, and while we dig it we were slightly worried slightly that the album would continue along that path. A slightly heavy classic rock disc. Then, at the 2:45 mark the bottom drops out and a crushing groove settles in decimating everything else in its path.We realized everything was going to be A-OK. THIS is what it sounds like when three titans fall into lockstep, and it's like a blow to the solar plexus. "Mind Eraser, No Chaser" follows and Grohl's backing vocals provide a perfect counterpoint to Homme's creepy but forceful falsetto. Jones' bass lines add the perfect amount of bottom and his multi-instrumental skills are well placed to provide color above and under the attack of the guitar - bass - drum combo. See "Scumbag Blues" and it's wah-synths for a prime example of this.

Lazy reviewers will probably tout this as the best Queens Of the Stone Age album since Songs For The Deaf. But more astute ears will recognize that Them Crooked Vultures has produced a group effort that towers over even that landmark in Homme's past. We've long maintained that his powerful personality thrives best when challenged, and in Them Crooked Vultures these perfect allies come together to create some of the most impressive music in each partner's career. From start to finish the album never lags or grows predicable -- each time you think you know what's coming they show a fearless desire to take three left turns and strand you somewhere completely unexpected before bringing you back to relative safety -- and the thrill ride never grows old.

Them Crooked Vultures is out November 17