Them Crooked Vultures - THEM CROOKED VULTURES

I wasn't sure what to expect when I popped in
Them Crooked Vultures, the debut album from the latest rock supergroup of the same name. If you're not in the know, this band boasts the talents of Dave Grohl (drums/backing vocals), John Paul Jones (bass), and Josh Homme (guitars/vocals). I love Grohl as a skinsman, I'm a casual fan of Queens of the Stone Age, and of course, Led Zeppelin is...well, they're Led Zeppelin. Still, I approached this disc with trepidation. Would it live up to the hype? A better question is, "How could it live up to the hype?"

In my opinion, it does and it doesn't. These guys are incredible fucking musicians, no doubt about it. They have already managed to find their own identity and their own sound. The songs vibrate with audacity and a tempered priggishness that gives them a backbone, a loud confidence that enables the music to reach the listener. This album rocks. There are no traces of the pop luster that dilutes Grohl's other band. TMC is gritty, experimental, and headstrong. It's almost stubborn. The riffs will twist your top off, and as far as "stoner rock" goes, it doesn't get much more muscular than this.

"No One Loves Me, And Neither Do I," "Mind Eraser, No Chaser," and "New Fang" kickstart the record with driving tempos and exotic guitar work. Homme lets loose in the solo department. This album has more of a jamming atmosphere than the last couple of Queens releases. That's a good thing. "Dead End Friends" and "Bandoliers" are more melodic, which brings up one of my complaints. There are no ballads to speak of. It's all straightforward hard rock, and at times, things get a little too noisy. I need more dynamics, though I'm positive that many will disagree.

The production is messy. I understand that's what the Vultures were going for, but it sounds like the instruments are at each other's throats. Again, it's a dynamics issue. There is too much layering and not enough space for the instruments to stretch their legs. The album feels suffocated. But that's my last objection. Them Crooked Vultures isn't the be-all, end-all of supergroup projects, but it's a damn fine caboodle of sweet grooves and energetic riffs. I imagine that my rating would be a tad higher if I were a pothead. Just saying.

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