This is the debut album of Them Crooked Vultures, a hard rock supergroup formed in Los Angeles, California in 2009. The band comprises drummer Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana), vocalist and guitarist Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss) and bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin).
Supergroups are traditionally awful – from Blind Faith onwards, bands composed of people from other acts generally feature the worst of each ensemble, possibly as the members keep all the good songs for themselves. There are notable exceptions to the rule, of course – the Traveling Wilburys, for one, or Electronic – and now comes a brand new exception in the form of Them Crooked Vultures.
The band is Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal, Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters and Nirvana, and John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin, and their debut album is very good indeed. Released, rather oddly, at virtually the same time as Foo Fighters’ new greatest hits collection, this album sounds by and large like QOTSA, as Homme sings and plays guitar, but with – unsurprisingly really – Zeppelin-esque touches. From Scumbag Blues, which could have fitted loudly on the second Zep’ album, to the superb single No-One Loves Me And Neither Do I, which is a distant cousin to Trampled Underfoot, this is a proper rock album that’s very aware of its roots.
Homme’s wit lifts proceedings – it’s hard to imagine Robert Plant coming up with song titles like Caligulove or Interlude With Ludes – and he is well served by his rhythm section, as Grohl treats the drums like bad children in a fairy tale and Jones provides solid musical support. Every song here has a very decent riff, particularly Mind Eraser, No Chaser and the epic Elephants – the latter is almost all riff.
If there is criticism to be had, it’s that there’s nothing here you wouldn’t find on one of Homme’s proper band projects, and Grohl’s cheerful pop-metal talents seem to be somewhat underused. But these things (along with Jones’ rock legend heritage) will doubtless be exploited when the band go on tour. In the meantime, this is a funny, powerful, edgy debut album from a trio of people who might be expected to have turned out something a bit more relaxed and ordinary. --David Quantick
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