them crooked vultures

The vultures have landed. After the past few months of really weird and frustrating promotion (“here’s a few seconds of a song, but THAT’S IT! Bwahaha”), Them Crooked Vultures’ debut album is here.

TCV, if you weren’t aware somehow, is Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age on vocals and guitar, Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters/Nirvana/general badassery smashing the shit out of the drums, and John Paul Jones from an up and coming band called Led Zeppelin slapping the bass and adding Doors-esque keyboard flair where appropriate. Rock pedigree? Check.

After first hearing about TCV, my expectations were ridiculously lofty. Then, with the short teaser clips that made their way onto the Internet instead of full songs, my anticipation turned to a bit of frustration…but then I heard the singles New Fang and Mind Eraser, No Chaser and I realized just how badass this album could be. This album does NOT disappoint.

And oh, is it ever badass. Mind Eraser in particular was a great choice for a single. Dave even sings background vocals on this one. I was hoping to hear Dave on background vox on other songs, but this is apparently the only one. The other songs instead are carried out by Homme, who sings about sex, drugs, the government, the devil, and other such sunny subjects.

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Overall, TCV’s debut is a startling and long overdue kick in the balls to the current ‘rock’ scene. While Homme, Grohl and Jones are collectively rich enough to use all the best studio trickery and create a glossy, well-produced product (much like any Foos record), the songs sound like they were written in a garage out of an impromptu jam session. The riffs are dirty, the vocals snarling, the lyrics dark, just as they should be.

No One Loves Me and Neither Do I sets the tone for the rest of the record with these lyrics: If sex is a weapon then SMASH! BOOM! POW! How you like me now? You can't always do right, but you can always do what's left. When I told her I was trash she winked and laughed and said "I already know. I gotta a beautiful place to put your face." And she was right. Filthy.

On Mind Eraser, Homme discusses drugs, and asks the question Give me the reason why the mind's a terrible thing to waste?

Given the subject matter of these songs, it seems to me that Homme penned all if not most of the lyrics, while the band probably jammed out all the songs musically. They’re similar in content to Queens of the Stone Age, so it makes sense for Homme to have come up with this stuff.

Thankfully, none of the songs really sound like Foos, Zeppelin or Queens, for the most part. Dead End Friends has a bit of a Queens sound (circa Songs for the Deaf), but that doesn’t mean it’s any less distinct. The dudes were able to create their own unique sound with TCV, and that’s commendable.

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Another good aspect to this record is how they didn’t get too over-indulgent. It’s not like every song is 7 minutes long, with tacked on bluesy instrumental jams all over the place. The songs that are over the six minute mark, Elephants, Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up, and Spinning in Daffodils don’t wear out their welcome; if anything they’re among the most solid cuts on the album. Elephants has a slower, brooding rhythm and Homme discusses the devil, lepers, and, well, elephants.

The best stretch of the album begins with Interlude with Ludes, (which sounds like David Bowie on drugs having a party in the desert), and ends with the conclusion of Spinning in Daffodils.

Warsaw… is a personal favorite, starting off slow and atmospheric and turning into a fast, bluesy stomp about midway through.

Caligulove has another stop-and-go beat and more keyboard flourishes that help set it apart, as well as a memorable chorus where Homme asks, “come on, Caligulove me”.

On Gunman, TCV masters a hard-driving rhythm that Muse wishes they could have come up with, and adds in some demented-sounding vocals by Homme and cymbal crashes from Grohl, creating another of the album’s highlights. Badass.

Spinning in Daffodils is psychedelic, sludgy, and dark, a fitting way to end the album.

Them Crooked Vultures’ debut record is the best thing to come from any ‘supergroup’ in a long time, if ever. Rock music could really stand to pay attention to this. It is music made for music’s sake, from three supremely talented guys. It’s just dirty, sexy, groovy music made by three people who combine to DEFINE rock music past, present, and (hopefully) future. If you had any inclination to check out this band, DO IT. It’s one of the most refreshing things I’ve heard in quite a while, and anyone who considers him or herself a fan of ‘rock’ music would be ripping themselves off if they didn’t check it out.

I debated putting this picture as the entirety of this review, as it sums up the album perfectly:

this album, condensed into one phrase

Go get it.