Monday, November 16

Them Crooked Vultures- 'Them Crooked Vultures'

. Monday, November 16

Jack White must be furious- someone has started a superband without him. It’s a debate as old as time- who would you have in your dream band? Ignoring the fact that the results would often sound awful the fun had dreaming up your perfect combo has fuelled pub conversations for decades and it’s clearly being going in Los Angeles between Dave Grohl. Josh Homme and John Paul Jones too. A band consisting of members of Queens Of The Stoneage, Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin whet the worlds appetite when project Them Crooked Vultures was announced in the Summer. The chance to see these three rock Gods together must surely have been the end result of many of the aforementioned musical debates. Secret appearances at festivals and an Arctic Monkeys support slot at Brixton Academy gave people their first insight into what to expect from the project . Live the Vultures pounded hard and heavy, Grohl and Homme looking like they escaped from a heavy metal asylum with Jones driving the band along with a stomach churningly distorted turn on the bass.

With this is mind it’s somewhat surprising that the first few spins of ‘Them Crooked Vultures’ is a disappointingly light affair. It feels like the bottom heavy distortion and robust rhythms have been left behind in the debris of a festival aftermath and instead we’re left with something too heavy for Foo Fighters and too soft for QOTSA. Sure, ‘Elephants’ is packed full of riffs and aggression and the same goes for ‘Gunman’ but it feels like the band have been caught in the no mans land between the aggression we all know the band posses and the good time party vibes they’re clearly aiming for. For when Them Crooked Vultures aren’t letting rip on a fuzzy future Guitar Hero anthem they’re aiming their sights on the house party soundtrack. Whilst far from lazy you get the feeling the three band members could have written this album in a spare afternoon such is the predictable nature of it. Josh Homme writes songs like ‘New Fang’ and ‘Scumbag Blues’ for breakfast and Grohl’s drumming throughout is pedestrian. It’s worth noting that ‘Songs For The Deaf’ came out in 2002 and despite being very productive Homme is yet to even come close to matching it’s brilliance- a purple patch indeed.

The other question this album begs is why exactly are they doing it? All three members come from more illustrious backgrounds and can’t exactly need the money so why even sell this album? A far more interesting way around things would have been to give it away for free and continue to play the small, unannounced gigs rather than relying on the goodwill of their existing fan base and then hauling their wares around venues the size of which are beneath them yet far from intimate or unique. Do we really need to see a band who garner interest on who they are not what they sound like?

That said, at times Them Crooked Vultures sound fantastic. ‘Mind Eraser, No Chaser’ boasts a sexed up, cocky strut and a massive chorus courtesy of Grohl who must end this decade as one of the best pop writers around. Elsewhere Homme’s flirtations with the psychedelic culminate in ‘Caligulove’ which sounds like a monastery being possessed by the Devil and burning to the ground.

Them Crooked Vultures are the ‘Vanity' in vanity project more than the ‘Super’ in supergroup but a band with foundations this strong were never going to truly disappoint. ‘Them Crooked Vultures’ feels far from essential or important but as a foray into three rock Gods playing fantasy band it’s pretty damn good.




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