(Planet Me)
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
 
THEM CROOKED VULTURES - "Them Crooked Vultures"


Armed with an unlikely and potent rhythm section, with Dave Grohl, best drummer in the world, and John Paul Jones of Led Zep, Them Crooked Vultures really do need – to match their talents – a stunning wonderkid guitarist / singer to restate their position as a band that could thankfully wipe clean the crooked slate of that dreaded word ‘Supergroup’.

No such luck – here they have Josh Homme, who clearly rocks, and means it, but is, to my ears a somewhat pedestrian writer. Whilst there is no doubt these three men are having a great time rockin’ like barstewards in their LA basement, it might be very well far more fun to play this music than it is to listen to : perhaps I’m less than grabbed by mid-paced opener “No Loves Me & Neither Do I”, it’s only when the band pick up the pace, shift tempos and try something a little more lively that I can be interested. “Mind Eraser No Chaser” is far more like it : excited, pacy, shifting tempos and style that keeps you pinned to your seat : and what sounds like Dave Grohl on chorus vocals, which is just dandy with me. “New Fang” is equally powerful.

However with expectations this high, it is only fair to me to expect a band that is both instantly appealing and rewards repeat visits. Where the album does fall down, is that it contains little variation in styles – songs come either fast and furious, slow and ponderous, and rarely go beyond these parameters. “Elephants” is the kind of glory I had hoped for right from the bat, hypnotic, spiralling, huge, and then falling into a fast paced race for the finish ; “Scumbag Blues” is the bastard, angry half-brother of “Trampled Underfoot”. When the album hits its groove, a dirty, angry, and durable set of intricate riffs and powerful drumming atop somewhat underwhelming vocals from the limited Homme, it occupies a unique place – maybe not particularly brilliant, but certainly worthy and a fine new direction for the oft-underappreciated JPJ. It’s not a patch on the godlike genius that is Probot, mind you. Now that band I’d love to hear more from.

Overall, the album is less than the sum of its parts – albeit, just – and thus, weighed down by enormous expectation. As a rock record, aside from a limp opening track, it’s a fine debut : above the majority of debuts you’ve ever heard, though one can’t help but wonder how well it would be received were it not for its lineage : would you buy it or like it without knowing anything about who played on it? Probably not. And that would be a shame, as it stands up as a damn fine record in it’s own right. Where do we go from here? Who knows? But you want to find out.


Comments:
I must say that they are superb live...

Saw them in a beautiful grand old theater in Seattle. (see someone else's pic of the lobby here http://www.flickr.com/photos/13547965@N06/2298789401/ , the auditorium is just as splendid)

The performance was totally electric (and while I agree I that I have not really ever been taken by Josh on record he oozes connection in person..)
 
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