With the collective powers of Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and John Paul Jones, the majesty and magic of Them Crooked Vultures is unfuckwithable.
The band was first mentioned, perhaps in passing, by Grohl during a 2005 interview. Since then TCV took on a life and legend of its own, spreading to the ultimate performance at Chicago’s Metro in 2009. Now, with the release of their self-titled debut, these monsters of rock are ready, willing and able to blow your speakers apart with their brand of slick, natural, lazy rock and roll.
Homme handles vocals and guitars, lending his stoner rock flair to the project with all the desert dryness of his earlier work with Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age. Grohl hammers the drums like only he can, fuelling the band from the skins with the energy and skill of an eager ten-year-old playing with his best friends. And Zeppelin’s Jones adds grain to TCV, delivering bass and keyboards with style and haunting bravado.
The supergroup can be an interesting concept. Most of them are generally dominated by one of the players and the sound emerges from that starting point rather than from one of holistic musicianship. In the case of Them Crooked Vultures, however, each musician brings his craft to the table and brings it hard.
Their debut record, out now, successfully uncorks the stifling desert rock of Homme and piles Grohl’s forceful playing on top before adding Jones’ fondness for adding various colours and textures. The result is an album that allows the players to build off of one another, to wrangle with one another.
“New Fang,” the record’s first single, emerges with Grohl’s drumming and builds into a slow-moving, gliding rocker. The cut guts it through a firm low-end guitar boogie, letting Homme’s vocals coast over the arrangement.
Classic rock makes plenty of appearances on the record, of course, and TCV never ceases to wear its influences on its gravy-drenched sleeves. Check out the homage to The Doors on “Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up” or the Ledded “Reptiles” for more.
The homage heaven continues on “Mind Eraser, No Chaser,” a riff-heavy barnburner that finds Homme proving he can blast out some solos if he has to. He reaches teasingly into his upper vocal registry, too, furthering the classic rock vibe over Jones’ keyboard solos. It’s all so totally fucking fun, isn’t it?
As a record, this works beautifully because it does what it sets out to do. As they call up the demons of classic rock immensity, Them Crooked Vultures circle the carcass of musical awesomeness waiting for the final drops to spill. Thanks to a unique, playful, respectful approach to some of classic rock’s finest, there’s going to be plenty for these three to feed on.