But enough of that, as we've been through it all before. Let's talk about something that I actually like: the new album from Them Crooked Vultures!
This band, of course, follows the revived tradition of the "supergroup," taking musicians who have seen great success in other bands and putting them together in one mega-star-packed band. Can Them Crooked Vultures live up to the likes of Asia? Let's see...
Them Crooked Vultures features Josh Homme (of Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age) on guitars and vocals, Dave Grohl (of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters) on drums, and of course, John Paul Fucking Jones (of Led Fucking Zeppelin) on bass and keyboards. Even if you take into account how lame the Foo Fighters are and how Nirvana completely ruined music, you have to admit that this is an impressive lineup. But as history has taught us, just because the ingredients are there doesn't mean you know how to cook a delicious meal.
Of course I had heard a few songs, New Fang and Mind Eraser, No Chaser before the album came out, so I had a little idea of what to expect. The biggest question that needed answering, in my opinion, was: Could this have just been another Queens of the Stone Age album? It's not that I have a problem with this, as I enjoy Queens of the Stone Age as one of the few modern bands that isn't bloated with suckitude and pussification. However, with the hype and excitement of a band that brings three generations of rock legends together, I needed something more from this. It delivers.
Throughout the album, I can certainly hear the QOTSA in there, as well as the Foo Fighters. But I am also surprised by the influence of bands like Cream, The Doors, Zeppelin, and even Marilyn Manson. The album switches easily from heavy to melodic, the beats are awesome, and the guitars are bombastic. Even more exciting though is the production and accompaniments I assume are provided by Jones. After all, this is what he did best in Zeppelin, and this is allegedly behind much of Zeppelins post-blues rip-off success. The keyboard additions and effects added to this album are interesting and fun, and keep the album sounding both classic and fresh at once.
But what about Josh Homme's vocals? They work in Queens of the Stone Age, but does he have what it takes to front a band of this magnitude? I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the answer. Homme brings his usual tricks to the table, but he also manages to channel Marilyn Manson, Jim Morrison, Scott Weiland (ugh), and at times even that guy from the B52s whose name I'm not going to bother googling. Overall, it shows a previously unknown vocal range, and puts the finishing touch on this album that makes it stand out from his previous work.
So let's run through the tracks, shall we?
1. No One Loves Me & Niether Do I
The album starts out by channeling the Zeppelin. Driving riffs and balls-out vocals immediately tell me that this is not another QOTSA album, and that makes me very happy. In a rare twist, the live version of this included as a bonus track is even better than the studio version. An excellent start.
2. Mind Eraser, No Chaser
This song was released before the album, and struck me as obviously featuring Dave Grohl, as it is probably the most Foo Fightersesque song on the album, but also having an 80s post-punk edge to the vocals. If the whole album had sounded like this, I would have been disappointed, but as a single track here and there, it works.
3. Dead End Friends
The album kicks back into heavy with this track, which is reminiscent of QOTSA. Still, the production values on this album make Homme's guitars and vocals shine more than on even great albums like Songs for the Deaf. It fits naturally here, and I enjoy it.
This song starts out with Zeppelinesque riffing but kicks off almost immediately into Foo Fighters pseudo-punk. Ok. But after a minute or so, it slows down and Homme channels the Marilyn Manson while the band drives forward with a pounding beat. Great stuff, and the first track on the album to make me believe this could be something special.
5. Scumbag Blues
First of all, I love the song title. The song starts out with more driving riffs, a constant on this album, but I'm surprised once again by falsetto vocals reminiscent of Cream, another famous supergroup, interspersed with Jim Morrison style crooning. When the song kicks into a long, arrogant guitar solo over sixties-style organs, I fall in love with this band.
This song brings a little bit of mellow to the album, a necessary part of an album like this, with cleaner guitars and haunting melodies. Homme continues to channel Morrison, even moreso than on the previous song. It's another good song. Nothing bad so far. Impressive.
The driving beats return for this track, which features some off-kilter, almost funky guitar riffs and vocals. I'm reminded of Zeppelin's "The Bridge" here.
8. Interludes With Ludes
I could have done without this one. Reeks of wannabe weirdness. That's all.
9. Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up
From this point on, the album gets darker and heavier. This is a long song, at over seven minutes, but it doesn't drag. It switches from dark verses with choppy riffs and vocals to a glowing, Beatles-esque chorus. The musical flexing on this album continues to amaze me, and the whole thing is done without sounding derivative or cheesy. I love it. I have to wonder if Homme was never produced properly before, because his vocal talents on songs like this really shine. A long blues solo rocks the middle of this song, and speeds up slowly into some absolute trippiness to end it. Grohls drumming is fantastic on this song.
Yeah, Marilyn Manson wrote this song. I refuse to believe otherwise. "I don't need a reason, baby, put your arms around me, hold me real close, clap me in irons, COME ON CALIGULOVE ME!" Catchy and dark, and Homme sings it like Manson as well. The production reminds me of Jefferson Airplane. Seriously, this album is all over the place while retaining a consistent, definitive style of it's own. This is the mark of greatness.
Possibly the heaviest song on the album, this song channels Manson even more than the last one, with an industrial beat. What the fuck, where did these eighties goth vocals come from? Josh Homme blows my mind on this album. Seriously. And many people thought he would be the weak link.
12. Spinning in Daffodils
Again I'm reminded of the Beatles, despite the heaviness of this song. Annoyingly, the hook reminds me of the James Brown's Living in America, which keeps taking me out of the song and ruining my enjoyment, as I'm waiting to hear "Oooooooowwwww Superhighways! Coast to Coast!" If not for this, it would be good.
What the fuck can I say? I fucking love this. Best album of the decade. I'm calling it now. If you haven't picked this up, get immediately. You're a fucking moron if you don't love this. Will it SAVE ROCK N' ROLL? Of course not, rock is too far gone. If anything, it will tank for being so good. But you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't go get it. And buy it, thief! Support this shit.