Have you ever played that game with your friends where you cherry-pick musicians from various bands to create your own hypothetical supergroup? Them Crooked Vultures come right out of those rock and roll fantasies to knock you on your ass, teabag you into submission, and leave you begging for more. The combination of Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, and John Paul Jones sounds just like you’d expect, if what you expect is the sound of those blurry moments between last call and first orgasm. It’s dark, dirty, tastes like sweat, and smells like cigarettes. It’s sex you know you shouldn’t be having, somewhere you shouldn’t be having it.
Them Crooked Vultures is all about the rhythm, which makes the 13 tracks on their debut perfect for those late night after-bar booty calls, cruising with the windows down and the subwoofer cranked, or even just a night at home with bong rips and headphones. Homme has always been at his best working in riffs, and with this dream team rhythm section behind him, the trio locks into a groove and dares you to try to hang on. I wish I was a rapper, because I’d be sampling the shit out of this album, especially the beginning of “Elephants” or the moment in album opener “Nobody Loves Me & Neither Do I” when it seems like they kick everything up to 11 and march the song into a different realm for the second half before turning things over to Grohl to finish it all off with an insane John Bonham-esque finale. The Hammer of the Gods references are inevitable with Jones on board, but T.C.V. isn’t your momma’s Led Zeppelin, unless your momma likes to mix shrooms with her 8 balls and whiskey, take off her top, and dance way too fast to “No Quarter.”
What you’re in for is pure, unadulterated, power trio boogie; part balls to the wall stomp (“Mind Eraser, No Chaser,” “New Fang”); part psychedelic cabaret (“Interlude with Ludes,” “Bandoliers”). Grohl pounds away like a madman living the dream behind his hero Jones, channeling his Physical Graffiti-era self with a raw and eager Led Zeppelin I attitude, who keeps things sturdy while also adding depth and color to Homme’s carnival of riffs. In turn, Homme sounds like Homme doing what he does best, except when he sounds like fellow supergrouper Jack Bruce on the Creamy “Scumbag Blues.” Sure, for the most part T.C.V. sounds like focused, Grade A Queens of the Stone Age with a better low end, a given with Homme taking just about all of the vocal duties and leading the charge with his trademark weirdness and riffage, but for the most part, these guys would make you forget about anything they’d done in the past, if the pedigree wasn’t so extraordinary. The chemistry is undeniable, and it sounds like they’ve been playing together for years, or at the very least having one hell of a good time. They must kill it live.
Them Crooked Vultures are indeed super, but this isn’t merely a group of egos relying on reputation to cash in, they’re more like a well seasoned band hungry to devour your drug stash, your liquor cabinet, and your women as quickly as possible with nothing left to prove — and it fucking rocks. Sure, most of these so-called supergroups can be hit or miss, many usually way more hype over substance, but Them Crooked Vultures? You better Believe It.
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