Monday, November 16, 2009

Review: Them Crooked Vultures

Vultures in nature are often depicted as shady scavengers, lying in wait on vague branches, shadows on a heat bleached scenic palate, circling to a natural metronome. Their move is never the first, but most certainly the last in a convulsive and passionate burst of activity as they lunge for their comfort foods.

Them Crooked Vultures, on their self- titled debut are indeed as crooked as they come, with an effortlessly manic, yet ferociously forthright display of hunger, power and need. These bulky songs, tucked under dirty wings have no patience to hold back, allowing themselves to briskly swoop down and pick them bones clean with a carnal, yet sexy intensity. We have been blessed with an uneasy and relentless rock album.

 Here is a smeared Polaroid(found under a hotel bed) of each song :

No One Loves Me and Neither Do I: Two lost souls meander back to a flea-bit flophouse and mumble beer breath sonnets to each other until they end up in a bloody tumble of self deprecation and sex. A monster of a riff break as the money shot escapes. One of the best album openers this side of Saturn.
Mind Eraser, No Chaser- "Give Me the Reason Why the Mind's a Terrible Thing To Waste" shouts Josh Homme, on this quest for pill perfection..The wicked escape is soundtracked by a crushing frontline of rhinocerotic drums and bass, stomping over the drug of choice, obliterating it into a snort-able snack.
New Fang-A slinking slimy beast of a song.. preying on the backstage flooz of its choice. Its coil and strike entwined with an unapologetic kiss and tell, buried in a droning rhythm...what a charmer.
Dead End Friends- Trust No-one, drive further, push harder, channel your doubts toward that destination..but that horizon line laughs at you...a myriad of monstrous mirages.  The minutia of a jam at the end is epic. Pleasantly recognizable back up vox by Mr. Grohl.
Elephants- "Like lumbering giants on shameful parade".  The centerpiece of the unclassifiably massive stomp stamped and notarized by John Paul Jones, and delivered by Grohl and Homme like a cad and his wingman returning to the jungle,smelling like sex. The mildly operatic break is scored vaguely reminiscent of a deep cut from In Through The Out Door.
Scumbag Blues-A scuzzy funk and blues crawl through mud and thunder...we are encased in bass..we cannot move unless it is a dance move..heartbeats bleeding and bursting in time, a carousing arterial spray of a jam.
Bandoliers- Could be a lost track from QOTSA's Lullabies to Paralyze, a song of yearning, basquing in a haze of mantra like keys, but don't call it a love song, call it a leave song. Grohl doesn't hesitate to bludgeon a mountainous beat through a bleeding heart.
Reptiles-  Doozy of a "Crunge" intro breaks off into a spastic piledriver of the most beautiful bruises and breaths until the bottom, driven by a druggy slide accompaniment, just fucking breaks the song apart.
Interlude With Ludes-An afternoon delight of pharmaceutical,'s breath angel dust under her cuticles. Revolution Number Nine as she's done from behind. Unwind, unrefined. A lysergic convergence of drug lust.
Warsaw or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up- A layered, bluesy peek into the un-hostile brothel in Homme's mind..the first breath you lose is the one you try to catch as it catapults into a slide tastic spook jam that unwinds somewhere in between the sweaty sheets and the nebulaic rings of the nearest star.
Caligulove-  JPJ's Bass pedal push and heavy 70s bush panties in a ball in the dark in a west coast porn set after party jam. The farfisa is the only organ you will need.
Gunman- An addictive funk disco riff that pummels, yet the vocal melody misses its messy mark. A higher register and the removal of that Vulgaris -era vocal break would have burst every bulb on that lit dance floor.
Spinning In Daffodils-The album closes with monoliths moving behind mountains on wheels..a tri- fold of musky scents unfurled as the dirty demons are released ...immense richter rock spray coated with Homme's most sultry delivery.. copulation the sincerest form of flattery...

This is a sexy album.  This album is the girl you never take home to mama...Sex is the weapon here. The dirty little secret you masquerade around,  sex that causes wars, angers gods and leaves us submissive and sublime. Sex is the ever present destiny, sex sells, baby. And this record left me busted, bankrupted ..left with a dry mouth and an empty chamber, each song like prying open the next page of a dirty mag, ashamed and excited. Each beat like the thuddy flicker of a stag film frame as we watch in the dark. Each riff like a shadowy knot of flesh in a moaning room next door, calling, cursing...catching up to your senses and burying them in an overwhelming rush of breathless climax and animal magnetism.

More than what the music media tagged a "supergroup", Them Crooked Vultures is merely a super.. group. This trio of musical masters and the accompanying album was conceived in JUNE of this year on a well calculated, simmering whim. Here it is finally birthed as a sensuous and steamrolling, yet streamlined wishlist of musical ideas that come together as a unconventional and crushing, not overstated or mish-mashy...album.

Grohl's beats are like a battering ram that leaves your soul calloused, denting your senses with agility and aplomb. John Paul Jones is again a secret weapon here, as he has been throughout his career. His low end is a proper bully, cunning and congenial. Mr. Homme's guitar work is, raucous stellar and jammy, but something must be said for his smirky lyrics, a biting pictoral of carnal carnival barking, booty calling and satire, with equal parts deprecation and bravado. An under-rated lyricist for sure, here his prose is simply overshadowed by the beauty of it all. 


  1. Excellent review, more than worthy of the platter itself. This disc was well worth the wait.

  2. Can't wait to pick it up. Kind of waiting to get it for Christmas but I may not be able to hold out.

  3. great review. I am loving this group. Foo who?

  4. Great CD; Great review! Can't wait to see them live this weekend in Portland.

  5. Ironic that JPJ surfaces to rock the hardest of all the Zep memebers.
    I do find a few of the tunes slightly boring and repetitive but most are great. Hate to nitpick - rock on!