Them Crooked Vultures (DGG/Interscope)
Them Crooked Vultures

By Hunter Embry

Them Crooked Vultures is an intensely modern-sounding band composed of three of today’s most well respected musicians. The group brandishes their intensely creative heavy rock in switchblade fashion. Their self-titled, debut album keeps itself surrounded deep within the walls of classic rock format, while carving its way though untouched musical territory.

It’s easy to imagine what a Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones and Josh Homme collaboration would sound like, but the beauty of Them Crooked Vultures (Interscope) is that it happened and the outcome couldn’t be possibly be imagined. One could’ve expected punchy, room-filling drums from Grohl (hey, he played drums on “Smells Like Teen Spirit”), but the deep smack of the snare on “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” sounds like a Louisville Slugger being rhythmically slammed into the side of a Honda Civic.

One could’ve guessed that Homme’s guitar would be aggressive, classic-styled rock n’ roll riffs, but the tones evoked on “Dead End Friends” land somewhere between ‘70s back-alley punk clubs and outer space.

While it’s probably more difficult to anticipate anything created by Jones, he adds a level of texture, dynamic and seniority to an already lethal equation. Jones, who helped spearhead a drastic shift in pop music nearly 40 years ago – a shift that proved to be as influential as any for his two new band mates, plays bass, piano, mandolin and even keytar parts on Them Crooked Vultures.

The album has quickly climbed to Billboard’s Top 20 and couldn’t have done so without vocals to match. Homme’s vocals carry the same morphine-induced, lackadaisical vibe that has become a sort of trademark, but he moves around lyrical ideas and the surging instrumentation seemingly effort-free. At no point does he sound uncomfortable or doctored-up. And Grohl’s pipes are the perfect counter.

John Paul Jones thinks he’s in the best band in the world again. He might be right.

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