Supergroups can be risky, you pull people in from multiple amazing groups and you set up a wall of hype, and the question becomes, can you get over that wall? Them Crooked Vultures breaks right through that wall in a blaze of glory. Pulling Joshua Homme, the amazing guitarist and vocalist from Queens Of The Stone Age, Dave Grohl of both Foo Fighters but in this case Nirvana fame on drums and lastly the legendary bassist that is Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones and they come together perfectly. These guys combine several of my favourite bands and artists to top them in my all time lists of artists.
Now for those of you that don’t know Dave and Josh have played together several times before, most importantly when Dave took over drum duties for Queens Of The Stone Age(QOTSA) during the Songs For The Deaf era. But the two have been friends for years constantly find excuses to play together. One night after a show when asked what his next project was, Dave jokingly replied “Oh I’m going to record an album with Josh and John Paul Jones” and years later they finally made it happen.
Now on first listen the sound of the album may be a little weird to some people but the more you listen the more enchanting it becomes. I’ve especially taken to just listening to Dave’s drums on some days since it’s probably the best drum work he’s done in years if not ever. This album reasserted to me that he is probably the best modern drummer there is, if not the John Bonham of the 21st century. Homme’s riffs are even more grimey and exotic than on most QOTSA tracks, providing many of the hook and possibly initial hesitation of the album. Of course Jones plays the groves essential for every song on the album and some of the key and texture parts he pulls off are mesmerizing.
This album has some cheeky and catchy lyrics but ultimately it feels like a musician’s album than something for a casual music listener. The amazing jams and technical playing is just a joy to hear and it’s extremely fun to try and play along to. Tracks like “New Fang” have an amazing drum track that is worth any drummer’s time to learn, its chorus even plays with great hits and drum fills, it falls naturally into it’s chaotic ending. “Dead End Friends” is probably one of the more radio friendly songs on the album, void of any of the jams of the album but with many amazing riffs and hooks as well as the weird tone it runs on. It also has one of my favourite vocal melodies on the whole album. One song that starts on a seductive hook is “No One Loves Me & Neither Do I” a song with a cheesy guitar line, a smooth drum track and a great groove, the chorus is even more sexy and provides what is probably one of the most clever yet dirty lines I’ve heard in a song “Don’t hold it against me, unless it gets hard.” This songs drop about half way through is so guttural and heavy it is probably the closest thing you will find to a rock bass drop.
Dave Grohl’s only really clear vocal moment on the album comes in “Mind Eraser, No Chaser,” a song that rips through its syncopated verses to the catchy vocal hooks of its chorus, and the great line in its bridge “Ignorance is bliss until they take your bliss away.” “Elephants” shows off some the band’s technically skill with their ability to jump tempos and rip through a crazy riff jam at double time, and the grimey chugging sound of its verses are that perfect dark music sound. “Scumbag Blues” plays as a perfect jam song, and its chorus rolls off naturally, the inclusion of Jones funky keyboard part makes the song even better.
Lastly the two more strange but enchanting tracks. “Bandoliers” is an amazing drum track on many levels, its chorus vocals are some of my favourite on the album and its bridge is ridiculously intense, this is why Dave Grohl is amazing. Lastly is “Caligulove” the most textured song on the album and one that has the whole band chanting a mantra. The chorus vocal line is catchy to no end and the percussion is eargasmic, the jam at the end as exotic as the album gets and is enchanting.
The band are planning to work on their new album for 2015 when Queens Of The Stone Age finish touring their new album, this is also when the Dead Weather plan to get back to work.