The term supergroup has never been more applicable than in the case of Them Crooked Vultures, formed in 2005 by John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin, Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age and Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters and Nirvana. TCV’s self-titled debut contains track after track of rock 'n' roll like it hasn’t been played in years. This adventurous new take on heavy metal is guaranteed to get index fingers and pinkies back into devil horn position, heads banging and air guitars pumped up to maximum volume.
Classic rock purists may hesitate to embrace some of the more bizarre songs on Them Crooked Vultures — trance-inducing, reverb-drenched “Interlude with Ludes,” which features a keytar, in particular — and in this they won’t be alone. TCV is at its best when each member sticks to what he knows. The influence of the Foo Fighters in Them Crooked Vultures is all but lost among distinctly Queens of the Stone Age melodies and guitar riffs that could have been extracted directly from Houses of the Holy (Led Zeppelin). On the most resonant track, “Scumbag Blues,” Homme’s androgynous falsetto blends perfectly with vocal harmony by Grohl and Jones. Bleach-era drum solos help to create a blues-drenched rock anthem.
With the possible exception of “Elephants,” which features familiar guitar riffs played at a rapid pace for nearly seven minutes, the members of TCV are not out to prove anything in this album. Instead, it is a purposeful and controlled melding of the strengths and experiences of three legendary musicians. TCV may never compete with Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Foo Fighters or Queens of the Stone Age, but their successful production of classic rock with a modern feel is remarkable in a new way entirely.
3 1/2 Stars 99-Cent Budget Choice: “Scumbag Blues” Sounds Like: A heavy metal stoner jam fit for the 21st century Sounds Best When: High in your parent's basement