Supergroup Showcase: Them Crooked Vultures

THEM CROOKED VULTURES
THE PLAYERS: John Paul Jones on bass (Led Zeppelin), Dave Grohl on drums (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and Josh Homme on guitar and lead vocals (Queens of the Stone Age, The Eagles Of Death Metal).
THE HISTORY: One of the more prolific musicians of his generation, Dave Grohl gets around. He recorded drums for Josh Homme’s band Queens Of The Stone Age’s record and also worked with John Paul Jones here and there. At some point he decided to get them together and Them Crooked Vultures was born. They recorded an album and are touring now with their sites set on a second record supposedly coming out later this year. (via their site)
OFFICIAL SITE: ThemCrookedVultures.com

One of my favorite sub genres of the supergroup idea is when the group consists of musicians from different eras (like Oysterhead). It’s interesting to see how the older and younger musicians interact and what kind of music comes out of that union. That’s the case with Them Crooked Vultures as Jones is significantly older than Grohl and Homme. It’s also interesting that two of the three members were in groups that changed the face of music. The world was different after Led Zeppelin came onto the scene and the same for Nirvana years later. Homme’s kind of the odd man out in my opinion, but he does a pretty good job of holding his own, even if some of his guitar licks do sound a little too reminiscent of previous QOTSA tracks at times (like on parts of “No One Loves Me & Neither Do I”).

Unlike many of the more recent supergroups, I actually didn’t know about Them Crooked Vultures until just before the disc came out as I had been laid off around that time and wasn’t paying much attention to the music coming out. I think that TCV’s first, self-titled record might have been the first thing I bought for myself aside from food after starting to get a pretty good freelance base going, so it’s got a special place in my heart. It also helps that the record kicks ass. The worry, of course, with a project like this is that the musicians will turn out to be great tastes that don’t taste great together (like Chickenfoot). Thankfully, these guys pull off a great sound, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the band consists of one of the greatest living bass players of all time (check out JPJ’s Zooma if you’d like to have your mind blown by what a bass can do) and Grohl who is one of the better drummers around. Even Homme who I’m far less familiar with (I bought that QOTSA record mentioned above and only liked the one single, the rest was kind of repetitive and boring), but he brings it with the vocals and guitar work.

The record is fun because it has a distinct sound with a solid rhythm section and Homme’s unique voice, but they weren’t afraid to move around within that framework and get experimental. “Gunman” sounds like a Rush song, doesn’t it? Really, the whole record is just amazing. With JPJ and Grohl locking down the rhythm (possibly the greatest living rhythm section around?) Homme gets to play with riffs and lines. The whole thing comes together better than a lot of records by established bands.

I hadn’t listened to the record for a while and put it on today and damn, it’s just great from front to back. Everyone’s in top form, the songs are amazing and there’s something really special about Grohl and Jones combining on backing vocals that adds a layer of sophistication and class to the proceedings that I can’t really explain (maybe it’s Jones’ hint of an accent). I wonder if Grohl reminds Jones of Bonzo at all.

What sets TCV apart in my mind is that they really feel like a band, not just a few dudes who got together and did a one-off. Maybe that’s because I know they’re still touring and want to make another record. They play like they’ve been together for 15 years which is impressive considering they just kind of put themselves together in a fairly short period of time. Frankly, if it was up to me, I’d make QOTSA and the Foo Fighters side projects and get as much Them Crooked Vultures music out of these guys as possible. I would love to see them in concert, maybe once they’re back in the states I can make that happen. It’s been way too long since I’ve been to a show.

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