Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A crooked path back to familiar territory - Them Crooked Vultures

First, my apologies for yet another long delay between posts here. A new love life certainly plays havoc with blogging responsibilities and has even interrupted some of my CD/OCD purchasing behaviour.

But, even so, it doesn't take away from the thrill of new discoveries and today's was one that, judging by the sales figures, pretty well everyone else has already discovered over the past few weeks - the self-titled Them Crooked Vultures: a new coalition of Dave Grohl, Joshua Homme and John Paul Jones. With a trio like that - built from the remnants of Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, and Queens of the Stone Age - even I know enough to expect good things.

It's an album that certainly takes you back to the territory that these immensely talented musicians have traversed so famously and so well in years gone by - the solid, brutal sound of hard rock, where everywhere you look there are riffs and a beat and a tonality that keeps dragging you down a little deeper into its hard, granite-hewn underworld.

But this is not music where everything is left to its own devices - something which would be pretty easy to do with talents (and presumably egos) as huge as these - rather, it is crafted with a sense of precision and planning that nevertheless doesn't seem to lessen its gutsiness or energy. Just listen to the hooky pulse of 'Reptiles' to see how music can be contained and vibrant at the same time.

But perhaps most of all, it is the feeling of community that makes this album outstanding - a feeling that this trio have found a connection with one another, and that it binds them together like a musical umbilical cord, nourishing each other, giving each other life and breath.

The songs are unashamedly and squarely rooted in the traditions of hard rock. As my brother said, most of the tracks make you want to get out your old Led Zeppelin records and listen to them to hear what the original sounded like.

But that doesn't by any means make the music simply derivative. This is the rock of the 70s, the 80s and the 90s, all tempered and transformed with the electric, eclectic energy of the 21st century, where guitar riffs dance with primal drum beats, like they do in 'Interlude with ludes', or with cavernous, horror-movie vocals, like they do in 'Warsaw or the first breath you take after you give up'.

It's music that travels back to old, loved territory via twisted, crooked paths, all of which have their own share of treasure on offer. And Them Crooked Vultures do what vultures do best - they grab the bits they want from whatever they find along the way, and claim it as their own.

1 comment:

  1. ok, yes I get halfway through 'elephants' and want to hear Planty screaming...but then I hear 'reptiles'; and expect to hear eric and ginger ..but wait, they are not cream, yes they are derivitive, but if there is any such term as progressive then I guess they are PROG ROCK