I have been very excited about Them Crooked Vultures since I first heard about this collaboration between rock greats Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin). After a few months of waiting for a release date for the album to be announced and getting to see the band play live not once, but twice, the finished product has been released and I've gotten the opportunity to sit with it from beginning to end. All I have to say is that I wish the excitement I felt after seeing them live had been translated into the recorded work. Considering the collective resume of the band members, this album is definitely a disappointment.
The first 8 tracks are solid. Nothing groundbreaking, but certainly a fun listen. After that, the album loses steam for the remaining 5 tracks. The problem is that having roughly 38% of your album be a snoozefest ultimately drags down the entire thing. The biggest issue is really Josh Homme. Having him take sole responsibility for the lead vocals on this album ultimately winds up being the fatal flaw. The last two Queens of the Stone Age albums (Lullabies To Paralyze and Era Vulgaris ) have been fairly dramatic drop offs from the genius that was their first three albums and that is due in large part to the departure of Nick Oliveri from the band. Oliveri was the "punk rock" or "balls" of the band and while he didn't sing a ton of songs, having his vocals break up the songs on the second and third albums every once in a while was a key component to them being so damn good (the first album is great simply because it is much heavier than the rest of their material). If Dave Grohl had sang maybe 3 or 4 songs on Them Crooked Vultures debut, then I think that would have been a significant influence in increasing the quality of the record. With Homme handling all the vocals though (I guess Grohl wanted to stick behind the drum kit for this one), the album ultimately winds up sounding like a continuation of the more recent (and lackluster) Queens of the Stone Age material. The playing is great (as would be expected from these guys), but there is an X factor missing from the overall sound that makes this album, at best, simply OK.
On the bright side, at least they didn't totally shit the bed like Weezer did on this year's absolute train wreck of an album Raditude.