Them Crooked Vultures

REVIEW: Them Crooked Vultures – “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” (10″ single)

Welcome back to the WEEK OF SINGLES 2!  We’re looking at rare singles all week.

Monday: Dream Theater – “Lie” (CD single)
Tuesday: Jimi Hendrix – “Valleys of Neptune” (7″ single)

VULTURES

 

THEM CROOKED VULTURES – “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” (10″ single)

I love unique looking items and this sure qualifies. Enveloped in a transparent red sleeve is a 10″ picture disc; this is something to behold. It looks great and you’ll want to put it in some kind of protective sleeve right away to keep it pristine, which is what I did.

The A-side contains the album version of “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” and a live cut of an unreleased song called “Hwy 1”. This  live track was recorded in January in Sydney, Australia. It’s an awesome tune, punctuated by some seriously dexterous playing from John Paul Jones. Those who have heard his solo album Zooma know exactly what I’m talking about. I really liked this song a lot, it gets into a great groove, locking in with Dave and Josh, and a melody that makes it a real standout. If it had been on the album it would have been one of the choicest cuts.

“Mind Eraser, No Chaser” itself was one of the better album tracks as well, making this side a great listen.  It’s a pretty succinct track that could be easily mistaken for a Queens of the Stone Age song.  No matter that John Paul Jones is 1/3 of the band, Them Crooked Vultures simply resembles QOTSA more than they don’t.

The B-side is an 11-minute interview conducted by film director Liam Lynch (Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny).  It’s actually quite a good interview, with all three members of the band.  Both Dave Grohl and Josh Homme went into the album without having played their “main” instruments in a long time (drums and guitar respectively).  John Paul expresses his disappointment that many metal bands are simply parodies of the genre; but that the Vultures are certainly not.  My favourite quote is Dave Grohl’s:

“I’m never nervous about hitting ‘record’, and I’m never worried that, ‘hmmm, I hope I come up with a riff’.  ‘Cause riffs…I don’t have a problem coming up with riffs.  It’s songs that are important.  I even said that to Josh after the first we time we jammed.  I said, ‘You know, you and I could fill the Grand Canyon with riffs.  But we need to write some songs’.  That’s the hard part.  And that’s where John comes in handy ’cause he’s the genius composer/arranger.”

This was an April 17 2010 Record Store Day exclusive, but even today you can find them all over the place.  Don’t pay more than you need to, because you don’t need to.

5/5 stars

Advertisements

REVIEW: Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork (2013)

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – …Like Clockwork (2013 Matador)

Yeah, I’m one of those jaded pricks who “only liked Queens when Nick was in the band.”  I bought the other albums too, but of those only the live CD really did anything for me.  Until now.  I really …Like Clockwork!  It succeeds completely at taking the Queens down a somewhat quieter and more mature road, while maintaining every ounce of their integrity.  They are still sometimes heavy, experimental and haunting.  But now they are almost always melodic, too.

Opener “Keep Your Eyes Closed” starts off somewhat slowly, but morphs into a bizarre Queens-meet-Alice in Chains concoction.  It’s actually the one song on the album that I didn’t like on first listen.  Imagine my delight in finding that I liked the rest of the album much more!

The most immediate song is second:  “I Sat by the Ocean”.  I put it in a category with songs like “If Only Everything”; it’s memorable on first listen.  “The Vampire of Time and Memory” is a space-age blues, but with some Queen-like moments (Queen, not Queens).  Josh’s understated vocals are classy and the keyboards create atmosphere rather than distract.

Next, the strangely-titled “If I Had a Tail” could have been released in 1981, or 1983, some time during the New Wave movement.  If I heard this on the radio, I’d think it was an 80’s band.  Only the occasional blasts of electric guitar remind me that this is 2013.  Here’s the cool thing — this track reunites the Songs For the Deaf lineup in a way.  Homme is joined by Dave Grohl on drums (who appears on several tracks), as well as Mark Lanegan and Nick Oliveri on backing vocals.

“My God is the Sun” is one of the tunes that sound the most like vintage QOTSA, and it is also one of the songs featuring Dave Grohl on drums.  It has some serious heaviness to it, as well as that stuttering, stammering Queens vibe.  All topped by the smoove as glass Joshe Homme vocals.

“Kalopsia” is a weird underwater easy jazz slow dance.  Trent Reznor duets, and suddenly its an explosive Bowie number.  Great tune.  “Fairweather Friends” has piano.  O, it has piano alright — by Elton freakin’ John!  There’s also lots of rich guitar.  It even feels Zeppelin-y at times.  Maybe JPJ rubbed off on Josh a bit?  Then things get funky on “Smooth Sailing”, but it’s a heavy funk with Homme in vocal falsetto.  Fucked-up Disco?  Sure, why not.  The guitar solo is pure noisy heaven, but Grohl’s heavy hitting keeps it in the world of rock.

Soft guitars and a whispery Homme introduce a song called “I Appear Missing”.  It’s hauntingly powerful, and dramatic. The guitar work here is incredible and intense.  It’s also perfect as the penultimate track on a strong album such as this. And when your second last song is as intense as “I Appear Missing”, then it’s often wise to end the album with something quiet.  “Like Clockwork” exists as simply piano and Homme for a couple minutes, Josh using his voice is ways I’ve never heard before.  Instruments build, and it’s a beautiful sunset-stained closer.

I don’t know what Josh was thinking in terms of the packaging.  I know he likes the colour red.  I got that part.  But all you get is a slipcase, a jewel case and a little card cover inside with minimal credits.  It says to go to quotsa.com for “extended credits”.  I paid for a physical copy, you’d think they could at least print the credits.

Musically?  5/5 stars.  With this and Sabbath already upon us, I have two contenders for album of the year so far.

IMG_00000324