Them Crooked Vultures: Serrated And Colossal

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"Scumbag Blues" is a highlight of a thundering rock 'n' roll album that deserves to be heard in full. hide caption

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Them Crooked Vultures

"Scumbag Blues" is a highlight of a thundering rock 'n' roll album that deserves to be heard in full.

Tuesday's Pick

  • Song: "Scumbag Blues"
  • Artist: Them Crooked Vultures
  • CD: Them Crooked Vultures
  • Genre: Rock

For better or worse, hard rock in 2010 has little sense of monoculture. There's the sort of commercial post-grunge that scores Clear Channel radio, teen action films and commercials for the armed forces; the kind of hipster metal that ranges from shameful send-ups to well-played histrionics; and a seemingly endless chain of underground sub-genres whose differences might seem inane to the layman — though no more so than, say, the shifts from bop to hard-bop in jazz.

The recent self-titled debut by Them Crooked Vultures — a supergroup featuring singer/guitarist Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age, Led Zeppelin bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl on drums — feels like the sort of album every adolescent male would've had on vinyl in 1974, yet it doesn't feel nostalgic. It's full of colossal riffs, thundering backbeats and dark psychedelia, but also stark rhythmic changes and serrated interplay: Sabbath and Led Zep with shades of Fugazi and Drive Like Jehu.

"Scumbag Blues" is a highlight on an album that deserves to be heard in full. (The band must have agreed, because it posted a roughly minute-long clip on the Internet to heighten the pre-release anticipation.) Supported by his unyielding rhythm section, Homme portrays a tempter in sinister falsetto before dispensing the venom through his guitar work — well-paced, efficient solos full of determined string bends that help justify the "Blues" in the title. The sound is bold bordering on original, and punctuated by some fun allusions: the hard-grooving clavinet Jones played on Led Zeppelin's "Trampled Under Foot," or the descending lines of the Mission: Impossible theme. Sometimes, familiarity is nice.

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Them Crooked Vultures

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Them Crooked Vultures
Them Crooked Vultures
Interscope Records

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