Note: I posted this review some time ago but accidentally saved the recent Animal Collective review over it. Whoops.
As a concept Them Crooked Vultures seems hard to fault - the group's star-studded roster ought to give rock fans some pause at the very least, bringing together Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), David Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and, most compellingly, veteran Led Zeppelin bard John Paul Jones, by more than a quarter of a century the band's undisputed veteran. A snarkier critic might wonder aloud if Jack White was busy, though a) he probably was, b) he really wouldn't fit in this band and c) musicians of this caliber are probably sick of upstart critics cracking jokes on laptops on their way over to the cupboard for more Cookie Crisp anyway.
On paper the band's formula is still pretty thrilling, with TCV mostly carrying over the Queens of the Stone Age sound and aesthetic (honestly, with Homme on vocals and axe this is hardly surprising). The band plays with the unity and grace of decorated musicians who have had four years to accustom to each other, carving together meticulous, angular riffage, the nihilistic stuff the kids and other people with taste enjoy. Reading like a continuation of the Queens' final record Era Vulgaris and the less manic rock of QOTSA's and frankly even Kyuss's previous albums, this disc and this band capture more than an hour of the sort of nihilistic, pounding, tight sounds that made rock great without sounding like a hodgepodge of the personalities involved.
The Zeppelin connection actually comes mostly in hindsight; with Jones in the mix it's pretty clear that both Hommes' work and Grohl's owes a great debt to the ground blazed by the band that essentially laid the ground for metal, grunge and "stoner" rock to exist in the first place.
And Them Crooked Vultures, as an album, is as meticulously crafted and thematically consistent as any album you're likely to hear from a supergroup this year (and you can quote me). This album is more about the sound (which is topnotch) than any mood or message - if you don't require your music to be emotionally relevant to be a keeper, knock this score up a point or so.
[mp3] Them Crooked Vultures - "Gunman"