Friday, July 9, 2010

Michael Fremer Album Review

Them Crooked Vultures (new release)
Them Crooked Vultures

DGC/Interscope B0013785-01 2 180g LPs+MP3 download

Produced by: Them Crooked Vultures
Engineered by: Alan Moulder
Mixed by: Alan Moulder
Mastered by: Brian Gardner at Bernie Grundman Mastering
Lacquer cutting: "i"

Review by: Michael Fremer

This “supergroup” trio side project featuring Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, Queens of the Stone Age Joshua Homme and Led Zep bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones is sure to please lovers of classic rock and heavy metal, not to mention Led Zep fans of all ages. They’ve even got a logo.

The music is old fashioned, guitar-driven heavy rock that pays homage to Zep, Aerosmith and the Jack Bruce wing of Cream among other rock heavyweights. Grohl has apparently been working to form the group since back in 2005.

The best part about the project is that the group has been gigging live and plans a second album. Your first listen to this will tell you why they’re taking this beyond a one shot knock-off: they are having fun and making exciting music.

The staccato beats are heavy but there’s more exuberance than dark brooding or pretense. While the sound is dense, it’s carefully constructed, skillfully layered and leaves sufficient space around the notes to produce body and substance instead of thickets of unrelenting noise. These are well arranged, carefully conceived of tunes, not sloppy jams.

If this doesn’t have you rocking to the beat (even if you can’t make out more than a few words to each song without reading the lyrics), you’re either brain dead or a geriatric case.

The three sound invigorated and it’s hard to imagine that JPJ isn’t thrilled to be playing with the nextgen youngsters who so clearly love the history and the music he helped create so many years ago.

Even the engineering, production and mixing are “old fashioned” in the best sense of the expression. Dynamics aren’t squashed, frequency range isn’t limited and excruciating brightness has been avoided. You can crank it up, which you should, and instead of pain, you’ll find stomach-crunching pleasure.

The lyrics are not as clever or thoughtful as Led Zep’s and kind of disposable and beside the point and they are recorded that way: recessed and difficult to decipher. It’s all about the shifting rhythms and textures.

That said, don’t expect much more than short term entertainment. This is fun to listen to and well crafted but it won’t be talked about in a few years or next year and self indulgence creeps through on a couple of tunes, but still, it’s guaranteed to get the old adrenaline flowing and better house cleaning music you’re not likely to find.

The 320kbs MP3 download is sourced from the vinyl and the packaging is also great in the old fashioned sense of the expression: gatefold, black, white and red, with color inserts and artwork on the labels.

Not for everyone but those who will dig this know who they are, especially if your system can taking cranking up and putting out.

Thanks to Michael over at  for the exclusive rights to reprint this material.


Copyright © 2008 & Michael Fremer - All rights reserved Reprinted by Permission