Image for New Music, Please? – Them Crooked Vultures & Space Project

New Music, Please? – Them Crooked Vultures & Space Project

Written by Ned Green on December 8, 2009

Signed Band Of The Week
Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures

Perhaps the most anticipated Supergroup of them all, Them Crooked Vultures consists of the eccentric Josh Homme (Queens Of The Stone Age, among other groups) on guitar and lead vocals, Dave Grohl (Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, among others) on drums and the legendary John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin. Yeah, that’s right) rockin’ the bass and keys.

In theory, this mixture of three brilliant musicians should result in a band so powerful and brilliant that your ears squirt sticky liquid. Fortunately, one listen to their self-titled album proves this to be true, as the trio combine to produce an explosive, albeit highly produced sound that will no doubt serve to satisfy all lovers of things loud and obtrusive. Unfortunately, the actual album is a royal cock-up.

There is no doubt that the actual band is fantastic, but the actual album is quite a disappointment. Why? It’s complicated. Them Crooked Vultures is home to thirteen rockin’ tracks that will undoubtedly shake the foundations of every venue in which they are played. Grohl’s beats are powerful and typically millisecond-perfect. Homme’s guitars are layered and wonderous, while his timeless nasal wail has lost no juice, and Paul Jones’ bass grounds the band whilst his various other musical inputs turn the music into another genre of cool altogether. HOWEVER, almost every song laid down on the album is essentially a Queens Of The Stone Age song. I wanted something different!

As Homme solemnly sings in Bandoliers, “Prepare and take aim/Then fire.” Okay, I will.

The first four songs, while all a foot-tappin’ hunk’o’fun, sound like they belong on the next QOTSA album. The only defining characteristic of each song that remotely sets them apart from Homme’s previous work on QOTSA is Paul Jones’ extra-curricular musical inputs, such as his slide guitar in New Fang or his keyboard solo in Mind Eraser, No Chaser.

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It isn’t until Elephants that we see the band break the QOTSA mould and demonstrate more of what they are capable of. Almost seven minutes long, the song moves through tempos and melodies like Ari Gold moves through personal assistants. Forget about Wolfmother – THIS is the modern day Led Zeppelin!

Unfortunately, Them Crooked Vultures then reverts back to the old QOTSA safety-net, and if not for Paul Jones’ boogie-woogie-esque keys in Scumbag Blues or his best Richard Wright impression in Bandoliers, they too would be a classified as disappointing.

Thankfully, the album finishes strongly with songs like the psychedelic Interludes With Ludes, the epic shuffle of Warsaw Or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up, which provides another glimpse of what else these guys are capable of, and the mysterious Spinning In Daffodils.

What’s disappointing about this album isn’t what they do; it’s what they don’t do. The combination of Grohl and Homme dominates almost every song and as a result the music struggles to tread any new ground. Admittedly, it sounds like they are having a downright BALL during each song and so they probably don’t care – after all, like all of us, even Grohl and Homme must be in awe of the bassist of the (barely arguable) greatest rock band of all time. Them Crooked Vultures plays host to a bunch of rockin’ tunes that gets my foot tapping every time I press play. I just wish it didn’t feel like I’ve heard almost every song on the album before.

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Them Crooked Vultures having fun in the studio – ED.

Unsigned Band Of The Week
Space Project – Space Project EP

After my initial listen to the impressive debut EP from Sydney band Space Project I looked into when their next gigs were with due diligence. In my hunt, I stumbled across an article written by Musicfeeds’ very own Jesse Hayward in which, regarding future gigs post-EP release, he reported Space Project frontman Adrian Barr saying: “It depends what happens with our drummer’s next baby which is due in October. We may have something come up in September but nothing has been finalised. Our EP launch might be our last show in Sydney for a while.”

This is disappointing, because regardless of how impressive the self-titled EP is (released in July), I’m guessing you really need to see the songs performed live to truly ‘experience’ them.

On first impression, Space Project sound like Tool thrown into a blender with Reel Big Fish. I know, right? Pretty damn cool.

The standard trio at the heart of the band – Matthew Robinson behind the kit, Jed Maisey on bass, and Adrian Barr on guitar and vocals – combine to create a dizzying array of psychedelic melodies and tonal colours that move through tempos and time signatures like Sally moves through toey tourists on a humid night in Patpong. However, the real edge Space Project have on the competition is trumpeter and flutist Holly Harrison. Her talents allow for the addition of a sophisticated tonal colour that allows Space Project to transcend the realms of ‘prog-rock’ and into that of psychedelic-jazz-prog-rock-fusion. Or something.

In my opinion, one thing about Space Project that I noticed, and I can’t stress this enough, is their similarity to Tool. Right from the get go, in first track Atlantis, Barr’s reverberated guitars imitate that of Tool guitarist Adam Jones. Moreover, Barr’s voice is – while obviously not as powerful (NOT an insult, by any means) – eerily similar to Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan’s. One section of the EP that bares particular resemblance to Tool is the finale of Horizon, where the band’s syncopated hits coupled with Harrison’s fast-pace to melodic-outline-following melody offer a climax comparable to those provided by, well, perhaps Sally.

Honestly though, the four track EP is a musical journey not segmented into tracks, but rather moods, and should be experienced in a dark room (with the optional addition of mental ‘stimulants’) or at a live gig.

In short, it’s a very impressive offering from a very impressive band, and if Robertson wasn’t so selfish as to trouble the rest of the band with a newborn, we could all experience this where it could be appreciated most – live.

Goddamn children.

You can purchase Space Project’s EP on their website or Myspace.

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