The Liner Notes

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Posts Tagged ‘Them Crooked Vultures

Summer 2010 Concert Review

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First and foremost my utmost apologies for the lag in posts over the last couple months. It has been an eventful summer. Thanks to all the readers who wrote in urging me to carry on. Rather than rehash each show I have been to this summer I figured I would just post the highlights. There were tons of good shows and festivals this season. Lots of good gigs I wanted to get to and was either unable to due to time or money. However, when it was all said and done I saw some banger shows. Here’s the highlights:

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

I’ve seen Tom Petty before, but he is one artist who I am willing to continue paying big bucks to see. Plus this show was at Red Rocks, which is amazing in and of itself. Petty played all the status quo hits here, but the real treat was the new material off of his Mojo album that came out weeks before this show, which was the opening night for the tour. Coming off his reunion with his original band Mudcrutch, which is a fabulous album too, he took the Heartbreakers into the studio and recorded one of their rawest albums to date. The tone reverts much more to blues and classic rock than the pop. Petty has conquered it all – from record executives to stalkers burning down his home – and he is at a point in his career where he can just play music from the gut. That came through in the show. The guys were just having fun, playing songs that are older than I am – “breakdown” – to banging out new material like “Jefferson Jericho Blues.” Head and shoulders above the rest this was the No. 1 show this summer.

Them Crooked Vultures

A close second to Petty was this Supergroup. Typically I am not a fan of these power bands that collaborate big name stars, but Dave Grohl (Scream, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Probot) Josh Homme (QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) are heavyweights in the world of rock and roll. I had previously seen Grohl with the Foo Fighters and Homme with the Eagles of Death Metal so Jones was on my hit list to see live. These guys go hard every song. While the Vultures material sounds like QOTSA to me, most likely because Homme takes the role of vocals, just seeing Jones on the bass and Grohl wail on the drums was surreal. The three really play off each other well and put on a heck of a show. “New Fang” was the high point for me, but “Mind Eraser no Chaser” was also a stellar song. Grohl took some breathtaking solos on the drum. Bair-back with sweat flying from his mass of black hair, Grohl would attack the kit in a massive assault reminiscent of his days in Nirvana and Scream. However, Jones flawless and seemingly effortless drive on the bass was worth the price of admission alone. Homme held down his staple role on guitar and vocals swinging vodka straight from the bottle with a drive that most musicians would kill for. Definitely a show for the ages.

Murder By Death

I have been a diehard Murder By Death fan since their 2003 “Who Will Survive, and what will be left of them?” album. Since then lead vocalist Adam Turla has vastly improved his voice, which in my opinion has hurt the music. Their recording efforts have stepped up in terms of quality as well. This show was to kick off their new album, just about to be released at the time, “Good Morning, Magpie.” The effort was great, and the band is truly talented. Cellist Sarah Balliet alone brings a diverse mix to the music that most alt-country groups can’t pull off. The show revolved around primarily new material, with some older hits thrown in. As much as I love MBD, the live show didn’t hit me as much as I hoped it would. Not to take anything away from the band, it was a quality show that included great sons such as “Devil in Mexico,” “Master in Reverse Psychology” and “Coming Home.” It just didn’t jump off the stage any different than the record player. As a side note, if you have not seen the film this band is named after go watch it now, it is hilarious.

Blitzen Trapper

This show was a pleasant surprise. I had been enjoying Blitzen Trapper’s new album “Destroyer of the Void” when a buddy from work told me he had a couple tickets and asked if I wanted to go to the show. With “Furr” being one of my favorite albums of recent years I jumped at the opportunity to see these guys live. The first thing that struck me about the show was how much was going on at once. They are a sextet and each guy plays multiple instruments and they all harmonize together. While they played a few older songs, much of the show focused on new material that I wasn’t as familiar with. For a folk rock band they managed a fine balance of slower paced songs with upbeat quicker tempo tunes. The highlight for me had to be “Black River Killer,” perhaps one of my favorite songs of the decade. Other great songs were “Below the Hurricane,” “Destroyer of the Void” and an acapella folk tune by drummer Brian Adrian Koch. This was an awesome unexpected show.


What better way to end the summer than with a bang, and Jucifer can bang. The husband wife duo out of Athens, Georgia can produce some noise. The group is best known for its wall of speakers that it assembles at each show. I counted more than 60 speakers in the amp setup that literally ran from the floor to ceiling. I rarely wear earplugs at shows, but I brought some heavy-duty Hearos for this one. Good thing because the sound produced by guitarist Amber Valentine was so loud it vibrated my bones. People were literally stepping back. My brother’s review of the show: “It was so loud it shook my insides, I thought I was going to throw up.” Aside from being the loudest show I had ever been to, Jucifer is really entertaining to watch. Valentine, rocking a Flying V guitar and a sort of Pocahontas outfit complete with moccasins and a feather in the hair, not only plucked out heavy metal riffs on the guitar, screeched on the mic, but changed all the lighting on stage with foot pedals. Ed Livengood was just as entertaining on the drums, which he beat on standing more than he did flopped back in an old ducked-tapped chair, not a drum seat, a standard chair. Livengood started the show beating on the kit with about five sticks in each hand and progressed to slamming his snare while dampening it with his foot at the same time. He also pulled double duty wailing out some vocals. The duo didn’t seem to care much to stick to their recorded material so much as jam for 12 minutes at a time, which was pretty awesome to watch. Bottom line these guys are loud, talented, but really really loud.


Top 10 albums of 2009

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Top 10 albums of 2009

This year the music industry in 2009 continued to trend towards the digital download model making more music than ever before available to the masses. There were a number of standout albums, and promising bands that emerged this year. Below is a list of the top 10:

10) Rated O by Oneida

So dense, it almost takes an active, analytical listener to truly appreciate the breadth and depth of this album. Largely instrumental, the Brooklyn band spans a litany of mind-bending genres in this album. From psychedelic 20 minute jams to structured rhythmic rock, Oneida braves new musical territory with this gem.

9) Horehound by The Dead Weather

It seemed like 2009 was the resurgence of the “supergroup.” Jack White (The White Stripes and The Raconteurs), Alison Mosshart (The Kills and Discount), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs and Greenhomes) suddenly formed The Dead Weather this year and the result is nothing less than some of the best rock and roll produced in years. Horehound is simply sublime. Reports are the group is working on a follow up album.

8) Humbug by Arctic Monkeys

Humbug took the Arctic Monkeys in a new direction from their past work. Darker, more mature and developed, the music flows more deliberate and less sporadic than previous works. Song such as “Crying Lighting” and “Dangerous Animals” still seep the signature AM sound, but the guidance of Queens of the Stone Age’s frontman Josh Homme, who produced the album recorded in Joshua Tree, Calif. Is evident throughout. The result is a more deliberate, stoic and untimely cohesive album.

7) Octahedron by Mars Volta

Characterized by a smooth subdued pace, pined up more by Thomas Pridgen’s insane drumming than ever before,Octahedron steps towards a more “traditional” album than previous works. Still filled with spectacular guitar by Omar Rodriquez-Lopez and surreal screeching vocals by Cedric Bixler-Zavala, MV continues to advance music is a direction unexplored by any other artist. This is the kind of deep, dark and phenomenal album one has come to expect from MV.

6) Manners by Passion Pit

Following on 2008’s promising Chunk of Change, Manners is the ideal follow up full of everything one could ask for. Rhythmic beats, fun hooks, choppy synchs and airy lyrics that make up one of the year’s most pleasurable albums to listen to. It just one of those records that makes the listener feel good.

5) It’s Blitz by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Some might frown upon commercial success, and Karen O and the crew have seen the limelight this year more than ever before. It’s Blitz achieved that new degree of success by departing from its conventional formula. Still true to its roots, the YYY added a heavy amount of synthesizers and reverb to the album taking the band to the next level.

4) Old Money by Omar Rodriguez Lopez

Perhaps one of the most complex albums of 2009, Lopez, of Mars Volta, unleashed a juggernaut with Old Money that could be interpreted a million different ways. Much like MV, Old Money is an epic journey of disjointed sounds, rhythms and themes. Revolving around otherworldly themes of dreams and nightmares, the album is an intricate mix of instruments and textures making for a surreal listening experience.

3) Felt 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez by Felt

In a time when hip-hop is pretty uninspired, primarily composed of guys ripping off each other’s beats and rapping about cliché’s, comes Felt’s new album produced by Aesop Rock.  Murs (Living Legends) and Slug (Atmosphere) compose an intelligent original piece of work in their latest tribute to b-list celebrities. Adding Aesop to the mix adds an edge to Felt 3 that the previous two albums didn’t have.

2) Them Crooked Vultures by Them Crooked Vultures

Another superband to make this year’s list and the members pretty much say it all: Dave Grohl, of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana, Josh Homme, of Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal, and John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin. The combination creates a classic rock album that chock-full of heavy guitar riffs and thumping bass. The album sounds more like a QOTSA than anything, but that may be Homme’s predominance on vocals.

1) Cosmic Egg by Wolfmother

Who cares if Wolfmother frontman Andrew Stockdale wasn’t even alive when Robert Plant and Ozzy Osbourne were in their heyday. Nearly 40 years later he is blatantly ripping off their style with a precision that makes listeners have flashbacks to ZoSo. Stockdale takes his new band and breathes a second life into the notion of comprising an album around power chords thundering bass lines, reverb and wailing vocals.

See 2008’s list here.

Them Crooked Vultures streaming entire album online now

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When I heard a few months ago that Dave Grohl, of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana, Josh Homme, of Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal, and John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin, were combining forces to create a band I was skeptical at the very least.

Frankly, it seemed too good to be true.

Well not only is it true, but the group called Them Crooked Vultures let loose all 12 songs in their entirety on YouTube.

The end result is a thick album full of beefy riffs and chunky beats courtesy of Grohl. While each member’s perspective style seeps through the hard rock album, I hear more QOTSA than anything here. Perhaps that is because a large share of the vocals are Homme’s.

Of the 13 spectacular tracks, the first single, “White Fang,” stands out as the best with a monster beat, thundering bass and slightly distorted vocals.

Hear the album, which comes out Nov. 17, here.