Supergroup Them Crooked Vultures less about ego on debut and more about rock

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Because Dave Grohl and Josh Homme worked together on “Songs For the Deaf,” the breakthrough album by Queens of the Stone Age, they’re a known quantity. Add Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones to the mix and what do you get?

An album that sounds very much like Dave Grohl and Josh Homme on the self-titled debut from their new project, Them Crooked Vultures. It’s a record full of muscular rhythms from Grohl and deceptively sweet stoner-rock crooning from Homme, punctuated by his terse guitar riffs. As he was in Zeppelin, Jones is a subtle presence here, adding understated bass lines and backing vocals and letting the outsized personalities in the band come to the fore.

“Them Crooked Vultures” is a long record for the genre, clocking in at more than an hour — and feeling like it. A few of the tunes stretch past seven minutes, but the more compact songs work best: “Dead End Friends” flashes past on a swift, pounding groove and skinned-knee guitar, while a savage riff helps “Reptiles” sound like a Zeppelin outtake from the “Houses of the Holy” era, with greasier vocals.

As supergroups go, this one is fairly unassuming: Despite the star power involved in a group comprising members of Zep and Nirvana (yes, and Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age, too), these three manage to convey the sense that this project is less an exercise in ego than a pretty good excuse to rock.

— Text by Eric R. Danton, photo by Dustin Rabin

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“Them Crooked Vultures” album stream