Great Western Valkyrie
Californian band Rival Sons combines the best aspects of The Black Keys’ hipsters idealism around the blues with The Black Crowes’ sprawling southern swagger – they’re a better band than almost any of the so-called “blues revivalists” or retro rock acts you could name and here they are toiling away, never wasting time, here’s album number four and they’ve only been an active group for five years. But they sound urgent – always. And Jay Buchanan has that big, belting voice and drummer Michael Miley has his Zeppelin and Soundgarden grooves down with an innate jazziness too.
There’s a propulsive energy behind Secret, that stomping swing from Zep’s How Many More Times combined with early Sabbath, a wee swirl of Deep Purple too. But next minute (Pity The Fool) the band is aping The Who’s sonic attack with aspects of Queens of The Stone Age/Eagles of Death Metal, though Rival Sons never get caught sounding like scuzzy brats, nor desperate cock-rock try-hards. It’s the boogie-strut of ZZ Top and Ten Years After recast for the indie kids of today. And as with their previous album, also a ripper, there’s not really a dud track, there’s a huge range and for every obvious Zep influence (the drums on Open My Eyes, the bass playing on Belle Star) there’s always enough of their own heart and head in this; this is a band that’s honed a sound.
It all suggests the good ship Rival Sons intends to keep on sailing and searching. They’re probably not cool enough to have the fan base of The Black Keys but their music offers so much more. Even a hint, this time, at psychedelic blues and rock energies. No rush on the next album though fellas, there’s so much to take in here. A real kick-arse stomper.