Rival Sons

Hollow Bones

Written by: TL on 21/06/2016 19:56:43

Rival Sons from Long Beach, California, have grown themselves quite a steady career over the years, arriving recently at their fifth album "Hollow Bones" since releasing their debut in 2009. All four albums since then have come out on Earache records and seeing as they land festival gigs as far away from home as in our own Denmark, one could remark that Rival Sons have a certain commercial viability to them, although this thought also does come to mind partly because of the nature of the new album.

The quartet is, simply put, a rock'n'roll band in the timeless sense. Frontman Jay Buchanan sings with a soulful rock'n'roll howl that brings to mind the likes of Joe Cocker or Andrew Strong. Michael Miley and Dave Beste on drums and bass provide a rhythm that's mostly kept at a stately mid-tempo (compared to often more fast-paced rock'n'roll bands like the otherwise similarly sounding Wolfmother or The Parlor Mob), and guitarist Scott Holiday, he just plays groovy riffs, simple and sweet as that sounds.

That's the formula, and at a glance, it is a potent one, in great part because it brings to mind all sorts of familiar feeling references to classic 70's rock, which gives it a certain sense of authenticity. The problem is that you quickly feel like it's just that, a formula. Forget about progressive explorations or carefully built up tension and relief, because these songs are rock'n'roll on rails, travelling in steady intervals between riff and refrain and hardly stray past any other destinations along the way.

You feel this particularly on the first two tracks, "Hollow Bones Pt. 1" and "Tied Up" and especially the opener seems like what would have been called a 'Radio edit' if this was a pop record, because there's a "Hollow Bones Pt. 2" towards the end of the record which is twice as long and appears like an actual full version of the song, which has much more contrast and is thus considerably more impactful. Coming to that, one truly wonders what the need for "Pt. 1" is.

Supposedly there has been no faith in the general public having the patience for that sort of thing at the record's beginning, but "Thundering Voices" and "Baby Boy" do admittedly come off as comparatively more potent versions of the tightly shaven rock'n'roll single. Things are just more interesting down on "Hollow Bones Pt. 2", though, and especially on the cheeky "Black Coffee", for while you can't exactly add points for depth for a song about just that, this song has a freer sense of swagger and exuberance to it, plus a nice tempo change, which makes it stand out easily from the rest of the album.

Overall, though, "Hollow Bones" feels a little bit lazy from Rival Sons. A bit like they've just run their formula through the machinery again and come out with a few singles and a few more loosely jammed tracks and thrown them on an album in order of what's more satisfactory to impatient listeners first. There's no ambition to do something novel with the genre traits the group has adopted. It's only rock'n'roll, plain and simple: Moderately enjoyable if you're swinging a beer or bourbon around already, but not something you sit down and soak in the length of, on a back to back headphone listen at home.

Download: Black Coffee, Hollow Bones Pt. 2, Thundering Voices, Baby Boy
For The Fans Of: The Parlor Mob, Wolfmother, The Raconteurs
Listen: facebook.com/rivalsons

Release date 10.06.2016
Earache Records

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