Rival Sons

Great Western Valkyrie

Written by: BW on 01/07/2014 02:56:45

I’m a bit of a slow starter when it comes to Rival Sons, as I only heard about them about a month ago through a friend and their third album, “Head Down” was nothing short of captivating. The Los Angeles band, with a devilish mix of Blues and a hint of Led Zeppelin and a dash of the White Stripes seems to produce a really clever mix, especially when they add their own flair, but can “Great Western Valkyrie” beat their last effort?

First track in and you feel there is a good chance it can. Listening to “Electric Man” has such a dirty start to it that it almost has a God given right to just grab hold of you straight from the off. The almost sugar laden bass is helped along by some sassy guitars and some cymbal tips and the vocal ability of Jay Buchanan just sets things off perfectly. There is such a degree of soul about the song that you can feel your mouth pouting and head nodding in appreciation of what you’re hearing, which is just what you want from a song. It is classy and dirty in equal measure.

“Good Luck” has a sultry 60’s vibe to it, aided by a soft bit of organ work and some guitar distortion through the verses. The chorus is a little heavier, but the difference adds a bit of substance. When you break it down it is a basic beat and simple melody, but it is the way it is blended that seems to make it work well, as although it isn’t quite as strong as some of the other songs on here it sits on its own merits and sounds fine.

Then we get to “Secret”, which has vocals that stay on the right side of screech and get suitably high to get the pulses running. What makes this song for me is the infectious bass playing from Dave Beste, which is the blood running through the veins of this song. It just seems to add an extra dimension to things and gives it more bite.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the start of “Play the Fool” is very Led Zeppelin and this is where the Blues side of things begin to kick in. You really get that sense of soul in the album as a whole and that a lot of the songs contained within have emotion in strong abundance. In this you have some nice harmonising guitar work feeding bass and it gets very noticeable nearer the end. The actual rhythm also gets you into things with a feeling of thinking this is bad for your health to listen to.

One of my favourite songs on this album though has to be “Good Things” which almost mixes the good parts of the first three songs and slows it down to something truly staggering. Organs play chords to give a good start, along with what I believe to be some Xylophone tapping and some distorted guitar to produce a wholesome piece which just gets you salivating. It is by far my favourite song on the album, although “Belle Starr” is a very close second, but I’ll talk about it later.

What you begin to notice is that all the main instruments in the band seem to have an understanding of how much to put into a song and when to hold back to produce the goods as a whole. “Open My Eyes” has some major distortion starting the piece, but then the demonic bass and guitar combo hits you again, not to mention a most simple of drum beats, but it all works so well. It’s all fair and well making music, but the ingredients have to be at their best to get the right results and this is how Rival Sons sound.

If there was going to be one song that doesn’t quite grab me just like the others it would have to be “Rich and the Poor” I can’t put my finger on why, but there seems to be a spark missing from the final product. It just seems a little flat compared to everything else that has come up before it. There is a nice melody running through the mid sections to be fair, but it just doesn’t manage to bring the rest of the song up to that standard, which is a shame.

Then we come to “Belle Starr” which is really catchy and heads along at a fair old pace, with some good drum work from Mile Miley and an even better riff, via Scott Holiday to go with it. The other great thing about the track is that it varies in speed from point to point, as it slows down for the main singing. Then once that is over it grabs you by the coattails again and brings you back up to speed. The mixture throughout just gives this a song more prominence on the album.

“Where I’ve Been” is the ballad of the disc and it wouldn’t feel out of place being played at the end of a wedding reception in terms of the speed anyway. It just seems to want to give you that well deserved breather from taking you all over the place musically and you have earned that rest. It is much the same quality of the rest of what has been listened to already.

Bringing up the rear is “Destination On Course” which is almost like a mixed bag of everything Rival Sons draw source from musically with some almost psychedelic guitar work and a very trippy section about two thirds of the way in, but when you listen to classics like Whole Lotta Love you can see where that could come from. Even the freaky female chorus line seems to fit. I would say this is a track for those with more of an open mind than a music degree and a demand for what should be, but when you consider where a lot of the inspiration comes from.

This is a very good album. It could well be the album that helps to launch these guys into the big time, as it has passion and heart that loads of bands do not have that have been around for double the time or even longer. This is an almost perfect album and can show what a band is capable of when they’re all on the top of their game.


Download: Belle Starr, Open My Eyes, Good Things, Electric Man
For The Fans Of: Led Zeppelin, The Black Crowes, White Stripes
Listen: facebook.com

Release date 06.06.2014
Banquet Records

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