Rival Sons

Head Down (Earache Records ’11) Rating: A-
In terms of modern music, the old “classic rock” sound may be barely breathing but it’s not completely dead. There are still bands out there fighting the good fight, even if most of them aren’t being played on commercial radio stations, most of which are largely unlistenable for the most part (thank goodness for my iPod, Spotify, and SiriusXM). Rivals Sons are one such band, and apparently they’ve even been given the Jimmy Page stamp of approval, which isn’t surprising I guess as Zep is an obvious influence, as are others like Free (singer Jay Buchanan reminds me a bit of a young, hungry Paul Rodgers) and Humble Pie, not to mention more recent acts who also carried the classic garage rock torch forward like The White Stripes and The Black Keys. This album is comprised of heavy, high energy hard rock that sounds like it’s from the ‘70s but has more modern touches as well. Perhaps not all the songs are instantly memorable, but the distorted guitars, jackhammer beats, and Buchanan’s impressive wail (the band has cool vocal harmonies too) salvages even the lesser moments here. Then again, there aren’t too many of those; the fact that I’m hard pressed to name obvious highlights has more to do with the consistent high quality of the album than that it lacks standout tracks. The majority of the album could be considered standout tracks, in fact, starting with swampy high energy blazers like “Keep On Swinging” and “You Want To” (drummer Mike Miley is real good), while the band also delivers more melodic, somewhat psychedelic poppier numbers like “Wild Animal” and “Until The Sun Comes.” Rival Sons can also deliver some wonderfully dirty blues (“Run For Revelation”), and for variety’s sake you get an epic ballad (“Jordan”), a pair of pretty acoustic tracks (“Nava” and “True,” the latter basically “Nava” expanded with lyrics), another winner with a cool harmonized chorus (“The Heist”), and the extended guitar hero song “Manifest Destiny Pt. 1,” which lets guitarist Scott Holiday strut his stuff in impressive fashion (as does the also-excellent “Manifest Destiny Pt. 2”). All in all, any complaints that I have about this album, the band’s third full-length but the first I’ve heard, are extremely minor, and I sincerely hope that the band stays together and finds the commercial success they deserve.

send me an email

Back To Artist Index Home Page