Black Smoke Rising
Greta Van Fleet
These guys look like a million bands I’ve seen before, but with thankfully less tattoo’s. The name gives away nothing,
so what was this in my inbox suddenly begging me to press play?
Just the best damn young blues rock band on the horizon.
The 60’s and 70’s influences drip off of them at every turn. Swampy guitars unravel to reveal serpentine riffs, backed by rock steady, thunderous drums; paired with hip sway grooves, and powerful vocals. Every song is begging to dislocate all the crap currently on the radio. “Highway Tune” unspools with a tease before that voice kicks in and demands you listen. “Safari Song” is a sonic blast, with enough force to push a rocket into orbit. Title track “Black Smoke Rising” is riffy with a southern soul feel pushed through Marshall’s. Midway, it exerts a sense of drama, looking inward before shaking itself back to life.
There’s no really calling the Robert Plant style vocals anything else, because. This said, it’s the right time for it to sound fresh and new. Robert Plant, doesn’t sing the way he used to. Enough time has passed since the 70’s and 80’s where there were a million aspiring would be Plant sound a-likes, every-where. It was exhausting, and easy to take for granted.
So now in 2017, almost 40 years after LZ called it a day, the same amount of time, more or less between the New Yardbirds and the best material of the Delta blues that inspired them, this sound is suddenly fresh, and really exciting.
Post digital collapse of the music industry, we as a listening public have become accustomed to smaller every-thing. There’s a handful of arena bands left, and their days are seriously numbered. The relatively younger alt bands who can fill a 10,000 seat venue are painfully few as well.
Continuous listening of Black Smoke Rising has revealed several things. The songs improve on repeat. They sound familiar in a way that’s oblique and comforting. A recently discovered gem by a beloved friend you haven’t heard from in some time. The promise held within these four songs implies there’s amazing things yet to come. Lastly, the sound Greta Van Fleet makes needs to be heard on a large stage. With everything bigger and louder, because as great as it is to see your favorite band in a tiny club, there’s something exciting about a spectacle on grand scale.
Everything here sounds natural and unpretentious, the way the best mid western bands do. Greta Van Fleet could very well be the seismic event that shakes music from it’s current state of torpor.