Mon. Aug 10th, 2020

Initial Thoughts. A review of Head Down by Rival Sons.

From my perspective on this site, no other album was more highly anticipated than the new Rival Sons release, Head Down. After the release of the amazing Pressure and Time in 2011, I have been patiently awaiting my preview copy of Head Down since I first saw the guys posting studio updates several months ago. Well, today, I finally received my copy. Was it worth the wait? I’ll hit what I feel are the highlights of the album, and I’ll let my opinion form as I take you on this journey I like to call Initial Thoughts. Head Down wass released here in the States on September 18th through Earache Records.

Right out of the box is the first single from Head Down, Keep On Swinging. It’s a romp of a good time with a dancy backbeat, killer tone, and of course… Scott Holiday’s signature guitar. Vocalist Jay Buchanan is in fine form as he delivers his distinct style. The mix of backing vocals being higher in the mix makes for a very fun time. I’m sure (if we ever get them to tour the States again!) we’ll all be singing along with this one loudly, and if my feet tapping are any indication, we’ll be doing some dancing as well!

You Want To is the type of song that made me fall in love with the Rival Sons sound to begin with. With a rousing backbeat and grooving riff, coupled with the start/stop action of the song accentuated by Jay’s vocals, are a perfect example of who Rival Sons are. Excellent track.

Oh hell, here come the Blues!!! Run From Revelation. WOW. This song, deeply rooted in the blues, delivers my favorite riff off the album thus far. I’m kind of at a loss for words on this one. There’s nothing else to really say about this song. Just listen, love, repeat. WOW.

Jordan is the first true slower acoustic tune on the album. It’s an absolutely beautiful piece of music, and is quite deep in it’s lyrical content. It’s a song that will only take one listen to fall in love with, but several spins to understand the true beauty of what is being delivered here. An absolutely stunningly beautiful song. The slide guitar in this song will tug at every heart string you could imagine. The choir-style backing vocals are haunting. The emotion conveyed is perfect. This song is a masterpiece.

All the Way is a song that will immediately remind you that Rival Sons are proud of their musical heritage, and that they will wear their inspirations on their sleeves proudly. With a backbeat reminiscent of Grand Funk Railroad’s Some Kind of Wonderful, and a killer hat tip to Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit In the Sky, this song is quite possibly my favorite on the album from a fun standpoint. With it’s “oooooh, oooooh, oooooh, ooooooh” Motown-style backing vocals, to the preaching style delivery of the story by Jay Buchanan, you can’t help but move along and just enjoy the ride.

The Heist is a song about, well you guessed it, a heist. It’s a tale of love and what ends a man will go to for it. It’s groovy, it’s smooth, it’s Rival Sons. While I can’t say it’s my favorite track on the album, I do appreciate it, and I also want to take the time here to applaud the chances that the band has taken thus far on this album. If one doesn’t evolve musically, you simply become stale.

Three Fingers is another clear-cut Rival Sons song. It’s a rocker through and through. With it’s way too catchy chorus, you’ll find yourself singing it and sitting at work having people looking at you awkwardly…just don’t ask how I know this.

Nava is yet another quality piece of acoustic-style music. This one being an instrumental track. I plead to the rock gods that some day, somehow, Rival Sons makes an acoustic album. I would be the first in line, money in hand. If you think you’d be first, well then…fight me! (I kid, I kid…don’t fight me.)

Manifest Destiny, Part 1 is a musical odyssey that takes you from one extreme of Rival Sons to the other. You may be caught a bit off guard by the vocals to begin with, but you’ll quickly understand that the song has a life of it’s own and that it’s one small part. While on this odyssey, you’ll conjure up visions of Hendrix, Cream, Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, Leaf Hound, and Led Zeppelin all playing to a beautiful backbeat. What I would give to zone out and listen to this jam live. Everybody, go buy the record…I’m having Rival Sons withdrawals over here!!

By this time, anything I type is going to sound like blabbering. This album, while distinctly different from Pressure and Time, is still Rival Sons. No matter how you chop it up, split it, break it, rehash it; They are who they are, and are proud of what they have become. For that, I stand and applaud you Rival Sons for your time and efforts. #LongLiveMusic

Okay, here’s the plan: Everybody buy two copies of the record, give one away…use it as a coaster, I don’t care. Call your local corporate-infused BS radio station and demand real rock. Request Rival Sons. Don’t take no for an answer. Let’s get these guys the respect and support needed to tour in the States again. ROCK NEEDS RIVAL SONS!!!

★★★★★★★★☆☆ 8 out of 10 stars. UnsungMelody.Com Approved!!

Check out the video for Keep On Swinging by Rival Sons below: