If you follow Unsung Melody at all, you’ll certainly know the name Rival Sons. The Long Beach, California-based band is one of our favorites and should be one of yours as well. Not only are Rival Sons carrying the torch of their rock and roll forefathers, they’re using said torch to blaze all the competition in their path. No one is creating more intense, intelligent, intricate rock and roll.
For us, Rival Sons return with Great Western Valkyrie is one of, if not the, album that we’ve been drooling over most. With multiple sold-out tours across the pond, Rival Sons has set their sights solely on conquering the land of the free. With several sold-out dates coming up, I’d say the ball is rolling in the right direction. The album drops on June 10th here in the States, and we hope to catch their first show after that release in Nashville on June 19th. So be sure and check back here for that coverage. Believe me when I say the last Nashville show was legendary.
Watch Rival Sons perform Jordan in Nashville:
Great Western Valkryie is the first album featuring bassist Dave Beste. Dave replaced Robin Everhart in the latter part of last year and many, myself included, were curious to see what (if anything) the impact would be on the dynamics of the band.
Once again joining forces with Dave Cobb, THE best producer in the business today if you ask me, the band brings us together to share our thoughts and experience over some new tuneage. Sounds like fun to me!
From Scott Holiday’s first fuzzed out note of Electric Man, you know what you’re in for and that’s one helluva ride! With a near-yodel kicking off the verses, Jay Buchanan puts his twist on things before belting out the powerful vocals we’ve all come to love within the chorus. With a slight distortion and reverb on his vocals (which is present on a lot of this album), Jay sounds stronger than ever and makes for the perfect compliment to those wonderfully fuzzy Orange Amps that Scott is annihilating. But what about Dave you ask…He and Miley sound as if they’ve been playing together for 30 years. Robin had his own style, similar to The Funk Brothers, who created so many Motown hits, that I felt would be nearly impossible to replace. Well, so I thought. By now, I’ve figured out that I should just put my trust in the Sons and enjoy, because Dave Beste is, was, and hopefully always will be the perfect replacement.
Whoa! I’ve got to pace myself, I wrote all of that about one song. Yikes! Hang in there folks, when something is inspiring, I tend to ramble.
Next up is Good Luck, a song with a main riff that, for me, for a brief moment conjured up similarities to Wild Animal from the previous album Head Down. That’s where the similarities end though, with it’s slow churning, bass-driven verse, Good Luck allows us to settle in and appreciate the audible epicness we’re being treated to. Well, that is until the start/stop musical barrage of the chorus carries us off to whatever planet the Rival Sons are from. Super catchy. Brilliantly written. Good Luck will be this summer’s toe tapper for me.
Cranking it all the way to 11, the boys take the form that I personally love most. Intense, swaggerrific , groovy momentum building rock gods. Yes, I said swaggerrific. Listen in and you’ll understand why. With an intro similar to my favorite Rival Sons rocker (Get What’s Coming), I nearly jumped out of my seat in anticipation for Secret. THIS is Rock and Roll on steroids. I’m struggling to form the words to convey just how awesome and exciting this song is. The riffs, the fuzz, the groove, the bass line (Dave is the man by the way), the soaring vocals, AND a Hammond organ that would make The Doors jealous? Puh-lease! This track is an undeniable Rock and Roll masterpiece!!
Deep breath. Breathe in. Breathe out. Deep breaths. Shew. Did everyone survive that onslaught? Great! Guess what….That was just track three. Hold onto your hats Rival Sons and Daughters, we ain’t slowing down yet!
Play the Fool…hold on, I gotta listen to Secret again.
Okay. Okay! I’m back. Sorry!! Play the Fool is up next and after that masterpiece, it’s got to be a letdown, right? LOL This is the Rival Sons, there is no filler. It’s all killer! Those fun, fuzzy tones carry us through the funky backbeats and dropouts before the chorus of ooooooohhhh’s takes over and dares you to not sing-a-long. My money is on the fact that I KNOW you can’t resist.
Good Things is up next and it’s a tough song to describe. It’s not your usual Rival Sons tune. Back is the organ and for a change, it’s more prominent than Scott’s riffs. Don’t sweat it though, the guitar still plays a very large part. It’s just a more subdued song that places the spotlight on the vocals, lyrics and vibes. Speaking of those lyrics…Jay has us all thinking in a different light and taking a moment to be thankful. I don’t know about you, but I dig it!!
Hear what drummer Michael Miley has to say about Good Things:
Bringing us one of their more complete songs to date, Rival Sons once again raises the bar. Open My Eyes brings the riffs, the solos, the melodies, the hook, the groove and that HUGE John Bonham sounding kick drum to, well…kick this one off! The vocal intensity is amazing on this one, as the call and answer of “Somebody” in the chorus create the ultimate rock anthem. Coupled up with a really cool, somewhat weird video, this song is poised to be a classic for YEARS to come. My goodness I can’t wait until Nashville to sing with this one at the very top of my lungs!!
Rival Sons – Open My Eyes:
I do want to take just a moment here to say something…This band gets compared to Led Zeppelin an awful lot. (As I just did with Miley’s kick drum) Is that fair? Probably not. They’re Rival Sons and they have created plenty of their own music and style that we should be buzzing about. The problem is, people seemingly want their music dumbed down and easy to pigeonhole nowadays. Rival Sons are neither of those, so I think that in this culture, people need a reference point and the easy, most glaring comparison is the mighty Zeppelin. It may not be fair, but I could certainly think of worse company to be compared to. *cough*
Miley Cyrus *cough*
After Rich and the Poor, which sounds like something from a Quentin Tarantino film, maybe the sequel to Django Unchained or something else epic…you listening Quentin? Ha! The band then delivers yet another masterpiece. What Belle Star does is it fully displays the bands songwriting ability for everyone to enjoy. There is intensity. There is softness. There is aggressiveness. There is beauty. The dynamics of this song are otherworldly and I absolutely can not get enough of it! It’s no wonder that the album title (Great Western Valkyrie) was pulled from a lyric in this one.
On the previous album Head Down, the band created a song that spoke to my very soul. Jordan was the name of that track and it is in my personal top three of the most beautiful songs ever written. After seeing so many people connecting to that song, I hoped, I prayed, I wished that the band would once again create another sentimental mid-tempo beauty. With Where I’ve Been, all those prayers and wishes were answered. A story of love and how forgiving the soul can be is honestly stunning. Every single note has it’s place, a purpose in telling this story and it’s just as captivating as it is beautiful. Words truly can’t describe the emotions delivered and especially those evoked from this song. Un-Be-Lievable.
Preview Great Western Valkyrie:
Closing out the album is Destination On Course. Holy Crap! That slide guitar…WOW!!! Such power and emotion! Let me preface this by saying, more so than any other song on this album, Destination On Course is a journey. A journey that touches many musical styles and delivers a full on punch to all six senses. Included in the song is an operatic, cinematic feel with a full choir. It’s a song that, without the choir, could be a tough one to pull off live, but I certainly hope that doesn’t stop the band. The slide guitar is just unbelievable and the solos are one of my favorite psychedelic stops on this trip. Those last 2:30 are stunning, in an almost Jimi Hendrix kind of way. I caught myself with eyes closed, ignoring the lyrics and found my mind leading me into the beginning of a James Bond movie. You’ve all seen those, right? How the beginnings are just epic and the songs help paint the perfect picture. That’s Destination On Course.
I will say this; For everything that is included on this album, Dave Cobb’s production just might be the real star. He holds it all together while introducing sounds, swirls, breaks, stops, drops, accents and every other bell and whistle under the sun. He’s helped create a masterpiece and Destination On Course in particular is one for the ages.
For a band that churns out albums on a nearly, yearly basis, it’s incredible just how much quality music Rival Sons are able to create. Their writing style is based upon spontaneity and it just seems like that well never runs dry. As I stated earlier, this is rock and roll on steroids. Great Western Valkyrie is one of a handful of albums that are must have releases for 2014. Do not miss this one!!
Unsung Melody Score: 10 out of 10 (A STRONG contender for Album of the Year)
Preview or purchase Great Western Valkyrie below: