Review by James Everett
“A Zeppelin song I haven’t heard before?” was my exact thought as I hear an incredible song play through the radio. I rush to get Shazam downloaded onto my phone, but by the time it’s downloaded, I’m too late, the song is over... shit. Fast forward about a month, I’m in Seattle meeting with the talented editor and chief of Dive In, Camille Germain. I happen to mention that Led Zeppelin is my all-time favorite band and she turns me on to Greta Van Fleet, on the train ride back home I pull up their latest EP, From the Fires, and holy shit that’s the song! My life is changed.
Greta Van Fleet is made up of the Kiszka brothers: Josh as lead vocals, Jake lead guitar, and Bassist Sam, along with Danny Wagner on drums. To many though, they’re not just a band, they represent a revival of rock, and they’re taking the world by storm. Not only did they reach number one on the mainstream rock charts with “Highway Tune” for five weeks in a row, but “Safari Song” recently made it to number 12. Two out of eight songs making it to the top 20? Not bad in my book Greta Van Fleet. Not bad at all.
This is only made more impressive when in an interview with internet radio station oWOW Cleveland Jake admits “None of us have ever taken a lesson in our life. We're autodidacts, so we had to teach ourselves.” These are just a bunch of kids with a love for rock who decided to play, and are now living the rock n’ roll dream all while bringing a sound from a different time; and it’s an inspiration not only to me who grew up loving bands like the Stones, C.C.R, and of course Zeppelin, but hopefully to a new generation of rockers that truly will revive this once dying breed of rock.
What do we have to thank for this revival? Well each member brings something different to the table. "It seems like everybody could almost go off into their own category as musicians.” Josh articulates in that same oWOW Cleveland interview. “Jake seems to be more rock and roll foundation. If I said 'rock' without the 'roll,' he'd get all pissed off. It seems like Sam likes jazz and that's a lot of his influences and that's where he gets off on the keys a lot. Daniel, I think, is very folk, oddly enough as a drummer. When he's on the guitar and writes, that's what comes out. And I like world music. I really like the sounds of big choruses, choirs and drums and things like that."
When it really comes down it though, from everything I’ve read or watched about them, it seems some kickass parenting is what we should really be thanking. Their uniquely old-school and bluesy sound, and visceral lyrics, stem from the simple fact that it’s what their father raised them on. Whether it was Muddy Waters, or Hendrix, or Cream, they grew up on the pleasing sound of old that we unfortunately rarely get out of music these days. So, here’s a shout out to Mr. Kiszka, keep on rockin’ brother!
I’m not going to go into a lengthy detail on each of the eight songs of the double EP, for two reasons. Firstly, because me say how fucking awesome each song is over and over again would get really repetitive. Most of all it’s because I believe this is one of those bands you should really experience for yourself without knowing too much about what you’ll be hearing.
You know that one song you just can’t stop listening to over and over again, even though you know you should be sick of it by now? Surprisingly enough my pick is neither of the two songs that made the charts, and unfortunately for the two cover songs you are disqualified. Sorry “A Change is Gonna Come,” and “Meet On the Ledge,” you still rock. It’s “Black Smoke Rising,” that really caught my attention here. It starts with a badass guitar solo from Jake, then Danny slams in on the drums which kicks off one off the coolest riffs of the album. What’s really unique about it though is where most albums would end at a slower pace to match the fact that it’s ending, Greta Van Fleet crank their amps to 11 and blow us away. I believe that they do this on purpose to keep us wanting more, and asking ‘what’s next?’ They do it well.
Is Greta Van Fleet Mosiah’s of rock n’ roll? Maybe I’m just blowing things out of proportion over my love for classic rock? Give them a listen and decide for yourself. If you like what I had to say or if you think I’m full of shit that’s okay, we’re all entitled to our opinion. All I know is that it’s been a long time since the future of rock n’ roll has looked this bright. Until next time, keep rockin Mutha Fuckas. I’m out.