Great Western Valkyrie Review

artist: Rival Sons date: 07/15/2014 category: compact discs
Rival Sons: Great Western Valkyrie
Released: Jun 6, 2014
Genre: Blues Rock, Hard Rock
Label: Earache
Number Of Tracks: 10
Jack White's "Lazaretto" may need to step aside, because Rival Sons' "Great Western Valkyrie" may prove to be the superior blues rock composition of the summer.
 Sound: 9
 Lyrics: 8.5
 Overall Impression: 9
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reviews (2) pictures (1) 5 comments vote for this album:
overall: 7.7
Great Western Valkyrie Featured review by: UG Team, on june 11, 2014
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sound: With the music trends today cycling back to the hairy-chested salad days of classic rock and roll driven by blues and psychedelia, Rival Sons are in the right place at the right time. After the founding members spent years with less successful music endeavors, they formed Rival Sons in 2009, and were met with success right out of the gate. With a sprinting-paced career (three albums in a three-year span) and playing shows with legendary classic rockers like AC/DC, KISS, and Judas Priest, it's surprising that Rival Sons isn't a ubiquitous name in the blues rock revival scene - perhaps because The Black Keys and Jack White were busy taking the spotlight. But in this ever-growing influx of new bands taking inspiration from the kickstarters of the 21st-century blues rock revival, Rival Sons have been taking inspiration from the original blues/psychedelic rockers of the classic rock era, which has made Rival Sons more notable than being just another band riding the coattails of trendsetters.

With their fourth album, "Great Western Valkyrie," Rival Sons continue to deliver potent, uncut retro vibes that would not only impress millennials looking for some rough & tumble rock, but would also impress the older generations that listen to the classic rock station religiously and are adamant about not listening to any rock music made after 1984. The first half of the album brings a steady gear of rock energy: with the classic-style "call and response" verses between fuzzy guitars and Buchanan's bona fide rock vocals in "Electric Man" and "Play the Fool"; the strong, bassline-driven "Good Luck" and the prominent keyboards in The Doors-channeling "Good Things"; the swingy, roadhouse-jukebox-evoking "Secret"; and killer guitar solos throughout. The second half of the album becomes a bit of a stretch, both containing the lower-gear tracks of the album and the majority of longer-running tracks of the album. After the rock-steady, flanger-filled, bassline-driven "Open My Eyes," "Rich and the Poor" switches back and forth from softer verses and stronger choruses, but never seems to really hit a good crest. The following track, "Belle Starr," ends up usurping "Rich and the Poor" by offering a more dynamic formula of pairing fast-tempo'd verses with slower-tempo'd choruses, yet the frenetic drum-fills in both areas make sure that no moment in the song comes off dull. "Where I've Been" manages to be a proper, satisfying, lighter-waving power ballad that simmers at the verses, boils at the choruses, and teems with energy at the guitar solo. With the closing track, "Destination on Course," being another slow-jam (as well as the longest track on the album), the trudging pace of the tail end of the album may make some listeners antsy, but the ending of the track is worth the trip - a psychedelic jam session that trails off into the ether. // 8

Lyrics: Buchanan still continues to emulate the stark style of lyric-writing that would be found in the classic rock era, but the subjects have a good variety to them. Buchanan offers some fun and simple songs: like the simple-to-sing, anthemic "Electric Man," and the happy-go-lucky breakup song, "Good Luck," which acts as a great bearded response to the heaping pile of breakup songs Taylor Swift has provided to society. Buchanan's severe songs bear more storytelling - such as in "Good Things," where easy hooks are paired with verses talking about a botched train bombing and when the narrator's father was laid off from his job; "Belle Starr," which details outlaws being under the final judgment of a Norse goddess; and "Where I've Been," which fits the power-ballad mold of unconditional love in the face of a rough past. However, some of Buchanan's subject matter does tread a little close to cliché, with "Rich and the Poor" being the done-to-death love story between a rich girl and a poor boy, and "Open My Eyes" being a call for help and companionship without doing much to make its lamenting matter feel genuine. // 7

Overall Impression: When you think about bands the same age as Rival Sons that throw their hat into the blues rock revival scene, a lot of them are taking inspiration from The Black Keys; who got inspiration from The White Stripes; who got inspiration from the real thing - and when you look at the assembly line like that, the outcome becomes pretty dilated. Rival Sons, instead, take their inspiration straight from the source of the authentic vinyl archives and create a style of music that's much more unfettered than the neo-retro-rock dabblers that still have their eyes and ears embedded in the 21st century. "Great Western Valkyrie" is a strong and sturdy addition to Rival Sons' discography and it may also prove to be a dark horse in a race with The Black Keys' "Turn Blue" and Jack White's "Lazaretto." // 8

- Sam Mendez (c) 2014

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overall: 10
Great Western Valkyrie Reviewed by: patriotpizzaman, on july 15, 2014
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Rival Sons' singer Jay Buchanan and guitarist Scott Holliday conjure visions of late '60s & early '70s rock gods to great effect on the fourth full length effort by the band. Vintage gear and an old school approach to writing their music together live in the studio gives them such a raw edge that consistently feels like it's on the verge of exploding. Their are visceral moments at every turn. Alternately boisterous and hauntingly foreboding "Great Western Valkyrie" grabs you from the first note to the last threatening to "take you to the sugar shack" with swirling Leslie speaker effects and thick creamy distorted guitars. The pulse of the band paves the way for their every move as drummer Michael Miley, who was previously in Veruca Salt and new bass player David Beste unflinchingly push Scott and Jay to greater heights with equal aplomb. // 10

Lyrics: The bands lyrics are perfectly suited for the music and Jay delivers them with such conviction that the combination of the two is elevated to another level. One listen to "Good Things" and you're hooked. "Good things will happen. Bad things will happen too." "Rich and the Poor" is a "hide your daughters" tale wrought with sexual tension. A picnic basket and braces lead to finding out where babies are made in this Romeo and Juliet meets Jack and Jill after dark rendezvous. The imagery is vivid and the images are memorable. From "a jar full of shine" to "a boy with a bomb in his pocket" they illuminate the darkest corners of their minds with a white hot light. Exercising their demons and calling attention to our own. // 10

Overall Impression: The music contained here on "Great Western Valkyrie" is an aural feast of the best that vintage classic rock has to offer. They've brought the "danger" back to rock 'n' roll with a passionate collection of viral songs. It's hard to say which cut is the best from one day to the next. Depending on your mood at the time, any one of these songs may feel closer to you than the next although, "Good Things" had such an instant hold on me that I would recommend it as the place to jump into this experience. Overall this is a very dark and haunting disc but, it's delivered with such authority that it elicits a cathartic effect on the listener. This CD stands up against any new music that's being produced today and walks hand in hand with the greats of the golden age of the genre. "Good Luck," "Good Things" and "Rich and the Poor" are all great places to peek under the hood of this muscle car. "Enjoy it right now, 'cause you never know when it's going to end." // 10

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