Cover of Great Western Valkyrie, by Rival Sons
The British Invasion made a rather large impact on the entire world back in the 1960's, especially America. Bands like The Beatles, The Yardbirds, The Animals, and The Rolling Stones inspired a vast number of people to pick up guitars and make their own music and way. 50 years later, that impact still seems to exist. In Los Angeles based hard rock band Rival Sons' most recent release Great Western Valkyrie (which came out June 6th), the tones and vibes of this time period seem to have been brought back into a new light for this new generation of rockers.
Great Western Valkyrie was recorded at LCS Studios in Nashville, TN and produced by Dave Cobb, who has produced Rival Sons' previous releases. Between this album and the band's previous release Head Down, there are many differences and deviations. Much of these changes are due to David Beste taking over bass duties for Robin Everhart, who left the band due to being tired of being on the road so much. Where Everhart's bass playing was more laid back and groove oriented, Beste's playing is a bit more aggressive and present in the mix. Besides the mix sounding different than normal however, Great Western Valkyrie differs stylistically in terms of music in general. Where the Rival Sons' previous albums had more of a 70's hard rock feel to them, this album focuses more on 60's style pop, rock, and occasionally psychedelic elements such as the implementation of an organ to many of the tracks, the types of vocal melodies used, and the tone of the guitar.
The British Invasion influence on Great Western Valkyrie becomes very prevalent in the second track Good Luck. The layer of keys provided by guest musician Ikey Owens, along with the vocal and guitar melodies make the song sound extremely reminiscent of The Animals' song We Gotta Get Outta This Place due to it's upper mid-tempo rhythm, upbeat melodies, and catchy chorus. That is not to say that the song sounds like a direct ripoff. Far from it. Like in many of Rival Sons' works, while the influences are very noticeable they are still doing their own unique thing and making their own personal sound.
The album's first single and opening track Electric Man seems to follow more of the hard rock style Rival Sons are known for, but at the same time having the same kind of slightly edgy feel of the rest of the album. It starts of with a bluesy distorted riff form guitarist Scott Holiday, who is then quickly joined by drummer Michael Miley the rest of the band in a mid-tempo rhythm. This song is a good showcase for vocalist Jay Buchanan by presenting just how well he can wail to just how softly he can sing in short transitions. This song is definitely one you could dance around and head bang to.
Great Western Valkyrie while deviating from Rival Sons' notorious style to a degree would still be very enjoyable to those who have been following the band for some time. All the right elements of pure rock n' roll are in there, even if they are being differently applied. It is probably a wise move on the Sons' part because they are evolving as musicians and keeping things fresh rather than rehashing the Pressure and Time album again and again. Only time will tell what kind of a direction Rival Sons will take from here.
Great Western Valkyrie, by Rival Sons receives 4 out of 5 stars.
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