Album Reviews

Rival Sons – Head Down (Earache Records)

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Rival Sons Head Down album reviewWhen Jimmy Page throws a little high praise towards your band, you know you’re doing something right. In the past year and a half, Rival Sons has gone over like gangbusters – particularly in Europe, where they capped off their first headlining tour. Satisfying an audience hungry for thunder-buzzed riffs, a Bonzo-bashed beat, and party-like-it’s-1974 fury, the band stokes it to even higher decibels on Head Down.

Shaking off initial “modern-day Zeppelin” comparisons, this record yields more of a White Stripes-meets-Bad Company slithery vibe – an ability to swing within a hefty R&B groove. Tracks like “Wild Animal” are well within the realm of a Primal Scream/Stone Roses throwback, 1960’s mod-revival. “Until The Sun Comes” features some of the dirtiest guitar grime Keith Richards never dialed in, with an alterna/power-pop sensibility a la Urge Overkill.

“Jordan” showcases Rival Sons’ gentler side – the despondency in vocalist Jay Buchanan’s voice adds grounded humility to lyrics like “I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as watching you slip away.” Similarly, “Nava” is an elegant acoustic instrumental, a woodshedding passage that implies these guys don’t need a stacked-Marshall assault to make you feel.

Rival Sons’ soul may be in the garage, but their passion’s clearly at an arena-level intensity. This band is where rock ‘n roll in 2013 is at.

-Mark Uricheck

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