A while back my father and I were listening to the local rock station, and this song came on. We had no clue who it was but we knew it sounded great. It almost sounded like a classic rock piece. However, the production sounded really great, which I found unusual for something presumably older. Then, about fifteen seconds in, it happened; Josh Kishka opened his mouth and released this almighty “scream” (for lack of better words) that hit me on the same levels Robert Plant’s vocals do. I don’t use this compliment lightly, Led Zeppelin being up in ranks alongside Opeth and Death (those being my two favorite metal bands). This song, of course, was “Highway Tune,” a rocking modern-day classic rock song that sounds as though it could fit on any Led Zeppelin release, period.
Greta Van Fleet is an American rock band from Frankenmuth, Michigan that formed in 2012 by Joshua, Jacob and Samuel Kishka, along with Kyle Hauck. Since 2013, Daniel Wagner has taken on percussion and subsequently has appeared on all releases since. Their most recent release, an EP entitled From the Fires, includes four previously released songs (from the EP Black Smoke Rising) and four new songs, including a cover of Sam Cooke’s a “A Change is Gonna Come.”
Now let’s move onto the tracks; they took on a cover, a leviathan of one as well. A song like “A Change is Gonna Come,” is instantly recognizable to fans of any genre of music. On this note, covering a well known song, let alone a classic blues/soul song, is a daunting, difficult task- the reason being is that people will love it or hate it. In this case, I loved it, infact I’ve added it to a short list of covers I find better than originals. Rather than take a cookie-cutter approach to it and copy it note for note, the band put their own spin on it, making for a memorable tribute to the music that so obviously influences them. Another standout track (and my current favorite) “Black Smoke Rising” showcases what this band is about, powerful, meaningful, “modern” music that still has that feel and attitude of the 70’s. This song seems to be a take on the current state of the world, with lyrics such as “This is for their own desire/ As they spit down to the earth/ To feel the power pouring in their veins,” which makes a seemingly direct punch at leadership in the modern world.
One thing I’d like to cover (and really stress about this band) is the instrumentation, the songs are laid out very well, and the instruments all do their part, making for easy listening, and enjoyable tracks. The drumming is one thing that really stands out to me however, it brings an aggression that you wouldn’t expect from this album, almost screaming that this is only half of what drummer Daniel Wagner can do. That being said, he gives me strong John Bonham vibes, they both play like the kit owes them money. As far as guitarwork, it seems like a mix of Jimmy Page and Stevie Ray Vaughn: simple, fun and to the point riffing, as well as fleeting, bluesy solos that leave you wanting more. What more can you ask?
As for the general mood of the album, it varies from song to song, you have upbeat, rock songs (“Safari Song,” and “Highway Tune”), songs that sound as if they were written by Tom Petty (“Flower Power”), and even an emotion tugging song that will punch you right in the feels (“Meet on the Ledge”). What you can expect from this band is fun, sing along tracks that don’t fall too short on any spectrum or scale, however, it needs work. I mentioned a lot of bands so far they sound like, this is because they are an almost carbon copy of the bands I have previously mentioned, and I see potential. What I’d love to see (or hear) from this band is a more focused and individualized sound, something that takes their inspirations and runs with it. I’m not completely blown away, but on this path it may get to that point. Overall I’d recommend it to to anyone who loves more soulful, soft rock or fun music in general.
“From the Fires” is available wherever music is sold.