GRETA VAN FLEET
BLACK SMOKE RISING
Released on April 21, 2017 (Lava Records Republic/Universal Music Group)
Do you want a time machine? I have one for you, in the form of a four-song EP that will transport you right back to 1973! The thing is, it’s not 1973 but full on 2017 for four kids from Frankenmuth Michigan who weren’t even born yet when the genre they are currently channeling was raw, fresh and new. Greta Van Fleet are however, taking their craft very seriously claiming they draw influences from Robert Johnson, Howlin Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Willie Dixon and Albert Collins. The comparisons to Led Zeppelin however is what most listeners will hear.Singer Josh Kiszka‘s pipes are Robert Plant personified. It’s actually astounding at times. Jake Kiszka‘s guitar work is also quite versatile pulling off some slide, acoustics as well as expected big riffs that mesmerize. Layer in the drums and bass with a whole lot of passion into the songwriting and what we have here is pure musical magic.
Black Smoke Rising starts off with the lead single “Highway Tune” which was also released as a video. This is a true classic rocker that’s currently creating a buzz around the globe. “Safari Song” which begins with a beautiful scream, and “Flower Power” are right out of early 1970’s Led Zeppelin. I’d actually argue that you could convince a Led Zep fan that these are unreleased songs that didn’t even make it onto CODA. “Flower Power” has shades of “Hey Hey What Can I Do” as the two songs are cut from the same cloth. The title track “Black Smoke Rising” takes a page out of ’70s Heart with its mid tempo feel-good style. All in, this is stellar work from a musically talented and enigmatic band.
Now let’s for a moment talk about this band and how they could fare in the 2017 music industry. I have been stating for the last ten years that the big labels are leaving far too much money on the table by ignoring rock music and rock acts. Now miraculously in 2017, Lava Records (which is owned by Republic Records/Universal Music Group) decides to sign this band made up of four kids (two of whom are still in their teens) who write their own songs, don’t lip sync and perform with real instruments live, which is not the norm anymore.
UMG needs to promote this band on every platform possible and get their songs on the radio. If they do this, then the band will blow up in popularity. Teenage girls will love them and cry at their shows. Young guys will blast their songs from aging Honda Civics and old rockers like many of us will eat it all up as well. Greta Van Fleet are THAT good. The other route UMG can take is the one they and other big labels have done with rock bands in recent years. And that’s ignoring the band after they sign them to the label. Zero promotion, zero interest. And then drop the band in a year as they fade back into obscurity.
The choice is clear, and I believe there is a lot of money to be made globally by new bands like Greta Van Fleet. This band has the potential to reignite rock and bring it back to the mainstream, but they can’t do it alone, nor should they have to.
01. Highway Tune
02. Safari Song
03. Flower Power
04. Black Smoke Rising
Josh Kiszka – vocals
Jake Kiszka – guitars
Sam Kiszka – bass/keyboards
Danny Wagner – drums
Reviewed by Mark Horvath for Sleaze Roxx, April 2017.
Greta Van Fleet‘s video for “Highway Tune”:
Highway Tune (Official Video) Song available here: https://republic.lnk.to/GretaVanFleetHighwayTuneYD Connect with Greta Van Fleet: https://www.facebook.com/gretavanfleet https://www.instagram.com/gretavanfleet https://twitter.com/GretaVanFleet http://gretavanfleet.com Directed by Ford Fairchild Produced by Christina Cooper For FOCO Creative Music video by Greta Van Fleet performing Highway Tune.