JAM Magazine CD Review

November , 2017
Review by Barak Alexander Seguin

Greta Van Fleet

FROM THE FIRES

Music affects us all in very different ways and on many different days. It’s inter-connective and one of the few ways our species relates better. Those that live through the music know we all ingest that music, and as intended, we revivify it in our own artistic way. Well, it sounds like there’s a mother-load of revivifying going on with the arrival of “From The Fires” by Michigan natives, Greta Van Fleet. This band of four kids, whom I can’t believe I have some twisted, remote paternal care for, are stealing our collective hearts by guaranteeing us that the music we loved then is the music that will always have a place in time.

Resurrecting the dynamics of Led Zeppelin and Queen, with the touch of Cream and Janis Joplin, Greta Van Fleet are assuming the position of Rock Gods in the making. “Is it too soon?” you ask? No! I think anyone who has this much appreciation for music and can reproduce it with such ease and fluidity, at any age, should be consecrated with the burden of the title. And why oh why would you deny music that just flat out galvanizes your blood and provokes your neck to start doing that thing? I have been tracking this band since April of 2017 when I heard them on Octane and since then it has been hard for me contain my impatience for more music. Well, my call has been heard! “From The Fires” is the new Double EP from GVF due out November 10th and as follows are my initial experiences with it.  

Safari Song 1
Of all songs to introduce yourself to the world with and at the same time say, ‘we’re coming out’… ”Safari Song” most decisively accomplishes this most highest of objectives. Opening a little like “Rebel Rebel”, a David Bowie classic, this jam takes you by surprise by introducing you to lead vocalist, Josh Kiszka, who’s voice soars over this rockin’ openers sweet licks and makes the statement, ‘this shit is legit’. The verse starts to give you quite a sense of what we might be dealing with here. What kind of creativity from what kind of influence are we deciphering? It then gives way to some royal melodic hooks, carefully refined. This songs’ bridge continues the coming out party by showing some serious creativity within, and introduces their relationship with the call and respond, with a sobering glimpse into the reality of the kind of voice that has been missing from rock and roll since Freddie Mercury!  

Edge of Darkness 2
This is a jam indeed. Following up the opening number, the song “Edge Of Darkness” grips you with some major guitar riffage. It’s the kind of riff that makes you frown out of sheer audible delight because it’s like a riff dressed in a negligee oozing it’s way across the speakers, as only a Joe Perryesque riff can do. It soon finds itself entangled in a call and response with lead vocals that beautifully shrill a plead for an understanding of accepting the unknown, and ends up discovering itself in a wide open breezy chorus that beautifully combines deep seated southern blues that beckons unity, family and a common theme for GVF…love. Of the newest songs to be released… and as a heavy rock music fan… this one captivated many of the senses. 

Flower Power 3
Every well-crafted album that I have ever had the pleasure of owning was layered with more than just the attack of guitar distortion and exploding vocals. “Flower Power” shifts gears into cruise control with this fireside folk jam that acquaints us further with the depth of this bands talent, musical maturity and authors of some very dynamic tunes. Here, we find the band employing the organ and the mandolin, which give this song a very ethereal and atmospheric flow with substantial sing-along-ability. Once again, we find the consistent velvety flavor of vocals and the recurring subject of love, chasing it, finding it and “ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma- ma-ma-ma-ma”.  Its earthy tone, its natural and rustic spirit, and its vibe are reminiscent of some of the feel good jams we are accustomed to hearing from good rock bands with true staying power. Roll a doob, pour a glass of red, and get ready for an anxiety-free groove. You’re very welcome.  

A Change Is Gonna Come 4
Oh sweet Etta James! Oh sweet Janis Joplin! Oh sweet, sweet Queen! Rhythm and blues and a dim lit dive bar with maybe 2 people in it… you and the Maker’s neat in front of you. The boys really dig into the magnificence of the Moody here. As if tempting and taunting what awaits them in the darkness of the forest as they make their way into life. Yes guys… “A Change Is Gonna Come”.  Sounding like already seasoned journeyman, this song is proof that this band is well ahead of its time. For many of the successful bands history has given us, typically they find this crisp kind of artisanship well, well into their careers when they have lived the lyrics. And you must respect the well-constructed play on words this jam gives us, because very few, and by very few, I mean only U2s’ Bono Vox can devise poetry this meaningful and spiritual. I mean, Jackson Teller’s final scene should have been underscored by this song. So there! 

Highway Tune 5
Never heard of this band?  Wooooaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhed Zeppelinnnnnnnn! That’ll do it. Kinda kicks you in the balls… and balls are for girls too, so let’s hear it. That’s just a shit-kickin’, blood tattered roadhouse with those old school hand-dryers and a few band stickers right the fuck there! That’s what the fuck that is!  Holy Jimmy Pageenndrix! Think you can do that? Yup, they just did… oops too late. Me driving down the road, white knuckling my way through traffic as I first laid ears on this goddamn jam… is about how it went. Did I notice goosebumps? That guitar riff is a Jamie Lanister, wielding Valerian Steel, when he had both hands… sorry not sorry, kind of guitar riff that is! Sorry for my over-usage of exclamation marks but no heads should be encouraged to start bobbing after the first 3 strokes of that sound. It’s immediate and it’s statement. It’s saying, ‘come, take my hand let’s go skydiving right the shit now.” Hello Greta Van Fleet. And ‘Thank You’ for giving the dirty, with a whole lotta of bass, balls again!

Meet On The Ledge 6
If Mississippi Queen had a baby with the band Queen, they’d have had an angel touched with fuzzy magic guitar solos carried by the acoustic guitar and cathedral style choir vocals, and it would sound like this. This is a very produced sound with some very talented players here. George Gershwin would be proud to be a part of this number, me thinks. “Meet On The Ledge” profoundly describes our very gentle state with an air of confidence in faith, inner spirituality, compassion, and self-awareness. Like a wise elder statesman in Warbonnets leading his tribe around the fire, this song seeks acceptance with its meaning. Its very serene and wide-open choruses beseech the listener to sing-along and connect with its essence and purpose. This jam lights the way for the band to really open itself to future epics like “Stairway To Heaven” and “Dream On”, and is backed by a guitar solo every bit as important to it as each song’s respective guitar solo is to them.

Talk On The Street 7
“Talk On The Street” makes me want to check the band out in a smaller room… max 180 persons, through a quarter-million-dollar system, and a really good Sound Tech, and a Lone Star with a lime, and a friend to discuss the outcome and search for things you heard, you thought, they were influenced by. This proggy rocker with a Zeppelinish “Wanton Song” kick reminisces of a Blue Oyster Cult vibe if Alex Lifeson was more in charge of things ‘roun hea’. This optimistic piece about the end is the beginning is the end is the beginning, is delivered unpretentiously and trustworthy of presenting its wares complete with blistering solo and a strongly endorsed rhythm section. This song lives up to its song placement, doesn’t disappoint, and simply burrows into the groove.             

Black Smoke Rising 8
As pictorial as picturesque lyrics can be, as aromatic and full as a bass slide can hit that deep corner pocket, and as deep and compact as that pocket can be created by a beat, this song certainly gives the forensics of its design escorted by its equally illustrative and advocating musical running mates. With flying guitar chords, riffs and fills, “Black Smoke Rising” fills the room loudly and firmly into its smoky chorus. Like every good band, (in my own, honest opinion) gotta have a political song! A unifier! A confidant! Its bridge sets the stage for the video; it’s a cold, grey, cloudy day and the dissidents wield messages in full color… and armed with a bullhorn is a heroine fixed above the crowd screaming like a banshee, that “We won’t stand alone, we will stand up in the cold” in slow-mo, and the rest is in your hands. As each melody descends, it descends into its ultimate incarnation… a message of morning hope… a resistance, a turnaround. And yes indeed… ”that was it”.