Album Review ~ Greta Van Fleet ~ ‘Black Smoke Rising’

When’s the last time that you heard a single song by a band that literally stopped you in your tracks and let out a “Damn” equivalent to Chris Tucker in the movie Friday? Well, that’s exactly what happened on our very first listen to “Highway Tune” from a band that we knew absolutely nothing about. Well, we’re going to let you in on a secret that won’t be a secret for long. This young band on the rise is called Greta Van Fleet and if you don’t already know who they are, then pull up a chair, some headphones and pay attention to what we’re about to tell you.

Greta Van Fleet is a rock band hailing from Frankenmuth, MI and is comprised of three brothers and their childhood friend. Two of the brothers are twins, the youngest two members are still in high school and it’s kind of crazy how much the singer sounds like Robert Plant. Yes, they do have names and they are Jake Kiszka on guitars, Josh Kiszka on vocals, Sam Kiszka on bass/keyboards and Danny Wagner on drums. Their debut EP Black Smoke Rising is set for release on April 21 and they are about to head out for a series of dates opening up for The Struts. The funny thing is that two of the guys will miss their high school prom in order to make those dates!

Their four song EP was produced by Al Sutton (Kid Rock/Hank Williams Jr.) and Marlon Young from Kid Rock’s Twisted Brown Trucker Band. The EP is a tasty slice of dirty, sweaty, blues infused rock and roll that we haven’t been hearing a lot of lately. The guys wear their influences on their musical sleeves and the Zeppelin influence in undeniable, but there are some others from that British invasion that you can pick up on.

The EP opens with a bluesy guitar line and a Plant like scream on “Highway Tune” and if this track doesn’t immediately hook you in, then you better go to the doctor and get your ears and pulse checked. The riffs in it are like ear candy and are infectiously sweet unlike many other players who try to impress with how fast they can play without being able to make you feel what they’re playing. We’ll probably say this more than once, but it’s amazing how seasoned these young guys sound for their age. It’s almost too much to wrap my head around, so I’ll just crank up the next track and continue to enjoy this.

“Safari Song” is equally infectious with Josh Kiszka’s vocals grabbing you by the throat and demanding your full attention. Jake Kiszka has some pretty bad ass licks in this song as well and gives up deeper look into his axe player abilities all while not completely disclosing what he can do. “Flower Power” changes directions just a bit with its laid back 60s type of vibe going on. The EP closes with its title track which gives us another sampling of the colors that these guys color with from their musical palette. Let us not go any further without giving some much deserved credit to the rhythm section of the band in Sam Kiszka on bass/keyboards and Danny Wagner on drums. They lay a damn solid foundation upon which all of these songs are built on and they do a mighty fine job of it.

If these tracks don’t get you excited about the future of these four young and very talented guys, then you need to go back to listening to your fluff music, flavor of the week artists who are here today gone today. I am sure that the guys will probably hear from the haters who will give them grief for sounded like Zeppelin and that’s ok because if you have to think that’s all these guys have to offer, then you didn’t give them a fair chance and listen to the entire EP. In a day and age of being overly politically correct, where things are over sanitized, polished and packaged for your supposed convenience, it’s great to hear some dirty, sweaty rock and roll like this blasting from my speakers. Four tracks just aren’t enough for my hunger, so I guess this EP will be stuck on repeat until the guys deliver us some more material. Let this serve as our musical appetizer in the meantime as we wait to feat out on the next course of this rock and roll feast! Remember that name………Greta Van Fleet; you can thank us later!

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