JAM Magazine CD Review

May , 2014
Review by Tim Taylor

Rival Sons

"Great Western Valkyrie"

Label: Earache Records

Great Western Valkyrie is the fifth release from Southern California's Rival Sons, and to put it in simple terms, it freakin' rocks! This is the band that fans of hard rock music have been waiting decades to find; the band that has the energy and swagger of the rock legends of the 70's without ripping any of them off. There's nothing better than pure rock n' roll music with pounding rhythms, blistering guitar riffs and solos, and soulful, heartfelt vocals, and Great Western Valkyrie is loaded with it. There are no gimmicks or fluff on this record. Every song is captivating in its own way, so I'll give you a track by track review of what I consider to be the best album of 2014 so far.

  1. "Electric Man" - The opening riff of this song is simple and infectious, and when the drums kick in, you can't help but move. This is the kind of song that makes you look like an idiot at a stoplight when the person in the car next to you catches you pounding on the steering wheel and banging your head. You'll be singing, "I'm Electric!" all day after listening to this.
  2. "Good Luck" - This one reminds me a little bit of the British Invasion sounds of the late 60's, and singer Jay Buchanan's lower register in this song is very reminiscent of the great Jim Kerr of Simple Minds. The chorus will repeat itself in your head after just one listen, and you'll be feeling good.
  3. "Secret" - This song is a ferocious, adrenaline-pumping masterpiece. It sounds like a jam session between the Doors and Led Zeppelin, and Buchanan's scream will make the hairs on your arms stand up. The organ adds a special retro feeling, and the band simply kicks your ass on this track.
  4. "Play the Fool" - A killer groove and another great hook, but it's Michael Miley's drum fills that make it special, and Scott Holiday's blazing solo at the end will make your head spin.
  5. "Good Things" - Beginning with a cool, laid back bass line from Dave Beste, this is a smooth mid-tempo song with psychedelic guitar effects, quieter vocals, and a throwback organ sound.
  6. "Open My Eyes" - The most radio-ready chorus on the record, but will radio play a song like this? It's too good to be on terrestrial radio these days. I hope so, because everyone needs to hear it and sing along. Just brilliant, straight-forward rock n' roll.
  7. "Rich and the Poor" - A dark, creepy tune with a chorus that makes you think, "Do I really want to know what this song is about?" Buchanan shows a different side to his voice here, and the results are astounding.
  8. "Belle Starr" - This could be on any album from The Who in their heyday, but it also sounds modern. I don't know how they did that, but listening to the fuzzy guitar tones and Miley going crazy on the drums makes this one of the highlights of the record.
  9. "Where I've Been" - A beautifully soulful and tender ballad with lyrics that many of us can relate to. It's sung with a ton of passion and conviction, and will have a tear in your eye by the end.
  10. "Destination On Course" - A trippy, psychedelic rock song that makes you feel like you're flying. It's riddled with spacey guitar and sound effects, and it's a cool way to end the record.

Great Western Valkyrie will take you back to the days when you bought albums because every song was good. There aren't just two or three songs to download from iTunes here. Rival Sons have created a monstrous record that should be listened to from beginning to end, and the new material will definitely kick ass live. When all of the old classic rockers decide to call it quits, this is the band that will save rock n'roll!