I think that we at Heavy Blog briefly (read: mentioned) Rival Sons back when we did news, but those days are gone, and this is a band that deserves some serious attention.
You don’t need to be a music historian to know that rock and metal had roots in the blues. If it weren’t for the likes of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters inspiring acts like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple to rock harder, we probably wouldn’t have metal as we know it. There are a handful of bands that are bringing back the old blues rock days—off of my head there are the likes of Graveyard, Black Keys, and Jack White who have put a modern polish onto the blues.
And, of course, there’s Rival Sons; a group out of California who’ve been going at it for the last seven years. Their latest album, Hollow Bones, was just released the other day off of Earache out of all labels.
When it comes to a sound, I don’t think that Rival Sons really brings anything new to the table per se. This is just some pretty bitching blues-inspired hard rock. But what sets this band apart from others is their listenability and the passion that they bring to their music. Blues can be a hit-or-miss for a lot of people, considering that there’s a great amount of repetition in the genre; practically everyone playing blues utilizes the 12-bar formula, or some close variant of it. Unless you’re a band with some serious chops (the Paul Butterfield Blues Band comes to mind), you’re not going to stand out very much. Fortunately, Rival Sons does stand out. Every song, despite a strict adherence to a blues style, either doesn’t use the traditional formulae or finds a way to mask it under some great guitars. They have the catchiness of the Black Keys, but the staying power of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the sheer talent of Stevie Ray Vaughan.
There just isn’t a bad musician on Hollow Bones, either, whether it’s vocalist/harmonica player Jay Buchanan—whose voice drips like hot molasses—guitarist Scott Holiday, whose interesting take on effects add a new dimension to the band’s playing, or the tight, bombastic rhythm section of drummer Mike Miley and bassist Dave Beste.
So, if you enjoyed some of this year’s awesome blues-rock releases, like Electric Hoodoo or the more bluesy aspects of Merlin, you’ll find this to be not only an enthralling, catchy album, but a solidly written one as well.