Topping the US Rock Charts for not one, but five consecutive weeks, opening for Bob Seger, winning the Loudwire music awards, playing sold out shows across the globe and gaining acclaim from namely artists like Elton John before even releasing an album. May I introduce Greta Van Fleet, the Michigan Rock outfit that mixed up the music industry last year.
I first came across Greta when listening to Led Zeppelin on my way to work a few months back. After Black Dog, Dancing Days, When the Levee Breaks – the good old stuff – a song I did not know came on, and I could barely resist the urge of putting on a passionate air guitar solo in the middle of a crowded train. For a second I thought my dream of a reunion had come true, but when I opened Spotify I read a different name on my screen.
Greta Van Fleet’s debut single “Highway Tune” was released in 2017 and launched their success like an unstoppable rocket ship. The quartet is made up of the three brothers Josh, Jake and Sam Kiszka and long time friend Danny Wagner. The members are all between the ages of nineteen and twenty-two, but already sound like a fully-grown rock band. They gained recognition with their music, which sounds uncanny like one of the greatest rock bands of the 20th century. No other but Led Zeppelin. So uncanny, that Robert Plant himself called them “Led Zeppelin I” and listed them as one of his favourite new bands.
Contrary to popular belief, the boys do not only listen to Rock. They sure have a whole lotta love for bluesy 70s guitar shredding, but the members have diverse individual tastes of music, varying from Jazz, to Soul and Funk. The brothers were raised on their parents’ generous Vinyl collection, and name Willie Dixon – he also inspired the music of Led Zeppelin – and Taj Mahal as their main inspirations. Guitarist Jake, who started playing the instrument at the age of three, is a big admirer of Jimmy Page’s style and has intensively studied his work on the guitar. Still the undeniable resemblance mainly roots in Josh’s singing voice, which has been compared to Robert Plants “husky howls” multiple times.
This Friday the throwback rockers’ long awaited first album Anthem of the Peaceful Army will drop. The noisy ten track LP is pure 70s Rock n Roll.
Greta Van Fleet prove their mastery of the instruments with high-energy blues-rock solos, inventive bass lines, groovy beats and a vocal range that could probably shatter a glass. “When the Curtain Falls” already sounds like an old school rock hymn we should all know the lyrics to. “Anthem” and “Age of Man” are classic, take out your lighter (or nowadays smartphone) and wipe away a tear, tracks. The emotional lyrics and vocals are the soundtrack to a revolution, and make you want to take to the streets no matter if for the women’s liberation movement like in the 70s or just for almond milk latte’s at the next door coffee shop.
Josh pours blood and sweat into every note, reaching incredible highs moaning and shrieking, like a seventy-year-old blues musician. On “Cold Wind” he shouts, sings and cries at such impressive lengths, that will have you worried about the guy’s poor vocal chords. Greta Van Fleet stay true to their much-celebrated Led Zeppelin sound, but also draw from some Neil Young or Joan Baez influences on softer acoustic songs like “You’re the One” or “The New Day”. The, folky cowboy with a toothpick in his mouth, sound fits the band just as well as the longhaired, shirt unbuttoned rock star look.
Anthem of the Peaceful Army is an album that will make your heart rate go through the roof, not just because of the reverb slathered guitar solos but also because of the deeply touching lyrics about fresh starts, love and courage.
Greta Van Fleet are a textbook 70s rock and roll band that somehow ended up in the 21st century. In times where real instruments and a voice, that didn’t go through auto tune, are rare, a band like this is worth a lot. They might sound a little too Led-Zeppelin-like, but as lead singer Josh put it “Worse things could have happened” than being able to sing like Robert Plant. And we agree.
The quartet is dedicated to reviving the “Dancing Days” when all we do is “Shake it off” and “Work”. Sure, Rock n Roll as we used to know it is gone, but Greta Van Fleet is as good as it gets in 2018.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Anthem of the Peaceful Army is due out October 19 (Lava/Republic Records).
Early 2019, Greta Van Fleet will travel all the way from Michigan to Australia and New Zealand for their March of the Peaceful Army tour. Tickets go on sale this Friday.
Tue, Jan 29: Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Sun, Feb 3: Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane
Tue, Feb 5: Forum Theatre, Melbourne
Fri, Feb 8: Logan Campbell Centre, Auckland NZ