The LA quartet’s second LP, reissued with extras, comes stuffed with rollicking tunes.
Greg Moffitt 2012-03-12
With high-profile support slots for the likes of AC/DC and Alice Cooper under their belts and iTunes’ Rock Breakthrough Band of the Year 2011 award resting on what may one day become a groaning mantelpiece, LA quartet Rival Sons are big news in the rock world.
Plying a brand of soulful hard rock dripping with the blues and swaggering to a good-time groove, they’re arguably the best recent addition to the swelling ranks of 70s revivalist acts. Of course, if all they had were cool clothes, even cooler record collections and a hatful of recycled riffs, there’d be little reason to sit up and listen. Crucially, they’ve got great songs and this, their second full-length album, is simply stuffed with rollicking tunes.
Although it’s not all about comparisons, many of them loom rather loudly from the speakers with each crashing chord and thudding beat: Led Zeppelin, Free, Bad Company, even The Doors at times, and – perhaps unsurprisingly given their youth – a smattering of 90s rawk in the shape of The Black Crowes, Masters of Reality and Queens of the Stone Age. As influences go – subconscious or otherwise – it’s a pretty darn tasteful list, and lovers of pure, high-voltage rock’n’roll of any era will get a kick out of this. As thrusting and in your face as it is, however, Pressure & Time is not without subtlety or – saints preserve us – sensitivity, as the gentler strains of Only One and Face of Light make clear.
Musically, the band are outstanding: guitarist Scott Holiday, bassist Robin Everhart and drummer Michael Miley glide effortlessly between locked-in and loose as frontman Jay Buchanan lays down his best Robert Plant impression. The production, meanwhile, is big on punch but sparing on polish, retaining the garagey vibe which the admittedly excellent Black Stone Cherry and The Answer lack.
At a relatively modest half-hour, the album never outstays its welcome. In fact, if there’s any criticism which might stick, it’s that some of the songs are actually too short. More than once the cry for a volcanic guitar climax is met with a swift fade out. It’s an issue they rectify on stage, which brings us to the extras padding out this redux version.
Nestling alongside two bonus tracks – Company Man and Life for This Road, both worthy inclusions – is a DVD featuring various live performances and promotional videos. If you already own the album, it’s probably not worth shelling out again simply for the extras. Better to spend the cash on a concert ticket. But if you’re still mulling a first time purchase, now’s the time to make it.