Last August, the Killers entrance man Brandon Flowers had one thing to say in regards to the state of capital-R rock music in 2018. “There hasn’t been anyone ok,” Flowers commented to me. “If there have been some children on the market proper now enjoying [Interpol’s] ‘Obstacle 1’ tonight, I'd hear about it …however there isn’t.”
It looks like each single type of communication at the moment obtainable — from Twitter threads to assume items — has been host to exhaustive and often-maddening examinations of whether or not rock is useless, dying, or in some kind of prolonged cryo sleep. The is-it-rockist-or-is-it-not conversations surrounding A Star Is Born are already going robust months forward of the movie’s virtually predestined awards-show dominance, so it’s all however assured that the Encyclopedia Browns and Cam Jansens of music writing will likely be investigating The Case of the Missing Guitars for loads of time to return.
But it does appear simple that mass-appeal rock music as has been traditionally categorized is at extra of a lull than ever, particularly in 2018. Arctic Monkeys — one of many greatest and arguably finest rock bands of the last decade — ditched riffs fully for his or her spacey, experimental Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino; after slicing her tooth on a powerful catalogue of largely guitar-based materials, ascendant indie phenom Mitski put the six-string to the aspect in favor of synths and disco beats on the stupendous Be the Cowboy. Jack White’s mainly rapping now, and so do one of many greatest American rock bands of the second, who extra usually sound like another style — from hip-hop and vibey pop to EDM — than the one folks mostly affiliate them with.
Sneaking into 2018’s again finish with a guitar-heavy sound and consciously retro sartorial decisions, Greta Van Fleet are a remarkably peculiar match amid this fractured style panorama. At face worth, it’s tempting to match the Michigan rockers to Nashville boys Kings of Leon; each bands are largely comprised of siblings, with traditional rock influences worn so proudly on their sleeves that they could as effectively be everlasting iron-on patches. But whereas KoL gave a considerably fashionable sheen to varied strains of southern rock in a way that appealed to followers of fellow 2000s-era “rock is again” contemporaries just like the Strokes and the White Stripes, Greta Van Fleet’s “factor” — particularly and virtually solely, the bombastic, riff-heavy, and vocally melismatic stylings of Led Zeppelin — so carefully hews to the supply materials that it’s virtually copyism.
The quartet’s debut LP, Anthem of a Peaceful Army, which comes out this week, opens with misty-mountain mumbo jumbo about “historical darkness” and the promise of “a model new day” on the expansive “Age of Man”; close to the tip of “The Cold Wind,” singer Josh Kiszka lets unfastened with some unintentionally humorous scatting whereas drummer Danny Wagner (the one non-sibling in Greta Van Fleet’s ranks) tries out his finest John Bonham impression within the foreground. The album capably runneth over with pummeling blues-rock riffage, showy drum fills, histrionically howling vocal takes, and a track known as “Mountain of the Sun.”
Greta Van Fleet much less resemble the real-deal Led Zep than a band of session musicians tasked with pretending to sound like Led Zeppelin for a mediocre rock biopic. Robert Plant himself acknowledged in no unsure phrases earlier this 12 months that the band sounds precisely like Zep’s 1969 debut Led Zeppelin 1, and earlier this week a mashup of Anthem’s “When the Curtain Falls” and the Physical Graffiti lower “The Wanton Song” made the rounds — a mix so uncannily excellent that it obliterates any shred of Greta Van Fleet’s persona on contact.
Who is Greta Van Fleet’s music for, precisely? There is a possible viewers for the redolent rock replications dedicated to tape on Anthem of the Peaceful Army, past these whose terrestrial radio dials are completely tuned to the kind of golden-oldies stations that also do all-Beatles blocks.
In a approach, Greta Van Fleet are excellent music-festival fodder — the kind of technically proficient band you would possibly overhear whereas making your technique to the meals vans, inflicting you to cease by no matter stage they’re caterwauling on simply to take a look at what’s occurring. They performed Coachella this 12 months, after notching their second No. 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs chart for “Safari Song,” from final 12 months’s EP From the Fires; the truth that the band-branded bucket hats of their merch retailer are at the moment offered out appears to augur effectively for his or her being booked for subsequent 12 months’s Bonnaroo. This is word-of-mouth music for people who find themselves extra more likely to actually use their mouth to suggest it as a substitute of the web, and that’s completely fantastic.
But no matter their apparent factors of attraction, Greta Van Fleet’s relative ascendance by means of their photo-of-a-photo type is irritating within the ham-fisted regressivism of all of it — and it turns into rattling close to infuriating when you think about that different bands during the last 15 years have accomplished extra fascinating issues with Led Zep’s inventive template. On their 2012 LP Lonerism, Tame Impala took good-natured intention on the peacocking strut of ’70s rock on “Elephant,” which featured bandleader Kevin Parker singing about an unnamed protagonist “Shaking his huge grey trunk for the hell of it” over bruising bass and AM-radio filters; Sleater-Kinney’s 2005 masterpiece The Woods was virtually an album-length reimagining of the Zep catalogue, caked in psychedelic sludge and punkish grit.
While listening to Anthem of the Peaceful Army, I discovered myself giving Greta Van Fleet’s anything-but-modern music a contemporary spin of its personal, if wholly by chance. The album’s jangly, largely acoustic “You’re the One” began enjoying on my iTunes, taking over a sluggish and narcotic form that sounded virtually pleasingly like space-rock icons Spiritualized. I pulled up the app on my desktop to be aware of which track I used to be listening to, solely to find that “You’re the One” was being performed at practically half-speed via an audio-manipulation app usually used for transcribing. I flipped it again to regular velocity; the track, sadly, didn't stay the identical.