Greta Van Fleet
Black Smoke Rising
A famous rock star for whom I once worked told me a long time ago that if you’ve got something to pitch, step up to the plate with confidence, then say what you gotta say in as few words as possible. Embracing that perspective, I suggest rewriting this band’s official bio — whittling it from two full pages, down to just 20 words. It should read simply… Comprised of four beautiful, barely-legal-age boys from Michigan, Greta Van Fleet is the new Led Zeppelin. The end.
A rather fervent assertion, to be sure — but two distinguishing facts separate Greta Van Fleet from the endless procession of past impostors claiming to be heirs to the Zep throne. 1) The words “Led Zeppelin” appear nowhere in any of the band’s official descriptions or press materials — as if they’re actually oblivious to Emperor’s nakedness. 2) Greta Van Fleet has songs — gloriously authentic, well-crafted songs — unlike anything I’ve heard since the first Wolfmother record dropped back in 2006. And their blistering debut EP, Black Smoke Rising, refuses to be be ignored.
Produced by Al Sutton and Marlon Young, this down-and-dirty four-song slab is so powerful, it could and should revive the 8-track format. Frontman Josh Kiszka rolls up on his “so sweet, so fine” in the lyrics of the lead-off single, “Highway Tune,” while brother / guitarist Jake Kiszka shadowboxes tasty chicken-pickin’. The guitar-driven, resin-burning “Safari Song” smacks of a long-lost track from Zeppelin II, while “Flower Power” morphs playfully from “Hey, Hey What Can I Do” into a modern-day “Thank You.” Closing out the too-short sampler, “Black Smoke Rising” is a super-sweet, crunchy confection that satisfies my soul. I’ll refrain from making another Led Zeppelin analogy.
In sum, I “get” Greta Van Fleet. And I like this record — a lot. In fact, as if it were sprinkled with aural cocaine, it’s a record to which I’ve now become addicted — hopelessly.