By Krishta Abruzzini
Culture Rock Media
Three brothers and a best friend grow up in a small Michigan town, all listening to their parent’s vast record collection (I’m going to bet there was some Led Zeppelin in there). All encouraged to be “creative, daring and innovative”, brothers’ Josh (vocals), Jake (guitar) and Sam (bass, keys) Kiszka, along with their friend Danny Wagner (drums) form what has been credited as breakout rock band of 2017, Greta Van Fleet.
While the band in most interviews often cite their major influences as Muddy Waters, The Who, Howlin’ Wolf and Jimi Hendrix, it’s noted that there seems to be an obvious weighty blimp in the room that often goes unmentioned, yet the comparison to Led Zeppelin is uncanny. I recently saw Greta Van Fleet while they were on tour, and the audience (even though this is a very young band) consisted mostly of 45-60 year-olds convinced this was the second-coming of Zeppelin. The band’s performance and style (from Sam playing bass and keys, to the familiar moves of guitarist Jake, ala ‘Song Remains the Same’ Page moves, and singer Josh’s whimsy style), it’s hard to deny the comparison. While I’m sure the band, who claim to appreciate the association, but don’t really see it themselves, would like to be recognized as innovative and original, it’s quite a compliment to be so young and compared to such an iconic force.
In their sophomore release, ‘From the Fires’ comes a double EP with eight tracks that combine four new, and four from their debut release, “Black Smoke Rising”. The latter release features two original Greta Van Fleet songs, “Talk on the Streets”, and “Edge of Darkness”, along with two covers, a Sam Cooke melody, “A Change is Gonna Come” and “Meet on the Ledge” by 60’s band Fairport Convention.
The ‘From the Fires’ Track listing:
- Safari Song
- Edge of Darkness
- Flower Power
- A Change is Gonna Come
- Highway Tune
- Meet on the Ledge
- Talk Back on the Street
- Black Smoke Rising
Safari Song starts with a really groovy blues guitar, pseudo slide riff followed by vocalist Josh Kiszka’s opening ululation that combined together, have been bringing audience’s to love this band on first note. Once the chorus hits, I can’t help but wonder what ‘B’ side I missed off of Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, and this is said with the utmost compliment to the band.
Edge of Darkness by far sounds the most original, showcasing what is their own signature sound away from all the comparisons. The vocals in this song are unique, with a cadence and modulation luscious with fluidity from note to note. The Melody is both memorable and punches with the perfect groove of guitar, bass and drums. Talk Back on the Street seemed to be a little over-produced, yet another more original sounding track lending itself to the signature of what is Greta Van Fleet.
A Change is Gonna Come was executed with such soul and passion, I’m sure Sam Cooke would smile with approval. It’s brave for any band, yet alone such a young band to take on a cover such as this. Josh’s vocals shine in this song, and the organ and backing vocals sing along as if the band were holding church. Meet on the Ledge was a really quirky tune. Again, a bit over-produced, but well executed for the song as it being originally a heavily laden folk song. Greta Van Fleet definitely gives their own signature to this peculiar choice, turning into something of their own and undeniably making it cooler than the original.
Overall, the EP is a balanced merging of their early anthology. The track listing seems to flow well. These boys are extremely tight and talented with enough familiarity and yet uniqueness to take them into continued success.
Greta Van Fleet is:
- Sam-Bass, Keys