One of the biggest issues with good ‘ole, classic rock ‘n’ roll is just that… it’s old. Many bands, understandably, faded as new music graced us all. For the few that still push on, new music is seldom found and often represents various passion projects (see: The Rolling Stones: Blue & Lonesome—despite how amazing the release was, it still wasn’t an album of originals.)
Luckily, there are, in fact, a few up-and-comers that not only appreciate the musical greats of the 20th century, but are also clearly, actively, trying to continue the steps taken by those that came before.
Enter the “throwback” of today’s focus: the legendary Led Zeppelin.
From it’s start as a super group by The Yardbird’s own Jimmy Page in 1968, Led Zeppelin followed a storied path marked by enormous successes. The group’s enormous popularity—in the early-to-mid ’70s it was easily one of the largest live-draws around the world—came from its successful integration of blues, folk and middle eastern influences. However, this quick ascent was marred with scandal leading to an early disbandment in 1980. Following that, there has been little to no hope of new music for fans of this legendary group, despite the handful of reunion shows over the years.
So, you’re a fan of the ‘Zep? You should consider checking out Michigan rockers, Greta Van Fleet.
The foursome—three of which are brothers—seemed to be just out of high school when they came tearing out of Frankenmuth (a town that couldn’t be less rock ‘n’ roll if it tried, just give “Bronner’s” a quick google) in 2012, unleashing their almost nostalgic music mastery out into the world.
Honestly, the most shocking part of it all is the rate at which the group has risen. After just releasing it’s first double EP on November 10, following it’s very first studio release only a handful of months before, the group has already embarked on nationwide tours and garnered a cult following—and not just in the “CHRISTmas Wonderland” (literally how Bronner’s is advertised).
Even better than the group’s humble start and quick ascent is its clear ties back to Led Zeppelin. GVF basically feels like listening to the ‘Zep… if the latter were born in the late ’90s, grew up in a world where pop-music ruled our culture and began traveling the world while still in high school.
But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s take a look at the bands.
Upon first hearing a GVF track, say, “Highway Tune,” it takes literally 15 seconds to hear a wail so reminiscent of Robert Plant it’s equally frightening awesome. The group’s front man, Josh Kiszka, has mastered the almost alarm-like war cry previously found by Plant on tracks like Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” But that’s not all. In continuing with “Highway Tune,” other similarities are easily traced, such as the dramatic waiver used by both frontmen and their often quick, almost flippant, delivery. Both vocalists are gritty, both have ridiculous ranges and both are beyond talented.
Continuing to lyricism, it’s easy to see GVF taking notes from the greats, stylistically at least, in the track “Safari Song.” Kiszka repeatedly questions, “Hey mama/ What you gonna do/ With all that love in/ Your heart?” and his vocabulary should sound quite familiar to any Zeppelin fan. See “Black Dog,” in which Plant rushes out: “Hey, hey mama said the way you move/ Gon’ make you sweat, gon’ make you groove.” The younger band’s lyrics are nostalgic, and truly feel like they were born of a wilder era.
Taking a turn to the instrumentation, both bands focus on highlighting talented lead guitars—Jimmy Page in the 70’s and Jake Kiszka now. Both bands leave plenty of space for the all-too-essential guitar solo, and both instrumentalists draw heavily on the blues. Neither guitarist feels rushed in execution, and Kiszka is clearly comfortable marinating in the drawn-out, funky delivery that is almost a defining characteristic of Page’s style.
Finally: a quick look at composition. For example, both bands have mastered the art of using backing vocals to create an almost haunting atmosphere for the lead to exist in. Further, both bands tend to keep listeners on their toes using a variety of techniques to do so from switching keys, hopping between acoustic and electric instrumentations and changing up the rhythm often. Even more than just using these techniques, both bands have been known to layer a couple of them to really prevent settling into a track too much.
So, to put it simply. For fans of Led Zeppelin, hungry for more? Look no further than Greta Van Fleet.