There’s a lot missing from today’s generation of rock & roll bands: groove, soul, and swagger; but most importantly – honesty and danger. Without these elements, or “ways of life,” music loses its edge and its ability to move people. Luckily for the music and personalities of California’s Rival Sons, they have not abandoned this ethos.
‘Keep On Swinging’ opens up the album. Not knowing quite what to expect, I was somewhat surprised by what I heard. Possessing a true classic retro sound, with a full on rock and roll sound it was like listening to the iconic Yard Birds at their peak, with Jay Buchanan’s velvet lined vocals effortlessly capturing your attention as the soft, blues laden riffs wash over you transporting you to back to the 1960’s blues scene.
‘Wild Animal’, ‘You Want To’, ‘Until the Sun Comes’ and ‘Run From Revelation’ continues in the same vein, delving deeper into the classic rock and roll sound that Rival Sons do so well.
‘Jordan‘ is where the album slows dramatically, becoming a very subdued affair, producing a full on ballad relying greatly upon the great vocals to carry the song.Possessing a faster more upbeat tempo, merging the raw emotion of the swinging 60’s with stunning vocals and controlled, deliberately understated guitar playing backed up by great controlled percussion and bass support.
‘All The Way‘ picks the pace back up with its upbeat tempo, and cheeky John Lee Hooker type lyrics which leads nicely onto ‘The Heist’.
‘The Heist’ – all I can say is wow. Stunning powerful lyrics, great guitar playing and, well great everything. There is no doubt in my mind that this song will represent to Rival Sons what ‘The House of The Rising Sun’ did to The Animals. It is a timeless classic which is guaranteed to stand the test of time.
‘Three Fingers’ follows on nicely but then the album seems to lose focus slightly for me at ‘Nava’ with its acoustic intro, reminiscent of The Skids ‘Into The Valley’ chorus. Don’t get me wrong the instrumental song is not bad, but it majorly diverts away from the upbeat style and tempo that is present throughout the album.
‘Manifest Destiny Pt. 1’ opens up in very grandiose style, sounding similar to the classic Led Zeppelin song ‘When The Levee Breaks’ with its eastern mysticism based lyrics, powerful style and full on guitars overload weighing in just over a whopping 8 minutes. ‘Manifest Destiny Pt. 2’ continues the musical journey before ‘True’ plays the album out. The song itself is of an acoustic nature which seems out of place and leaves you feeling slightly disappointed with its selection as a closing track to the album.
Overall ‘Head Down’ contains moments of pure brilliance and leaves you wondering if perhaps a successor has finally been found to The Animals and The Yard Birds?