July , 2016
Review by Vinny Cecolini
2016 will be remembered for crazy political campaigns, England quitting the E.U., too many celebrity deaths, and Axl Rose not only reuniting most of Guns N' Roses' classic lineup, but also fronting AC/DC. It will also be remembered as the year raw, unabashed bluesy hard rock made a comeback thanks to bands like Black Stone Cherry, Blues Pills and The Temperance Movement. And leading this pack: Rival Sons with their strongest effort to date, Hollow Bones.
After an Ep and three great albums with flashes of brilliance (2011's Pressure & Time, 2012's Head Down and 2014's Great Western Valkyrie), the Los Angeles-based revivalists continue their exploration of early ‘70s music. Once described as an amalgamation of Free, Foghat and Led Zeppelin, Rival Sons have finally developed a singular sound that up-an-coming hard rockers will be compared to.
While "Pretty Face," the anti-violence-themed "Thundering Voices" and "Tied Up" each have the potential to dominate classic and hard rock radio this summer, the blues anthem "Black Coffee" is certain to give Joe Bonamassa pause.
As with past releases, Jay Buchanan's deft storytelling and stark lyrics will keep listeners entranced, while guitarist Scott Holiday's riffs demand that air guitar be played along. Still the album's MVP is drummer and band backbone Michael Miley. Why isn't this guy's mug plastered across very drum magazine cover?
If there is any complaint to be made, it's that at just 37 minutes long, Hollow Bones is way too short.
Although I've been a fan of, and have championed each of Rival Sons' albums, I wonder what they could accomplished if they abandoned their old school ethics. If they abandoned their "jump into a studio and write and record an album in a wink of an eye" approach, what would they come up with? If they took their time writing their songs and collaborated with a noted producer like Kevin Shirley, Dave Sardy or Rick Rubin, could they create the all-time-classic we all know they still have in them?