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Rival Sons - Pressure & Time [Album]

Rival Sons - Pressure & Time [Album]

Earache Records

Review 3785 Views
Last Edited by: Jack Stovin June 9th, 2011.

Imagine this. You’re sipping Maker’s Mark in some beaten-up, smoky bar. The kind of place an indie kid or self-conscious hipster would be scared to enter for fear they’re going to have their gizzard removed and hung up as a trophy on the wall. What kind of music do you want to hear? Nothing smooth. Nothing up its own capacious back side. And nothing that is self-pitying in its take on life.

You want grubby, grinding tunes - music with fat, bluesy riffs that take the longing and pain of the old Delta bluesmen and distort them into satisfying modern rockers. Music in which you can trust the singer to scream about cars and girls and broken hearts healed at the bottom of the bottle.
You want Rival Sons.

Frankly, this should be one of the big breakout albums of 2011 and, in a world of bland so-called rock and roll bands, if they do not become huge there is simply no justice.
Hailing from California, it may come as a surprise to find Rival Sons on Earache Records. For this debut full-length effort is a long way from Earache’s usual love of thrash, death metal and grindcore. What makes this album Earache territory is the rawness, edge and energy. Rival Sons may be operating in bluesy, hard rock territory – hardly a radical, unfamiliar path – but they do it with joy, hunger and sheer delight.

‘All Over The Road’ sets the tone for the rest of the record: a precise brief clatter of drums tumbling into a sleazy, muddy driving riff that’s going to take you down a hot, wild highway. Singer Jay Buchanan, his voice operating out of a register usual reserved for the likes of Paul Rodgers, announces that ’We’ve got a Cadillac we’re going to drive right into the sun’ and you know you’re in for a beautiful ride. If this is perfect driving music it is a continent away from the smoothed-out rockers found on endless ‘rock to drive by’ compilations. Sure it makes you want to hit the road, but this is a road too bruising for the bland. It may be pure ‘cock rock’ – ‘...pull up your dress, I’ll show you how the west was won’ – but I’ve rarely been this delighted since AC/DC starting pulling off their machismo moves in the ‘70s. It’s music of sheer delight. But, let’s be clear, it isn’t simply about crude riffage: the outtro to ‘All Over The Road’ is almost psychedelic and might have made a Cream record circa ’68.

Most of all Rival Sons is about energy and dirty musicality. A track like ‘Save Me’ has a compelling, catchy refrain that is delivered with dextrous skill by Buchanan. ‘Face of Light’ is the closest the band get to a full on ballad; but this is the kind of ballad The Faces, at their best, might have tried. It’s the kind of slow builder which makes you want to kick back on a sultry summer’s evening. Equally, ‘White Noise’ has this extraordinary phaser-driven riff and Michael Miley’s drums have the trippy quality The Beatles achieved on ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. Unlike that indulgent looped-out track, ‘White Noise’ remains a complete and proper rocker.

The title track is magnificent, channeling the very spirit of the god of rock and roll – huge, filthy, and glowering. If this song was transformed into a man, the resultant being would be replete with some of the biggest meat and veg that have ever hung from god or man.

What is remarkable however is the extent to which this studio album has captured the band’s live energy. Indeed, I can’t believe that any sane person could hear this record and not want to catch them live. It is rarely that I am this consistently pleased by a record, but this is an album without one duff track. There will certainly be some who will criticize Pressure & Time for being a smorgasbord of classic rock sounds; personally I think that criticism is cheap. Frankly, this should be one of the big breakout albums of 2011 and, in a world of bland so-called rock and roll bands, if they do not become huge there is simply no justice.

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