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Anthem of the peaceful army

Greta Van Fleet
If you are a purveyor of the musical internet, you might have seen that Pitchfork reviewed young rock band Greta Van Fleet’s debut album, and the writer Jeremy D. Larson completely destroyed them. It was very hilarious to read, but it was also definitely very pretentious. Rock fans across the internet have been extremely up-in-arms about the whole thing, so of course my interest was piqued. I mostly know Greta Van Fleet as ‘that band that sounds exactly like Led Zeppelin’. The band has talked at length about the comparisons to Led Zeppelin, after all, Robert Plant has talked about them. Greta Van Fleet have said they’re humbled by comparisons, but not really definitely saying they sound eerily similar. Which is an interesting choice, because if you’ve heard their one of their singles on the radio, you probably at first were like hey what Zeppelin song is this?. I think these comparisons have probably excited some older rock fans, you know the ones who love to moan about how rock is dead, to hear basically for verbatim the music of their youth played by actual youth. I’m also not a huge fan of Led Zeppelin, though I do enjoy some of their songs. But before listening to the record, I was apprehensive. I am always much more interested in bands being original and creating something new, than a band just imitating people who have already been determined to be good. The first song on the record, Age Of Man, is a whopping 6.06 minutes long. A bold choice, starting with the singer rise and soar over some general guitar noise. You do have to admit, all these kids are talented musicians. It quickly picks up, and the singer has an interesting tone, rising up to some fairly high and growly notes. There are even influences of Freddie Mercury here. The band has kept plugging away at the same groove for a while now, but it’s not the worst thing to listen to. I can definitely feel a lot of emotion, but at what? I can not really hear what he is saying. Which is unfortunate, because I’ve heard mentions of the album being a concept album. The next song, The Cold Wind, has some funky and truly rock ‘n’ roll chords, with the singer appropriating Robert Plant’s ooh yeah yelp. I have to admit, I was having a good time. One of the highlights on the album is the drums. Hollow and tight, it feels like there’s a fill every ten seconds. But it feels like the drums are just banging all around your head, disappearing in louder moments but always coming back into full force. The guitarist is also incredibly skilled. The guitar solo in When The Curtain Falls is controlled, but full of spirit. He can shred. But really, my first impression of the album is that all these songs are just forgettable Zeppelin odes. I enjoyed them in the moment, but they didn’t intrigue me. Didn’t even really interest me. I definitely think they have real talent, and they could go places, but until they arrive at a place that is truly their own, I am not a fan. Greta Van Fleet have talked about how rock is dying, and the power of their band, and truly it all sounds very pretentious. Here’s a quote from a Rolling Stone feature: “The record company will hire writers to make sure … the song will work…. That’s why it’s difficult in our world to cut through when you are doing something truthful”. Okay, but it doesn’t sound very truthful to me. It sounds like they’re just studying the music they love, and sure, there’s no problem with that. Whatever floats your boat. But there’s just truly nothing original here. I’m not going to attack people who like Greta Van Fleet, because of course it is fun music, and there is somewhat of a lack of intensely popular rock music. I asked my mother what she thought of the band, and she said she liked them because ‘she gets to listen to new Led Zeppelin music’. But I do not plan on revisiting this band. In the same feature, they said “[Rock] is an endangered species. It’s gonna take young guys like us in our generation to see that”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had no trouble in my time as a music lover to find truthful, truly rock and roll music. And interestingly, most of that music is being created by women. By their claims of only guys ‘saving rock’ make them as about as unrevolutionary and stuck in their ways as the pop musicians they so quickly discredit.
Charlotte Turner (Queen's Square Library)