Album review – RIVAL SONS ‘Hollow Bones’

HollowBonesIt doesn’t take much to make me happy. Just give me a brand new Rival Sons album that is so good that I can’t stop playing it on repeat.

‘Hollow Bones’ is rock and roll bliss right from the very beginning. The opening track, ‘Hollow Bones Pt. 1’, is a fuzzy, gritty, grinding rocker that rips its riffy claws right into your gut and heart. And while this track may hearken back to the rock and roll of the 60s and 70s, it is also completely and uniquely Rival Sons – with the indelible stamp of Jay Buchanan’s divine vocals and Scott Holiday’s magic guitar, Michael Miley’s drums, and Dave Beste’s bass, printed into its musical skin. Just listen to Buchanan – a man who knows how to sing brittle and tender and smooth – rip out a raw scream that cuts you to the bone towards the end of ‘Hollow Bones pt. 1’. Wow.

All the tracks are great on this album, but my favourites lean toward the fuzzier, heavier end of the spectrum. Like ‘Tied Up’, with incredible grooves and riffs twined around the heavy throb of bass and drums, creating a sound so irresistible and hooky I can’t get the damn thing out my head. Buchanan’s voice continues to blow me away on every Rival Sons album: he can do soft and subtle and then knock you off your feet in the next breath, leaving you gasping. And yes, whatever the hell Scott Holiday is doing on guitar here, just keep doing it, man.

RivalSons_2015
Photo by Patrik Skoglöw Photography.

‘Thundering Voices’ is another shot of prime Rival Sons with that easy, loose vibe, blending Holiday’s guitar magic with native American chanting and tripped-out psychedelia. For a change of pace, listen to Buchanan show off his soul-diva vocal chops on the passionate ‘Fade Out’.

I am in love with this album, and the standout for me, the masterpiece, the track that shows how and why Rival Sons are so. damn. good. is ‘Hollow Bones Pt. 2’. (Tip: put your best headphones on for this one).

This tune is a rock and roll epic: atmospheric with a rippling, dark undercurrent, and it’s also a track where the guitar speaks with just as much emotion and passion as the vocals and lyrics. (It reminds me of another one of my favourite Rival Sons’ tracks, ‘Manifest Destiny pt. 2’ from ‘Head Down’). Just let yourself go into this tune: “When you’re gone, you’re hollow bones.” Lyrics, music, riffs, groove, vocals, everything is perfect with a free-flowing energy that is the hallmark of Rival Sons. When this band is at its best, it feels as if the music is being created right there on the spot, while I’m listening. It’s not polished and neutered and made to fit a box or category, but throbbing with life and energy. I get the exhilarating feeling while I’m listening that anything could happen in this tune, at any moment. (End of thesis.)

The album ends with the tender and fragile ‘All That I Want’, a love song that has gorgeous guitar and strings, but is essentially Buchanan’s vocals stripped naked: hurt and full of longing and love. It is stunningly beautiful.

Get this album. Follow this band. This is rock and roll.

Rival Sons’ official website / Facebook / Twitter

Tracklist:

  1. Hollow Bones Pt. 1
  2. Tied Up
  3. Thundering Voices
  4. Baby Boy
  5. Pretty Face
  6. Fade Out
  7. Black Coffee
  8. Hollow Bones Pt. 2
  9. All That I Want

Lineup:

  • Jay Buchanan – vocals
  • Scott Holiday – guitar
  • Michael Miley – drums
  • Dave Beste – bass

Photo by Patrik Skoglöw Photography.

 

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