I must proclaim that I am a little late to the game with both Rival Sons and Adam Sullivan and the Trees. I first heard about both bands back in 2014, and, well, there they sat on my list of bands to write about for around two years. Since then, though, both bands have continued their drive to the top of their respective genres, creating excellent music that, if you have not heard of yet, you should have (and you will now).
Hard Rock is tough to come by these days. And, no, I’m not talking about the loud, “hard rock” proto-punk sound that occasionally serves as a substitute to traditional hard rock. I’m talking about Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer 1960s/1970s hard rock that took blues music and shaped it into a driving sound that rocked the socks off of my parent’s generation. Lucky for listeners today, Rival Sons is doing just that. Much in the vein of modern bands like The Sheepdogs and Gary Clark Jr., Rival Sons is creating old-style rock n’ roll music with a keen blues sound, driving percussion, and raspy vocals. This is not going unnoticed. The Californian band, which formed back in 2009, was handpicked to be the main support for the entire Black Sabbath farewell world tour. That’s a high compliment from one of the originators of the genre.
Released in 2014, on the 4th studio album from the band – Great Western Valkyrie – “Open My Eyes” was a large reason why the album reached #1 on the US Heat charts as well as charting in several European countries. Hit play on that track and tell me it does not sound like you just lightly placed the needle down on an LP. The crashing percussion and satiating riff – purveyed by Mike Miley and Scott Holiday respectively – are jaw-dropping. Lead vocalist Jay Buchanan belts the vocals from the first note, calling forth comparisons to Paul Rodgers and Lou Gramm. Dave Beste provides a solid bass guitar to round out the quartet. The song even features a Bad Compary-esque acoustic interlude. This is a tremendous release from an up-and-coming band, and I cannot wait to hear more from them.
Adam Sullivan and the Trees
After years as a solo artist, Adam Sullivan needed some more roots to shape his music career, so he recruited some NYC trees and started making music with them. The result? Adam Sullivan and the Trees, a four-piece Indie/Folk/Pop outfit whose music relies on catchy melodies, dulcet rhythms, and, according to the Facebook page, halal food and whiskey. The band, which consists of Adam Sullivan (keys, vocals), Mason Ingram (drums), Rob Ritchie (guitars), and Zack Lober (bass), formed in 2013 and since then released a self-titled LP (2014) and Live and Acoustic album (2015).
“Cool Kids” – the live version – is off of the band’s most recent 2015 release. It is a ditty in every traditional sense. The band describes its genre as happy/sad music, and this song encompasses that genre perfectly. Ostensibly, it is a melodic acoustic track with pleasant vocals and cheery instrumentation; the lyrics, though, are about trying to fit in with the cool kids and are, well, sad; however, the lyrics fit perfectly with the track and in that are successful.