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The Freedom of Music: Spammed by Rival Sons

August 29th, 2011
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freedom-of-music-header

One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

Writing about music has changed the way I hear music. Tap my toes, sing along, figure out the words or chords, dance or take it to the car and blast it at 115K. All good, all reasonable ways to listen to music. Now there’s an addition: thinking to myself, “do I have anything to say about this music.” Writing about music forces me to think about what I like about music whenever I happen to be listening to music.

sidebar-7I am now on a pile of mailing lists from PR firms, meaning I get 10 emails a day from people wanting me to write about bands I have never heard of, and that is completely outside of the general type of music I might write about. If I was inclined, I was invited to a Lady Gaga album release party early in the summer. However, as I don’t see me writing about Lady Gaga anytime soon, I wasn’t about to lower my standards of integrity and accept a gift I couldn’t, with conscience, repay.

In his book, Songbook, Nick Hornby writes of becoming a music reviewer:

I have been doing some writing about pop for The New Yorker over the last couple of years, a gig that necessitates having hundreds of CDs you don’t want thrust through your letterbox every morning… My usual response to these unwanted CDs is as follows: a)I look at the cover. If it has a Parental Advisory sticker, and the artist is called something like Thuggy Breakskull or PusShit, I don’t play it. Nor do I bother if the artist in question is pretty, or has big hair, or is snarling, or has blood coming out his or her nose, or looks like he or she has appeared in a soap opera, or looks very old, or looks very young, or simply vaguely clueless… b)I look at the press release. If it uses as a comparison any of the 300,000 names whose music I don’t have time for… well I don’t play it then either. So very, very few albums make it as far as step 3), which is where I actually put the fucking thing in the CD player and listen to it.

As I said, I currently receive emails (or spam, to use my wife’s term for them), about ten a day, inviting me to review this band or that singer. Alway with a link to a YouTube video – because you know only the very special people can view the YouTube video. And like Hornby, if I don’t like the picture, or the name of the artist, or the comparative they use, I just delete it. At least, I have been known to mumble, send me some music: I am not reviewing your band based on a YouTube video.

Then came this email:

Nevermind The Kings Of Leon, here are Rival Sons…

Classic Rock Magazine calls them “The Future Of Rock and Roll,” and featured them last month in a three page spread, unheard of for the publication with an indie band. The mag started the love affair with the group… and the UK audiences are starting to attach themselves to the band. Rival Sons have also been nominated in 2 categories for the Classic Rock Awards. Best New Band and Album of the Year….

CMJ says “The title track, “Pressure And Time,” immerses you in a thick and heavy sound that hooks you in an instant; the effect lingers. Rival Sons doesn’t sound like a typical Los Angeles rock group; it sounds like it’s rooted in the Deep South, channeling soulful rock influences. Hints of Robert Plant vocals and strong references to Wolfmother chart Rival Sons as a truly hard rocking band. Listen to this album with the volume cranked.”

Included was something new, or at least something I had never noticed before, a link to download of the album, the entire album. Including artwork. It’s not CDs in the letterbox, but then I’m no Nick Hornby. And as I like Kings of Leon, I was interested. Five minutes later Rival Sons Pressure and Time is downloaded, on my iPod and I am heading to the car.

The first song, All Over The Road is barely started and I know why “UK audiences are starting to attach themselves to the band.” Check out the video for All Over the Road, the songs opening track. Now search for videos of Slade on Top of the Tops. Ignoring the pants and hat, that is exactly what All Over The Road sounds like. Not in the bad, unoriginal copycat kind of way, but in feel. It sounds, in short, like great, classic rock and roll, and I am hooked by the end of the song.

The remarkable thing is All Over The Road is not even the hit that they PR emailer sent the YouTube video link for. That’s the third song, Pressure and Time which, I am reliably emailed, the band even performed on George Lopez. It’s another great rocker, which a classic 70’s lick and a solid Led Zeppelin feel, mostly from a drummer who’s obviously schooled in Zeppelin.

The whole albums like that, classic rock. Something that sounds so eerily from the 70’s, without sounding like some 70’s band or another. Rival Sons Pressure & Time is a solid rock and roll album from start to finish.

Nice Spam I get some days.


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