I enjoyed Rival Sons‘ latest, Head Down, more than any album in quite some time. Century Media/Earache has recently released the album in North America and it deserves as much notice as it can get on this side of the Atlantic.

All the ’70s hard rock comparisons will be there again— maybe even a little White Stripes, too — but influences aside, Rival Sons is truly its own band. Vocalist Jay Buchanan has trademark lungs and can easily go from sounding like a well-endowed blues singer to a psychedelic snake-charmer from song to song. Quite the eclectic voice.

Opener “Keep On Swinging,” “Run from Revelation,” “Three Fingers” and “You Want To” are the best songs on the album as they perfect hard and heavy blues rock. Jay Buchanan’s vocals on “Run from Revelation” are so damn powerful and electric, your hair just may stand on end. It’s that good. Seriously. Other songs like “Wild Animal,” “Until the Sun Comes” and “The Heist” take more of a 1970 garage rock/Motown approach. And a ballad like “Jordan” has a great Cowboy Junkies mojo to it.

It’s “All the Way” that surprises the most with it’s big classic hard rock arena beat that can remind some of the past excitement of Grand Funk Railroad. And the epic quality of “Manifest Destiny, Part 1″ and “Manifest Destiny, Part 2″ will have those who like classic rock jams in high heaven, while still pleasing a modern audience.

There are a few bumps in the road (especially the Susan Boyle-esque ballad “True”), and that keeps Head Down from being a 5-star album, but Rival Sons are certainly capable in coming years to produce a masterpiece.


Label: Century Media/Earache (the album can be purchased in CD format here)