What do you do when you’re part of a set of twin musicians, with a bassist younger brother, a friend who plays drums, and you have a voice like Robert Plant, growing up in Frankenmuth, MI? Well, if you’re Josh Kiszka, you get your brothers Jake and Sam, and your buddy Dan, you take the old lady down the street Gretna’s name, and you become this generation’s Led Zeppelin when you record and release your first EP, Black Smoke Rising, and guarantee rock music’s survival in the 2020s.
Recorded in just three days at Rustbelt Studios in a suburb of Detroit, Greta Van Fleet’s grand entrance is nothing to wince at. Lead single, “Highway Tune,” really hit the streets running with its phenomenal breakthrough and an inclusion in a 2016 episode of Shameless, catapulting the young (and I mean, like, very young) group into the forefront of modern rock music. By their second single, “Safari Song,” the band had channeled their innermost ’70s rock gods reincarnated, becoming 2017’s second-most rock radio incorporated song, peaking at #1 on the Billboard charts in less than 4 months!
“Safari Song,” being my favorite song on the EP and by far the most fascinating, has been such an awesome point of discussion with music lovers almost weekly since its release. At first listen even the most tried and true Led Zeppelin fans ask which song it is, what album it’s on, and why they haven’t heard it in the past 50 years. “Flower Power,” which bassist/organist Sam Kiszka claims to be an ode to the end of “America” by Simon & Garfunkel, is undoubtedly one of the best things I’ve heard in years.
Title song “Black Smoke Rising” will lift the hair on your neck, peeking your ears, as your eyes wander in mind titillating thought; a beacon of understanding from a younger generation begging the question of, What was it all for? Where has humanity strayed, and when do we return, if ever? It tells the story we all know and wonder often; your gaze retreats back to its origin as your ears recall classic, time defying songs like “Stairway to Heaven” in its content; your nerves calm as your reflexes inform you, nothing has changed, and assuredly music has neither.
Greta Van Fleet’s emergence from what many music lovers claim was one swing of the hammer from the nail in the casket of rock and roll’s time has been a splendor to live and see. It brings about a topic of conversation for purists of the integrity of the industry in today’s musical climate, lifts the spirits of the evolving open minded with its possibilities of yet another great rock reform, and enlightens the unbeknownst influential contemporary listeners to a radio pop-culture friendly segue into the bygone era of classic rock. A phoenix from the ashes of the modern pop apocalypse, Greta Van Fleet have made an overwhelming impression in their commercial debut; the signal of rock’s return to the throne, of course, was the black smoke rising.
Listen to: The whole thing, again and again and again, and then buy their LPs and listen again and again once more.
Kiefer is a writer, musician and zealous record collector. He started hoarding vinyl because mp3s weren’t convenient enough, cassettes were too expensive, and he couldn’t turn a CD over. The soundtrack of his life is chronicled every week as #KiefersMusicMondays on Instagram (@key_fur). Currently residing in Lubbock, TX—home of Buddy Holly—he’s an avid music enthusiast by day and a mixologist by night, fighting the good fight for all things artistic. He started writing for MMC in 2019.