Yes, Greta Van Fleet is a band highly derivative of its influence. Oh, I mean influences. My bad.
It’s true. Often terribly so. It’s impossible to listen to Greta Van Fleet without hearing the unmistakable dollops of Led Zeppelin in their music, as well as huge traces of Rush. Yet the members that make up Greta Van Fleet (the three Kiszka brothers and their good friend Danny Wagner) genuinely possess palpable talent and passion. I think with the right guidance – for instance, a strong producer to push them and force them to try new things – they will mature into a sound of their own.
These four guys, from Frankenmuth, Michigan of all places, are still super young! Whatever happens with them and their music, I’m just delighted that they’re bringing blues rock back to the attention of the masses, when rock in that vein has been disappointingly distant from popular music since about the time the White Stripes abandoned us (not that Greta Van Fleet is anywhere near the quality or the creativity of Jack White in his Stripes days). I do not think Greta Van Fleet are the saviors of rock ‘n’ roll, but they very well may help lay the groundwork for a widespread return of rock, particularly since there is little real competition in their arena and popularity level right now.
By the way, I love the sound of the production on Greta Van Fleet’s 2018 LP, Anthem of the Peaceful Army. Many rock bands would do well to pay attention to it. It’s perfect for popular rock ‘n’ roll: clean enough to hear all the instruments and everything that’s going on yet with just enough grit and edge to give the music a bit of bite while still remaining very palatable for pop audiences.
Sure, Anthem won Greta Van Fleet as much criticism as it did praise, but many of the harsh reviews from people and places like The Needle Drop and, especially, Pitchfork have done more to help the band’s popularity than actually hurt their currently upward trending trajectory.
If you don’t like Greta Van Fleet, but you do like that sort of retro rock, by all means, please go out and support some of the other fantastic bands creating such music. I can recommend several to you!
If you are looking for another blues rock band that is putting out solid, original music, check out another American group, Rival Sons, who just released Feral Roots, an album I consider the best of their career thus far.
Or if you want something weirder and more experimental, seek out King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, a psychedelic, progressive, experimental, garage rock band out of Australia.
And if you need to go back to some more straightforward hard rock after King Gizzard, check out another Australian act, this one not well-known outside their own country but every bit as deserving of rock love as any: King of the North, a two piece band that sounds like a four or five piece.
There’s a lot of good rock music out there for you to support if you are so inclined. I think Greta Van Fleet deserves to be a part of that. I say this without overlooking their faults, but I also say it with the feeling that they will indeed improve. Plus, if the only thing Greta Van Fleet does is introduce a new generation to Led Zeppelin, the music community will be the better for it.