Feral Roots

by: Rival Sons

Since debuting in 2009 with the self-released Before the Fire, Long Beach, California's Rival Sons have been on a tear, delivering a refreshingly unfussy blast of blues-blasted hard rock on an almost yearly basis. Working once again with producer Dave Cobb, Feral Roots, the band's sixth full-length effort, comes out of the gate swinging with the 40-grit "Do Your Worst," a radio-ready banger that evokes both Led Zeppelin and the Black Keys. The lusty "Sugar on the Bone" follows a similar trajectory, with Mike Miley's Valhallic drumming leading the charge, as does the greasy "Back in the Woods," the latter of which sets the narrative tone for the sea change that follows. In between the recording of Feral Roots and its predecessor, frontman Jay Buchanan moved his family from Southern California to the woodsy outskirts of Franklin, Tennessee, and that change in milieu informs much of the LP's middle section. "Look Away," with its inventive and Eastern-tinged, Led Zeppelin III-inspired acoustic guitar work, the soulful and contemplative title cut, and the breezy, psych-folk-rocker "All Directions," are administered with equal amounts of nuance and backbone, showcasing the band's versatility in both songcraft and execution, a feat made all the more impressive by their predilection for recording live in the studio. That craftsmanship, no doubt bolstered by the group's adherence to a rigorous tour schedule, is the glue that keeps Feral Roots from bursting apart at the seams. Whether it's the Stones-ian swagger of "Stood by Me" or the galvanizing gospel choir-backed closer "Shooting Stars," Rival Sons may have complete control of the ship, but they intend to leave a huge wake. ~ James Christopher Monger

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