New Zeppelin: Greta Van Fleet offers new life to an old sound
Anyone who knows me is aware that my music taste is basically that of a middle-aged dad. My entire Spotify is full of almost exclusively 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s music, including genres like rock ’n’ roll, soul, funk, blues, country rock and so on. I grew up listening to this era of music through my parents and have pretty much stuck to it without ever really branching out to any more current acts. It’s not that I’m one of those “all modern music sucks, oldies are goldies” type of person; I just haven’t ever really found a modern artist who has scratched the itch of my musical taste—that is until last week.
While perusing through YouTube, I came across a video titled, “Is Greta Van Fleet the next Led Zeppelin?” Being a massive Led Head, that immediately piqued my interest. “A new Led Zeppelin?” I said to myself, “How could that be? No one can ever even touch the totemic power that is Zep!” So, I decided to see for myself if this comparison was even at all warranted. I searched Greta Van Fleet on Spotify and listened to their most popular song, “Highway Tune” and from the first “Oh Mama” by singer Joshua Kiszka, I said “Holy s—, is that Robert Plant?” The striking similarity between Kiszka’s howl and Robert Plant’s is staggering. Even the most hardcore Zeppelin fan could get the two confused.
Greta Van Fleet is made up of the three Kiszka brothers and one of their friends. Their guitar-driven blues and hard rock sound is strongly reminiscent of ‘70s rock, particularly that of Led Zeppelin. Greta Van Fleet clearly wears their heart on their sleeve when it comes to Led Zeppelin. From Joshua Kiszka’s bluesy howl and Danny Wagner’s Bonham-esque drum fills, to their stage wardrobes and presence, they have clearly taken a lot of inspiration from Zep. As a result, Greta Van Fleet have massed criticism from music critics for being completely derivative, carbon-copies of Led Zeppelin. No less than Robert Plant has said of Greta Van Fleet, “They are Led Zeppelin I.”
As an avid Led Zeppelin fan, I do not think it is necessarily a bad thing that Greta Van Fleet has a very similar sound. The last time Zeppelin released any new music was in 1982, leaving a substantial void in many fans’ musical interest. So, for a new band to come along and take up their mantle and sound comes as a welcoming diversion from the current musical trends, as well as a return to a sound that many have been missing in popular music. Members of Greta Van Fleet are writing their own lyrics and music, minus the two covers on their debut EP, “From the Fires,” which, unlike Zeppelin’s many covers and arrangements, they actually credited to the original artists.
I’m very excited to see where Greta Van Fleet’s career takes them in the coming years. They just recently performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and have been increasing in popularity since the release of “From the Fires.” For now, they seemed to still be steeped in the shadow of their rock idols; so, it will be interesting to see how they can step from out of that shadow and expand their sound to something more distinctly their own.