Monday, October 29, 2018

Pitchfork Yourself, Larson

In December of  2017, I wrote this about Greta Van Fleet:

"Yeah, I know there are a lot of Led Zep haters out there, but I am not one of them. The similarities here, for my purposes, are welcome. And really, no one should get on four 12 year olds playing hard rock as good as this."

Last week for Pitchfork, Jeremy D. Larson wrote this about Greta Van Fleet:

"Greta Van Fleet sound like they did weed exactly once, called the cops, and tried to record a Led Zeppelin album before they arrested themselves. The poor kids from Frankenmuth, Michigan don’t even realize they’re more of an algorithmic fever dream than an actual rock band.

It’s possible to be an exceptional classic rock vampire act but it requires something more than the major label money and vaguely Native American accoutrements. It’s why Greta Van Fleet can’t compete with, say, the Darkness circa 2003’s “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” The Darkness—who aped big rock warhorses like Queen and Aerosmith and Van Halen—were so outrageous that they had to be credulous. They had a song that went, “Get your hands off of my woman, mother fucker” and did a power metal cover of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out).” Who would do such garish things? They dared you, tongue in cheek, to take this impossibly foolish thing very seriously.
Greta Van Fleet do no such thing. They care so deeply and are so precious with their half-baked boomer fetishism, they mollycoddled every impulse of late-’60s rock‘n’roll into an interminable 49-minute drag."

I've heard "Anthem Of The Peaceful Army," the new full-length from GVF, and I don't think it's very good. I guess hearing a great blast of hard rock 9 months ago was an exciting change of pace, no matter how derivative it may have been. But an album's worth of Zep riffage and Plant-isms, is too much of a good thing. Or maybe, it just gave me an extra 40 minutes to realize there was nothing  here to really sink my ears into. Some of it silly as a 22 year Robert Plant wailing about vikings almost 50 years ago.

I find Larson's review far more offensive than any music on the new GVF record. Also cringeworthy is Larson's profile:

"I was raised in Wisconsin and now live in Brooklyn. I am an editor. I also write about music, pop culture, and odd scenes I happen to remember. As it stands, I am banned for life from Thievery Corporation's club in Washington D.C."

Jeezaloo! Those 42 words are more laughable and derivative and than anything GVF has recorded. I wonder if he brushes his teeth with artisanal, cruelty-free kale paste. Talk about algorithmic fever dreams!

The members of Greta Van Fleet can really play. In time, maybe they will create a great record.  "Anthem Of The Peaceful Army" is not that record. They are kids. Give them until album number two before you write them off. I mean, Adele became a superstar by basically having music put to her diary pages.


Shriner said...

I thought the same thing about the new GVT album -- 49 minutes of nothing. Not enough of a pastiche to even play "spot the influences" on, either. I thought it was dull (and that's the cardinal sin of any album in any genre).

I'm not yet willing to say "The Emperor has no Clothes", but, at the same time, I'm not sure I'm coming back for Album #2 either.

Ken D said...

Please don't blame Brooklyn for the prevalence of pea-brained pretentious posers (or over-alliterative old farts).

Sal Nunziato said...

I would never blame Brooklyn, Ken. I blame Wisconsin.

Dr Wu said...

Concur with your review of GVF. Also, agree that the Pitchfork review seemed unnecessarily harsh and personal. And how anyone is banned for life from the Eighteenth Street Lounge is beyond me. It’s easily one of the most chill, casual clubs on the planet.

kevin m said...

I like the new GVF record. It's not a classic by any means but it's fun nonetheless. My only real complaint is that on some songs the singer sounds more like Geddy Lee than Robert Plant.

Anonymous said...

If you take away the vocals, who does the instrumentation sound like? Certainly not Led Zeppelin.


Anonymous said...

I live in Wisconsin and have been to Brooklyn, but buffoon Larson is off to say the least. I tried to "get" The Darkness and realized they are just a sad rehash, whereas GVF are more fun even though I'm a marginal Zep fan (maybe that's why they work for me).They new recording sounds more like they are channelling Rush this time which is a bit of a letdown. As far as WI is concerned, we drink serious beer (not the swill from the evil empire -Miller Coors) and we brush our fangs with bratwurst, so don't blame us for the Pitchwit He couldn't handle the Dairy State so he ran away.

Sal Nunziato said...

Dear Wisconsin,
I hope you realize I have nothing against Wisconsin. Larson could have been from Chicago or Alamogordo. It's the sore spot of being from Brooklyn and seeing all these "Pitchwits" flocking to "the brand" and not the neighborhood.

That said, I love bratwurst and you're wrong about The Darkness.

M_Sharp said...

Wow! That review reads like he had two free tickets to a Greta show so he took his girlfriend and she dumped him on the spot and spent the next few months in Greta's tour van! I hope I'm right.

Their new album is disappointing, but they're all about 20, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt this time.

I worked a three day job in Wisconsin about 15 years ago in January, and I can understand how anyone who grew up eating pasties would have a crappy outlook. It's kind of like a steak stromboli with potatoes and no juice, and the whole thing is as dry and tasty as cardboard. Ketchup didn't help.

buzzbabyjesus said...

With luck they'll pull a "Lemon Twigs" and kill it second time around.

draftervoi said...

I've never heard of these guys until your post. I listened to "Highway Tune." IT ROCKS. It'e derivative of Led Zep, but it's a FIRST RATE IMPERSONATION. Fabulous! Great stuff! There's a difference between a FIRST RATE impersonation of band/style, and a THIRD RATE version. Consider the 10,000 "Power Pop" bands that are doing some version of the Beatles/Kinks/Etc. If they do a GREAT version of it, I like it. I was never a Zep guy in high school ('70-'74), but what I've heard so far of these guys is okay. Not genius, but sure not worth denigrating them. Are they really in their teens? If so, cut the band some's not my style, but they're okay.

Anything Should Happen said...

Great piece Sal! The album does nothing for me, but I'd rather them give it a go. I dislike Pitchfork for it's continual latch on to hype. Greta isn't what I listen to these days, but what I used to and the comparison to Led Zep is unfair.

It's also really cool to diss Led Zep now and a lot of Classic Rock. I restate my constant thought that it's far easier to rubbish something than find something good about it.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Inarguable snark is really hard to pull off.

Anonymous said...

They are recording too soon in their career as I feel there is nothing all that interesting on the record. Really don't like the vocals.

I do try new musical acts occasionally! Wish I'd liked it better.

Captain Al