Cover photo: Greta Van Fleet performs at a show in Nashville
Cover photo credit: Stitched Sound
I want you to imagine a scenario: when you were a child, there was a snack that you loved. You ate it all the time, and its flavor and smell began to become synonymous with comfort, good memories, and peaceful times. I'm sure that we all have a snack like that, and I'm sure that it was discontinued for some stupid reason that ultimately can be traced back to the bottom line of whatever corporation produced it. So, so far, this should not be a difficult situation to imagine. However, this next part is where it could get tricky, so you're really going to have to think hard. Now imagine that a different company introduces a new snack, one that is said to be a similar flavor to the snack that you so adored when you were a child. What do you think you would do? Do you think you would try this new snack, or do you think you would continue to sit around and complain about how nobody makes snacks like they used to anymore? The answer to that question should be obvious, since the latter of the two options makes you sound like an idiot and a borderline crazy person.
So why is it then that a lot older people (and some younger people who listen solely to older people) do that with music? They constantly drone on about how nobody makes music like Rush and Led Zeppelin anymore, and then when Greta Van Fleet comes on the scene, they talk about how all they are are copies of Rush and Led Zeppelin. Is that not what you have been wanting? Someone to come along and make music the way it used to be made? Of course, Greta Van Fleet is not exactly the same as Rush or Led Zeppelin, and the new snack is not going to taste exactly the same as the old snack, but at the very least, they're similar, and the spirit is there. Is that not what you have been asking for? Why would you not give the new snack a good, honest tasting?
Of course, this article is not about my problems with the prior generations' enjoyment, or lack thereof, of music. It is about Greta Van Fleet's latest single "Meeting the Master.”
If I could describe Greta Van Fleet's music in one word, I would simply use the word “big,” unless I was feeling especially theatrical, in which case I would probably say “huge” or “massive” while making exaggerated hand gestures towards the sky. Everyone can conceptualize "big," although admittedly, it is not typically a word used to describe music. However, I find that it is the best way to describe music that transports you by filling up every bit of sonic space that it can when you listen? Whether it be through headphones, through the speaker in your car, or any other mode of listening to music, there is no free auditory real estate when listening to Greta Van Fleet, and their latest song "Meeting the Master" is no different.
What is different about it then? At first, you might say nothing. I could see how someone could say that it sounds like a song off of their prior album, Battle at Garden's Gate, but if you listen closely, you will realize that it is very different. It is a departure from the somewhat complex, airy sounds of Battle, and has a simpler song structure that could maybe be a bit more welcoming at first. There are more elements of psychedelic rock that were not present on the last album, as well as George Harrison-esque elements of world music (a sitar is featured heavily throughout the song, for example). It feels cosmic, like it should be the backdrop to a legendary post-battle scene where the hero or heroine has finally defeated their long-time adversary. It does this, however, without the pretentiousness that one could maybe get from their prior album. It does it with soaring guitar solos and an epic crescendo that, while certainly sonically colossal, is not too overwhelming or distasteful.
As you can probably tell at this point, I am a big fan of Greta Van Fleet, and I very much am looking forward to their new album, Starcatcher, for which “Meeting the Master” is the lead single. Their music up to this point is fantastic, and to think that they are still finding their sound should leave even a casual music enjoyer very intrigued. Of course, I understand if you are not a fan of Greta Van Fleet, as we all have our own tastes in music. With that being said, I still believe that there are a couple of takeaways that we can all have from listening to Greta Van Fleet. The first is that there is likely no better band from the modern era to listen to if you want to know what it sounds like to fill up every inch of sonic space. That seems obvious, at least to me, but I am more than open to hearing alternatives. The second takeaway, however, is much more important on the grand scale of music, and that is that anyone who says that Greta Van Fleet is just a two-bit cover band of arena rock bands from the 1970's is not to be trusted, as they are simply bad actors who do not wish to have an engaging conversation. This is a bit of an exaggeration of course, but I do strongly believe that, while it is obviously ok to like certain bands more than others, it is not ok to simply make things up or jump on bandwagons. They are different, as all bands are, and that should be good enough for any true enjoyer of music. Every band has their own sound, process, and spirit. And, of course, some bands are just better than others.
But that is just my opinion.
Starcatcher is set to be released on July 20, 2023.