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Rock

Rival Sons,Great Western Valkyrie” (Earache Records). The fourth effort from this Long Beach, Calif., outfit doesn’t mess with the formula as established on the first three. That’s exactly as it should be, for Rival Sons is that rarest of rare present-day beasts – a guitar-driven rock ’n’ roll band capable of concocting deliciously greasy riffs and bonding them to soulful, memorable vocal hooks. It’s retro, without being annoyingly so. Guitarist Scott Holiday is responsible for the riffs that make “Great Western Valkyrie” an irresistible force for anyone who grew up listening to Free, Led Zeppelin, and Aerosmith, back when Aerosmith meant dangerously funky heavy rock, not truly awful power ballads. Jay Buchanan makes these riffs into songs, and he is a man who clearly studied Free-era Paul Rodgers and “Zeppelin II”-era Robert Plant, as well as the hypnagogic poetry and rampant sensuality of Jim Morrison. Together, these influences are parlayed via a raw-nerved production acumen and an absolute refusal to treat hard rock/blues fusion with anything resembling irony. A pure blast of soulful heaviness, this one. ΩΩΩ (Jeff Miers)