There’s a band called Greta Van Fleet that’s currently experiencing a bit of a moment in the sun. With the release of their debut album, they’ve been topping Billboard‘s rock charts and continuing to gain a sizable fan base. Good for them! Unfortunately, the backlash has already begun to set in, with weirdly impassioned music critics leaping on them for so thoroughly absorbing and recreating the sounds of Led Zeppelin and other ‘70s rock juggernauts.
This position is so plainly silly — regardless of what I think of Greta Van Fleet’s actual music, and setting aside Led Zeppelin’s long history of plagiarism — that it doesn’t deserve a response, but I will say this: where were these people to give a hard time to Vampire Weekend for cribbing from Paul Simon’s Graceland? Did they ever call out Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” for essentially being Sting cosplay? Were the Silversun Pickups given enough grief over being what amounted to a Smashing Pumpkins tribute band?
Tribute, pastiche, and nostalgia are all woven into the fabric of anyone attempting to make modern music. With the whole of music’s history now at everyone’s fingertips, we can expect a couple different outcomes: the continual blurring of genre boundaries, and the very real likelihood that some musicians can easily internalize an entire era’s discography. Everyone loved it when LCD Soundsystem gave a voice to the crate-digging obsessives of the ‘70s and ‘80s underground — all I want is a little consistency.
Which brings us to Thunders of Wrath. This Tacoma five-piece has been kicking around town for about six years, though they’re just now getting around to releasing their debut, self-titled LP. Available on both CD and vinyl, the album artwork — an absurd Renaissance-style painting of doomed skies, looming mountains, and wild villagers, all of which would look fantastic airbrushed on the side of a van — gives you a clue as to what Thunders of Wrath have to offer. This album contains nearly an hour’s worth of awesome guitar riffs, righteous drums, warped synths and bombastic vocals. This is a vision of ‘70s progressive rock, metal, and butt-rock, as shone through a lens of almost shamanistic reverence for reviving a bygone sound.
Thunders of Wrath is made up of Thomas Vekakis, Joe Papen, Jake Fouts, Mason Flippin, and Cooper Farris. Together, they evoke the sounds of not only Led Zeppelin, but Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Cream, and a handful of other progenitors of the prototypical ‘70s rock sound. More than that, though, their gleeful exhumation of these touchstones reminds me of a (slightly) more modern band: Ween. While Ween may be more known as the druggy pranksters of ‘90s alt-rock, they don’t get enough credit for their own geeky fandom in replicating the similar acts on albums like The Mollusk. Like Ween, Thunders of Wrath’s music sounds just familiar enough, while retaining enough oddness to separate them from any number of bar band sound-alikes.
Wherever Thunders of Wrath find their inspiration, there’s no denying that they have every bit of the chops needed to back it up. While the songs on their debut tend to hover around the five-minute mark, all of the members are so acutely dialed in with each other that the songs fly by with ease. Each song is practically stuffed with ideas and diversions, but it all goes down with the same verve and dynamism of the masters they’re emulating.
THUNDERS OF WRATH, w/ Hobosexual, Dirty Rugs, 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 9, Alma Mater, 1322 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, $12-$15, almamatertacoma.com
One of the first bands I ever interviewed was the Fun Police. Almost a decade later, I found out they’re releasing a new album, which came with this sudden realization: Oh, yeah, the Fun Police is the best band in Tacoma for getting the party started at boozy revelries. Their new LP, Innocent Until Proven Filthy, captures exactly what the Fun Police does so well, mixing a wide spread of overtly boisterous genres like punk, reggae, ska, world music, and country into a bleary stew that’s handcrafted for having a good time. The outsized list of band members and continued gimmick of dressing as cops solidifies them as the ultimate live band, but Innocent shows that they can just as easily get your blood pumping whenever you need it.
THE FUN POLICE, w/ the Rusty Cleavers, Shotgun Kitchen, Joan of Art, 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10, Airport Tavern, 5406 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma, $8, 253.212.0709