I love the fact that I haven’t gotten too old to check out new bands, that I’m not just comfortable in some kind of comfort zone of music where I keep playing my old records over and over without moving forward. Because in 2015, rock music is alive, kicking and very healthy. In fact, the last few years has been such a wild ride when it comes to music, both by old favourite artists and new, upcoming ones. I look through my own reviews and I don’t think I have ever given so many 9’s and 10’s ever and so few bashings. In 2015, the chainsaw hasn’t exactly been working overtime. Quality and class are two words that I associate with a whole lot of the albums that has come my way since 2005 and forward. The fact that I review music and get links to bands I never have heard of helps as well. There’s been quite a few of those this year and my CD collection is just growing bigger and bigger. Now it’s time to see if British classic / retro rockers Federal Charm have anything to impress me with. But first, let’s get acquainted with the band a little. The band, Nick Bowden – vocals, guitars and harmonica, Paul Bowe – guitars and banjo, L.D. Morawski – bass Danny Rigg – drums, started out in Manchester, England sometime around 2013, the year they released their debut, self-titled album to critical acclaim (I can’t get it through my head why I haven’t heard of this lot before) and now it’s time for the follow-up, an album they hope will be the final ladder to the big league. Now, we have a big line of bands that play some kind of classic rock / 70’s retro stuff that has been coming out in the last 10 or so years, good and bad. But most of them are neither, they just are, I’m afraid. But some bands have really rocked my world – Rival Sons, Scorpion Child, Blackwolf and S.U.N. to name a few. So, let’s dig in and see (hear) what the Federal Charm guys are made of, shall we?
“Master Plan” open the record and it really get me hooked right away. I think it reminds me a bit of Wolfmother, but I also hear Led Zeppelin mixed with some 60’s influenced pop-rock. Yeah, baby! “Guess What” is a groovy rocker that has traces of the band Scorpion Child (if you haven’t heard them, then you must do that now!). Early 70’s hard rock that holds a jazz-influenced break – awesome! “No More” rocks with a funky groove and a late 60’s / early 70’s rock influence – this is really good. “These Four Walls” is a really breathtaking and powerful ballad with a 70’s rock groove that reminds me of early Thin Lizzy. The solo has a lot of Gary Moore in it as well. “Hercules” is a heavy blues rocker that sounds like a mix of Rival Sons and Wolfmother. It’s a real killer and it swings like crazy. “Give Me Something” is totally unpredictable. It opens up like country smelling southern rocker with banjo and all, but then the blues comes in with some real dynamic harmonica playing and then the song turns into an explosive 70’s hard rocker – this is so great! “Silhouette” is a pop song on a rock foundation with a striking melody that sticks in my head right away. It’s a really good song, but the melody reminds me of some other song. I hear the original melody in my head, but cannot for the world figure out which song it is. I hate it when that happens! So if anyone can figure out the melody, please let me know. “God Forsaken” is another killer. It’s a slow bluesy tune that sounds like Gary Moore had joined Rival Sons in a blues jam. “Push” swings hard with a funky rhythm and an early 70’s groove that once again make me think of Rival Sons. “The Thrill” is the first – and only – song that feels somewhat forgettable. It’s not bad – it’s actually both catchy and groovy – but when the song is over I couldn’t remember a second of it. “Walk Away (Time And Time Again)” is a heavy and groovy rock ballad, quite majestic with a Zeppelin influenced arrangement and some striking and blistering melodies. I hold this tune as my favourite on the album, so what a way to close the album.
I guess it’s pretty easy to figure out whether you will get anything good out of this band at all. If you like groovy, blues based hard rock with the roots in the 70’s and late 60’s, if you dig any of the mentioned bands above, then this band is for you. If not, then don’t even bother. I think this record is great and I believe that Federal Charm has a big shot at being the next big thing after Rival Sons. Yes, the Rival Sons are being mentioned quite frequently in this review and yes, they are a big influence, or maybe both bands simply have the same influences, but I need to make sure that everybody knows that Federal Charm aren’t a Rival Sons clone in any way. With the right support from their record company and with some luck, maybe getting on some of the bigger festivals, this band could very well hit pay dirt with this record. The certainly got me hooked.
1. Master Plan
2. Guess What
3. No More
4. These Four Walls
6. Give Me Something
8. God, Forsaken
10. The Thrill
11. Walk Away (Time And Time Again)