Federal Charm – Federal Charm on Mystic Records – Release Date 15th July
Federal Charm have been getting a lot of attention and that is not surprising with the PR and management support; but never mind the hype – does this début recording live up to the pre-release chatter – Bluesdoodles says yes, with a little ‘y’ – this is a band full of potential who have delivered. Federal Charm are a quartet of skilled musicians comprising: Nick Bowden, lead vocal & guitar; Paul Bowe, lead guitar; L.D. Morawaski, Bass and Danny Rigg, drums, who draw on a veritable list of styles though they are not boxed in by them. They have yet to really stamp their own style that makes them really stand out in the crowded arena of mixed genre bands borrowing licks from the blues and rock riffs from the 1970’s. What this début offering though does offer is a fresh modern sound, they are not retro. This is achieved by 11 self-penned tracks that means the material and sound produced suit the individuality of all four members; yet this is an album that conveys a neat fitting collective sound with a sparkle and fizz that makes the CD such an enjoyable listen. The quality of the production by John Green and the band keeps that raw edgy live sound and the addition extra musicians including keys and slide guitar add another layer to the sound but do not dominate so that it is the quartet that shines throughout.
The sound produced is British through and through and thankfully there is nothing that is faux American. They are reminiscent of many a rock band that borrowed from the blues because it is a genre they understand, enjoying the beat, and riffs but do not want to replicate the blues sound but add the in-your-face honesty of rock.
From the first track this is a band that plays with vim, vigour and vitality they are storming your stereo just as they would storm a stage creating in essence a live sound. The recording process has not misplaced this young band from Manchester their raw, earthy sound from the vocals through to guitar riffs and beyond. The only cover on the album ‘Reconsider’ showcases the guitar skills of Paul tipping his hat at Freddie King, as they rearrange Lowell Fulson’s ‘Reconsider Baby‘ they retain the laid back feel then suddenly for no reason the tempo changes and it should, like a poor re-mix interlude, have ended up on the cutting room floor. ‘Reaction‘; with its bluesy ballad feel is a strong track but what lets it down for me is though the introduction is a full sound leading into the vocals, it is simply too long. This is a common theme throughout and repeated on The Stray which for me is my favourite track; with its swirling guitar and strong vocals and the feeling that this is the real Federal Charm. On the plus side there are no long tedious over played guitar solos, the instruments are allowed to shine through as they blend together creating a sound that with a little more re-fining could provide a truly distinctive hook on which Federal Charm should hang their second CD. Tone down the rock dial and turn up the funky dirty blues that are hinted at throughout the recording. This would ensure that Federal Charm are the sound of 2013 and beyond and with their level of skill they do not need to look over one shoulder to the 1970’s stadia rock groups but a raw live embodiment of the spirit of the age today as they develop the building blocks of the past but not replicating them. This is a great first album and will definitely be one I will listen to and I am looking forward to seeing them live during 2013 when they visit Wales.
6th ROBIN 2 – Wolverhampton
New Generation Blues Tour featuring Mitch Laddie/Laurence Jones Band & Federal Charm
9th HOLMFIRTH PICTURE DROME, Holmfirth
10th THE RITZ, Manchester
16th PATRIOT CLUB, Crumlin
21st BEAVERWOOD, Chilsehurst
22nd BOOM BOOM CLUB, Sutton
29th LIMELIGHT CLUB, Aylesbury