To coincide with a co-headline September tour alongside The Bad Flowers, Stockport's Federal Charm, consisting of founding members Paul Bowe (guitar) and L.D. Morawski (bass) plus recently recruited 23 year old Southampton vocalist, Tom Guyer, and top Manchester drummer, Josh Zahler, are due to release their new album 'Passenger' through Wire-Sound on Friday 14th September.
With a new energy, the revitalized quartet's opening track 'Swing Sinner' sets the tone for this eleven song strong collection. As with each track Guyer delivers his vocals with (for the most part) controlled aggression, and it soon becomes obvious this is a band with a lot to say, and one that is not afraid to say it. In this instance, the questionable execution of a murderer, hence the swinging sinner.
The first single from the album is 'Choke', which is currently benefiting from a lot of airplay on Planet Rock radio. A catchy hook line - “What makes you think you are the king of the world” - it tells of the dangers of privilege and self importance, along with its bass heavy riff comes a vocal style reminiscent of early Rival Sons albums, which makes this a perfect introduction to FC’s third CD.
Two of the next three tracks have a more laid back feel: 'Emerald Haze' and personal favourite 'Nowhere Is Home'. Both great songs, the first recounting lost love and the latter dealing with the feeling of rootlessness, each demonstrating this is a band with more depth than the opening blood and thunder tracks would have us believe.
Sandwiched between these two mellower tracks sits a song that deals with an issue close to all our hearts. 'Death Rattle', with vocals delivered with passion and venom in equal measure, it recounts the sorry tale of how our country’s musical heritage is being sold down the river, with the closure of all our great old gig venues in favour of faceless tower blocks and apartments. It’s a powerful song with a very heartfelt message.
The groove laden 'Get Through' follows. It has a much more uplifting feel than what has gone before, all about no regrets and moving on. Its positive tone tells us not to dwell on the past but look to to a brighter future (what a great idea). A great guitar riff saves the slightly directionless 'Concrete Creature' - part acoustic guitar, part electric stomp - and just when you’re wondering where the track is going, everything comes back together and saves the day with a great finale.
Both 'Can’t Rule Me' and 'Halo', with their distinctive guitar sound are rocking Blues numbers with enough of the aforementioned aggression and atmosphere to hammer home their messages (Don’t let the world grind you down, in the case of the former, and the latter focusing on the pain of lost love). Fuzzy guitar accompanying a political tirade sums up 'Speak Out', but even when berating the state of the country and its leaders, there is always time for mid-section hand clapping! A track that really hits the spot, as do most of the offerings here.
The closing 'Parting Words' is the longest song on 'Passenger' and sees the album come to a rather downbeat conclusion, although it must be difficult to make the subject of an impending divorce uplifting, at the end of what is a most enjoyable listen. I for one am very much looking forward to catching the guys at The Borderline with The Bad Flowers and Those Damn Crows on Sunday 30th September as well as making the northbound trip to Sheffield for HRH C.R.O.W.S. a couple of weeks earlier to see them on a festival stage. The Federal Charm boys are definitely going places and fast.