The rock of Federation X looks to early nineties rock like Corrosion of Conformity and Kyuss as it does to arena rock like Boston and other bands like Led Zeppelin and MC5. What results on “Rally Day” is a disc full of hooky guitar lines and memorable vocals. Each track is short enough to burn out while on top, instead of falling off heavily and having Federation X’s listeners get tired of the music present. A track like “The Most Unlucky Sound” is Ramones-like in its simplicity (however, the way the band arranges this stirringly simple music is where they truly delineated themselves from the legions of three-chord bands). The slower, “How The Gods Kill”-influenced sound of “In This Sad Roomâ€¦” is a perfect vehicle for Bill’s vocals; the guitar work on the track really opens up the band’s sound by sweeping in with definitive and confident strokes.
Each subsequent track on “Rally Day” is another track of 38 Special-influenced gold. The largest victory of Federation X comes in their ability to maintain their relevancy while performing a style of music that is decidedly out of favor. Even acts like The Darkness, which were able to pull down tons of sales, were still looked at with a “Spinal Tap”-esque irony, but Federation X seems nothing but sincere. The continual modification of Federation X’s sound, especially during their vocal pick-up of the Ozzy/Alice Cooper flag during “Weary News (Lift Off)”. The iconic guitars and slightly-snotty vocals of Bill really allow this track to reach a length that is unrivaled during the rest of the disc. This track is the bands epic, and to do so much with such a limited array of sounds (as the band still sticks to its simplistic, rough, and raw script).
The disc may begin to drone a slight bit during later tracks like “A Fear to Fly”, but there still is a glowing ember, a spark in the band that really comes alive during times (such as the speed-up present in the aforementioned track). The band does not become complacent in the later sections of the disc; the penultimate track “Mission Control” has a spring in its step owing much to the fast-paced fuzz of the guitar and drum dynamic present on the track. Federation X has cut an album in “Rally Day” that would fly in any era, but this era, bereft of simplistic rock may just appreciate this infusion of grit and gruff that has been curiously absent in the last few years.
Top Tracks: Mission Control, Rally Day
Federation X – Rally Day / 2005 Estrus / 10 Tracks / http://www.federationx.us / http://www.estrus.com / Reviewed 01 June 2005