FEDERATION X "Rally Day" CD ES2113
The sounds Federation X (Bellingham, WA/Brooklyn, NY) makes are unmistakably American, with deep roots in the dirt-rock, power violence and country music tradition of its native semi-rural Washington state. Fed X’s powerful, purty ruckus shares more than a little of its DNA with plow-core pioneers Karp, a youthful staple for members Ben and Beau X. They also tip hats to songwriters like Bob Dylan and Steve Earle and guitarists like Doug Martsch and Tony Iommi. The result is a uniquely coherent approach to western heavy rock, and we dig the shit out of it.
Powder-dry central Washington, is where Fed X’s country rhizomes cling most tenaciously to the glacial soil, and perhaps it’s Bill’s bona fide regional authenticity that allows Fed X to pull off, say, their late-night-high-lonesome cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” with such unassailable authority. Federation X is in the rarefied ranks of bands like the Fleshies, Lightning Bolt and 400 Blows that are actually making rock music do new and better things.
THIS FEDERATION X RECORD, the band’s fourth in five years, is the further realization of their intelligent, heavy sound. Bill X belts tunes with soulful pipes that recall The Boss and the Diamond (Neil, that is, not King) as much as Damien Lovelock from Celibate Rifles. This un-ironic approach means Fed X tunes can get lodged in your head with a pop adhesiveness that belies their rough-and-ready execution, and have a sort of genuine-ness for which too many performers of this here damned generation are (quite ironically) unwilling to risk their shrink-wrapped posturings. Instrumentally, Federation X feature two four-string guitars fuzzy-pumpered through Sunn amplifiers (Bill and Ben) and a powerful and animated drummer (Beau). That classic solid-state plow of the Sunn amplifier--a cheap, loud behemoth that defined the Karp and Unwound sounds--undergirds Federation X’s sound like a rusty iron truss.
While we Washingtonians may largely be a people prone to understatement, the Evergreen state’s contribution to punk rock’s canon are dagg-all impressive. The Federation X train is rolling, and it’s time for the world to lay on the tracks and enjoy the unique sights, smells and sounds.
Josh Vanek (March 2005)