The Feds
A Touch of Panic

Over the years, I’ve probably written about The Feds coming to town a dozen times or more in my regular gig at the local paper, so it seems a little odd that the first time I’m actually hearing them is for a review here.

First, I’ll say that there are some good things to be found on this record, but you have to get past the first few songs. A Touch of Panic starts out as a bubble-gum, radio friendly blend of pop-punk and 1980s-style hard rock. In truth, it doesn’t veer away from that much – I could hear any number of these songs becoming big rock radio hits, and easily half of them are better than most of the stuff I hear on rock radio – but the band does add a little depth the deeper you get into the record.

The first sign of life for me is the fourth song, “You, Euphoria,” which is a little darker and grittier than the first three songs. Then there’s the nice little bluesy acoustic instrumental “Jenny.” It’s a kind of Zeppelin-ish piece that’s way too short because it’s one of the strongest musical moments here. The best two tracks on the album are probably “Stop” and “Alive.” “Stop” features some nice riffing from guitarists Matthew Wright and Jason Jones, and for some reason I get a real Kiss vibe off the verse of the song. “Alive” opens with a bouncing blues rock opening riff and kind of reminds me of Clutch.

Oddly, the most metallic track here, “Housefire,” is one that didn’t really work for me because it sounds like the band is trying to stretch to be something they’re not. And while they’re not really a metal band, there are certainly influences from the metal arena scattered around the record. I mentioned Clutch, but there’s also a bit of Monster Magnet in “The Four Horsemen of Confusion” and a heavy King’s X vibe coming through in the album closer “From You, To Me.”

I also have to give vocalist Matt Slider props for his versatility. While I’m not blown away by his voice, I am impressed by how easily he can switch gears and how many different vocal approaches he uses here.

In truth, this record is not something I’d listen to on a regular basis because it’s just not my thing, but if you’re looking for some good current radio-friendly rock, you could do a lot worse than A Touch of Panic.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
September 28th, 2007

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