Fellowcraft are a relatively new three-piece rock band hailing from Washington DC. Having formed only 7 months ago, they have developed fast, having already played a number of live shows (picking up a fanbase along the way) and recorded original material. Their music is a melding together of classic and modern rock to produce a raw but still fairly commercial sound that you can still classify as good ol’ rock n’ roll.
Every good rock band needs a great singer who can make himself heard about a wall of distorted electric guitars. In frontman, lead singer and guitarist J.R. McDonald they undoubtedly have one, his gritty voice and expressive range giving the band a distinctive sonic identity. In these two tracks, you can hear various influences of great 70’s rock from Led Zeppelin to Neil Young and Tom Petty, with a healthy measure of blues thrown into the blend.
Learning To Love Again starts out a little loosely, but soon starts to hit its stride when the crunchy rhythm guitar sound kicks in. The verse begins, the lyrics telling of problems with entering relationships after having been disappointed (“love comes and goes, and it’s high and it’s low, too fast, too slow“). It builds to a huge anthemic chorus with McDonald showing his impressive range and vocal power.
After the second verse and chorus comes some tumbling torn fills from drummer Brian Nelson-Palmer, before McDonald leads into a concise, effective guitar solo with a swirling, psychedelic tone that Jimi Hendrix would have been happy with. One last chorus brings things to a close a well-written and memorable rock/pop anthem.
Second track Long Gone has more of a funk influence, with a roaming, melodic bassline, and the verse sung in a high range that borders on falsetto, which makes the chorus all the more effective when he switches to his ‘throat’ voice, his more raw style. This, combined with the heavy guitar sound, creates a simple but very effective dynamic of clean/soft verse, heavy/raw chorus.
This use of dynamics is pretty common in rock music but, perhaps instinctively, McDonald creates a further contrast through emotional, vulnerable lyrics on the verses, switching to a much more aggressive, masculine tone on the chorus. The verses tell of a captivating woman who “had the face I saw in my dreams…she had everything I thought I would ever need….”.
He addresses her in the first person on the chorus, trying to forget the strong feelings she awoke in him, the main hook being: “It don’t matter now you’re gone….”. Though a long track at five minutes, it doesn’t drag at all and the chorus certainly packs a punch as strong as the first song.
Overall, though Fellowcraft are still a little rough round the edges and not yet what you’d call the ‘finished article’ (hardly surprising having only just formed), these two songs show a band with a huge potential to do big things in the future. The most important factors for a rock band are the ability to write great songs and do them justice in the performance. I’d say the songwriting ability is very strong on this evidence, with the musical performances needed a little fine tuning to give them the best shot commercially. I look forward to hearing their debut album.
Verdict: 7.8 out of 10
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://www.fellowcraftband.com/