Do It For Records [Release date 26.09.15]
Founded in Denton, Texas, in 2005 The Raven Charter are something of an enigma. Proggers? Melodics? Or Rockers? Their debut long player suggests they could be all three. And very fine ones at that.
Vocally, Garrett Bond is real ‘find’ with the tones of Michael Eden (Eden’s Curse), but without some of the histrionics. And musically the 5 piece band – Brandon Bond (guitar), Daniel Baskind (guitar), Erik Stolpe (keyboard, acoustic guitar) and Anthony Sosa (bass) and Brian Christie (drums) are impossible to fault. But from Texas? Surely not?
At Uni the founding members were equally into Dream Theater and the jazz music that permeated their campus. And over 10 years they’ve struggled to find a cohesive direction. But with Garrett Bond in tow since 2010, and drummer Brian Christie steering the band in a rock direction since 2012, it all seems to be gelling.
Long, more progressive pieces have been vetoed in favour of 14 shorter but interlinked numbers with some marvellous melodies, vocals and progressive playing. They have a more transatlantic feel than you might expect from a band from Texas but, hell, why not?
Pacey, crunchy staccato riffs, soaring vocals and swirling keys punctuate affairs, but it’s when they take their feet off the gas - as on the dreamy ‘We Know You Will’, the glorious chorus line and lead blistering guitar work in ‘Defunkt’, the restrained power and poise of ‘When I’m Under’, the radio friendly ‘Freela Deela’ (originally recorded in 2012), and the urgent ‘Bottoms Up’ – that they bring something fresh to the party.
In complete contrast a soft acoustic rock number ‘See This Through’ complete with fiddle and Americana-style vocal harmonies closes out the set and suggests that The Raven Charter could easily develop a broad church appeal. One of the most promising debut releases of 2015. ****
Review by Pete Whalley
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