Fed X: Live at Red 7 Austin, TX

Fed X are nearly 15 years into their career, and the dark, bluesy sludge-rock group shows no signs of slowing down with age. Live, their sound is still every bit as thick, dark, and pummeling as ever. Fed-X packs the house every time they play Bellingham (not too shabby considering they haven’t produced a new full-length in over five years), but Live at Red 7 Austin, TX is documented proof that they’re a force to be reckoned with outside the tightly-knit and smotheringly supportive Bellingham scene from which they sprung.

Starting off guns blazing with two classics: “Real American Kids with Real American Ids” and “Slave Song,” Fed X then take the opportunity to test out a series of new songs on the audience. “Bitter Hands,” “Miles Away,” and “Anna Mist” in particular are highlights of the large chunk of new material we’re graciously presented with in this release. They’re all quintessential Fed X: dense, hard-rocking and ominous. The set winds down with another stone cold X Patriot classic, “Gone Too Long.”

The real treat, however, is the big finale: untouchable renditions of the first two tracks from 2001’s American Folk Horror (followed by an encore comprised of the next two songs from Folk Horror). These songs have never sounded bigger, tenser, or meaner. Live at Red 7 obviously doesn’t sound as great recording-quality as it does in the studio, but the bounty of new material here—to say nothing of the intensity of the live renditions of their best jams on this release (especially the “Hatchet Man/Charlie Jackson Freedom Pride” combo) –is enough to warrant multiple listens by any fan—at least until their new record comes out, reportedly sometime in 2013.