The Begowatts - The Grand Charade (Self Released)

Solid US indie rock marred by fuzzy production on new set by Wisconsin quartet

Released Oct 6th, 2017 / By Erick Mertz
The Begowatts - The Grand Charade (Self Released) Don’t let anyone out there fool you – big sounding guitar rock is not dead. The denim has hardly faded. The Begowatts want you to believe it’s crisp, crackling right now.

The Madison, Wisconsin band opens their six-track EP with a scintillating rocker, Why Don’t We Dance that gives off The Killers vibes. Similarly, Gaslight derives a deeper post-punk revival sensibility, even if the swinging lead guitar comes off a little like Sultans Of Swing by Dire Straits. Taking as one its blend of urgency behind the deft guitar lines, it’s the coolest track on the album, and easily my favorite. The EP’s single Kids On Parole wants to provide that foot stomping heart, but after a few listens, it ends up a bit tired. It may be brash and anthemic radio fodder, but you’ve heard it.

In spite of bravura flashes on Kids On Parole and some haunting refrains on the EP’s longest, most experimental track, You and I the vocals offered by David French throughout The Grand Charade present as a little too muddy. He’s got a cool voice, but what is he saying? The production seems to whiff on French, and thus, much of the impact in the songs. Even on tracks like their slow, thoughtfully paced title track, which is on the surface about the traps and ironic comforts of middle-class ascendance, the song subjects get lost, lines slip away in the production and natural drone of his voice.

As a whole, The Begowatts are best when they let their guitars do the talking. In that respect, I can dig on what French has to say without tiring a bit. Frequently throughout The Grand Charade, I find myself hoping that the guitar lines extend and that the jams go on another beat. While diversity may be one of the EP’s weaknesses because it draws back the cohesion, it does showcase a throwback rock band with chutzpah to spare.