First there was Gorilla Biscuits. Their no-nonsense New York hardcore aggression fueled your awkward junior high years, giving you a sort of empowerment that often evades newly teenage youth. Then in high school, you had Quicksand, whose melodic take on hardcore challenged you when you grew out of straight-edge. In college, you had Rival Schools who brought a pop sensibility to the angular aggression of Quicksand. You needed something catchier and a little bit more fun, and United by Fate did the trick. It may sound funny, but it makes perfect sense. Walter Schreifels’ career paralleled landmark periods of my life, as it most likely did for many others similar in age. But now that we’re all out of college and need a friendlier pop album to listen to on our iPods, Walter heeded our call with his new band, Walking Concert.
Run to Be Born, Walking Concert’s debut album, is a logical progression from where Rival Schools left off. Schreifels has always been a great songwriter, but now it seems he’s finally comfortable with the songs on their own, unmasked by layers of noise and distortion. Run is very much the type of album you’d expect from Schreifels, as his songwriting is similar to that of his previous bands, though more concise and, some would say, mature. And in some respects, that would be accurate. Yet there’s so much energy on the album, the former Quicksand frontman could have easily written it when he was a teenager.
“What’s Your New Thing?” and “Aluminium” give the album a power pop punch, which suggest a less Thin Lizzy influenced Ted Leo or Fountains of Wayne with roots in New York hardcore. However, “But You Know…It’s True” is a straightforward, one-minute punk song that sounds like Elvis Costello played at twice the speed. “The Animals,” though led by acoustic guitar and piano, has a heavy Rival Schools-like beat that proves there’s still a bit of the old Walter Schreifels in this batch of songs, though a Britpop flavored tune like the irresistible “Audrey” would suggest otherwise.
Schreifels tries his hand at some ballads here, as well, the most notable of which is “What Does Your Heart Say?” The track recalls Superchunk, only sung with a slightly deeper voice than Mac MacCaughan’s. And just for fun, Schreifels throws in a cover of Marc Bolan’s “Mustang Ford.”
Walking Concert is a natural progression for Walter Schreifels. Though he still retains some aspects of his hardcore past, he’s moved on to new things, and we’re fortunate for that. As long as there are trends, Schreifels will be far ahead of them.
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – The Tyranny of Distance
Superchunk – Come Pick Me Up
Rival Schools – United By Fate
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.