Walking Concert

Run to Be Born

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Walter Schreifels used to be a very hard-rockin' dude, the leader of loud, hard bands like Quicksand and Rival Schools. His new band, Walking Concert, takes a very different route. Leaving behind the raging guitars and vocal shredding, the group is just as emotionally involved and exciting, only now it's a pop band with pop hooks that stick deep and leave wounds when you yank them out. Traces of early Costello, classic Pavement, and Ted Leo crop up here and there, and so do glimmers of bands like Spoon, the Wedding Present, the Kinks, and Guided by Voices too. Not to say that Walking Concert are derivative. They just follow in some large footsteps. On their debut, Run to Be Born, they are tight, tough, sweet, and tender. The record bounces back and forth between jumping rockers like "Studio Space," "What's Your New Thing," and "But You Know...It's True" and tear-stained ballads like "Run to Be Born," "Girls in the Field," and "The Animals." There are also tracks like "Calypso Slide," with its loose, street-corner epic feel, or the acoustic guitar and string quartet "A Lot to Expect," which aches like mid-'60s Dylan -- tracks that sound like Walking Concert could easily break out of the indie rock scene and just be a great rock band. If they do, it will be down to Schreifels. He's got a perfect rock & roll voice, very immediate and affecting, at times spilling into wild bursts of joy, other times whispering secrets in your ear. The guitars are perfect, the arrangements live and real, but what makes Walking Concert the kind of band they are is his voice and his songs. Longtime fans of Schreifels and his hard rock groups may think this record is too soft or poppy, but too bad for them. Anyone who likes their music lean, exciting, heartfelt, and intelligent will be rejoicing about his conversion.

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