Run to Be Born
alter Schreifels is wise enough to keep it real … brief. The front man of Walking Concert doesn’t allow his tunes to linger, swooping in like a non-unionized construction crew, laying down straightforward instrumental foundations, pouring out earnest, woeful, occasionally bemusing lyrics and promptly splitting, drinking money in hand. Witness Run to Be Born. We can almost hear Schreifels saying, “There’s no time for pillow talk, baby,” over his shoulder as he laces up his boots. “In two hours I’ve got a gig in Reno.”
Schreifels, who sings, drums and strums guitar, is a regular troubadour, weaving beguiling narratives on a variety of twenty-something subjects of dire importance. The fourteen tracks here touch on issues like girls who crave attention, eating pancakes, blowing-up studios, relinquishing possessions, girls who love the outdoors and unattainable wealth.
“First let’s get something to eat,” Schreifels sings on “Aluminum”. “Just like cats—Fancy Feast / We’ll visit islands in the stream / And I’ll pay for it all with my millions”. What does this reveal about Schreifels, you ask? Is he a feline fan? Fact. A romantic? Roger that. Harmonically hindered? Hardly. In Schreifels’ mouth these seemingly frenetic phrases assume the silhouette and timbre of poetry.
Schreifels sports a thin, warbling, endearing voice. His greatest gift, however, is his ability to write cogent, catchy songs. In the clear and expressive stories they tell, Schreifels’ songs possess a residual power by lingering in one’s consciousness long after the vinyl has spun silent.
On “Studio Space”, Ryan Stratton pile-drives the auditory earth with a bulldozer of a bassline reminiscent of much of Dave Hawes’ handiwork on Catherine Wheel’s Happy Days, while Schreifels sings about what the studio looks like from the floor. “The Animals” blossoms out of a piano and acoustic intro into a warmhearted dinner invitation to a reluctant girl. After all, Schreifels points out, “The food at the food court is the only real risk we are taking”.
The founder of several punk acts (Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits, Rival Schools), Schreifels sounds at home fronting a band that could easily be mistaken for a more pop-sensible Bright Eyes. What gives? “I guess pretty early on I got into the Beatles and The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones,” Schreifels explained in a recent interview, “And then I got into The Ramones and The B 52’s and The Clash and things like that …” perhaps suggesting that the whole punk thing was merely a stage now safely behind him. On tracks like “Girls in the Field” and “Mustang Ford”, the influence of The Beatles and The Beach Boys, respectively, is pronounced. Also, though unmentioned as an influence, we can’t help but note the eerie parallels between “What Does Your Heart Say?” and Roy Orbison’s “Anything You Want”.
Run to Be Born is the auditory equivalent of a stand-up session with a stewardess in an airplane bathroom. It’s unexpected, impromptu and patently invigorating. Schreifels has a command over his subject matter and, coupled with his light touch, it makes for an album that will leave listeners daydreaming about it long after the plane has touched down.
Reviewed by: R. S. Ross
Reviewed on: 2004-11-01