In the war that is the music industry, a band can very quickly go from scamming for beers in the tiny bars they play, to opening for big name acts at larger venues. They can go from an indie label to a major and then back again within the course of a year. And those marquee acts can move on to bigger and better things, as the little band-that-could gets kicked back to the bars, and beer scams, and this time they can be even lower on the bill supporting an even more mediocre band.
Such has been the career trajectory of Chicago’s The Redwalls. This quartet are unapologetic Beatles rip-offs — in their early days they were, in fact, a Beatles cover band — but their charm is irresistible if you ever see them perform live. Like the originals, these shaggy haired boys in suits and boots look to be having the time of their lives when they’re on stage. Their harmonies are tight, they take turns on lead vocal duties, and they’ve written some catchy pop songs that may not be comparable to anything Lennon/McCartney wrote, but still fall under the heading of good song.
On their third full-length, their post-Warner-Brothers release on the independent Mad Dragon label, the band is evolving away from their Brit-pop roots. Justin Baren occasionally trades in his Lennon voice for one closer to Jack White or even Iggy Pop (check out “Hangman”), and the smooth edges around the rhythm section have the slightest of crust upon them. When compared to Universal Blues and De Nova, this disc has more of a garage rock base and it suits their sound.
Of course the big, groovy pop songs are still there for your tasting, “Modern Diet” is this album’s “Falling Down” (the best track on 2005’s De Nova), and “Summer Romance” is the upbeat ballad set to make the girls swoon.
This band is the constant underdog, and people will always love to shove them down because of the way they wear their influences on their well-ironed sleeves, but I adore them. So long as they’re making music as fun as this, I’ll always root for them.
The Red Walls: www.theredwalls.com