Friday, March 18, 2011


Quicksand, of course, brings us to Walter Schreifels. He's got a new record out in Rivals Schools called "Pedals". This is a release that probably wasn't supposed to be, and most folks are writing it off as a kind of coda to his career, released 10 years too late. I don't blame them- his career has been pretty spotty, in terms of new records out, and continuity. However that all seems like background noise to me- the guy is younger than me, and most of his releases are "classics" to me. That is- there are only two Quicksand records, and now, two Rival Schools releases- all four are simply awesome. So, since 1993, that's 4 great records. In the same time, Radiohead has released 4 songs that I would listen to, and people drown themselves in praise of radiohead. Since 1993, Rage against the Machine have put out 1 double record that I'd put on the same level, and they burned out. Since 1993, Pearl Jam have released no music I like. Get the idea? I'd prefer 1 great song to a mountain of garbage I don't want to hear. ( Hence, Radiohead is OK by me, because those four songs are really worthwhile) I also don't rule out the possibility that Schreifels could make another fantastic record after this.
So, taken on its own, Pedals ( the new release) is definitely on its own. It occupies a space between Shoegaze, posthardcore, Punk and Indie Rock ( you'll note all are genres I'm prone to like). By that I mean it's densely layered washes of woozy and concrete guitars, buoyed down by syncopated beats and solid choruses. At the same time, unlike a lot of other 'unclassifiable' rock music, it sounds coherent- it's not like listening to two records at once, and hoping they'll mash up. Shreifels, instead, reminds me of Bob Mould at his best- like Mould, his influences are audible, but the result is unique and revelatory. It sounds like "Alt Rock' is new and relevant again- I know that's an illusion- because it's definitely rock, but it's not rock you've heard before, and it's vibrant and alive in a way that top 40 pop will never be. I recognize that it may not play well in the Art House, nor is hard and abrasive enough for the Pit. There is enough melody and Pop structure in the songs that I'm sure some would find this a bit too mild, and enough grit and angularity that most would find it too wild- hence my re-animation of the term Alt Rock, as opposed to 'grunge', "post hardcore' or whatever the more modern term might be. There is no fad or fashion to this. It doesn't reference stuff that was popular the first time around, and certainly won't be mainstream mutated like this ( ever notice how the folks that will blast something that references subcultural stuff from 5 years ago are the same folks who'll laud stuff that references things that were really popular 15 years ago? For example- they'll say that something that references the Cave In is tired, but if it references Deee Lite, they're all over it). At the same time, it's not hyperliterate, ultrachallenging hipster intellectual music- so it doesn't cover the anti-fashion fads, either. It's not heartland rock, but it is anthemic. It's smart, it's soulful, it's just a little challenging, and it's tasty enough that you don't have to "develop" a taste for it. Blast it loud, even the acoustic parts, and shout along to a chorus or two, and you might just feel an energy that you knew was lacking in your life.
If you are a fan of something that has the volume and power of hardcore punk Rock, but couched in terms that divorce it from rote examinations of forms crystallized more than 20 years ago, Shreifels has it.


  1. I dloaded this without even knowing who made it.
    So i didnt listen to it, of course. Quicksand, eh? I loved that band, it was short and sweet.
    I ll give it a go.

  2. Yes, the four records in order are: Quicksand- Slip, Quicksand- Manic Compression, Rival Schools- United by Fate, and Rival Schools- Pedals . The Quicksand stuff is more "metal", and the Rival Schools is more "indie Rock"- but all are really good. I think you'd find stuff to like with all of them. The connection is Walter sings and plays guitar on all of them- and if you liked Quicksand, you'll like Rival Schools.