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Old 06-21-2007, 01:20 PM   #1
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Review: The Redwalls, The Wall to Wall Sessions EP*

By Kimberly Egolf, Editor

Stir together a tablespoon each of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Supremes, and Fats Domino, add a dash of Etta James, and flavor to taste with Bob Dylan. Presto, you’ve whipped up your very own Redwalls.

For over half of their young lives, this Chicago-based band has been remaking the great music they love. Though they never got the chance to see these acts in their heyday, the band has spent its first two albums (Universal Blues and De Nova) channeling the spirit and the voice of generations past. And this has kept them largely in the shadow of the musical greats they emulate, inspiring either adulation or ire – and not much in-between – for their efforts.

But the recently-released Wall to Wall Sessions EP (so called because it was recorded in Chicago’s Wall to Wall studios), indicates that the band are ready to step into the spotlight for themselves and out of the shadows in which they have been lurking for ten long years. The four-song EP showcases the best of what The Redwalls do – tightly composed songs, superb vocal harmonies, grand political statements – and begins to show what they are capable of doing – that is, seamlessly blending contemporary genres into their distinctively retro sound.

“Memories,” the first song on the EP, features a laid-back reggae groove driven by Justin Baren’s bass and Ben Greeno’s drums. The song switches interestingly from a minor key on the verses to a major key for the chorus, alternately conjuring nightmarish and violent memories and soothing them through sweet vocal harmonies.

“Edge of the Night” is an epic song which might have been ripped from the ‘60s – think the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack” or The Cavaliers’ “Last Kiss.” The song is a charming ode to running away and starting over again: “Hey man, I think it’s time for a change/ It’s not that hard to pack up and start over again,” Logan Baren sings with conviction. As the slow, rolling melody and drumbeat fade out, one can almost picture him walking into the sunset, suitcase in hand, ready to make a change.

And a change comes for the band on the delightfully unexpected “Song #1.” The innocuous title disguises a Bloc Party-like opening filled with chiming guitars and heavy drums. Instead of the expected indie rock disillusionment and distance, however, “Song #1” quickly reveals itself to be a soulful rock anthem. The band raises its voice to call for change and engagement: “Our time is now upon us/ We must outgrow our fathers,” they sing. This is an anthem for a new generation of people who want to change the world.

The fourth and last song on the EP, “Maria,” is a tender ballad of youthful love. Complete with mournful harmonica solo and extended jam, the song shows the softer side of the band, a side previously shown on second album De Nova with the single “Thank You.”

The Wall to Wall Sessions EP reveals that the basic recipe for The Redwalls hasn’t changed, but a few intriguing new seasonings have been thrown in which just might allow the band to step into the spotlight it deserves.

The Redwalls’ new album, produced by Tore Johansson (OK Go, Franz Ferdinand) is scheduled to be released later this year.

For more information about The Redwalls and for upcoming tour dates, please visit their MySpace page at
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