The Redwalls sound wise beyond their years.
Not one of them is older than 22. But hearing their music, it sounds like they’ve been around for 40.
This Chicago band plays honest-to-goodness rock ’n’ roll with an upbeat approach to songwriting light years away from the post-punk revolution currently dominating music.
Consisting of brothers Logan (guitar/vocals) and Justin (bass/vocals) Baren, Andrew Langer (guitar/vocals) and Ben Greeno (drums), the Redwalls don’t spew angst, wear makeup or don all black. They started out in their early teens and quickly got signed to Capitol Records — just before Justin Baren and Langer accepted their high school diplomas.
This immediately turned the guys off college and on to touring.
“I’d want to go to school to learn something, not to fall back on something,” Greeno says. Adds Langer: “You learn more on the road than you do in college.”
Soon enough, the road brought them to Los Angeles to record their major label debut, the 13-track rock ride “De Nova,” with producer Rob Schnapf (Beck, Foo Fighters, Elliott Smith).
While their first album, “Universal Blues,” on independent label Undertow, was a straight-up blues rock album that riffed on the Beatles/Dylan folk sound, “De Nova” sees the band experimenting, adding saxophone and keyboards to certain tracks, and pushing the envelope lyrically, like on “Falling Down,” where singer Logan Baren challenges America and artists to take on the growing censorship of the Federal Communications Commission.
“(We’re) a good rock ’n’ roll band that wants to write good songs,” said bassist Justin. “We don’t want to be compared to anyone or in any genre.”
“Everyone’s going to have comparisons,” Langer says. “If they’re going throw (the Beatles comparison) at us it’s probably the best one.”
That comparison has garnered the attention of some key players on the music scene, including Brit darlings Keane, who took the Redwalls out on a late-winter tour this year, which was immediately followed up with a loud buzz at the industry-packed South by Southwest music fest in March. So loud that another much-hyped group, the Manchester, England, outfit Nine Black Alps, took the Redwalls on a U.K. tour in May. And Mark Wahlberg put the band’s song “It’s Alright” in an episode of his HBO comedy series, “Entourage.”
“It wasn’t a cerebral thing to sound like (the Beatles),” says band manager Mitch Marlow. “It’s almost a naive thing. They created that vacuum for themselves. It’s a very honest approach.”
Another wise move — for such a young band.