Sound — 7
Walking Papers is somewhat of a supergroup. Formed in Seattle, the band includes as members Duff McKagan, Jeff Angell, Barrett Martin, and Benjamin Anderson. Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, while not officially a band member, did contribute some guitar work on this album. The band advertises themselves as a modern post-grunge group with blues influences. Their self-titled, first album was actually released last year and is now being re-released by Loud & Proud Records to a hopefully larger audience. My first impression of this album is that it defines post-grunge blues. So, on that front, I award a point to the band for accurately depicting their musical genre. In the same vein of thought, this album caters to the pre-established fan bases of the members' former bands. In the whole world of music, this album is average, maybe slightly above. Nevertheless, I am sure that it will be loved by most of the people who come in contact with this band, since it is likely that they would have been fans of Pearl Jam, Guns N' Roses, and/or The Missionary Position. Musically, this album is solidly average. It is exactly what I would have expected from a mixture of post-grunge and blues. That being said, the music still isn't incredible. The riffs are a tiny bit catchy and the keyboard parts provide a nice base for the vocals, but overall, there isn't much going on that is new or sticks. Due to some amount of creativity, once a track starts, there is a feeling of something new and exciting on the horizon. The problem is that the music oftentimes does not meet that expectation. Guitar solos are somewhat rare and the ones present are average. The solos are very bluesy, but not overwhelmingly good. To find the best of this band's bluesy side, I recommend you listen to "Capital T." There isn't much to mention in regards to Duff McKagan's bass playing on the record because it blends in so well that it is hardly noticeable. This is a characteristic that different people feel differently about, so I will not comment further on the subject. Of all the music, the drums are the best. As a drummer, it is imperative to know what fits the situation. Barrett Martin certainly has the taste to perform this function. Most of the time, the drumming isn't very technical but it always fits the music and it is refreshing to hear snare hits in all the right places and cymbals shimmering at all the right times. Eventually, this amounts to a degree of predictability, but in my opinion, if the listener can predict what is coming, a better listening experience is provided, at least in this case. Most of the time, the music performs the function of laying a solid foundation upon which the vocals are free to roam. In order to perform that function, the music is mostly simple in character and really doesn't venture into phrases or passages that could take over the song because the vocals of Jeff Angell guide the songs, for the most part.
Lyrics — 8
As I just stated, the main function of the music on this album is to lay a solid foundation upon which the vocals can work their magic. Jeff Angell provides "Walking Papers" with exceptional vocals. The vocals are lively and the listener can visualize Jeff Angell singing because his vocals are so clear/distinct that it they easily draw a picture in the mind of the listener. Honestly, Angell almost feels unique. This label, when referred to vocalists, is something I rarely say. To elaborate, if Robert Plant, Bon Scott, David Lee Roth, or even Josh Todd, was singing in a bar, they would each be easily recognizable because they each have an undeniable level of uniqueness, even though they may sing in roughly the same genre. This level of uniqueness of vocalists is something rarely heard in today's music scene. Jeff Angell, through his performance, borders on a level of individuality that is on par with the singers I previously mentioned. While the lyrical content may not be what the listener focuses on, it certainly does not slouch. The lyrics are serious to a point that it can be discerned that Angell chose his words with care though not so serious as if he were attempting to send a major message regarding the problems in the world and why they need to be solved or become the next Jim Morrison in terms of poeticism.
Overall Impression — 6
My overall impression is that "Walking Papers" will satisfy the people it's meant to; fans of the bands whose members are a part of this supergroup. Outside of that contingent of fans, this album won't come across as excellent to the casual listener, though it may exhibit some amount of creativity or infectious hooks. To put it bluntly, the album is solid, in a bad way. The songs are solid, yet they usually don't encourage the listener to hear each one fully. In my opinion, the best song of the album is "Capital T" because it honestly shows the best that Walking Papers has to offer. If the other songs were of a caliber like this one, Walking Papers would be a much more viable group. While their first album was only minimally impressive, I still hope that Walking Papers continues to make music because I believe that they can improve and realize the potential they show on songs like "Capital T."