Here’s one of the most impressive bands I’ve heard in a while, even though I can’t shake a slight feeling of deja-vu when I hear them. It might just have to do with the fact that Walking Papers is basically a supergroup, formed by members of The Screaming Trees, The Missionary Position, Guns’n’Roses, with contributions from Mike McCready (the guitarist from Pearl Jam). The blending of styles and backgrounds is so seamless, pleasant and so familiar, I suppose it’s no surprise it made me feel like “good old rock’n’roll” found a new avatar in these guys.
I was a big fan of Guns’n’Roses when I was a kid, they were my entry into “rock music” (which meant anything from glam to grunge to metal for the ten-year-old me), and Slash’s subsequent projects produced some of my favorite tracks and albums ever, so I was delighted to learn that former Guns bass player, Duff McKagan joined this band. There seems to be a bit of a trend going around with these old icons joining new outfits – Black Country Communion, Them Crooked Vultures and now Walking Papers are all great examples. Out of the above-mentioned bands though, I believe Walking Papers take the cake – there’s a wonderful cohesion in the band, a well-tempered maturity, and the groove just breaks out at the seams of every song.
There really isn’t very much critiquing I wanna do for Walking Papers – this kind of music is really supposed to be visceral, absorbed through the muscles as well as the ears, and there really isn’t very much words can to do make that process happen for someone who isn’t feeling it. There’s gritty blues, fat keyboards, meaty rhythms, fierce and unsophisticated guitars and one hell of a voice to bring it all together. There’s a hefty bit of political commentary in some of the lyrics, but not so much that it becomes annoying. Here’s a list of things that aren’t new about Walking Papers: themes, song structure, sound, lyrics, group dynamic. You know what? It doesn’t matter – the band is tremendous and the songs will get stuck in your head for days. You’ll want to drive to this music, run, train at the gym, you’ll want to start a band of your own and make it sound just like this, because there is absolutely nothing more that can be demanded from rock’n’roll.
They don’t have videos, and most of the performances I found on YouTube are live, so I’ll limit the selection to one long video from KEXP, because it’s a very good live show, and the sound quality is perfect. Enjoy!