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Walker: If You're Punk Rock, I'm Single

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Walker's "If You're Punk Rock, I'm Single" is one of countless decent records buried in the slush pile of relatively unremarkable mid-nineties midwestern pop-punk releases. I tend to describe Walker as a good mix tape band. While they never really distinguished themselves as major players in the vibrant Chicago scene with which they are often associated, Walker produced a number of tunes that, even a decade later, sound as if they belong on a tape somewhere between the Bollweevils and the Smoking Popes.

The three tracks on "If You're Punk Rock, I'm Single" showcase Walker's rather unique emo-tinged, lo-fi sound. With a fuzz pedal that may well have once belonged to Bob Mould, hook-laden melodies, and mellow (if somewhat plaintive) vocals, Walker fashions a decidedly poppy record that is neither Ramonesy nor whiny. Both "Letter" and "Throw" are keepers, the former being perhaps a bit catchier than the latter, but neither are bona-fide standouts. The band's emo influence can be heard in the lyrics ("I wrote you a letter/ But I didn't know where to send it"), but they are mercifully leagues away from being the sort of saccharine drivel passing itself off as emo these days. If anything, Walker maintains a bit of the humor ("I tried to kick the football to Lucy") so sorely absent in the more egregiously self-pitying emo that has superseded the genre's earlier style. The third song, a cover of the Captain and Tenille's "Love Will Keep Us Together," is a solid addition to the body of half-reverent, half-ironic punk covers of 1970s AM radio staples to which it was almost obligatory for any self-respecting pop-punk band of the time to contribute. I wouldn't play it too often, though.

Sobriquet Grade: (79) C+.

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