Before this album, I had no clue who Schleprock was, or that they have been around since 1989. To be honest, “Learning to Fall” is the rare example of an album created by a veteran band that does not sound like a bunch of washed-up individuals that are pitifully trying to recreate their glory days during any point of their seven year career. The music on “Learning To Fall” is another rarity in punk music – Schleprock is a band that comes out with their completely own sound, instead of riding the coattails of the current flavors of the week. “Suburbia” is a track that really challenges Schleprock in the sense that different parts of the track really are the band’s influences; part of “Suburbia” takes the spirit of The Clash while another is pure rockabilly out of the X camp.
“Outlaw”, originally a Chron Gen song, really is reinvented by Schleprock with an intricate bass line that is ultimately reminiscent of another bassist from California, Matt Freeman. “Waiting” mixes together the brand of early pop punk played by “Blue Room”-era Unwritten Law (back before they were complete corporate whores), Husker Du and early Descendents. The multiple-part harmony of “Waiting” even takes more than a little nod from The Misfits, which results in this track being an instant classic. “Happy Home” continues this general sound, but brings Schleprock even more into the repetitive, rugged brilliance of bands like the aforementioned Husker Du and middle-era Replacements. By far, “Learning To Fall” is perhaps the best introductory material a band could put on a CD.
“Learning to Fall” may even be more fitting for the band than even Fleshies’ “Gung Ho” album, since a groove can be noticed on times on this disc, even if the tracks are tremendously different from each other (the eighties-hardcore sound that dominates the early third of the disc (7-9), for example). The Social Distortion/Welt sound of “Do It All” shows Schleprock as a band that is completely unfettered by constraints, a band that can pull off a damn good imitation just as well as they can create completely new track. Pretty much the only thing that can be construed as a weakness on “Learning To Fall” is Schleprock’s brush with a little more noisy and brash brand of punk, really exemplified during tracks like the Pennwise-sounding “Four Walls”. Overall, this is an incredible compilation of an always-interesting and never-trite band that played by their own rules.
Top Tracks: Waiting, Happy Home
Schleprock – Learning to Fall / 2005 Fiend / 21 Tracks / http://www.fiendmusic.com / Reviewed 02 August 2005