Rival Schools' 2001 debut United By Fate was high-definition rock music made by New York hardcore vets. The album's combination of glossy production and gritty songwriting wasn't new, per se, but the band — led by Walter Schreifels and featuring members of Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, CIV and Youth of Today — brought more experience than most major label grabs from young punk scenes. In an effects-driven panoply that wasn't emo, hardcore or indie rock, Rival Schools offered another way into stadium-slammed riffs sourced from underground sounds.
That's what makes this acoustic version of "Holding Sand," from a deluxe edition of United By Fate out Oct. 28, such an unexpected flip on Rival Schools. In the original, sampled drums from My Bloody Valentine's "Soon" gave the track's anthemic thud a breakbeat edge straight out of The Prodigy's playbook. But here, Schreifels, who's regularly made a habit out of presaging punk's next moves since the early '90s, proves his songwriting mettle by going solo. Stripped down but strummed urgently, "Holding Sand" reveals something like Alice in Chains' MTV Unplugged performance: turning the sour into something soulful, but still heavy.