Walk Off the Earth: R.E.V.O.

The Ontario quintet's major label debut tries to slot in comfortably among all the Fun.s, Trains and Mumfords, but ends up sounding too similar to them for its own good.

Walk Off the Earth


Label: Columbia
US Release Date: 2013-03-19
UK Release Date: 2013-03-19

In the past couple of years mainstream radio has shown that it's willing to once again to embrace pop/rock bands, singer/songwriters and other artists who have spent several years banished to the fringes from the way of club-ready anthems. As unlikely as it would have been only a short while back, we've now got the likes of Gotye and Fun. being responsible for some of the very biggest songs of the year. A song like "Pumped Up Kicks" can get actual attention beyond a small circle of indie fans and the overwhelming international popularity of the banjo-twiddling Mumford and Sons and the out-of-nowhere resurrection of Train have to be one of the most bizarre twists in mainstream success in the past decade. Playing a guitar or being a part of a band is trendy again.

Canadian quintet Walk Off the Earth fit this trend incredibly well, so well in fact that their major label debut R.E.V.O. is either a most cynical example of cashing on a trend (whether by the band or the label) or a most amazingly coincidental example of an act surfacing right when what they're doing happens to be popular. The 11 tracks on R.E.V.O. almost come across like a re-recorded compilation of the biggest pop/rock songs of the past few years in sound, even if not in melody. Going through the songs becomes a game of spotting other artists: "Red Hands" sounds like another Fun. single, shades of Mumford and Train appear too regularly to list, "Summer Vibe" feels like a lost Bruno Mars song, et al. The comparisons aren't helped by Walk off the Earth's decision to directly face them by including a rather pedestrian cover of "Somebody that I Used to Know" on their debut, which not only demonstrates how important Gotye's vocal delivery is to the song's power in its quietly unravelling fury, but which sets Walk Off the Earth directly against their musical peers in a fashion that does them no favours.

Which is where we stumble on R.E.V.O.'s biggest issue: it's not strong or convincing enough to stand out from everyone who they resemble. Where all the artists mentioned before have hit it big while sounding like they're simply doing what they love and getting lucky with it, Walk Off the Earth in comparison come off sounding like radio fodder designed to appeal to the fans of said artists. When the band are doing their best "come on everyone!" -- rallying in "Gang of Rhythm", it comes off as awkward and ever so slightly desperate rather than a genuinely inspired call for communal celebration. The band may intend well, but the happiness and sunshine radiating from the songs never resonates or feels genuinely joyful: it feels all too squeaky-clean and artificial.

It'd be unfair to call R.E.V.O. genuinely bad -- only "Sometimes" with its unbelievably dreadful attempt at rapping really gets the irritation levels rising, whereas most of the album's songs simply go in from one ear and out the other in a matter of seconds. They're the kind of songs you’d hear in the background of establishing shots in a mediocre teen flick set during a summer vacation, chosen in lieu of anything that would actually cost to license. Perhaps in another timeline Walk Off the Earth could have had some impact but right now we are being flooded by artists who do exactly what they are doing, only far better and more convincingly. Set against them Walk Off the Earth sound too derivative for their own good and the few spots of light here and there ("Speeches" which carries a surprisingly good horn section and "Summer Vibe" which, while as generic a summer reggae song as you could imagine, is the one moment where the band sound relaxed) aren't enough to save the album from mediocrity.


In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.