Walk Off the Earth (Columbia)
Finally, just what the world was waiting for: a hipster Canadian pop band with an uncanny ability to make songs that stick in the craw of your mind’s melody storehouse.It would be easy to dismiss Walk Off the Earth for their odd name or the title of their album, which stands for the awkwardly phrased Realize Every Victory Outright or their gimmicky “5 Peeps, 1 Guitar” take on covering Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know,” which has been viewed by 148 million (yes, million) people on Youtube.
But “R.E.V.O.” is actually a strong piece of pop-rock, covering only about 40 minutes and echoing The Police (the haunting cover of “Somebody I Used to Know”), encouraging kids to get up and dance (the title track), and providing a nice summer mix tape staple “Summer Vibe.”
The band of multi-instrumentalists features three distinctly different vocalists and a knack for using unorthodox creative tricks and techniques to reach fairly standard musical places.
The result is an example of what pop music can be in the hands of intelligent musicians who don’t resort to cliches to get their message across. Oh, and check out that video on Youtube; it’s pretty interesting to watch five people play one guitar.
— ROD LOCKWOOD
I AM NOT A HUMAN BEING II
Lil Wayne (Young Money/Cash Money/Republic)
Audiences are very understanding when it comes to Lil Wayne: his dissing of prosecutors during his case against Quincy Jones’ kid; his interest in skateboarding; those unexplained seizures.
But a lame Wayne album without the raw, vicious verve that fills his best work — that’s out of the question. Yet, here we are, faced with tepid, liquid sky-synths, mealy metal guitars, cheap beats and limp rhymes. This sort-of sequel seems half-baked. Wayne’s usually focused, ire-filled treatises are blurry rather than boisterous. Most of Wayne’s naughty talk is so tedious that if this album were phone sex, you’d fall asleep.
The the violent inventiveness of “Trigger Finger,” the poetic spaghetti-Western “God Bless Amerikka,” and the slithering, salacious “Curtains” (with an Auto-Tune-heavy Weezy) are delicious. These are exceptions to this album’s rule-of-thumb dumb.
The spooky “Gunwalk” is dull and abrasive at the same time, humorously when Wayne yelps “Man you can’t trust no one/I don’t even have a trust fund”). The tame hardcore of “Hello” is stupid. Still, his voice is one of rap’s most cutting instruments, with its bitter Bob Dylan-like sneer. Just avoid the lyrics, and you’ll get through it.
— A.D. AMOROSI, Philadelphia Inquirer
The Band Perry (Republic Nashville)
The Band Perry isn’t the same sweet gang who fretted about “If I Die Young” anymore. It’s issuing murderous threats like “Better Dig Two” now.
Not only does The Band Perry — singer-guitarist Kimberly Perry and her brothers bassist Reid and drummer Neil — sound more confident and accomplished on its sophomore album, the group backs it up with stronger hooks and better lyrics.
Using “Better Dig Two” to launch “Pioneer” was a gamble, but it’s paid off, topping the country charts with an angry defense of marriage vows, where Kimberly promises, “I’ll go to heaven or I’ll go to hell before I’ll see you with someone else.” And the “Pioneer” songs only get easier to sell after that, especially the title track, which compares a touring musician’s traveling life to that of the early pioneers.
In case all those musical adventures don’t make it clear enough, The Band Perry is out to stretch the boundaries of today’s country music by injecting it with literary references and rock and pop influences.
— GLENN GAMBOA, Newsday
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