Quality rock music is as much about energy as it is provocative riffing (despite what some of my critical peers like to claim from time to time). If you don’t have that special ‘it’ factor, no amount of talent can compensate for the critical deficit you’ll face, but that doesn’t seem to be much of a problem for Walker’s Cay at all. The Toronto-founded rock band is getting a lot of press this May – and rightly so. Their double debut – singles “Tell Me” and “Why Oh Why” – are raising a lot of eyebrows among the indie music media, and after listening to them this weekend, I started to realize why.
There’s literally no filler for us to dig through in “Tell Me” or “Why Oh Why” (unless you count the prim equalization of the percussion, that is). From the moment the music starts in one song to the second it disappears from the other, we’re forced to react to every pulsating texture in the instrumentation as though it were designed specifically to induce chills. The drums are the most bruising while the guitar and bassline nearly congeal as we ascend towards the chorus in “Why Oh Why,” but never – and I really mean never – does it feel like we’re listening to unnecessary bells and whistles thrown into the mix.
“Why Oh Why” has an epic flow thanks to the rhythmic catharsis it calls a beat, and right out of the box, it reminded me a lot of Dio in their prime (I’m not just talking Ronnie here). “Tell Me” is a lot more plodding and progressive-minded, but in both singles, there’s no denying just how big a role the percussion is asked to play. Part of the reason why I love this band is because they take on subtle elements like this with a meticulousness I would love to hear more of in music today, regardless of the genre.
I’m really surprised at just how much of a heavy, pummeling effect Walker’s Cay was able to get out of the bass in the chorus of “Tell Me” considering it was recording in-studio, just as “Why Oh Why” was. Trying to encapsulate the raw volatility of a live gig is almost impossible unless you’re paying attention to every detail in your sound, and I think that’s obviously what the band was attempting to do here. They did terrific, and for my money, it’s a better job than most of their major label rivals could pull off.
Although there have been plenty of pretenders working their way through the underground hierarchy in the last five years, I don’t think I’ve heard any rock or metal band quite as smooth as Walker’s Cay in a long time. They’ve got the right stuff to go places in this genre, and if their guitar-focused style is something that they’re going to use as a template for future projects, there’s not a doubt in my mind that I’ll be revisiting their catalogue as soon as new additions arrive.
by Bethany Page