The quintet-formerly known as Orco-regularly played packed clubs in the band's hometown of Carbondale, Illinois. Instead of feeling satisfied with local acclaim, Revis decided to trade regional success and the familiar comforts of home to share a single bedroom in Los Angeles while they pursued their dream.
" The move was a jarring experience," recalls Justin Holman, Revis front man. "We knew moving to L.A. meant that we would be starting over, but it didn't really sink in until we went from playing for screaming fans to playing for the bartender. That experience bruised our egos for a little while, but in the end it made us stronger by forcing us to take a long hard look at our music."
The young band-ages 19 to 22-weathered growing pains as Revis revisited several of its older songs and expanded their sound to include subtle atmospheric touches. "Back home we were on top and there was nothing to challenge us," says guitarist Robert Davis. "Being broke and crammed into a small room became the motivating factor for us to start writing news songs like our lives depended on it."
Revis builds upon their rock roots-driving rhythms, powerful vocals and memorable choruses-by adding spaced-out atmospherics and moody textures into the mix. Pensive lyrics and mournful chord structures give Places for Breathing an introspective feel, says bassist Bob Thiemann. "Some songs sound like they were written by someone who was sitting on their roof drinking a bottle of wine and thinking about what they've been through in their life. Its almost like someone standing at a crossroads trying to figure out which way to go."
Im a fan of 5 man bands - 2 guitars, bass, drums, and lead vocalist. Revis fits into this category, (and another alternative rock band you should check out - Greenwheel) and the sound that Revis produces is generally very good. The guitars are fresh, clean, and driving; the bass and drums are reliable in keeping rhythm; and lead singer Justin Holman has a powerful deeper range voice. But, the rating of this album is based on the band's ability to put this together in each song, so here are short reviews of Revis' songs from "places for breathing" -
1. Caught in the Rain (9/10)- Perhaps the song you heard on MTV2 or FUSE. This may be the best of the album's songs - all of the band's elements are driving till the end. Justin's deeper range voice is showcased in this song, and overall, this song just feels good.
2. Your Wall (8/10)- Opens with darker/gothic sound... This carries over to the rest of the song. Very nice instrumental work throughout. But, the weakpoint of the song is Justin's singing. He sings well, but the lyrics don't synch as well (i.e., they're weak alongside the instruments) as they could in various parts of the song. Still, this is one of the best songs for the album.
3. Spin (9/10)- Again, I'm all for the instruments. The lyrics are very nice ("you're the hand that spins my revolver around when you push me away", "in the arms of devotion, will you never find your place?") The bridge features some funky fresh guitar play, too. Justin displays some major energy when he yells "gun!" in the bridge. And the end caps off the song, with some well-interlaced lyrics between the last lines of the refrain.
4. Seven (8.5/10)- Features a nice midtempo acoustic guitar throughout the song. The lyrics are fine, and Justin's voice is great for most of the song. But, in the part of the refrain "I hope you come up to heaven right now," Justin uses full energy each time he sings it, when ideally he could save it for the last refrain. Still, a great song! can't complain about the guitars, either ^_^
5. Straight Jacket Labels (8.5/10)- The title grabs you, and Revis backs it up. The instruments are fine, Justin's vocal performance is very good, but the lyrics sometimes suggest generic alternative rock.... Also features some nice guitar segments... I believe Revis uses textural electronics to produce some of these neat guitar effects.
6. Living Rooms (6/10)- Tsk, tsk.... This could have been an excellent, emotional, driving mid-album single.... Instead, we get a song that's plainly too short, could use better refrain development (i guess its a refrain, its used only like 2.5 times...). The song just doesn't meet its potential... When Justin sings "Go inside, I'm comin' through~" there is a great deal of energy, and it appeals right to your intuition. The song is under 3 minutes, and the limited timeframe hampers the song too much. When I heard the opening acoustic sequence, I thought I would really like the song...
7. Reuse (8.5/10)- I love bands who advocate recycling. Revis lives up to its environmental responsibilities in Reuse.... Just kidding. Another song opening up with acoustic, but also features nicely added piano play. The lyrics and singing by Justin are pretty good; in the refrains, the songs sounds Nickelback-ish, and the end has an epic/grand quality about it. Very nice.
8. City Beneath (9/10)- Alright! Revis gets its ki/ chi/ spirit flowing again like in "caught in the rain". Has similarly pleasing qualities as from "caught in the rain". This song anchors the end of the album.
9. Everything After (6.5/10)- This song just doesn't rub you the right way. Justin's vocals are stretched thin, and the lyrics are generic and partially incoherent. Well that's enough about this one....
10. Places for Breathing (7.5/10)- Nice acoustic play alongside Justin's lyrics at the beginning work well. But the refrain, Justin should tone down his voice or something. Sounds like he's trying to reach too high in some parts.... That's very distracting in this song. But overall, the album's namesake isn't too bad. Especially the end, when Revis picks up the electric guitar again and Justin sings much, much better.
11. Look right through me (8/10)- It's listed at 6 minutes, but the first 2;15 only is song and music... then there is a pause, and about 30 seconds later, the music picks up again. The first 2:15 is very nice, with good song alongside the strumming of the acoustic. Sounds eerie in parts, with something like ghost wailings in the background... The last 3 minutes or so of instrumental is nice, very slow, soothing, with an occasional beat tossed in. Some may not like this track, but its a nice showcase of range of ability. ...
Excellent from start to finish. Kind of a neo-classic rock sound with a Radiohead / Coldplay vibe thrown in. For 19-22 years old their musicianship, lyrical depth and assured vocals are astounding. They need to develop and refine this distinct sound and continue down their own path to hit the 'big time' on the next album.