5 ON THE FLY: Five Mini Reviews In One Place

CHIC GAMINE – Light A Match
chic gamine

The beautiful harmonies of Chic Gamine’s three female vocalists would be enough to satisfy anyone, but what sets ‘Light A Match’ apart is the excellent choice of musical backing (if indeed ‘backing’ is even the right word) and the polished production work of Sébastien Blais-Montpetit.

Hence you get the southern boogie number “All Night”, featuring some tasty rock-blues guitar by Benoit Morier, the soft folk of “Follow Through”, the bilingual R&B ballad “Je tombe (Where I Fall)”, and the fat funky groove of “Night Court”.

‘Light A Match’ is like a box of assorted chocolates, and they’re all delicious.

FRESH SNOW – WON
fresh snow

Fresh Snow are a noise rock outfit with progressive leanings, putting them in the same general ballpark as post-rock behemoths Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Fresh Snow are, however, less long-winded and, frankly, less self-indulgent. The dramatic “Don’t Fuck A Gift Horse In The Mouth” may clock in at over ten minutes, but the guys also get their point across just as well in songs that are around four minutes in length. They are not only masters of the slow build up (see “Don’t Fuck…” and “Blood In The Sun”) but are also quite adept at switching up tempos, which allows for expression of a variety of moods, even though the prevailing tone is one of dread. Traditional song structures are not their thing but they make excellent use of two guest voices – the beautiful warble of Carmen Elle and the rasping growl of Damian Abraham.

It almost seems they are toying with us by only putting out an EP at this point, because it is abundantly clear that they are brimming with ideas – enough to fill an entire album. That album will be on its way, no doubt. In the meantime, I will happily settle for this.

MOONWOOD – Desert Ghosts
moonwood

Moonwood take you on brain-frying ride across two deserts. First, there is the peyote-infused landscape of the American southwest. Here the music is garage-surf with cosmic synths. Acid-rock guitar laces the edges of “The Girl Who Waited” and almost propels “Bombshell Betty” into metal territory. Then there is the outer-space “Arabian” desert of Frank Herbert’s Arrakis, where high-pitched strings and wordless vocals provide an Eastern vibe.

For the most part, Moonwood’s heady psych-rock is instrumental. However, Jacqueline Noire’s ethereal voice is put to good use in providing atmosphere, especially on “The Girl Who Waited”, where it floats in the musical stream, and on “The Worm is Calling”, where it burbles up through the mystical psych-folk haze.

GIRLFRIENDS and BOYFRIENDS – Our Garden
girlfriends and boyfriends

In an ‘80s retro mood? Look no further because Girlfriends and Boyfriends have come up with the lost soundtrack to every John Hughes movie. The opening drum and bass line lead you to believe we are heading into Joy Division territory, but “A Flower” soon breaks out into what this album is all about – energetic synth-pop. Although at times they do sound like Duran Duran (“Our Garden” and “Cost of Living”) this is not god-awful radio drivel. Post-punk sensibilities are in play, and the music has that “reaching for the future” feel, even though it is a future as envisioned from a Thatcher’s Britain perspective. It’s as if early U2 used synths rather than rock guitar or The Smiths aimed their street poetry at the club crowd.

So there is substance, to be sure, but it’s still all danceable. Molly Ringwald, where are you?

HAG FACE – R.I.P.
hag Face

This may be Hag Face’s full-length debut but they are as wild and uncontrolled as ever, so much so that at times it seems that everything is about to fly off the rails. But it never does. The tempo may speed up, the guitar might wail like a strangled demon, the singer will scream your head off, but it is all part of the plan. For the most part, the garage-inspired punkish hardcore comes in short spurts of two minutes or less, such as the high-speed and noisy “Rip It” with its devilish, death metal vocals. Then are a few longer numbers, such as the sprawling “Big Freezer”, featuring creepy spoken word and psychedelic guitar, and the slow, dirge-like “Old Hag”, which lays out a horror scene and gradually builds up screaming intensity.

‘R.I.P’ showcases the breadth of Hag Face’s creativity, but at the same time confirms that their music remains raw and unbridled.