5 ON THE FILE: Five mini reviews all in one place.

ICEBERGFERG – In the Valley of the Purple Prince

iceberg ferg

‘In the Valley of the Purple Prince’ opens with a veritable celebration of downhome strings. And that’s what the album is really all about, a celebration of Iceberg Ferg’s interpretation of bluegrass and country blues. With his whimsical falsetto (at times reminiscent of Canned Heat’s Bob Hite) Ferg exudes a carefree, neo-hippie attitude that is contagious.

Notable cuts: “Old Growth Human”, “You’re All On My Mind”


strength of materials

Strength of Materials is the string quartet of Elyse Jacobson, Meredith Bates, John Kastelic, Peggy Lee, plus the vocal talents of Ford Pier. The quartet create a classical/jazz base for Pier to wander around in while spouting his avant-garde form of sing-speak. It is often a stream-of-consciousness thing as Pier performs vocal acrobatics, going from singing, to screeching, to mumbling in a matter of seconds. It’s an exhilarating ride if you can hang on.

Notable cuts: “Dry Fingertips”, “A Native Element”

KAINE, FILI AND THE BELIEVING BOX – 逍遥丸 // Free and Easy Wanderer

kaine, fili

Kainé and Fili will have you believing in their magic with the wondrous album ‘逍遥丸 // Free and Easy Wanderer’. Kainé’s voice is prettier, whereas Fili tends to be more adventurous in his vocal outings. However, the backing electronic music always piques our imagination, while the strings tug at our emotions, making for a beatific, mystical journey.

Notable cuts: “Ocean Ghost”, “Crickets”

THE TARHOLES – The Tarholes Cassette


Sometimes great music springs from the most unlikely places. Nestled in the mountains of the Kootenays, Nelson is one of BC’s prettiest towns, but it probably isn’t where you’d expect to hear one of the best examples of the lo-fi aesthetic this side of New York City. And it isn’t all just balls-to-the-wall punk (although, thankfully, there is a lot of that). “I’m Dead”, for example, is a slow churning exercise in gutter poetry, and “Coil” the instrumentation gets downright experimental.

It may be muddy and greasy (like a tarhole, I suppose), but there is something special buried down there in the mix.

Notable cuts: “Oxy Fuel”, “Coil”


dil brito

‘Astro’ by Dil Brito is one of the oddest albums you’ll hear this. This is a good thing. They defy all classification by playing everything from Simon and Garfunkel-style folk (“My Old Fix”) to songs that sound vaguely jazz age (“Down My Lane”). But nothing is ever quite what it seems as this mysterious band has quirky eccentricities, such as introducing weird field noises in the middle of a song (“The Wheels”). A real treasure trove of unexpected delights.

Notable cuts: “Wrapped Up in Reeds”, “Thoughts To Rust”