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

THE INFLATION KILLS – Grounds for Termination
the inflation kills

Hamilton, Ontario is exactly the city that you’d expect to spawn something post-industrial. The only thing is that The Inflation Kills don’t deliver it quite the way you’d expect. Post-hardcore? Sorta. But there are times when the guitar sounds quite grungy (“Dead Girls”) or even metal (“Churches”). Post-punk? OK, yes, that certainly comes through in the straight-forward drumming in songs like “Oh Vision”, and there is definitely punk energy in the instrumental “Saskatoon”. But the vocals confound all expectations because it’s too melodic and ‘human’ to be metal, hardcore or punk. What the hell, just enjoy it.

Notable cuts: “Saskatoon”, “Dead Girls”

CLARA ENGEL – Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss
clara engel

In the opening track “Swans” we are thrust into a stark landscape with plucked strings that sound distant. Then Engel’s voice comes to us like a whisper in our ear. She is there to guide us through this desolate place, all the while spinning her tales of modern mysticism. Elsewhere on ‘Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss’ the music may be warmer and yet it still feels removed. But Engel is there to bridge the gap with her strong, emotive voice that somehow always sounds hushed. She is our personal shaman.

Notable cuts: “Swans”, “Swallow Me”

SWAMPWOLF – The Laconic Bard

I called SwampWolf’s last album essentially an instrumental work, even though it did contain some vocals. This time out Ilya Krivosheiko has most definitely put together a collection of songs, even though some of them don’t feature conventional vocals (e.g. “Swamp dance”). Relying on his nylon guitar and banjo, the music is rootsy and provides a fitting base for his raw and dark folk poetry. The odd experimental sound treatment is thrown in, just keeps things suitably quirky.

Notable cuts: “Failure to suicide”, “Fire scorched”

AMY CASPER – Down By The River
amy casper

Even though “One of the Lucky Ones” is definitely upbeat, and there is even a bit of a frisky pace in “Saw It Break”, ‘Down by the River’ is primarily a low-key affair that leans heavily on Amy Casper’s voice to do the heavy lifting. She doesn’t disappoint. The focus is kept on the lyrical content but there is also delightful melody in her singing (although distant and strange at times) and she harmonizes with herself quite magically.

Notable cuts: “Barbed Wire”, “Way Around It All”

DUMB – Beach Church
beach church

Nothing dumb here. Quite the contrary, this Vancouver band is quite clever in the way they take surf garage rock and mess with it. Even in the manic-paced “7-11” there is a New York post-punk intelligence in the voice and the guitar. Elsewhere there are experimental flights of fancy in some of the instrumentals and certain moments of LSD space-tripping giddiness. Come down and pray at the Beach Church.

Notable cuts: “Beach Church pt II”, “Radio”