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





SPRING BREAKS – Time Wounds All Heals

spring breaks

Spring Breaks are, if nothing else, completely honest in their delivery. There’s no pretence – this is simple, balls-to-the-wall garage punk. That in itself is liberating and invigorating, making ‘Time Wounds All Heals’ a fun listen.

Spring Breaks never let their foot up off the gas either. Some songs are more glam-tinged and others more rockabilly, but the tempo and the energy remain constantly high. There are a few seconds at the beginning of “Stay Gold” when you are fooled into thinking it’s a mid-tempo americana tune, but then the trashy guitar and drums kick in and we’re back into punk pop land.

All members sing (Jordie Two-Camps even takes on the lead on “Poke”) but guitarist/vocalist Valerie Graham is the driving force with her great rockin’ pipes, embellished with the odd yelp.

Prime cut: “Devil”






THE PINK ELEPHANTS – Sirens

sirens

‘Sirens’ opens with the trippy prog title track. It’s moody and mesmerizing thanks to the sitar and subdued vocals of Noonie Baig. After that the pachyderms get more into their established oeuvre – psychedelic shoe-gaze that tends to be primarily instrumental. Group leader Peter McNestry does, however, tackle a couple of covers – “Feed Me With Your Kiss” (My Bloody Valentine) and “Taking a Ride” (The Replacements) – and in both cases does the originals justice while adding a 21st century psych twist.

Despite the band’s progressive tendencies the music here is grounded with solid, garage-rock-style, structures. This allows you to toe-tap with the groove and prevents you from floating off aimlessly. It’s a nice balance.

Prime cut: “Orange Phases”






KYE PLANT – Sober & Alone

kye plant

On ‘Sober & Alone’ the pain is raw and it’s in plain sight. That could be uncomfortable for the listener but it isn’t. The intimacy draws you in rather than scaring you away. Plant whispers their inner secrets in your ear and it makes you feel special.

The subject matter isn’t pretty. Over the space of eight songs Plant touches on suicide, loneliness, heartbreak, and drug-related death. You feel guilty for finding something entertaining and beautiful in it all, but you can’t help yourself — Plant makes it impossible to not listen.

The listening is made all the more irresistible by Plant’s gorgeous, smooth baritone voice. Their music itself is disarmingly simple — mostly plain old acoustic guitar — so when Plant throws in the odd embellishment, e.g. the harmonizing vocals on “Dawson” or the subdued electric guitar on “The Gender Binary…”, it really sounds almost exotic.

Prime cut: “Dawson”






CAITY FISHER – Party Games

caity

On ‘Party Games’ Caity Fisher chronicles the many facets of the party-girl life, from the midnight highs to the morning-after lows. At first blush that may sound like a shallow topic, but Fisher is so open and honest that it’s touching, becoming almost a treatise on life itself.

Things are helped along tremendously by Fisher’s competency as a musician. The music is primarily mid-tempo garage pop but she also touches on styles like math rock (the genuinely clever “I Love It/Yeah Right”) and aching dream-gaze (“Feel Good”). She can also get crude (“Panty Stain”) but you can’t help smirking along with her good-natured charm.

The record is all too short, so when you get to the beautiful folk strains of “Life of the Party” you feel a little sad, knowing that all you have to look forward to is tomorrow’s hangover.

Prime cut: “Wet Cheese”






LOW LEVELS – Low Levels

low levels

The trio of Al Boyle, Emily Jayne and Byron Slack display such art rock smarts that it’s tempting to think that they are slumming it in the punk world. Not true. First of all, they are true punks, as they aptly demonstrate on such bangers as “Ultramarine” and “Flowers”. Second of all, art and punk are not polar opposite – they can, in fact, occupy the same space at the same time. And this is perhaps where Low Levels really shine. On “Just Kids” Boyle and Jayne snarl ferociously amid a raucous clamour, and yet the song has several tempo changes and features math rock rhythms. In LL’s hands it all sounds natural and complementary. Quintessential post-everything, I suppose you could call it.

Prime cut: “Ultramarine”