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





CONSTELLATION FLIGHT – Constellation Flight

constellation flight

Constellation Flight (Kao Kazlauckas) has the audacity to take a nostalgic look back on a form of music that never really existed. It’s an audacity that we should be thankful for. Throughout this maiden voyage Kazlauckas tantalizes the senses with soaring analog synths and processed vocals. It’s an exciting mix of electronic psychedelia, accessible prog, yacht rock and disco funk. Imagine cherry picking some of the best mid-seventies artists — such as The Sweet, KC and the Sunshine Band, Roxy Music, ABBA and Yes – and then putting them in a giant blender. Constellation Flight gives you some idea of just how tasty a concoction that would be.

Prime cut: “Airplane”






THE HISTORY OF GUNPOWDER – Stained Glass, Rye and Wax

history of gun powder

The History of Gunpowder have such a BIG sound that it comes as something of a shock to find that it is virtually a one-man band. Alex James Morison not only sings and writes the songs but he also plays at least half of the instruments (big exception is the horns and strings). This may go a long way to explaining how well the fat rock/blues music matches the rich, raspy and powerful voice of Morison. The tone is dark and gothic, as Morison goes all Nick Cave on us, by way of Tom Waits. It’s not always an easy ride as THOG have an experimental side (witness “Claymation”) as well as a cinematic one, but it’s all worth it in the end.

Prime cut: “The Ostrich”






MOTHS & LOCUSTS – Helios Rising

moths and locusts

Nanaimo’s Moths & Locusts are undeniably talented and certainly have a lot to offer. Each of the eight tracks on ‘Helios Rising’ seems to present a different face of the band. “Invisible Light” is like Fleet Foxes meet Deafheaven, with harmony folk vocals backed by droning guitars, whereas “Beach Party Shakedown” is more noisy garage rock, featuring experimentation on guitar. In a completely different vein, “Aftershave & Nicotine” is more urban with some narrative sampling and a funky vibe.

Moths & Locusts are always impressive with their musicianship, but not every track hits the mark. “Biblical Prophecy” may be of biblical length but the song pretty says all it needs to say within the first few minutes – after that it is all repetition. The psych rock guitar work in “Capsule”, however, is so sublime that it pretty well makes it worth the price of admission.

Prime cut: “Capsule”






MOTHERHOOD – Baby Teeth

motherhood

Fredericton’s Motherhood are really nuts. Many of us were fooled by the little ditty “No Please”, thinking their EP ‘Baby Teeth’ would be a collection of similar whacky-but-fun pop tunes. Yikes, were we wrong. They are artsy and experimental in that “what-would-happen-if-you-dropped-a-guitar-off-the-roof” kind of way. In “Greed” they get into some weird spoken word and in “Sayin’” the gentle dreampop keeps getting interrupted by spurts of manic guitars. Overall, they indulge in a lot of garage/grunge noisy guitar, but they do throw in a couple more pastiches for you: the faux country-blues “Twosies” and the tin-pan alley “Tommy Two-Fists”. Check it out, but come prepared.

Prime cut: “Sayin’”






BEL – ATTICS

bel

Bel (Victoria’s Dan Belgue) demonstrates quite admirably just how much you can do with just a 4-track cassette recorder and a few stringed instruments (I counted an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar and a banjo). Aside from the delightfully fuzzed-out psych pop tune “Hazy Brain”, the other tracks could easily be dismissed as routine indie folk songs, albeit very pretty ones. However, Belgue employs a number of subtle techniques to elevate the tracks to something much more special. “Beautiful Stranger” features gorgeous guitar distortion, “Crystal Kid” has nice reverb plus some pedal/echo work, and the banjo on “Nobody But You” lends a bluegrass feel. On all of the tracks Belgue makes good use of echo and self-harmony to add atmosphere to his vocals.

And, yes, the EP is called ‘ATTICS’ because it was recorded in an attic.

Prime cut: “Hazy Brain”