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






MOON EYED – Golden Mound

moon eyed

The duo of Elizabeth-Jane Bitze and Simon Letourneau perfectly capture the reefer-surf vibe of California, circa 1968. If that sounds limiting, think again. There is everything from the country/western twang of the cow-psych “Texas Morning” to the Velvet Underground male/female harmonies of “Foul Play”, and from the tremolo-based doo-wop of “If Only” to the French baroque folk of “Je t’aime tant”. With their hammond organ, acid-rock guitar and garage-style vocals it all sounds authentically ’60s. And yet this isn’t an exercise in nostalgia (no one remembers what happened the first time around anyway), because Bitze and Letourneau’s compositions are so original and punchy that they could never be accused of mere pastiche.

Prime cut: “Foul Play”






ARKANJELLO – Shebammed

arkanjello

Arkanjello consists of duo Michael Fox and Gabe Williams from Saint John. Their wild excursions through a dizzying array of styles could easily leave listeners on the outside, scratching their heads in confusion. Instead Fox/Williams leave no one behind as they wander from angelic choirs to metal chugging, and then from hip-hop beats to Spanish acoustic guitar. They are the guys that take you along for the ride, passing you beers from the front seat, not those idiots who barrel by you and flash their butts as they speed on down the road. Come prepared for some unexpected twists and turns but also come prepared to have a load of fun.

Prime cut: “Ventilation”






TRACES – Imaginary Life

traces

TRACES are a mini “super group”, if you will, sporting members from The Bernard Lakes, Play Guitar and Tricky Woo. Obviously there is some distinctive statement they want to make as a unit and one could say they do that eloquently on this their second EP. Although they evoke some of greats of the ’90s such as My Bloody Valentine, the trio use this as a starting point, not as an end in itself. As all good shoe gazers do they balance off ethereal lightness with more the visceral kick of guitar distortion, but there’s more to it than that. There’s the intricate bass-line of “Crystal Clear”, the baffling melody of “Just Pretend” (which is simultaneously upbeat and downbeat) and the flowing nature of “Explain”, all of which hint at a land of greater mysteries that TRACES invite you to explore. They have learned their shoegaze lessons well, but Richard White, Kerri Landry, and Patrick Conan are creatures of the 2010s and they know there is more to music than just crying on your guitar strings.

Prime cut: “Explain”






EMPIRE OF JAPAN – Gather Your Scattered Children

empire of japan

You could be forgiven for thinking that you stepped into a time warp when you put on ‘Gather Your Scattered Children’ by Empire of Japan. It is indeed a trip back to the ’70s, a time when keyboards were analog and electric pianos, in particular, were king. Daniel Enns completes the connection by using a cassette recorder and lo-fi techniques. It comes through in the music as well; in the progressive rock of “Marcus”, for example, and in the early krautrock of “Abigail”. The Broadway musical approach of the dirge-like “Isabelle” could, in fact, be from the lost fifth side of ‘The Wall’. It’s charming and wonderful in all its pre-digital glory.

Prime cut: “Louisa”






VALUED CUSTOMER – Hugecup

valued customer

And now for something completely different. ‘Hugecup’ is kind of hip-hop but it isn’t. Although the music, cool and jazzy as it is at times, often ventures into areas shared with hip-hop, that really isn’t its true neighbourhood. It all starts with feet planted firmly in rock, and then the leap is made into other realms (math rock, r&b, folk, you name it). Then there are the vocals; glam male singer, folk female singer, sometimes spoken, sometimes sung, sometimes in between. Even when the vocalist is “rapping’ (if you can call it that) he sounds more like a British glitter rocker commenting on a pub fight. Hell, there are no rules here. It sure is exciting.

Prime cut: “TN Cut”