5 ON THE FLY: Five mini reviews all in one place.
Aquarius – Chalice
Cosima and Claire are a no-nonsense duo from Victoria who deliver relatively simple but highly effective dreampop. The percussion is minimalist and the guitar and keyboard work is subtle, leaving lots of space for the lovely reverb-heavy vocals. There is no fear of sameness, however, as there is plenty of variety, even within this sparse framework. “Lexicon of Desire” and “Faire” are, of course, gorgeous dreampop, but there is a mysterious slinkiness to “Cat”, some ‘60s soul influence in “Can’t Say”, and “Aquarius” is fun surf/garage.
If by “simple” you think I mean “easy” then think again, because if it was that easy then why wouldn’t everybody be this good?
Prime cut: “Faire”
ZIK – Shoplifting from American Apparel
Of course it is all in how you re-package it (and ZIK do an excellent job) but there is a definite strain of late ‘70s UK punk/pop that runs throughout ‘Shoplifting From American Apparel’ (and kudos on that title). The Jam can be detected in “Brand Loyalty Forever” and “Heavy Manners” sounds a lot like Elvis Costello. But that’s just the influences talking, because ZIK do put their own stamp on things, like the doo-wop chorus in the garage pop “Psych Emerge” and The Who/Kinks style guitar on the intro to “Brand Loyalty Forever”. Most impressive to these ears is the heavy/light combo on “In Touch” with grinding punk guitars in back and sparkling yacht rock guitars out front.
Prime Cut: “In Touch”
Doffing – Armour
Doffing are artsy and experimental, so the only surprise is when they actually sound somewhat conventional. Granted that is rare for them, but “Nice Yard” is pleasant and melodic enough (just watch out for the tempo changes) and “Cinnamon” could be considered dreampop if it wasn’t for a dominant guitar line that is wobbly and wonky as hell. Elsewhere be prepared for guitar distortion poured over math rock (“Holy Crow”), art pop mixed with industrial metal (“Zweihander”), and a psych rock backing fading into a slacker rock chorus (“Beserkus”). Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Prime cut: “Beserkus”
Little Kid – Flowers
It would seem that Kenny Boothby uses his band Little Kid (aided with the addition of Broderick Germain on drums/percussion and Paul Vroom on bass) to exorcise a few ghosts, as well as create some unassuming musical magic with lo-fi technology. On songs like “bastard” there are suggestions of father issues, and on many of the tracks he expresses difficulties in coming to terms with his religious background. Fortunately for us this is all fertile lyrical ground for his songs, which at a fundamental level are very much Paul Simon/Beatles style folk. However, Boothby also has an experimental streak and he imbues his songs with field music, processed vocals, industrial noise, etc.
This all sound interesting? Well, damn right it is.
Prime cut: “it did not happen”
Waitress – Delay Our Time
At a time when the likes of Braids and Purity Ring are (arguably) leaning more towards contemporary R&B it is nice to know that there are groups like The Backhomes and Waitress who are steering well away from radio-friendly territory and sticking to their post-everything ideals. On most of ‘Delay Our Time’ Waitress keeps things otherworldly and ethereal with shimmering ambient synths and echoing guitars. When they do touch down to earth it is in a definite alt pop/indie mood, such as on the title track and “What They Wanted”. On occasion they get into a motorik/kosmische groove (see “Engram” and “Crome Candel”), but what they never do is sound conventional or in any way ready to be heard on your local rock radio station. Colour us happy.
Prime cut: “Sideways World”