5 ON THE FLY: Five mini reviews all in one place.
hansmole – Endless Abundance
After full-length albums in both 2014 and 2015, hansmole (aka Hannah van Adrichem) drops a mere 4-track EP this year and yet she sounds more accomplished than ever. Van Adrichem has built on her sound with more adventurous rhythms and beats, and still she has left none of her strange idiosyncrasies behind. With her oddly flat vocals and off-beat manner she may still be too esoteric for some, but for fans of the unconventional there is a lot to love here. Consider how van Adrichem combines acoustic guitar with synths to create a hybrid form of folk and electronic all her own.
Prime cut: “Second Softest”
WHOOP-Szo – Citizen’s Ban(ne)d Radio
WHOOP-Szo continue to elude fame and fortune for the simple reason that they play what they want to play. Being too “heady” for most they will never be Top 40 material, but for lovers of alternative/experimental/post-rock etc. they are near perfect. As usual, the emphasis is on the instrumental music, as the band often take their rootsy sounds on little trips. However, it is always interesting to hear what vocals they do wheel out, such as the sweet but sinister soft vocals on “Another Show”, the growling/screaming on “Genocide”, and the appearance of Zachary Gray and the Micro-Dose Choir on the closing track.
Prime cut: “Genocide”
heavy bedroom – A Place
Alex Maltby (heavy bedroom) takes confessional indie folk and ups the ante. His hesitant and vulnerable voice draws you in and you are rewarded with unexpected turns of phrase and melodies. That would be enough for us, frankly, but Maltby also dabbles a bit in the experimental, mainly electronics. These touches are effectively placed, but they never come even close to overpowering the main event, which is the solid work of a unique singer-songwriter.
Prime cut: “Your Father”
Swim Team – Out of the Flood
The Vancouver trio Swim Team thoroughly entertain with a surprisingly wide variety of styles. ST take on everything from punk to prog-jazz, and from post-rock to blues-funk, and excel at everything. “Poison Ivy” is as beautiful a ballad as you’ll hear anywhere, whereas “Everywhere” kicks a bit of ass and “Swell” challenges the listener rather than soothe them. The main leaning, however, is toward cerebral art rock, so if that is your thing we have the band for you.
Prime cut: “Red”
Sorry Girls – Awesome Secrets
‘80s pop was sugary and fun, but for the most part pretty vacuous (yes, there were exceptions). Sorry Girls captures the energy of the genre but their music also has significant substance. “Begin Again”, for example, has a peppy beat and some synths straight out of a Molly Ringwald movie. But there’s an attention to detail in the intricate structure (like, say, Eurythmics?) and an alternative edge to the vocals (OK, how about Concrete Blonde?). It all adds up to a listening experience that is both entertainingly accessible and intellectually stimulating.
Prime cut: “This Game”