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

Crims&Flow – Nightmare Food in the Vacuum Room

The track “Metal” makes for a sombre opening — ‘70s prog synths with a hint of post-punk paranoia. But, for all that Crims&Flow are talented enough to be taken as seriously as artist, the fact is they don’t take themselves that seriously. On “Lizard People” they sing quite comically about beings on the moon and on “No Ghost” the only lyrics are “no ghost/it was a dog/it wasn’t a ghost”. And yet they are clever and the music is always challenging … and a little eerie.

Prime cut: “No Ghost”

shhh – Be Quite

There are many ways in which a musician can charm you, and Megan Arnold needs do little more than open her mouth. She sing/speaks in such a down-to-earth manner that you immediately feel like best buds sharing secrets. In fact, Arnold doesn’t always have anything earth-shattering to say (when her lover goes off to work she gets up and eats hotdogs) but it is the way she says it — a don’t-give-a-fuck attitude combined with a seemingly unintended artsiness. It is all set to minimal keyboards in the background for a simple pleasure with undercurrents of intellectual cool.

Prime cut: “Warm Day in February”

Expanda Fuzz – Bleuets

Ottawa duo Expanda Fuzz do their own take on garage by doing variations on a simple theme — place the emphasis on a repeating downbeat fuzzed-out guitar riff and keep the beat simple. The vocals can be airy and evocative (“Flavour: Zombie”) or more solid and melodic (“Robot Buildings”). Arguably, the best track is “Hired Gun” where the female vocalist sings almost mockingly while a very basic garage riff counteracts a disco beat.

Prime cut: “Hired Gun”

Year of Glad – Resolving Host

A.P.Bergeron is a one-man band who manages to pack a whole lot of emotional touchstones into his work for a guy who favours electronic music. “The Old Ways”, for example, is highly evocative with its soft vocals, echoes and reverb, and “Resolving Host” starts out with acoustic guitars but eventually takes on the form of a synthesized hippie dream. The EP is mostly an easy-going, pleasant trip, but there are exceptions. “Teetotum” starts out with vaguely threatening guitar strumming and then proceeds to get even more disturbing as the music becomes eerie (even creepy) and the vocals fade in and out. It’s like listening to a radio badly tuned into a broadcast from another dimension.

Prime cut: “The Old Ways”

Titanium Tunnels – The Blackhole in a Star and The Alien Asleep in The Sun​.​.​.​

Mysterious Edmonton electronic artist Titanium Tunnels creates rather tortured folk-pop songs that are subjected to synthesized manipulation. “asleep in the sun…” is, for example, a softly sung tune accompanied by guitar, but both voice and instrument are modified electronically creating a weird and wonderful soundspace. Elsewhere he has flights of fancy, such as the vocoder (?) performance in the motorik “I have found Darth Vader…”, and epic-length forays into electronic experimentation.

Prime cut: “subterranean homesick alien . . . ”